Bowie

I know, I know Bandwagon and Jumping on but this week I don’t care: it’s my Blog and I’ll Bowie if I want to!

Bowie's Aladdin Sane LP
Photo by Piano Piano!

Just before New Year I was chatting to an old friend, whose morbid direction with a question about getting older prompted me to say something along the lines of “Nah we’re not so old yet – you will know you’re old when the people you grew up with and our hero’s of those days start popping off. You know people like Bowie, Sting or someone off the telly like Mr Spock.” Not living in the same Cultural and News black-hole as I, he obviously de-bunked some of that statement for me but neither of us expected Bowie to join Leonard Nimoy quite so soon.

Bowie with cat
Photo by Wowser

With his passing it felt as if part of that illusion of immortality he had created through his many re-births and transformation into his new performing characters has gone. Maybe even our own deluded fantasies of immortality that he in no small part helped feed also died with him. I guess it boils down to getting older. For many of us who saw David Bowie as a major influence, who helped consciously or unconsciously mould our attitudes and tastes during our formative years he will not just slip away, quite so quietly from our minds.

Bowie's Hunky Dory LP
Photo by badgreeb RECORDS

He reminds us of our youth and of a different time. I won’t say better – as always seems to be the curse of an older generation – not because my own youth wasn’t good, it was good, but because we sometimes forget just how different those times were compared to today. I listen to people looking back describing the freedoms and culture of then with rose tinted glasses. Somehow forgetting the all pervasive bigotry, fear of difference and demands for conformity that we were bombarded with on a daily basis. No matter how much we are immersed in political correctness nowadays we will probably never be as free and open minded as our children and grandchildren will be. The fact that we, dared to think beyond the ideas our parents were shackled to is in no small part, at least to me, because of what he taught us about life and about our right to be anything or anybody we want to be. So thank you Mr Bowie – some of us are already missing you a great deal.

Bowie's last picture

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Eat Well, Keep Healthy and Stave off Dementia

That time of year again! I know I traditionally give out a few detox ideas to repair part of the hangover and over indulgence damage you may have inflicted on yourself over the holidays; however this year I thought I would use a different angle. Instead of just giving some detox ideas which I know some of you may quickly forget before slipping back into your bad habits, maybe you could actually keep up the good work all year round? What if I told you that you can not only be more healthy but also improve your chances of staving off the onset of dementia? Maybe you can live with those extra kilo’s around your midriff and resign yourself to accepting those growing bags under your eyes as part of your faces character; but what about dementia? I suspect it is something you have not thought too much about or something you are just too worried to think about, perhaps as you have witnessed a family member or a friend descend into its dignity stealing clutches?

Black and White older person
Photo by Neil Moralee

Like a vast array of ailments Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is strongly linked to lifestyle. This is actually new thinking because until recently dementia was viewed as a disease mostly independent of lifestyle. Doctors believed that people marked out for the condition would in all likelihood develop it come what may. New evidence now suggests that this is only true for the relatively few people who do carry an increased predisposition for the disease in their genes. Most cases of dementia are not like this. The report from a landmark study, carried out over 35 years at Cardiff University in the UK concluded that lifestyle changes can ultimately make a big difference. The results showed that non-smokers who kept their weight down, took exercise, ate well and drank sensibly had a 60% drop in dementia and cognitive decline. The study of 2500 people also concluded that there were 70% fewer instances of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Doug Brown, who is the Director of the Alzheimer’s Society, recently said: “What’s emerging is that what is good for your heart, in terms of lifestyle, is also good for your head… … The prize is significant. If we can delay the average age of onset of Alzheimer’s by five years it would reduce patient numbers by a third.” I don’t know about you but if I am destined to get it that extra 5 years of lucidity would be well worth the small sacrifice needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Getting your Five a Day is a good start but also try and think of the quality of those five portions of fruit and vegetables. I know it is not always easy in our busy lives to take time to consider the benefits of each individual portion. If it is in stock at your local supermarket it’s got to be healthy… right? No not always. Here I am not just arguing the benefits of organic over non-organic. There is now a rapid economic-evolution in the type of fruit and vegetables that are available to us – especially from the supermarket giants. They know that most people prefer slightly sweeter varieties as opposed to the perhaps slightly bitter varieties of days gone by. Take the humble grapefruit. As a kid I was never too fussed with them until one day instead of the usual white variety I tasted a pink one. It was a lot sweeter and only about half as bitter so the next time I saw both varieties in the shops I naturally opted for the pink over the traditional. I was aware that people put forward the grapefruit as something healthy to eat but I, like most of us had no idea that it was the very bitterness of the fruit that made them so healthy to eat.

A variety of grapefruit
Photo by Woodleywonderworks

To most supermarkets increasing sweetness by breeding out the bitterness in things like brussel sprouts, broccoli and fruits like grapefruit is a great idea because they sell more product. However, there is a cost. When scientists talk about the healthiness of these types of fruit and veg and in things like green tea, dark chocolate and red wine it is that bitterness in these things, in the form of chemicals called phytonutriants that gives them their health benefits. Phytonutriants are toxic in large doses but in normal doses they are very healthy. Naringen is the phytonutriant found in white grapefruit, which has proven anti inflammatory and anti ulcer properties. It can also reduce the growth of breast cancer cells and help beat cervical cancer. Yes the ever sweeter pink variety still contains some naringen but it has much less and it is reduced even further with every new generation of grapefruits specially bred to lean towards sweetness instead of bitterness.

Happy New Year to all of you – Eat well and stay healthy!

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