Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Red Wine Diets

People send me things.

After one of my columns which portrayed a middle-aged woman inspecting herself in the bedroom mirror while her husband lovingly observed, I received a card from an 83-year-old woman who said that after 65 years of marriage, her husband still looks at her "that way" and she loves it. You go elderly couple! You inspire me.

I wrote about riding my bike. Someone called me and said she knew Lance Armstrong, and would send him that column. That's kind of cool - to think that Lance Armstrong would read my words. I like to think it was what inspired him to win the last Tour de France. (Of course, I like to think I inspired Michelangelo's statue of David also. The odds are about the same.)

I receive a great deal of email about what I write. Embedded in the bits and bytes of electronic communication that I download to my trusty Macintosh are questions about weight loss, motivational observations about change, poems with a dieting theme, and references to stories on the web.

One such hyperlink terminated in an article on entitled, "Big Fat Doses of Red Wine Extract Help Obese Mice Stay Happy, Healthy, and Live Longer." (On the internet, they are apparently not limited to short headlines.) The gist of the article (which later made national news) was that a study by the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging showed that an ingredient in red wine, resveratrol, lowers the rate of diabetes, liver problems, and other "fat-related" ill effects in obese mice. Fat-related deaths even dropped 31 percent when mice were given a supplement derived from resveratrol.

The mice did not have to change what they eat, rather they were kept on a high-calorie diet, which one scientist called a "McDonald's Diet." Not only were they about as healthy as normal mice, but they were as agile and active as their lean counterparts when it came to exercise. Said the doctor, "They're chubby but inside they look great."

I ponder future repercussions on humans. Could it be that in upcoming decades the concept of healthy dieting undergoes a complete transformation? In the present, I choose salads, high-fiber unprocessed grains, and lean protein - while making sure I walk or ride my bike regularly. Is it conceivable that years from now - while in a constant haze of red wine-induced inebriation - I find myself gorging on a cholesterol feast of dripping chili cheese burgers on double thick buns, extra cartloads of French fries, gooey chocolate sundaes, and peanut butter chocolate candies?

When approached by a well-intentioned (but uneducated) stranger distressed about my 82-inch waist, I reply, "Thank you for the concern but I'm in training for a marathon."

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