Listen: Professor Merlin Thomas chats to Katrina Roe about health fads, and the importance of moderation.
One minute it’s good, the next it’s bad: chocolate. And along with things like sugar, caffeine, red meat, wine and any number of superfoods, it’s always making headlines.
But the problem with those health headlines is, they so often seem to contradict each other. To tackle the confusion about health tips and superfood fads, researcher Professor Merlin Thomas from Monash University uni has tackled a whole host of health fads and myths in his new book The Longevity List.
He says the best way to ensure you have a long life is not to jump from one extreme health fad to another, but to approach everything in moderation.
“If you look at people who achieve great longevity…[who reach] 95 or 100 and are still independent, it’s not necessarily their diet, not necessarily their lifestyle,” Professor Thomas said. “In fact most of them eat the same sort of things as you and I. But the real difference is in fact their ability to moderate what they do.
“They don’t drink too much alcohol, or too much coffee. They don’t eat too much food. It’s that self-awareness and self control. Everything I write about in the book is always a balance between the good aspects of something—like alcohol, chocolate or starch, and the bad aspects of too much of those things.”
So What About Chocolate?
Professor Thomas chatted to Hope 103.2’s Katrina Roe about a number of the issues he covers in the book—including chocolate.
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“Chocolate is a true performance enhancing drug, in fact it’s used in race horses for exactly that reason,” he said. “If you give it to a race horse it actually runs faster and focusses better…because it contains a chemical which is very similar to caffeine, and women are more sensitive to men. So women taking a bit of chocolate in the afternoon, absolutely it does pick up their mood. So there is a positive aspect to it.
“But we all know the negative aspects…the impact on our wasteline.”
Those who have a couple of squares of chocolate to give them a boost shouldn’t feel guilty; it’s OK in moderation.
“There was a famous French woman who lived to well over 110 who said her pound of chocolate a week was the reason she stayed alive,” Prof Thomas said. “There may be many other reasons for that, there’s always a little bias in the stories of people who live long and healthy lives, but certainly there’s nothing bad about chocolate. It’s just the way we use it that’s sometimes bad and excessive.”
In the interview Professor Thomas also chats about…
- Sugar-free diets
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
- Fibre and gut bacteria
- Fresh air and sunshine