By now, the bright sunshine of January is a distant memory. The month of April is typically characterised by progressively cloudy weather. On average on the last day of the month there is an 80% chance that it will be a cloudy day. The rainy season which begins in mid-march, peaks in April then tails off in May is often accompanied by thunderstorms in April when the rain gets heavy. Thunderstorms occur together with lightening. The tragedy for us is that as Africans we bow low to any higher power that appears on the scene.
Blame this on our colonial heritage where we were taught that when the district commissioner appeared, touring to see how the natives were doing- life must stop, until he had returned to his station. As such whenever there are thunderstorms; lightening; or just rain (you never you, the rain might be hiding something); electricity is the first to disappear. Drainage refuses to work out of fear, traffic seizes up out of fear, that something; we do not know what, but something will happen. Eventually it does. And so we have something to talk about that proves what the colonialists told us and we are happy. The rain also eventually stops to return on average every other day in the month of April.
Averages are a useful way of looking at things because it gives you some indication of the probability of something happening. Knowing that the rainy season occurs from March to May is useful information. More useful is to know that in Nairobi, on average it rains 35% - 45% of the time. Less than in April. But the weather is just as cloudy in both months, though not as overcast as in July when almost everyday is cloudy.
In a similar fashion on average every time you eat, your stomach produces gastric acid (Ph of 1.5 to 3.5) to digest protein and kill various micro-organisms. The gastric acid is released in three phases. In the cephalic phase, 30% of the total gastric acid secretions is stimulated by the anticipation of eating and the smell and taste of food. Imagine the fellow sitting at a nyama-choma place, close where the meat is being barbecued and you know what is happening in their stomach. The second phase is the gastric phase, which begins when the stomach is physically distended by the presence of food.
About 60% of the gastric juices are secreted, with the percentage going higher if the food has a heavy protein content. In the intestinal phase the remaining 10% is secreted as the semi-processed food - called chyme -leaves the stomach and enters in the duodenum, the first part of the small intestine. Meat, even though it is a good source of proteins is just not healthy when consumed in large quantities frequently. The better healthier alternative is plant proteins, mainly beans.
The problem with eating beans, can be the embarrassing gas production that occurs as part of digestion. Beans do this because they contain large amounts of carbohydrates that the digestive system struggles to break down on its own. There are two sources of these problematic carbohydrates. The bean cell wall contains sugar molecules that we cannot digest for properly. In addition inside the bean are carbohydrates called oligosaccharides that our enzymes are not equipped to break down. All the enzymes can do is break these compounds down into carbon dioxide and hydrogen rather than useful sugars. The result is gas. Gas as you know can pass through tiny spaces. Most people produce between half and two litres of gas a day. This gas has to leave the body and does so. Either through the mouth, for example belching or through the rectum, flatulence. Passing gas between 14 to 23 times is considered normal.
Avoiding the gas problem of beans is relatively easy. One can avoid eating beans. However beans are an excellent source of protein, vitamin B, folic acid, oil and starch. Countries where soybean is a staple food like China and Japan have lower rates of heart disease and cancer. Two possible reasons are advanced. The first is that beans contain isoflavones, compounds that resemble human oestrogen. In the body these compounds appear to slow down bone loss and development of prostate cancer.
In addition beans contain saponins, soap like compounds that are water soluble at one end and fat soluble at the other, just like soap. They act like emulsifiers and cause foam production, which is why a boiling pot of beans boils over easily. In the body the saponins bind with cholesterol so that the body cannot absorb it efficiently, thus lowering blood cholesterol levels. So avoiding eating beans is not a good thing. An alternative cure is to take time cooking the beans. Prolonged cooking breaks down the cell wall and oligosaccharides into simple sugars that can then be easily digested. At this point there is then really no reason to panic, grumble when post eating, your stomach begins to act up. Its simply behaving in an average way.