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September 23, 2018

Soup Makes You Live Longer

Sarova Panafrics Chef Avraj Singh shows he ladies how to make orange scented and carrot and ginger soup.
Sarova Panafrics Chef Avraj Singh shows he ladies how to make orange scented and carrot and ginger soup.

Summer is supposed to be the warmest season of the year. In the northern hemisphere it runs from June to August while in the southern hemisphere from December to February.

Among some people, removed from the reality of everyday poor Kenyan life, the months of June to August are called ‘summer’.  In western literature, especially American, summer is associated with long idyllic days of fun spent outdoors. When you look out of the window today, late June outdoors is not where you want to be.

Where does the confusion arise? Perhaps it might have something to do with Kenya being next to the warmest ocean in the world.

The Indian Ocean is mainly tropical and the surface temperature of the water averages a minimum of 22 degrees Celsius. So Kenya never really gets that cold.

On the other hand many Kenyans live in the highlands that rise all the way to Mount Kenya centrally and Mount Elgon in the west, separated by the Rift Valley.

Whether you are towards the top or down in the belly of the Rift Valley it can get cold. It seems that because we can simultaneously have both summer and winter we choose to show our sophistication by associating with the northern hemisphere and declaring that now it is summer which is a sad thing. There are some things where if we are to copy we need to choose the right model.

 Crocodiles have been around for more than 250 million years. They even survived the asteroid crash 65 million years ago that wiped out dinosaurs and other pre-historic animals.

So what do they do right? The longest recorded life span of a crocodile is 115 years, very similar to human beings. On average they live to between 60-70 years. Physiologically they have a heart that is similar to birds and can stay underwater holding their breath for up to 30 minutes.

When Indonesians say, “ Calm water does not mean there are no crocodiles”, they know what they are talking about. Crocodiles have very good hearing and even with their size, on average five meters in length, can move very quickly on both land and in water.

At this point you might be wondering what could I possibly learn from a crocodile lifestyle? Crocodiles repel many of us. But they do have one interesting habit that is worth looking at. How and what they eat.

 Most of the time, crocodiles eat fish. Yes, they will attack and eat almost anything that crosses their path so any herbivore that strays close by is considered dinner but if you were to interview a group of crocodiles they would tell that fish is what they prefer.

It is not just the food type that is important; it is how they eat it. Most carnivores eat their food ‘dry’. They get a chunk of meat, depending on how high up the evolutionary chain they are, they might apply fire or not, but then proceed to eat making only food sounds. Liquids are added later.

The crocodile on the other hand has most of its meals in a consommé soup fashion. They end up taking in water as they eat. Very healthy having your food in the form of soup.

 For most of us it is only in the cold season that our mind wishes for a warm soup. We should think about soup throughout the year.

Soup has many advantages. One reason certainly is that any food served on a plate gets unappetizingly cold quickly. Soup remains warm and appetizing throughout.

During cold weather our mind desires comfort foods to take our thoughts away from the discomfort. Such foods tend to be full of carbohydrates, from bread, cake and tea to chocolate and alcohol toddies.

Cold weather disrupts even the most dedicated of exercisers. Added weight is the adverse effect of low temperatures. The fitness gains made in the months from January to May can disappear in June and July.

Ideally we should try as much as possible to get most of our daily caloric intake from fruit and vegetables. Soup is an easy way to get a mix vegetables into an appetizing meal. A little meat in the background solves that craving.

 There is one other interesting thing about the crocodile. The bite force of a crocodile jaw is extremely strong. However in contrast the muscles responsible for opening the mouth are very weak.

You can almost keep a crocodile mouth shut using your forefinger and thumb. You can deduce from this that crocodiles do not snack hourly.

They open their mouth and eat when hungry. Many of us have difficulty even appreciating exactly what hunger feels like. Consider soup as part of your daily meal planning, satisfying healthy vegetable soup. It could help you get through these cold summer months.

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