For most of August the daily high temperatures was below the historical average. September is predicted to be a little warmer though we are faced with more rain than usual.
We often ignore weather forecasts when going about our daily business assuming that since we have to go out anyway irrespective of the weather we will adapt.
But it does to pay to once in a while take a step back and look at the climate rather than the daily weather. For example depending on what part of town you live in and the business you are in two types of cars are not uncommon.
The Toyota Probox is a station wagon, which was originally designed in Japan for commercial use as a delivery vehicle.
However once it is imported into Kenya it becomes a passenger vehicle though the operators still adhere to basic commercial principles of making sure that the vehicle does not ride empty for long. It is an average sized car, weighing about one tonne.
The engine is a modest one either 1,500 or 1,300cc. There is not much else that you need to know about the car other than the common colour is white. Given these facts you do not expect the car to move very quickly in terms of acceleration or top speed.
Contrast that with a Range Rover, recognised by many as the ultimate luxury four-wheel drive vehicle. A 4,000 cc engine is not unusual, three times the Probox.
If you are to go through the feature list of what the Range Rover has you must first sit down. Given the difference between the two cars it may therefore come as a surprise that both are subject to the same traffic rules. Why should this be?
Compare this with the human digestive tract. The gastrointestinal tract is a long hollow tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the rectum. The liver, pancreas and gallbladder are closely linked to make up the digestive system.
Whatever food we eat, there are some basic elements that the body needs. These include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins.
The purpose of the digestive system is to breakdown whatever we eat to release these elements. The process of digestion happens in a number of ways. In the mouth, by chewing food breaks it down into smaller pieces with saliva providing some moisture and enzymes that starts the digestive process.
Very little digestion takes place in the oesophagus, but once food enters the stomach, the very strong acids present begin the process of protein extraction.
Much of the digestive work happens in the small intestines where the carbohydrates, fats and proteins are broken down completely and absorbed for use by the body.
Up to this point about eight hours has elapsed. What gets left and passes into the large intestines is either insoluble like fibre or is the waste product arising from the digestion process.
There bacteria get to work by feeding on what remains. There is still some absorption of food and water but eventually the waste material reaches the rectum, the warehouse, awaiting a bowel movement. The entire process from the time you put food into your mouth to exit of waste takes an average of 30 hours. So when you go to the toilet for a long call on Monday morning that is what you ate Saturday evening.
Can the whole process be speeded up? This is not the right question, but we can answer it anyway. It can if you are a child, or it can be slower if you are elderly, or are physically unfit.
The right question to ask should be, ‘how can the process be smooth and regular?’ Turbo-charged eating by wolfing down food slows down the digestive process by making it harder for the enzymes to breakdown large food particles. Ask any predator snake. Too much of anything is not a good thing.
The body’s predominant fuel is carbohydrates so most of the diet should be complex carbohydrates, easy to identify because they are brown and whole or require you to peel them before eating. White bread, white rice and white fine milled ugali fall outside this definition.
Eating processed foods that are rich in sugar and fats gives the small intestines a hard job, while leaving very little work for large intestines. So the system is overloaded in parts, underutilized in others much like some of our roads where one side is packed and across the road is empty. Protein is needed for muscle repair and so there should be some in the diet everyday.
A protein heavy meal digests slowly. Fat is vital in small quantities, a 70kg person needs about 30grams a day, that is two tablespoons. Fries as a comparison are cooked in more than two tablespoons of oil.
Fatty foods take longer to digest. Getting the right combination of foods is therefore the key to having a well-managed digestive system. It should not matter whether you look or act like a Probox or a Range Rover.