Hidden benefits

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 2864 you were invited to submit an imaginary feature from a newspaper’s health pages extolling the benefits to wellbeing of something traditionally thought to be bad for you.

Brian Murdoch cast a new light on excessive boozing: ‘The Romans knew about it, of course, and new guidelines have re-endorsed the values of binge drinking as a regular purgation of the system.’ And if you have always viewed the deep-fried Mars Bar with suspicion, think again: Rob Stuart’s entry argues (not altogether convincingly) that, far from being ‘nutritional Armageddon’, the DFMB actually provides us with the requisite five-a-day. Cathy Bryant rebrands adultery as an aid to weight loss and fitness (‘The cardio-toning effect of the sweating and shaking as you lie to your spouse means that you’re well ahead diet-wise.’) There were strong performances, too, from Douglas G. Brown and Sergio Michael Petro.

The winners are rewarded with £30 each, except George Simmers, who gets £35.

For centuries doctors and experts have painted Death as something to avoid. But its bad press could be a thing of the past, according to a team of boffins led by Prof. Reg Pilsner from the University of Rotherham. These British scientists have published a paper challenging traditional nannyish attitudes. Their report concludes: not only does Death dramatically halt the ageing process — it has other benefits too!
Professor Pilsner’s five-year study concludes that rats who have experienced Death are far less agitated when placed in mazes and prodded with electrodes. ‘Remarkably,’ the report concludes, ‘these rats display almost no symptoms of distress.’
The Rotherham team now hopes to extend its experiments to human subjects. Further research is needed, says Professor Pilsner: ‘We all worry about the obesity crisis, but Death has to be the most effective way of preventing someone from piling on the pounds.’
George Simmers
Pork scratchings, long derided as working-class bar snacks high only in sodium, fat and porcine hair follicles, have been declared a megafood by researchers at Nuneaton University’s Department of Speculative Nutrition. ‘As they are consumed exclusively by heavy drinkers,’ explains Dr Katie Snetterton, ‘the health benefits of pork scratchings have long been hidden behind the disbenefits of alcoholism. But scratchings — we prefer the term ‘performative enhancement rinds’ — contain stearic acid, a miracle ingredient responsible for activating multiple sets of what we call funky endorphins in the brain.’ Low in carbohydrates and rich in a trace element only the name of which remains undiscovered, but which is thought to bolster elbow resilience, pork scratchings are to be heavily marketed around the world as what Dr Snetterton describes as a cost-efficient alternative to laboratory testing. ‘With non-evidential modelling techniques suggesting pork scratchings may reverse ageing, we literally can’t afford to wait.’
Adrian Fry
We hear a lot these days about the necessity of a healthy diet and regular exercise, a blizzard of advice from Those Who Know Best. Watch your BMI or else. It’s easy to imagine Britain becoming a nation of joyless joggers and food Nazis.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking a stroll in the park or having a weekly stodge-free night. But let’s keep things in proportion. The big killer these days is stress. And what causes stress? Having ‘no time to stand and stare’ or, to update the idea, to relax on the sofa and enjoy some visual entertainment — golf, David Attenborough, pornography, whatever.
So favour your wellbeing by taking the weight off, collaring the remote and sticking to a salutary indoor leisure routine. The health benefits of keeping stress at bay mean you’ll just burn up a beer and pizza snack while you’re watching.
Basil Ransome-Davies

Saturated with goodness: that’s the surprising news about lard, the food that has now surfaced from a tide of negative publicity to become the latest superfood in the fridge. Consumer demand for natural products (as opposed to factory-produced fat substitutes) has led to reappraisal of traditional foodstuffs. In addition, UK-produced lard reduces food miles and supports British agriculture, offering a viable market for previously unfashionable by-products of the now much maligned ‘red meat’.
‘Taken as part of a balanced diet,’ claims Dr Ed Rantipole of the Folkways Food Institute, ‘lard has beneficial effects: it contains no sugar, cannot crack teeth, makes unbeatable fish and chips, and has a high calorific value, providing necessary fuel for hardworking bodies. To sum up, it beats starving every time.’
Next week: tallow.
D.A. Prince
‘Sit down!’ That’s the latest advice from medical experts as new research demonstrates the value of a sedentary lifestyle. Benefits include reduced risk of injury and increased mental wellbeing. ‘We have to stop the fitness craze before our hospitals are totally overwhelmed,’ says lead researcher Dr Havva Wrest. ‘The average A&E is like a war zone each Saturday. First the golfers with dislocated shoulders and the fun runners with ankle injuries, then the ambulances arrive with casualties from the football field.’ And fitness fanatics don’t only have physical health problems. ‘They’re stressed about gym fees, they’re anxious they won’t meet the goals set by their personal trainers, they’re guilty if they miss a session.’
Dr Wrest advises his own patients to stay at home and take it easy. He concedes a gentle walk won’t do too much harm. ‘But keep it short — and don’t even think of jogging.’
Harriet Elvin


No. 2867: and another thing

You are invited to add a final stanza to a well-known poem (please specify). Please email entries of up to 16 lines to by midday on 24 September.

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