You might not be aware of it, but there is a war being waged for our empty stomachs. In case you didn’t know, it’s prime property early in the morning. If experts are to be believed (and that’s increasingly becoming a huge if) then what we ingest first thing in the morning can shield us from the evil eye of disease.
Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol — the big bad three that together hold entire populations in their deadly grip — can be beaten back and kept firmly at bay depending on what hurtles down our food pipes and into our slumbering tummies.
So what is it that you have first thing in the morning? Warm water perhaps? Warm water with lemon and honey? Warm water with just a splash of lemon juice? Maybe you were told, as I have, that you must wring the lemon to part with its juice the night before, let the juice steep in water while you sleep and voilà it turns into this potent elixir with the power to transform the acidic environs of our gut into a stable, alkaline haven. Why, you might well ask. Because it keeps all our cells happy so they can thumb their noses at those mean cancerous ones intent on a guerrilla strike!
Or maybe you boiled 20-30 curry leaves in water and gulped this down on an empty stomach? Extremely good, allegedly, for those saddled with high cholesterol that in and of itself may not be a cause for alarm; that is until the doctor draws your attention with his pinky finger to LDL — this one’s the killjoy — which you can see is high, vis-a-vis HDL — that’s Miss Goody Two Shoes — which is low. It’s the opposite that we seek and may never find.
Or maybe you soaked some fenugreek in water the night before so you could drink this down the following morning? This, I understand, will prevent the insulin — that your pancreas secretes to stabilise blood sugar levels — from making a dash out of the house like a mother with her brood on the morning school run, who will not know a moment’s peace until her kids are through the school gates. I may not have understood the process correctly, but our stock of insulin must release itself gradually rather than empty itself all at once at the first sign of a sugar spike.
So under the influence of fenugreek Mrs Insulin will sedately leave home like a celebrity mum on high heels and impeccable designer-wear, with not a hair out of place, leading her children serenely, taking the time to devote her attention equally between them, and radiating contentment and happiness.
Or maybe, like my mother, it’s a teaspoon of coconut oil or ghee that makes the skydive into your abdomen! To extol its virtues, it lines our stomach walls for one thing, and secondly keeps our ageing neurons in prime condition, improving memory and cognition, thus giving Alzheimer’s a firm kick in its rear end.
Or, as a friend told me: “Have a bowl of pomegranate seeds first thing in the morning; try this for a couple of weeks.” Blood pressure, skin problems ... bye bye.
I have attempted all these. And I take my family on the ride too. I have this very strong family ethic that makes me feel very guilty if I try and keep the benefits of my newfound knowledge to myself. My “bitter” half is most encouraging in all of this. “Let’s go for it,” he says, until come Thursday evening when we are sitting around with our extended family and he makes a joke of my tendency to be influenced by every new food fad that promises to be a panacea for everything.
Sadly, in all these years, the only thing that has really caught on and stayed with me is the water — a glass or two of which I drink every morning first thing. I do try and ensure that the water is warm, but at times I am just too lazy to do even that!
Maria Elizabeth Kallukaren is a freelance journalist based in Dubai.