Today I realized that I should be concentrating more on my diet. During my recent southern Italian holiday, I was eating more (a lot more!) than I usually do at home, even though, oddly enough, I did not gain any weight. In fact, if anything, I lost a bit of weight. In addition to eating two and three course meals, though, I was eating foods that are not really (!) part of a cancer diet, such as sausage (oh, so yummy, though!). In my experience, southern Italian cooking is not the lightest fare on Earth. Delicious, but not light. For instance, the eggplant parmesan that Stefano’s cousin prepared for our August 15 ferragosto feast was absolutely divine, but she made it the traditional way, that is, fried not just once but TWICE. No, I am not kidding. The first frying occurs after you get rid of the eggplant’s bitter taste (by sprinkling a bit of coarse sea salt on the slices which then are placed inside a colander to drip for about an hour). You then roll the fried slices in flour, dip them in egg and fry â‚¬Ëœem…again. The final part coincides more or less with what we all know about this dish: layers of eggplant, tomato sauce, fresh basil and mozzarella and other kinds of cheese. Yummy, but wow! After many of those rich meals, I barely had the strength to crawl upstairs and take a long nap. Plus, when Stefano and his relatives learned that my iron stores (my June test results) were very very low, they almost began force-feeding me red meat every day. Help! I have always been a wannabe vegetarian and still stubbornly refuse to eat some kinds of meat (rabbit etc.), but I also know that we absorb less iron from vegetables (non-heme iron). I tried to point out that my serum iron is well within the normal range, it’s just my ferritin that is low, but to no avail. I was outnumbered. 😉 In the end I stopped protesting and ate the bloody meat. One good thing about eating meat in Italy is that it is safe. No hormones, no antibiotics, etc.
On a related note, I went to see my doctor’s substitute this morning. After we happily discussed my most recent test results, she printed out the request for my next set of blood tests, so I may go up to the Careggi hospital lab to have my blood drawn tomorrow morning. That way I can see what effect a heavy southern Italian diet coupled with bioperine-less curcumin capsules had on me. Should be interesting.
On another related note, one of the newsletters that I subscribe to is Dr. Andrew Weil’s Daily Tip. Today’s tip, which actually gave me the idea for this post, is titled Four Ways to Reduce Inflammation, since inflammation is linked to many nasty ailments, including cancer. (In fact, I have a few notes on the cancer and inflammation link in my “blog ideas” folder. For a future post.) At any rate, these are Dr. Weil’s recommendations:
1. Eat a diet rich in omega-3s, including wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, freshly ground flaxseed and walnuts. 2. Incorporate plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables in your meals. 3. Reduce your intake of polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as sunflower, corn and safflower oils), replacing them instead with extra-virgin olive oil. 4. Use healing spices in your cooking: turmeric, ginger and red pepper can add zing to meals and are all natural anti-inflammatories.
Makes sense. I already follow many of these suggestions, as well as a few of my own. My biggest downfall, as I have written in previous posts, is chocolate oh, and wonderful rich chocolate and nut ice-cream during the summer. Have I ever mentioned that we happen to live practically around the corner from the best ice-cream parlour in Florence? Ah yes. How coincidental is THAT? 😉