Why we die early

By Alex P. Vidal

Man seeks to change the foods available in nature to suit his tastes, thereby putting an end to the very essence of life contained in them.”

—Sai Baba

AS we age we become conscious of the food we eat primarily because of health reasons.

According to a dietician, we are the food we eat.

A young college student in Iloilo once asked why people in ancient times lived longer than people in modern times.

My answer was a quick “probably because of the quality of food they ate.”

Biblical figures lived up to 800 years.

Today, at 60, many of us are already “bog bog sarado” from different ailments and complications and are frequent visitors in the doctor’s clinic if not confined in the hospitals.

By 70, some of us are wheelchair-bound.

Those lucky to reach 80 stay in bed until the trip to the kingdom come beckons.

Some food give us diseases because they are contaminated by chemicals and preservatives.

Aging was described in the mid-20th Century as a trade-off between reproduction and cell maintenance, according to a BBC report.

Initially, organisms’ bodies use their resources to grow and keep us healthy—to maintain our cells.


Through childhood and adolescence, the emphasis is on staying alive and becoming as strong and healthy as possible, added the BBC report. “After sexual maturity, the priority switches to reproducing. Because, for most organisms, resources are limited, prioritizing producing offspring can come at the expense of staying healthy,” the BBC reported.

To be healthy, according to health experts, our body needs fuel-foods, fats and carbohydrates (sugars starches) to provide energy; proteins, such as meat, to build new tissues for growth or to replace those worn out; calcium, in milk, for strong bones and teeth; and various minerals, including salt, that help the body to maintain its chemical balance and to carry on its functions.


We learned that vitamins are not foods, but these “food-factors,” as they are called, are essential.

They help the body to make use of the food we eat, doctors say.

Vitamins already present in food are usually enough for a normal person if his diet is otherwise well-balanced, they add.

Every day we are advised to eat some foods from each of these groups:

(1) milk or milk products, including cheese—at least a pint of milk for an adult and more for a child;

(2) citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit), tomatoes, or raw cabbage or salad greens—at least one;

(3) green or yellow vegetables, some raw, some cooked—at least one big serving;

(4) other vegetables or fruits, including potatoes;

(5) bread and cereals;

(6) meat, poultry or fish;

(7) eggs—three or four a week at least;

(8) butter or another vitamin-rich spread.

We will all die anyway, so it’s better to make an exit with grace.


“I’M HUNGRY.” While walking on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, NYC at around 5:25 pm, a man in his 50s approached me and asked: “Pilipino ka ba? Pahingi naman ng pera nagugutom ako eh.” I was about to give him $10, but I quickly recognized him as one of the Pinoys who regularly played “pusoy”, a card game,  in a small park.

He and his cohorts played against Chinese and Vietnamese gamblers in at least five separate tables betting from $60 to $100 per game almost everyday. Nagugutom? Bakit, talo? (Hungry? He lost?).

Nevertheless I offered to treat him at the nearby Pho restaurant for a bowl of Vietnamese rice soup with beef for $12.75. He declined.  Meanwhile, I saved my $10 for frozen arroz caldo (worth $5) and pusit (worth $5) at the Fil-Am Store on 70th Street. Moral of the story: prioritize the meal over gambling.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)