Slow down or you’ll burst a blood vessel

The Good Life Letter

16th February 2018
  • The horror of public transport in half term week revealed
  • Why this survey isn’t all it claims to be
  • Make sure you don’t get caught up in the blame game

I made the mistake of taking the train to the office in Leamington Spa last week.

The issue wasn’t that I needed a second mortgage to travel, although I must admit the cost of a return ticket did make my eyes water, but the fact I was going to mix with the great British public.

Aside from children running amok in the carriage, folk who believed that their bags deserved to have a seat whilst older people were standing in the aisles and the incessant background noise of mobile phones and squeaky earpieces, there was much worse happening.

Sniffling, nose blowing, sneezing and rib wracking coughs were taking place all around me.

I envisaged the air I was breathing to be teeming with bacteria and viruses, hurled into the air by my fellow passengers.

There seemed to be no escape and I could only sit as far away from the crowd as I could and hope that my immune system was up to such a savage assault.

Spilling out onto the platform at my destination I headed for the office as quickly as I could and washed my hands and face thoroughly.

“Justin, I need honey, vitamin C and a new Salt Pipe please!” I gasped, entering the warehouse.

“Tough journey Ray?” my colleague enquired, handing the requisite items over to me along with a mug of warmed water, “Good Life Letter first aid kit to the rescue!”

I dosed myself up with a good dollop of golden raw honey, a couple of vitamin C capsules and a few draws on the trusty Salt Pipe. Calmness restored I chatted with him for a few minutes before heading into the boardroom for my scheduled meeting.

Having put the world to rights and sorted out a few new and interesting natural remedies to delight you all (more of that to come later in the year!) we decided to decamp to the local for a well-earned sandwich and a beer.

Retelling the horror of my experience travelling up I was aware that Dave, my publisher, was watching me intently as I ate.

“Didn’t hear the news this morning then chap?” he said. “Apparently the quicker you eat the more likely you are to become obese.”

I must have let out a groan as he quickly added, “Not saying that you have anything to worry about, but maybe take it a bit steadier all the same.”

My heart sank but I finished my lunch before I told him all about the survey he was quoting from.

Fast eaten food and the race to the belly

In November last year I saw the publication of an interim paper from a university in Japan that had been circulated by the American Heart Association entitled ‘Slow Down, You Eat Too Fast: Fast Eating Associate With Obesity and Future Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome.’

Initially I was interested to find out what they had concluded from such a seemingly simple study, plus I wanted to know if there was good advice on the topic to share with my readers.

I guess the fact that I have not mentioned it until now gives you an idea about what I discovered when I looked into the methodology and quality of the research.

The team interviewed just over 1,000 people and asked them how fast they ate, requiring them to state slow, normal or fast and they were all given a questionnaire to record their dietary habits, body weight and medical history.

The survey was repeated five years later and the conclusions drawn, especially the number of respondents who had developed metabolic conditions such as diabetes in the interim.

Finding that more people in the fast eating category were suffering than the slow (11% compared to 2%) led them to state that there was cause and effect from the speed people ate.

Now, dear reader, having read my brief synopsis of the ‘trial’ I hope you can see why it didn’t make my newsletter at the time.

Self-reporting data that has no basis in test or fact is a major flaw – why didn’t they actually observe these folk having a meal? Surely one person’s fast might be another’s normal?

Next, what actually did happen in the five years between initial contact and final survey? Had the participants modified other aspects of their life for instance?

Lastly, where is the physiological basis for the conclusion that eating faster delivers more sugar and fat into the blood stream than eating more slowly? In my humble opinion if I wolf my food down I am forcing my gut to digest the larger volume in one go and therefore chances are less of it gets acted upon.

Eating slowly and chewing my food into smaller pieces increases the surface area and provides more rime for enzymatic breakdown and therefore greater amounts of nutrients get released.

The blame game

In the end I saw this survey as just another attempt by scientists and vested interests from pharmaceutical and food manufacturers to point the finger of blame at the consumer rather than take the flak themselves.

Sitting in that cosy pub in Leamington it would have been easy to feel guilt for having a nice sandwich with slices of roast beef, real butter, horseradish sauce and a side helping of crisps. To compound the crimes I was committing against my body I also had a pint of real ale loaded with calories and liver damaging alcohol...

...but I didn’t give two hoots!

There are too many people out there who want to shame us into their way of thinking, but don’t actually highlight the real problems facing society – the impact of big business.

My sandwich was wholemeal bread, wholesome beef and a beautiful, hot horseradish sauce actually made from a root harvested from a local hedgerow – the ale was brewed in the pub’s own microbrewery from nothing more than hops, barley, yeast and water.

Nature gave us bounty and we should enjoy it. My lunch was a million times better than a microwave pizza or High Street sandwich dripping with synthetic gloop.

Besides, I needed to fortify my body for the return journey on the ‘flu express’ – I was going to need every immune system boost I could lay my hands on!  

Eat well, treat yourself occasionally and chew at whatever speed you damned well like...

...I hope you agree?

Yours, as always



Yamaji, T., Mikami, S., Kobatake, H., Tanaka, K., Higashi, Y., & Kihara, Y. (2017). Slow Down, You Eat Too Fast: Fast Eating Associate With Obesity and Future Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome.

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