Tuesday, February 18, 2014

When Science Is Fiction

["Let Inga Tell You," La Jolla Light, published February 20, 2014] © 2014 

Both my husband and I enjoy reading science fiction although Olof’s preferred focus is outer space while mine involves health and beauty tips from women’s magazines which are especially bountiful this time of year.  I love this stuff.  The sheer creativity!  The total illogic!  The charming lunacy! And above all, the exclamation points!  All of the advice in these magazines is, of course, attributed vaguely to “science,” research,” or “experts.”  After culling dozens of “tips” from the January glossies, here are some of my favorites:

Bring the beach home.  Ocean air is pumped with negative ions which may amp up blood oxygenation leaving you calmer and happier.  Create instant ocean air by investing in an ionic purifier and running it for 90 minutes before you wake up.  As someone who has lived 262 steps from the Pacific Ocean for decades, I can only imagine what a crabby nut job I’d be if I hadn’t been sucking up ions all this time.  In fact, why aren’t all La Jollans, cocooned in ionic bliss as we are, deliriously happy?  Are those scheming pinnipeds and crafty cormorants siphoning it all off before it gets to us?  With every negative ion in me, I believe this needs to be investigated.

Exercise tip:  Making photocopies at work?  Do squats in front of the machine.  I am so trying to imagine this at my former workplace which was 90% male and where the photocopier was in the main hallway.  I’m not sure but I think H.R. had a specific policy against flashing the co-workers.

We recommend Sephora’s compact with 16 eye shadows made with antioxidant-packed cocoa.  So, are you supposed to eat them?

Write yourself a peppy note.  Nurture your inner optimist by scribbling a sentence or two about your favorite moment (or hour) of the week on a kitchen chalkboard, e.g “Girls night out + doubled over with laughter + lobster mac n’ cheese = a memorable dinner.  Must do it again soon!”  OK, so how are the kids going to feel when they pass by the chalk board where Mom has written, “Did Dad in the laundry room on top of the washer during spin cycle!  Gave each other massages with fabric softener!  MUCH better than Viagra!”

Eat garbanzo beans to fight gray hair.  These beans, also known as chickpeas, provide tons of protein along with the trace mineral manganese.  It’s known to prevent changing pigmentation, a.k.a. gray hair!  So how many truckloads would you have to eat per day to fire your colorist?  Maybe stop by CVS and pick up some manganese instead?

Eat cilantro to prevent hair loss:  It works as a purifying agent to rid the body of toxic metals which can stop nutrients from getting to your scalp, resulting in hair loss.  OK, so why isn’t every guy in America downing cilantro shakes?

Eat lentils for hair growth.  They’re an ideal source of iron, which is so important for full, lustrous locks!  This is especially key if you have thin hair!  Hmm, maybe that should be a cilantro-lentil shake.

A good excuse to eat chocolate:  People who do so have less belly fat.  [Inga begs to differ.]  Researchers think antioxidant-rich dark chocolate may curb cortisol, a hormone that triggers abs flab. Snack on two squares a day.  OK.  How big are the squares?

Train your fat.  Workouts don’t just help you ditch extra weight – they can also teach your fat to behave better.  …Studies suggest that 12 weeks of vigorous aerobic exercise can make a type of white fat – the kind under your skin that you can pinch – act more like healthier brown fat.  The difference?  Brown fat doesn’t just sit still:  It burns energy to produce heat, which results in better blood sugar control and a healthier body composition.  I predict the next diet craze will be “What Color Is My Fat?”  You read it here.

But I’m not an unreasonable person.  I’m willing to cut “science” and “research” and “experts” a lot of slack if they happen to conclude something I want to hear.  The Dec-Jan AARP Magazine, for example, reported that drinking two cups of hot cocoa a day for 30 days significantly improved (yes, they did say significantly) memory in older adults.  Cocoa “boosted blood flow to the brain, particularly in those whose flow was impaired.”  I would definitely put myself in the impaired flow category so do I get to drink three?  And if I wanted to make a late bid for Mensa, ten?  It didn’t say what this did to the waistline of the memory impaired, but what’s the point of being svelte if you’re senile?

So my plan for 2014 is to sit in my negative-ion-rich front yard chugging cocoa, eating eye shadow, and penning peppy notes.  All, of course, in the name of science.

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