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Lumby, Lavington, Whitevale, Coldstream, Vernon & Cherryville

Your Community Newspaper

Lumby, Lavington, Whitevale, Coldstream, Vernon & Cherryville

Your Community Newspaper

Lumby, Lavington, Whitevale, Coldstream, Vernon & Cherryville

French Paradox

The French Paradox – it is a thing! I recently just came back from a trip to France. I was astonished at the life style choices, that I thought should surely show in the average French citizen, as far as size goes on a purely superficial level. The French seem to be relatively in good shape with the very odd sighting of anyone even slightly overweight. I really took in the culture and reflected on why this is so.  

First of all, what is the French Paradox? It refers to the observation that despite consuming a diet relatively high in saturated fats, the French population has a relatively low incidence of cardiovascular diseases compared to other countries with similar dietary habits. It’s contradictory to the prevailing belief that a high intake of saturated fats, commonly found in foods like cheese, butter, and red meat, would lead to an increased risk of heart disease. 

Several explanations have been proposed to account for the French Paradox, which I witnessed personally from the level of smokers, to the consumptions of desserts, bread, cheese and meats eaten, along with the intake of little coffee espressos and wine.

  1. Wine consumption, specifically red wine. Research shows red wine contains antioxidants, such as resveratrol, which has cardio-protective properties. But it is important to note it was only 1 or 2 glasses of wine not a whole bottle – moderation is key!
  2. Buying food daily. Food is purchased daily and is all fresh and or “homemade.” People go to the local baker, butcher and produce stores, throughout the day for their meals. Key importance is the food purchased is fresh, not frozen, canned or packaged, which pretty well totally takes out preservatives and holding agents for keeping food days upon days. 
  3. Attitude around meals. This actually is a huge deal. The French tend to have a more relaxed attitude towards meals, with longer meal times, a focus on enjoying food, and a culture of being social with the people you are eating with. Meals are enjoyed not scarfed down.  I also noticed cell phones are not prevalent in these settings, as again the social aspect, connectivity with others is the main focus. 
  4. Portion sizes. Everything is smaller from meal sizes, to the cups, plates and even tables you sit at. It gives the brain an illusion that everything is adequate, it really doesn’t need to be oversized
  5. Coffee consumption. I still don’t quite understand the whole tiny cup of espresso thing. But believe it or not, I got used to it. I found myself among the French sipping on my little shot of espresso, while enjoying a croissant. It clearly showed how big our coffees are here and that we really do over-consume this beverage. Even “large” coffees there, are half the size of a small one here.   
  6. Regular physical activity is also common in France, walking or riding a bike, are major means of transportation. Even though there is a lot of traffic…but that’s a whole other article.
  7. Appearance. The French really take pride in how they look on a daily basis. From fashion to hair styles. I never witnessed baggy t-shirts, sweats or tights as regular daily wear. This gave me insight on that they may have a different mindset and even read somewhere on this as being so. They want to look a certain way, so they make sure to stay within a certain physique, a willed mindset in a way.  

Overall, the French Paradox highlights the need to consider multiple factors when examining the relationship between diet, lifestyle, and health outcomes. It reminds us that a single dietary component cannot be solely responsible for health outcomes and that a holistic approach to health is crucial.

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