Things My Granddad Taught Me: The preachings of a wise, old Italian man

Things My Granddad Taught Me

Granddad

As per, I’m going to start with a quote. “We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever. The goal is to create something that will”. Nope, that wasn’t something my Granddad told me, but it is something that inspired writing this post. Despite all the online courses, books, media and plethora of resources we have at our disposal, never under-estimate that the most valuable form of wisdom can come from your elders.

About my Granddad

My Granddad passed away almost 2 months ago. He was 91, lived at home up until 2 days before passing and was completely compos mentis. He originated from the south of Italy, deep within the mountain side of the Amalfi coast. To say his generation was different to that of the ones reading this article now, would be somewhat of an under-statement. He was the last of a dying breed. He was from an era where meat had to be caught not brought, and nothing went to waste.

Tangent

I’ve been doing a lot of research recently in to the brain. One thing I find fascinating is the concept of “nature vs nurture”. Are we the product of our environment, do we have free will or are we just the consequences of predetermined genetic codes passed on by our ancestors? As the old saying goes, “the apple never falls far from the tree”. What this really means is, the DNA passed on from our parents creates the same neural networks in the brain to ensure there are similarities within the kin.

Am I using these terms just to sound fancy? Absolutely. Will this statement bare relevance by the end of the article? We will see.

Teachings: The rules of Salvatore

1. The Kitchen is the most important room in the house

In my Granddad’s eyes, food was important. In fact, I should re-phase that. Everything revolved around food. He lived to cook. His primary objective in life was to feed others and make sure everyone was well nourished. He knew more about nutrition than anyone I know and that was without any form of education on the topic. Take home point; good quality food should always be a priority.

I remember when I was going through the “Paleo” phase. It was about 5 year ago and I thought any form of carb other than a sweet potato was toxic. There I was, sat at the table, arguing with my Granddad about how bread was bad for you. Things got a little heated. I was adamant that gluten was just a different form of anthrax whereas my Granddad believed it should be a staple in the diet. This leads me nicely on to my second point. Grandad 2

2. Moderation works

They say the Mediterranean diet is the healthiest in the world. It contains fresh meats, vegetables, loads of good fats and moderate amounts of carbs. My Granddad’s diet was very similar to this, but it also contained generous amounts of desserts and so called “unclean” foods as well. Are these things bad for you? Well technically yes, but success leaves clues. You don’t live to be in your 90’s without having some sort of working formula.

There’s research coming out now that is looking to the affects on nutrient timing on health and fat loss. This innovative way of structuring your diet was just common sense eating to my Granddad. You may of heard the phrase “Breakfast of a king, lunch of prince, dinner of a pauper”. For as long as I can remember, a typical days eating was structured like this;

8am – Breakfast

Cereal and toast

11:30am – Lunch

Fish, meat, vegetables, salad, cheese, fruit, bread

5pm – Dinner

Soup or an orange

My Granddad used to eat one big meal a day. This meal was extremely nutrient dense, packed with protein, fats and carbs. He also used eat fruit and desserts at the same time. He was able to stay healthy and lean through not eating like a dickhead the rest of the day. It’s called moderation. It’s common sense. It’s a commodity that no fancy diet or methodology will ever overpower.

3. Train your brain

As I’ve said before, the brain fascinates me. Although I don’t know much about it now, I can tell that more clinical research in to the way the brain functions is something I’ll pursue later in life. To my current knowledge, developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia comes from a decline in Acetylcholine production. Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter of learning and creativity. Whenever you do something that simulates the brain, it helps protect the brain against degenerative deceases in later life.

My Granddad used to watch documentaries and quiz shows all day. Not only this, he used to make notes on certain things that interested him or warranted further investigation. Every time I used to go round he’d ask me a question on physiology or biology. He once asked me “where does fat go once it’s been burned?”, which if I’m honest, absolutely stumped me.

The coffee table in the front room contained about 20 different dictionaries. These ranged from several in Italian to English but also ones in French, German, Spanish and Russian. I’m sure he even asked for one in Chinese at one point. You can’t fault his enthusiasm. Take home point; he didn’t vegetate and watch hours of mind numbing drivel that required no mental stimulation at all. He trained his brain on a regular basis and it kept him healthy in both mind and body.

End Note

Although I appreciate it’s irony based on the mode in which is article has been shared, our modern day reliance on technology and social media is concerning. Regardless of how advanced we become as a species, never underestimate the power of listening to your elders when it comes to worldly advice. My generation, and more so the generation below, live in a world of instant gratification. The instantaneous rewards system of likes and followers has revoked the notion that those of a different era offer much value. Your dynasty will leave you the greatest clues in what and who your supposed to be. Extract the features that appeal to you the most make it your purpose to improve the world through those qualities.

My Granddad’s main objectives were to:

  • feed people through nutritious and tasty food
  • make sure everything was eaten in moderation so you can enjoy the finer things in life
  • train your brain so it becomes the most valuable asset you have

That may sound a little familiar.