I remember that I once won a radio contest where you had to call in and tell a joke to the DJ that made them genuinely laugh. The joke I told was one where the VP of Marketing at Starbucks approaches St. Peter at the Pearly Gates of Heaven and says that the company proposes to give a donation of $1 million if God agrees to change the prayer from “Give us this Day, our Daily Bread” to “Give us this Day, our Daily Coffee.” St. Peter says no way. Marketing guy says how about $10 million? And so it goes back and forth until the bid gets to $100 billion. At that point St. Peter says, “well, ok, but the Wonder Bread people are going have a fit.” Great joke, in my opinion, but I do admit to being a marketing person at heart.
Anyway, I bring it up because I read an article today that reminded me of that moment and made me realize that I could not be happier. The article reported that several recent studies have shown that drinking coffee leads to a lower risk of stroke. Now the money I have sunk into Starbucks doesn’t look so bad (actually, I like to refer to it as Fourbucks, as that is what I generally have to spend to get out of there with a steaming paper cup of happiness). As it turns out, I have not been spending my money for a beverage that will keep me from falling asleep at Board meetings; rather, I have been investing in my personal wellness. Look at me mom! I am an engaged healthcare consumer.
Seriously, it is an inspiring revelation, as going to Starbucks has recently become much less enjoyable since they started putting the calorie counts right out in the open for all to see. Scones that have enough calories to feed a small nation and, god help me, cinnamon twists whose calories could power London for 3 weeks–those used to be things that I could eat without suicidal ideation. Even my daughter remarked on this as we stood in line for our regular offering to the Starbucks goddess, saying, “I hate that we have to know how bad these things are for us now.”
But don’t worry, honey, redemption has come in the form of finding out that our coffee addiction is actually therapy. Any day now I am hoping to read in the New England Journal of Medicine that, when mixed with crumbs left as the remnant of discreet scone-dipping, the risk of stroke drops by 50%, not the mere 20-25% that recent studies have shown.
If I compute what I have spent on designer coffee over the years since I started drinking it in college, I figure it could rival the annual GDP of most European countries. Now that my daughter likes to come with me, it’s like paying for a cocaine habit. But now I don’t have to feel bad about spending $4.00 (times two) on a substance that contributes to my health in such a profound way. My current concern is how I’m going to get my insurance company to refund me for all those tall non-fat lattes. Do you think they can just use the same claims code they use for Lisinopril, the go-to drug they use to treat stroke-inducing high blood pressure?
When added to the studies that show that chocolate-eating reduces stroke injury and wine-drinking reduces heart disease, I realize that I am in the running to be the healthiest person alive. All I need now are studies demonstrating that macaroni and cheese reduces diabetes risk, eating ice cream makes you smarter and lying on the couch watching American Idol makes you taller. My life would be complete.
As you can probably tell, I am expecting any day now to be appointed to lead the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) public health research agenda. The NIH is located in Bethesda, so my first project as Director will be to demonstrate the cancer-preventing properties of Maryland blue crab cakes washed down with a Clipper City Ale. Who knew being healthy could taste so good?!