The importance of a healthy diet in relation to health has been emphasized for centuries in both, the East and West. While proper diet alone may not be enough to entirely reverse certain types of disease, most chronic medical conditions can be significantly improved by a diet of nutrient rich foods and adequate intake of purified water.
A good dose of “common sense” can go a long way towards alleviating this confusion. There is a great deal of truth to the old age “You are what you eat.” The foods you consume become the fuel your body uses to carry out its countless functions. Therefore, it makes good sense to eat those foods that are the best ”fuel sources”. This means foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, essential fatty and amino acids, and other necessary nutrients and are free of preservatives, pesticides, and other substances that deplete the body’s energy and can damage your vital organs.
Eat at least five portions of vegetables and / or fruits a day. Vegetables and fruits are low in calories, are good sources of vitamins and minerals, and are rich in dietary fibre. A diet rich in fibre particularly soluble fibre helps to lower blood cholesterol and reduces risk of cardiac diseases.
Fresh fruits and vegetables. Oats, apples, guava, beans, peas, cabbage, spinach, ladies finger are rich in soluble fibre. Canned fruits or vegetables in water or juice.
Coconut, heavy gravies, canned fruits and vegetables with heavy syrup.
Although, they are extremely rich sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber, fruits impede the digestion of other foods and are therefore best not eaten at meal times.
Any food that contains a large amount of carbohydrate (e.g. sugar, fruits, sweets) when eaten with protein food will lead to fermentation of the sugar to acid / alcohol and lead to a lot of gas, acidity and a feeling of severe fatigue.
Whenever possible, whole grains, beans ad legumes should be your primary source of carbohydrates as they too provide many essential vitamins and minerals.
Whole wheat flour, whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain pasta, oatmeal..
Refined wheat flour (maida), white bread, white polished rice, maida pasta.
Lots of care should be taken while selecting bakery items like biscuits, kharies, rusk, cakes, pasteries, muffins, doughnuts, etc, as these are made out of refined flour and are loaded with hidden fat. Check out the food labels carefully before selecting them.
A few simple changes in protein diet can reduce fat intake considerably. Some of the good sources of protein in non-vegetarian diets are meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, eggs and in vegetarian diets are legumes, beans, peas, lentils.
Replace whole milk with skimmed milk as it contains same amount of calcium, protein and B vitamins and less fat. Similarly, natural low fat yogurt, cottage cheese are high in calcium and good substitute for cream.
Vegetarian – Cow Milk, Skimmed Milk, Low fat yoghurt, low fat cheese, skimmed milk, paneer, legumes, flaxseed, walnuts, soyabean.
Non-vegetarian – – egg whites, chicken, turkey – contain less fat but remove skin and any visible fat before cooking, lean cuts of meat, cold water fatty fishes e.g. Mackerel, salmon, tuna, herring, sardines – good omega 3 content.
Vegetarian – Whole milk, whole milk paneer, high fat cheese.
Non-vegetarian – Whole eggs with yolk, red meats, e.g. lamb, pork, beef-high in saturated fats, sausages, bacon, minced beef, liver and shell fish.
Uric Acid - A new villain is a breakdown product of high- protein food which breeds diseases.
Limit saturated fat and cholesterol Another essential factor in the healthy diet is to reduce the amount of saturated fat. This lowers your blood cholesterol levels – reducing the risk of heart disease. You should not cut down on fat completely from diet as it is necessary for certain fat-soluble vitamins.
The best food sources of healthy fats are the whole foods from which the oils are derived. These include foods such as nuts and seeds, soyabeans, olives and wheat germ. Healthy fats in the form of oils include : olive, canola, safflower, flaxseed (do not use for cooking), wheat germ, sesame, and sunflower oils. Essential fatty acids are found in two groups, the omega-3s and the omega-6s. Good sources of omega-3 EFAs include cold water fish (salmon, sardines, tuna), wild game, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, soyabeans, fresh sea vegetables, and leafy greens. Good sources of omega-6EFAs include vegetable oils, legumes, all nuts and seeds, and most grains, breast milk, organ meats, lean meats, leafy greens, borage oil, evening primrose oil and gooseberry and black currant oils.
Avoid cholesterol rich foods, which are found only in animal foods like liver, shellfish, eggs, cheese, butter, ghee, mayonnaise, etc. Among fats monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, peanut oil should be used in place of saturated fats like coconut oil and palm kernel oil. However, moderation is the key as all fats are caloric dense. Recommended saturated fatty acid should be less than seven percent of your total daily calories. Trans-fatty acid less than one percent of your total daily calories. Cholesterol should be less than 300 mgs a day.
Good sources of fiber include fruits, the bran portion of whole grains, such as whole wheat, rolled oats and brown rice and raw and cooked green, yellow and starchy vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce, squash, carrots, beans and lentils.
ooking your own food provides you a complete control on fat intake and makes it easy for you to limit the quantity of saturated fat, salt and sugar. Excessive salt intake leads to high blood pressure, which in turn adds extra load on your heart, causing coronary heart disease. Therefore, cut down on excessive salt intake. Recommended daily intake six gm (2,300mg sodium).
You should grill, poach, bake or steam foods whenever possible, If you have to fry food, use minimum fat and pat off excess fat on tissue or blotting paper.
The human body is composed of 70% water and 30% solid matter. This ratio MUST be maintained at all costs in order to maintain health. Water is necessary for everything that flows in our body – enzymes, blood, lymph, urine, sweat and other body fluids. If water is lost then the flow ceases and that leads to ill-health.
If the flow of enzymes in the intestines is reduced then digestion suffers, if the water in the blood is reduced then vital organs are deprived of blood and then toxins accumulate in the body. Therefore, it is vital to maintain the ratio of water to solid at 70:30.
Knowing, this fact, Nature created foods that have the same ration and hence when we consume them they do not change the ratio within our bodies. These foods are FRUITS, VEGETABLES and SPROUTED BEANS.
In addition, coconut water, lemon juice, vegetable soup, fruit juices and plain water help in maintaining our water balance.
However, aerated drinks like soda, alcoholic beverages and tinned preserved squashes and juices are inappropriate in maintaining water balance. More often they contribute by disrupting internal physiology and causing toxemia and disease.
Foods are complimentary in their nature and many foods combine well to give a balanced diet. Common examples are idli-sambhar, dal-chaval, roti-sabzi, rice and fish curry, etc. All these are traditional food combinations, which are time-tested and approved by the ancient cultural heritage.
However, very important is the fact that all these combinations do even better when combined with SALADS (raw vegetables e.g. tomato, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, beetroot, onions, garlic, lemon, etc).
Salads contain the much needed vitamins which the cooked food lacks and hence combining SALADS with CEREALS / PULSES or MEAT / FISH / EGG is vital to get the best of these foods and maximize on our physical health and energy.
Common sense recommends that if we have small meals at frequent intervals, digestion would be better than if we had large meals at large intervals.
Large meals tax the digestive system and all the food doesn’t get digested. Some spoils, …ferments… rots and this causes serious toxemia…serious fatigue.
Hence though we – Eat to get ENERGY………ACTUALLY we EAT and get TIRED.
If you still feel a need to satisfy your sweet tooth, substitute modest amounts of pure honey or maple syrup to decrease the risk of these adverse effects.
While caffeine in moderation (200mg or less per day) is relatively safe, the regular consumption of greater amounts can result in elevated blood pressure; increased risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis, poor sleep patterns, anxiety and irritability, dizziness, impaired circulation, urinary frequency and gastrointestinal disorders. Caffeine also causes loss of calcium from muscle cells and can interfere with the blood clotting process by decreasing platelet stickiness.
Taken in moderation, however, caffeine has been shown to enhance mental functioning, improve both alertness and mood, and reduce risk for gallstones, it appears that 200mg or less of caffeine per day may be safely tolerated by most individuals.
Salt is another ingredient that is far too prevalent in many diets, and it poses particular dangers for certain people who suffer from high blood pressure. Many of us have been conditioned since childhood to crave salt, but its overuse draws water into the bloodstream. This, in turn, increases blood volume, causing higher blood pressure levels. Too much salt also upsets the body’s sodium- potassium balance, thereby interfering with the lymphatic systems ability to draw waste away from the cells.
Original unprocessed salt consists of 84 naturally found trace elements absolutely necessary for the body.
However, now common table salt is processed to which potassium and iodine are added to provide anti-goiter properties. Iodine, according to chemists is very chanchal and oxidizes immediately. The resulting salt is purple in colour, for whiteness bleach is added. For free flow it is coated with compounds such as sodium silicon aluminates. To stabilise this, simple sugar is added. Do we need the extra sugar with India fast becoming the diabetic capital of the world?
Adults as well as children, are at the risk of developing high blood pressure, obesity, degenerative diseases, cancer and cardiovascular disease because of the high levels of chemicals found in table salt.
Excessive salt is found in soft drinks, ketchups, cornflakes, cheese, namkeens, packaged foods, breads and biscuits. We can reduce the use of salt by adding foods to our diet that have natural salt content like carrots, cabbage, guava, bajra, cucumber, raddish, banana, fenugreek. Herbs, garlic and lime when sprinkled upon food reduces the need for salt, without distracting from the taste.
The wisest choice would be to opt for rock salt, sea salt and black salt. Table salt should not be on your table.
Next o oxygen, water is our most essential nutrient, and drinking enough water to satisfy your body’s needs may be the simplest, least expensive self-help measure you can adopt to maintain your good health.
Our adult bodies are 60 to 70 percent water (an infant’s body is about 80 percent) and water is the medium through which every bodily function occurs. It is the basis of all body fluids, including blood, digestive juices, urine, lymph and perspiration, which explains why we would die within a few days without water.
Water is vital to metabolism and digestion and helps prevent both constipation and diarrhea. It is also critical to healthy nerve impulse conduction and brain function. Some of water’s other vital functions in the body are:
While diet, the use of supplements, and exercise can all benefit physical health and improve immune function, perhaps the most powerful and overlooked key to overall well-being is sleep.
Lack of sleep and its resulting depression of the immune system can be a factor in many chronic health conditions, and is a common cause of colds. Additional sleep is therefore an essential component in the holistic treatment of such conditions. Besides lowered immune function, sleep deprivation can also cause a decrease in productivity, creativity, and job performances and can affect mood and mental alertness. In cases of insomnia, most incidents of sleep deprivation are due to a specific stress-producing event. While stress-induced insomnia is usually temporary, it may persist well beyond the precipitating event to become a chronic problem. Over-stimulation of the nervous system (especially from caffeine, salt,, or sugar) or simply the fear that you can’t fall asleep are other common causes.
Relaxation is another essential ability that promotes physical health.
Relaxation is a skill that can be improved upon with practice, therefore, it is recommended that you take time each day to relax. This can be achieved as easily as taking a few deep breaths or simply shifting your focus away from the problems and concerns, or through any activity that engages your creative and physical faculties. Such activities include reading and writing, gardening, taking a walk, painting, singing, playing music, doing crafts, or any other hobby that you enjoy for its own sake, without the need to be concerned about your performance. Committing two to three evening hours a week to the hobby or activity of your choice will help make relaxation a natural and regular part of your daily experience. The ability to relax and shift gears away from the competitive drive that impels most of us in our society holds the key to greater health.
A regular exercise schedule is key to maintaining not only a healthy body but also a healthy mind.
If you love to exercise about 20-30 minutes of the following activities, three times a week is recommended. Increase duration to 45 minutes to an hour five days a week gradually.
If you don’t have enough time for an exercise schedule
Benefits of Cardiovascular exercises
Enjoy an alcoholic drink but be aware that too much booze can damage the heart muscle, increase blood pressure and make it harder to keep to a healthy weight. However, moderate drinking (between one and two units of alcohol a day) can help to protect the heart in men aged over 40, and women who’ve gone through the menopause.
Committing yourself to a consistent program of physical fitness will enable you to achieve improvements in your physical well-being in as little as a few weeks. Before long, you should find that your reserves of energy are greater, and that you are physically stronger and more flexible. You will also develop a more positive self-image and feel better about how your body looks and performs. Such benefits are just the beginning of your journey to optimal wellness and will continue to become more noticeable as you continue to follow these guidelines in the months and years ahead. In the process, you will be creating the foundation necessary for healing the other aspects of holistic medicine’s triumvirate – mind and spirit.