Science of Healthy Diet
Health is the basis of all other assets. They have meaning only if the health is good. You cannot get good health by visiting the doctor or eating supplements. You create it by your habits, and can change it by changing habits. Today we don’t have shortage of food. Majority of people who visit doctors are people who have eaten too much, but they have eaten the wrong kind of food, and in the wrong manner. Half of what we eat feeds us and the rest breeds diseases and feeds doctors and druggists.
Meat And Eggs – To Eat Or Not To Eat
Nature meant humans to be vegetarian.
- Human beings do not have long canine teeth and a wide jaw to tear flesh like carnivorous animals.
- Carnivores have short bowels to allow minimal transit time for the unstable and dead animal food, which putrefies and decays faster. On the contrary, humans have a longer digestive tract for the slow and better absorbtion of the plant food.
- The intestinal micro-organisms are different in the meat-eating animals as compared to humans, to aid meat digestion.
- The stomach of carnivores is more acidic than human beings, to digest raw meat.
Harmful effects of meat
- Hormone-fed animals. Animals are fed synthetic hormones inorder to accelerate their growth, increase fat deposits and muscle mass. These are passed on to the consumers.
- Cholesterol and saturated fats. This is high in meat, leading to hardening and narrowing of arteries, causing high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. Fat is where animals store their toxins, and that itself is passed on to the meat-eaters.
- High uric acid. Protein from meat has high uric acid which leads to arthritis, kidney stones and high chances of kidney diseases.
- Poor source of fibre. Meat does not contain a significant amount of fibre, thus leading to constipation.
- Body acidity. Meat is highly acidic, leading to acidity in body tissues and creating ground for diseases to breed.
- Fear factor. Whenever there is threat of danger, as a response to it, levels of certain chemicals and hormones increase in our body. When an animal is killed, the fear and pain releases many toxic chemicals which are ingested by us when we eat meat.
- Heaviness and lethargy. Meat-eating leads to dullness and lethargy in the body and mind too. So the scriptures say meat is tamasic food.
- Meat and cancer. There is a strong correlation between animal protein and several kinds of cancers.
- Whatever nutrients may be present in meats, they are simply not worth the risk.
Refined white sugar is stripped of all nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It is not fit for human consumption. It has always been connected with diabetes. It is the leading cause of disease of affluence – obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, acidity, indigestion, dental cancer, weakening of immune system, arthritis, etc.
Other sugars, such as fructose (fruits and honey), lactose (milk) and maltose ( grains) are natural substances that have nutritional value. Jaggery has the additional value of Iron and Calcium and vitamins like B1, B2 and B3. Honey contains simple sugar (dextrose and levulose) which are predigested and require little enzymatic digestion. So honey leads to speedy absorbtion and release of energy. Pure honey is blessed with many medicinal and healing properties that help in developing immunities against diseases like cough and cold, breathing difficulties and indigestion. Obese people would do well if they take a little bit of honey instead of sugar as honey mobilizes body fat.
So minimise the use of sugar. Instead depend on natural sugar found in fruits, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc. Make a syrup of jaggery and use instead of sugar.
Fast food joints are mushrooming all over the country. The taste tempts us all, particularly the young generation to visit these joints for burgers, pizzas, potato fries, areated drinks and milk shakes. Samosas, kachoris, wadas are a part of the list.
- Fast foods are the best source of dead or empty calories. They are rich in calories and saturated fats, but devoid of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Such fast foods have many drawbacks:
- Fats used to make the buns and rolls are usually hydrogenated vegetable fats, which are indigestible.
- The excess cheese topped on these preparations promote obesity and eventually poor health.
- Refined flour used to make breads and the pizzas lacks fibre and promotes constipation.
- These foods are high in salt content because of additional salt in the form of baking powder to bake the bread.
- Ketchups, sauces, salami, sausages, etc. contain food additives to enhance the taste and shelf life, but they enhance disease too.
- They are usually eaten along with soft drinks or shakes, which makes them even more difficult to digest.
The Not So Soft Soft Drinks
What do they contain? Sugar, colouring agent, flavouring agent, citric acid, caffeine, and sodium bicarbonate. All these are harmful to the body. On top of it, they contain gas CO2 mixed under pressure, which gives a fizz. CO2 is the end product of metabolism that the body throws out. How can we possibly remain healthy by ingesting this gas? A good fraction of it gets ingested in the blood making it acidic.
Harmful effects of softdrinks:
- They are extremely acidic. Our body fluids have a pH value of around 7.4. These drinks due to the presence of CO2, citric acid and sugars have pH ranging from 2.5 to 3.5. The liquids used for cleaning toilets have the same pH.
- They interfere with the process of digestion. They contain large amounts of sugar and caffeine, which virtually shuts down the digestive process.
- They make us prone to metabolic diseases like diabetes. Due to high sugar content.
- They make our bones and teeth weak. High acid level acidifies the tissues. To balance, alkaline minerals like Calcium and Magnesium are leeched out from the body reserves. Severe lack of minerals can lead to osteoporosis etc.
- Soft drinks weaken our immune system. The colouring and flavoring agents trigger abnormal immune responses, further weakening the system.
When Should You Eat?
Body rhythm and digestion. Our digestive capacity parallels the sun’s presence. The sun is at its peak from 10 am onwards. Hence our digestion is at its best from 10 am to 6 pm. After 8 – 9 pm, the process of assimilation or utilization of nutrients starts to pick up. It is intense when we are sleeping. During that time, the nutrients are extracted from the food and utilized. This eliminative activity peaks in the early morning hours. That is why there is an intense desire to pass stools on waking up in the morning. The process goes on – digestion, assimilation, elimination. The more we are in tune with the natural cycle, the healthier we shall be.
Breakfast. A heavy breakfast diverts the life forces. To ensure health, we should allow the elimination cycle to function freely and not thwart it in any way. You should earn your breakfast with exercise.
Lunch. The digestive fire is at the peak. Don’t skip it for tea as many working people do nowadays.
Dinner. It should be light, half the quantity of lunch, particularly if taken after 7 – 8 pm.
Water taken with meals dilutes the digestive juices and hampers digestion. Cold drinks with meals are positively harmful. The coolness of the drink hampers the fire of digestion in the stomach.
Drink water 30 min before the meal or 2 hours after it. This is easy if you avoid too much chilli and salt in the food.
A glass of warm water on getting up in the morning stimulates the gastrocolic reflex, thus initiating bowel movement and relieving constipation.
Daily Dietary Check
To ensure you are in tune with the science of Healthy diet, ensure you are following check points in your diet:
- 2 servings of fresh seasonal fruit. One serving is approximately 100 grams or one moderate fruit.
- Four servings of vegetables – freshly cooked or as a salad.
- A handful of sprouts.
- A lemon a day as an early morning drink with warm water or squeezed over salads.
- A bowl of curd or buttermilk.
- Vary your choice of cereals. Replace the wheat roti atleast three-four times a week.
- Vegetarians should eat one bowl of dal everyday for the proteins.
- A fistful of nuts and dry fruits.
- Strict vegetarians should eat flaxseed or alsi for the Omega 3 Fatty Acid content.
- Drink water at the right time.
- Avoid cold drinks and iced preparations with meals.
- Try to eat when in a relaxed state of mind.
- Do not overeat. Get up from the table when you are still hungry.
- Rest a while after lunch.
- Take a comfortable stroll after dinner.
For more details and further information, please read
“Yoga for Body, Mind and Soul” by Swami Mukundananda
available at our online gift shop