If it is raw, it is sure to rock

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

If it is raw, it is sure to rock

FIBRE-RICH Seasonal and local fruits and vegetables, nuts and sprouts provide all the nutrients that one requires in the right proportionsWhatsoever was the father of a disease, a faulty diet was the mother. — Chinese proverb.

True, food can make or break you. When such is the significance of your daily diet, it becomes equally important to understand what good food is. What is good food? Simple question. But there are no simple answers, right?

This is where nutritionist and founder of The Health Awareness Centre at Mumbai, Dr Vijaya Venkat’s ‘criteria for food selection’ can help, by offering a clear idea of how to choose the right foods.  It is not a prescription for a diet. There is no need to count calories or convert your  kitchen into a lab, measuring food or breaking it down into its constituents.

Eating is a simple and pleasurable activity, and we don’t need to change that.  The criteria for food selection provides information and leaves the choice to us. It helps us differentiate between eating for taste and eating for health. Dr Venkat’s principles are based on natural laws governing the body. She says we should respect the body’s intelligence to maintain homeostasis. All we need to do is understand how the body works, respect its intelligence, listen to its feedback and eat accordingly.  According to the criteria for food selection, for any substance to be classified as food, it should contain a broad range of nutrients in an utilisable form, it should be digested quickly and efficiently, it should not burden our body with toxins, it must be capable of producing mental clarity, and it should not pollute the earth.

Once we learn how to classify food according to these criteria, we learn the answers to questions like when to eat, how much to eat and how to eat.

- Eat species-specific foods.

Humans are programmed to eat fruits, vegetables, nuts and sprouts. Fruits can be digested in 20-30 minutes, they leave no toxic residue, they provide instant energy without going down the insulin receptor pathway and are perfect cleansers for the body.

-Eat according to the circadian rhythm of the body.

The human body works on a 24-hour cycle of elimination, tissue-building and repair. The first  eight-hour cycle is the elimination period for the body (as is evidenced by the kind of enzymes produced in the body during this period). So, eat foods that aid the body in the cleansing processes. Fruits are the best cleansers. The next eight-hour cycle is the body/ tissue building cycle. So, eat foods that help tissue-building. Raw vegetables, sprouts and nuts are the body-builders. The third cycle is the repair cycle, when the digestive system needs a rest. So, what do you do during this period? Do not eat, rest instead.  Resting is equally important for complete wellness.

-Eat foods that are easily digestible.

Raw foods like (local and seasonal) fruits and vegetables, nuts and sprouts are the best examples of ‘live foods’ and are the only foods that can be best absorbed by the body. They provide all the nutrients needed by the body in the right proportions and in the form that can be easily assimilated. They can be consumed in the form of salads and juices. If switching to raw foods right away is hard, at least use cooking methods like steaming, which will help to retain nutrients. Any method of cooking where the temperature rises to above 113 degrees destroys most nutrients and live enzymes in the food.

-Eat foods that leave an alkaline residue.

All foods — post-digestion — leave a residue called metabolic ash. This ash has to be alkaline for the body can get rid of it easily. An acidic residue is harder for the body to eliminate.  The body draws on its mineral stores to get rid of the acidic residues. All fruits and raw vegetables and sprouts leave an alkaline residue, while meat, dairy products, oils, grains and cereals leave an acidic residue. Blood ph is 7.365, which is slightly alkaline and maintaining this alkalinity is the secret to a disease-free body. Illness strikes when the blood pH turns acidic with the consumption of wrong foods.

- Eat food in the right combination to aid easy digestion.

Fruits, both fresh and dry, are to be eaten by themselves and on an empty stomach since they require very little digestion time. Combining fruits with cooked meals or vegetables makes the fruit stay in the stomach longer and ferment, causing acidity. Nuts and vegetables can be combined. Eat a single grain in a meal since combining grains is very taxing on the digestive system.

Say no to...

-Avoid any food that comes with a label. nAvoid refined and processed foods and foods with any kind of chemical additives.

-Mineral supplements are to be avoided since the body absorbs nutrients only in the organic form — fruits, nuts, vegetables and sprouts.

-Consumption of table salt, white sugar and oil has to be minimised or even better, completely avoided. Instead use healthier alternatives such as rock salt and black salt, and natural sweeteners like honey and jaggery.  Cold-pressed oil is better than commercially available oil.

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