The adage in computer language "Garbage in … Garbage out" is relevant to the food we take. We get energy to do work by assimilating the good we consume. We are spending energy every second to breathe, walk, stand and even to think. The quality of food we consume, our mood and time taken, play important role in determining our health, energy levels and happiness. Therefore, look closely at different types of food and the effect they produce on us. The food we take can be divided into five categories:
(i) Biogenic foods: They contain life generating forces and are used for detoxifying the body, eg sprouted seeds, sprouted grains, fresh fruit and raw vegetables and juices.
(ii) Whole grains, bread, cereals, cooked vegetables etc.
(iii) Milk and milk products.
(iv) Acid forming food: Meat, sugars, starches, eggs. These foods burden the body with excess acidity and cause irritability.
(v) Processed food: Tinned, frozen heavily processed foods, refined and concentrated foods. These have little nutrients and are considered responsible for development of disease.
The first two categories of foods – biogenic and vegetarian food – are easy to digest and can cater to body's requirement for energy. These food items have all the nutrients needed for body's repair and renewal. The other categories of food have less nutrients and are consumed more for taste than for nutritional value. These food items leave a residual of toxic wastes in the body after digestion and become source for diseases. Therefore, restrict food items to the extent possible.
Our diet typically contains a number of biostatic and bio-acidic foods (eg meat, fish) and heavily processed foods (eg tinned / frozen, refined foods). These food items reduce our vitality, makes our body unacceptable to early aging and disease. The average diet also contains excess fat and sugar. These items contribute to the accumulation of wastes in tissues which impair cellular nutrition and encourage formation of something like sludge in the blood stream that impedes good circulation. Consequently, our body is burdened with excess acidity, irritability and flabbiness. It is therefore, not surprising that about half of us have stomach problems at some time or other and millions have recurrent health problems. To get relief from the problems many of us take laxatives, antacids and other drugs. Excessive dependence on drugs can do more harm than good. Therefore, be more concerned about the food you take and its effect on the body.
Meat Myth: The idea that we need meat to stay healthy is untrue. Meat, fish, poultry products have animal facts concentrated form and it is difficult to assimilate. On the other hand, a mixed diet of roots, grains, vegetables, fruits – all in minimally processed form – are better source of quality protein and it is easier to digest. It is better to avoid these categories of food or consume in small quantities, ie about half pound a week.
Too much fat dulls the brain: It has been established that when someone eats a meal with high content of fats, the fats form a film around red blood cells and encourages them to stick together or form clump. This clumping causes small capillaries to clog and as a result about 20% normal blood circulation is lost. Consequently, the oxygen available for our cells is reduced by about 30%. Too much fats in diet interfere with the clarity of mind.
Reduce coffee: Coffee contains caffeine and it is a drug. It stimulates central nervous system, pancreas, heart and cerebral cortex and that is why when you drink coffee you feel temporarily more alert. Every time you drink a coffee you are getting about 100 mg. of caffeine (ordinary tea yields 40-60 mg.). In case you drink 2-8 cups a day the dose could be dangerous. Caffeine has been shown to affect the heart causing it to beat rapidly and irregularly. It can also increase the level of free fatty acids in your blood, stimulate secretion of excess acid in the stomach and raise blood pressure. Recent studies have shown habitual coffee drinking may lead to certain mental illness like depression and anxiety neurosis. Therefore, cut down intake of coffee.
Learning to eat sensibly is the first step towards achieving health and happiness. Consume balanced diet, eliminate causes of indigestion and cultivate healthy food habits. Then it will be easier to find happiness.
Balanced diet: To supply all the nutrients needed by the body, have a general idea of what constitutes a balanced diet.
Quantum of food consumed (percentage of food taken)
50% Carbohydrates such as rice, whole grain, bread cereals, simple sugars not to exceed 10% 30-35% Fats, eg eggs, butter, cheese 15-20% Protein, eg dairy products, meat
Further, to keep the body in good shape, we need to take 8 glasses of water and consume at least 50 gms. of fiber every day.
Causes of indigestion: It takes about five hours for digestion of food in the stomach. Eating in between meals and at frequent intervals or taking snacks etc., causes strain on digestive processes and results in indigestion.
Eating and drinking together. When liquids are drunk at the same time as food is eaten it means that digestive juices are diluted and their potency diminishes.
Eating acid fruits and starchy foods together.
Dietary guide lines:
(i) Avoid distractions during meals, ie, reading ,, TV viewing, arguments etc. Eat slowly. Never hurry through a meal and masticate your food as thoroughly as possible. Spend about 20-30 minutes for each meal.
(ii) Always come to a meal when you are hungry. If appetite is lacking do not try to "coax" it by means of dainty tit bits, relishes etc. Miss a meal or two or take only fruit diet, until real appetite returns.
(iii) Never eat to repletion. Always leave the table feeling that you could eat more and leave a quarter of stomach empty. Do not sit down to a meal feeling worried, over-excited, tired or in a bad temper.
(iv) Over eating is the principal cause for obesity. The overweight are prior to many complaints: disease of liver, kidneys and heart.
(v) Increase intake of fruits and vegetables: They are valuable sources of vitamins and minerals. These items contain fiber (plant cellulose), assist in keeping the intestinal tract moist and help in elimination.
(vi) Alcohol: This provides higher number of calories and few nutrients. Moderation would be helpful.
(vii) Our body requires about 45 nutrients to maintain good health. It is not possible to keep track of even a fraction of these nutrients. Therefore, eat a variety of foods. It is also a good idea to eat as much fresh foods as possible and avoid processed, tinned foods.
The old saying – we are what we eat – is true. Many of our health problems could have linked to the food we take; very often we hurry through our meals, triggering indigestion. Therefore, to improve your health and happiness, be little more concerned about the food you take and make wise choices everyday.