The Big Diet Trap

The wrong and right of eating

Drinking juiceThink you're eating right? Think again. And, again!

To bring home the point. "500 man-made chemicals found in a single cell of a 'healthy' 30-year-old," screamed a newspaper headline, some years ago.

You thought, this was, perhaps, an original entry in Ripley's Believe It or Not! No, it wasn't - it was a real, life event in civilised Britain.

Millions of people worldwide are subject to some form of disease, today. We are no exception. Besides, millions have developed a "weakness" to gulping down tranquillisers and sleeping pills, anti-arthritic drugs, or antacids, at the proverbial drop of a symptom, including medications for high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.

What's gone wrong, you may well ask.

The answer is simple - this downward health trend is primarily due to a surplus of wrong diets, environmental degradation, stress, and toxins in the body.

It goes without saying that lack of exercise, over-consumption of valueless or nutrition-less food, junk-food, and high-stress levels are also the pitfalls ahead for many of us, if they aren't already. When this happens over two or three generations, our gene pool gets weaker. This can further ruin an entire gene pool - with bad nutrition - unless it is stopped in its tracks with proper nutrients and nourishment, including supplements.

What we need, what we get

It would be interesting to know that we need about 60-70 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 essential amino acids, and three essential [omega] fatty acids, together with sufficient oxygen and fresh, clean water for good health and long life.

It is also essential for us to obtain the former from high quality proteins, carbohydrates and unsaturated and certain saturated fats - or, natural organic foods that we evolved from. Because providing all of these, in our diet, would allow the body to assemble or manufacture thousands of other substances that are needed to keep it healthy. Is this possible? Your guess is as good as mine.

Intensive modern farming methods on barren soil deliver grossly polluted food, water, and air. Mix this lot in a bowl, together with the extremely bad or poor regulation of food producers and retailers by complacent governments. Also, add in too much stress, too little sleep, poor preventative healthcare, lack of exercise, the gross misuse of antibiotics, toxic wastes, and the suppression of positive nutritional information by certain quarters, not to speak of "chemical" food. What comes out is a problem that is staring us in the face: disease and rising interventional healthcare costs.

You still thought that we get all we needed from what we followed as "balanced diet?" You need to think, again! Because, there is more to this than what meets your nutritional and wellbeing needs.

To bring home the point. It is not a coincidence, for instance, that we seek out the mountains, oceans and beaches to relax and recuperate? "Sick building syndrome," or SBS - such as our modern workplaces - creates sick people. This is now an accepted disorder. Many of us also spend the majority of our lives in office blocks, away from the natural cosmic forces that are so vital to a healthy body. We don't walk, or do exercise, or eat quality food - this is disastrous to our health. The more active you are, the better your health and wellbeing will be.

There is more: lack of fibre diet is a modern "illness." If I told you that I know of a substance that helped protect against breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, blood clots, high cholesterol, constipation, gallstones, colon cancer, varicose veins, piles, obesity, oestrogen [hormonal] overload and toxic bowel syndrome, would you go out and buy it? Of course, you would! Get its identity? It's called fibre - and, the power of natural fibre in your diet holds the key to good health.

Fibre is found in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts etc., We need to consume more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains etc., because many of us - including those who believe that they eat a "balanced" diet - are desperately short of even the minimum fibre intake. In addition to this, we also need to emphasise that a correctly nourished and well-exercised body has a far greater potential for health and longevity than a "couch potato" body!

Prevention always better

The only way we can prevent illness is by harnessing a healthy lifestyle, not just by taking medicines alone, which don't really cure ailments, such as heart disease, diabetes etc.,

Here's how, you can change your health for the better:

The first and the foremost thing one can do is - eat healthy food, which is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. When we eat smart and healthy food we will sure look good and feel good, whatever our age. However, there is a lot more to just looking good and feeling good with yourself. A healthy lifestyle, along with regular physical exercise, reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. It also helps you make the most out of everything that life has to offer.

If all this sounds quite simple and easy, it's largely a matter of having the right mix of wholesome and nutritious food in your diet and getting the balance right.

However, there is a downside. Eating good food alone, even in the presence of a fitness regimen or exercise, may not always help you prevent allergies, arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer etc.,

Reason? You may eat good quality food, all right, but you may still lack some of the most essential of vitamins and minerals in your daily diet plan. Because, the main causes of nutritional deficiency are -

  • Vegetables [a natural source of vitamins and minerals] grown in soil loaded with pesticides and chemicals. Just also think of the vegetables grown alongside the railway tracks in some cities and townships, including Mumbai - with so much filth around!
  • The quality of our soil being increasingly undermined by contaminants and debris.

Besides, we are also exposed to -

  • Ultraviolet rays of the sun
  • X-ray/radiation
  • Industrial/automobile pollution
  • Drugs, excessive use of antibiotics etc.,
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use/smoke
  • Chemicals and pesticides.

These, singly and in tandem, contribute substantially to the increased presence and activity of free radicals in our body. Free radicals are damaging to our body; they weaken our immune system.

Beat free radical damage

A free radical, in simple terms, can cause damage to cells and tissues. It can also lead to organ malfunction and early aging, and cancer. Free radicals can also clog your arteries, leading to atherosclerosis - in other words, heart attacks or strokes. This is not all. Free radicals are responsible for cognitive disorders, difficult learning, and loss of memory.

Inference? You need to knock the stuffing out of the free radical phantom - to keep diseases at bay, and maintain good health. One great way of doing this is through good nutrition, optimal fibre intake and physical activity, and by reducing stress - to the maximum extent possible.

This also brings us to life's natural equation. In other words, the importance of healthy, or harmonious living, not to speak of good nutrition. To go back to ancient thought: within each one of us resides an innate and incredibly powerful healing, life-sustaining force. This "system" must be fuelled by essential nutrients on a daily basis to enable it to perform at its maximum potential. You may sure think of the Sanskrit parallel for the idea: the "resident" healing power called prana - or, what ancient Chinese medical practitioners referred to as chi.

What does this signify in our modern context? Every type of energy that moves through our genes moulds and maintains our unique individuality with all its strengths and weaknesses. The final expression of energy on a purely physical level is health or life force [prana], or the lack of it.

Energy is behind everything manifest, and that which is not. Food, water, air, thought, emotion, love, prayer, spiritual pursuits, and our will, to mention a few, flood our bodies with vibrational energy.

These energy frequencies influence the way we build and maintain ourselves as a totality. It also relates to what we eat - because, what we eat determines how we think and also live, and not just exist.

Think of Your Body, Know Your Mind

The human body, as we all know, is sophisticated machinery. When in optimal health, our body functions with computerised efficiency, so much so we don't even give enough thought to its functioning!

In other words, unless one is ill, we do not also know how hundreds of parts synchronise and work in harmony. You get the point. Result? We just seem to take our health for granted!

However, when illness strikes any of us - we say, "Why me?" We do not ask: "Why did we not prevent the illness in the first place?"

To typify one classical example. Right from the time our heart starts beating in the mother's womb, and all through life, we all know how indispensable the organ is for optimal wellbeing and life itself. But, there is hardly anything we do to find out if our heart is in good health, or otherwise, at any point in life, unless something goes wrong.

The best thing one can do is listen to one's body signals, which is nature's way of helping us to know that something isn't quite okay. We need to watch out for such signals and attend to them without delay.

This is more than half of the battle won - especially, in the wake of our frenzied modern lifestyle and stresses of daily existence, bad food habits, pollutants in the air, and chemicals/pesticides in the food we eat, and so on. We also need to keep ourselves well-informed, because we tend to develop a host of diseases, including psychosomatic disorders without really thinking about them. These are — high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, obesity, neurological affections, and many other ailments.

Organise & Manage

Nutrient-rich diet maximises your potential for optimal health and a long life. Picture this. The standard Western lifestyle, now blatantly "aped" in every part of the world, is responsible for a majority of health problems we encounter today. More so, because, individual and collective human consciousness appears to have forgotten that we eat to live; we do not live to eat.

50 to 80 per cent of adults in the US, and the UK, for instance, swallow a medically-prescribed agent, practically everyday - a habit that has outgrown all self-chosen, or more natural forms of creating health and wellbeing. The trend is catching up in India, too - and, with unfortunate outcomes.

Is there a way out of such a "jam" we have gotten into? Yes, there is! We are not made-up of dozens of non-connected bits and pieces. On the contrary, a malfunction in any organ, or system, will affect all of the body, in some way. This includes our mental, emotional, and spiritual states. All we need to do is - organise and manage our health and wellbeing with better understanding and common sense:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Adopt moderation in everything you do, including moderation. Avoid overeating, or eating just for the sake of eating
  • Take a multi-vitamin and mineral pill. Even the healthiest of eaters may not be able to get all of the vitamins and nutrients they need from diet alone
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep loss can cause havoc on your diet, and also contribute to weight gain
  • Exercise daily. Even 10-15 minutes of routine exercise, like walking, climbing the stair-case, or playing with kids, can help your body maintain its peak fitness level and, therefore, good health.

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

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