The Natural Road to Physical Health
Over the years many people have come to me seeking non-medical answers to their health problems—problems big or small, from migraines to cancer. The following article is a brief outline of my approach to natural health that has helped them overcome their physical and even emotional issues.
My approach has emerged from years of research into the published literature in medicine, health and nutrition stemming from my practical experience with my own health problems that were plaguing me and beginning to limit my performance at work as a university professor and scientific researcher in the United States. The problems were slowly getting to be debilitating, just as my professional career was peaking with national visibillity and professional awards. I was forty seven years old, working hard on grant-funded investigations for the National Institute of Disability Rehabilitation Research, a division of National Institutes of Health in the United States.
The extremely painful experiences of my mother in India, who suffered from no major disease and yet was bed-ridden, with two nurses to take care of her at home day and night, led me to question the very purpose of my life. In her mid seventies and a great believer in the medical system, she had been on medication for hypertension for the past several decades, and occasionally for passing issues such as headache or fever, nothing more serious than that. Beyond her hypertension, a little extra weight and chronic constipation, she had no other complaints.
It seemed to me that I was already in a somewhat worse condition at forty seven. What would be the use of all the money I was making if eventually all of it was going to go into medicines and hospital treatments? Was that the purpose for which I was in this world—to work my backside off so that I could spend the last years of my life on the sick bed in a dismal hospital, spending my savings on medical treatment and a painful experience to boot? To cap it all, I had no love for the medical system, having seen enough of it growing up as a sickly kid. However—the alternative road was fraught with ignorance and fear—how could I get out of this situation? As a researcher, sure, I was confident of delving into the research literature to find out answers to my various issues on health—but with a literature vast in scope as that of health and nutrition, I realized I could not do justice to both my job and my personal research on health at the same time.
It was during this time that the grace of the Higher Power led me through a series of events in my personal life that would eventually lead me to the answer to this dilemma. That is the subject for a different article; however, the outcome was that I eventually left my job and started full time on the health road to happiness and fulfillment in life. Providence played a big role in getting me started on the right track without even knowing it, based solely on an intuitive agreement with certain fundamental truths that I came to hear in a lecture in early 2003. My recovery from my health problems occurred by pure serendipity, without my intentional treatment or intervention, through simple but radical changes in my diet undertaken for reasons other than my health. My research followed on the heels of my recovery, and this combination of research knowledge and personal experience forms the basis of my approach to health that I have taught to hundreds of people over the past twelve years, and with great success to all that have had the courage and determination to follow the teaching. Note that I say “the” teaching, and not “my” teaching—for neither the ideas I talk about nor my recommendations to people in consultations are my own. The ideas come from God’s Truths, taught by many people in many countries; and my words of recommendation to each client are not mine but just brought out from my mouth. We are not the ones in the drivers’ seat; the Supreme Self occupies that seat, and I consider myself blessed to be just one of His many instruments.
So let’s begin with the basic truths about health that anyone wishing to regain their health naturally needs to know. The clues may be found in the scriptures of all religions. The concepts of sin and the need to be saved by God have their roots in the fact that from perhaps hundreds of thousands of years ago, the human species started on a path contrary to natural laws in an effort to protect itself from the uncertainties inherent in the vagaries of Nature. Humans did this by first starting to eat foods that were not designed for their system so that they could depend on food always even in times of drought and famine when there were no fruits and leafy greens to eat. First came meat, as the Homo Sapien invented weapons to defend himself, and discovered fire, thus enabling him to use those weapons to kill animals and cook the flesh. Much more recently, around ten thousand years ago according to our anthropologists, he developed agriculture to grow grains and legumes that could be stored in large quantities and consumed as needed by cooking them, thus not depending on the seasonal rains for fruits and greens that were his natural foods. He also started domesticating animals and drinking their milk, quite oblivious to the fact that no animal ever drank milk in adulthood.
The fact is, the human digestive system is ill suited to consume flesh, cooked or otherwise. Flesh is the natural food of carnivores like the big cats, hyenas, and wolves, and these animals always eat the flesh raw, they don’t cook them! Likewise, grains are the natural food of birds, which can make a meal out of simply swallowing a few grains; and they swallow the whole grain, husk and all, thus getting the chief nutrients of the grain. Like the other animals, they too do not have to cook the grains, for they have the enzymes to dissolve and digest them. The natural foods of any animal never needs cooking, but are eaten in the form that Nature has provided for it. Legumes are not eaten by any animal because they were never meant to be food; they were meant to grow into plants that then could feed animals; and to protect themselves until they grow into plant forms, they have coatings of toxins that inhibit digestion by any animal. Finally, no animal drinks milk in adulthood, even of its own species, because the body stops producing the enzyme Rennin, needed to digest milk, after childhood. In humans this is around 4 years of age. But man does not try to drink human milk; except in the first six months of infancy, he drinks, in both childhood and adulthood, the milk of an animal that is meant to grow a 25-kilo calf into a 500-kilo cow or bull, not a human baby of 3.5 kg into an adult of 65 kilos. The only foods that Nature gave humans the ability to procure in the wilderness without weapons or other instruments, and to eat without alteration in any form as provided by Her, were fruits, greens and vegetables. The best athlete will find it practically impossible to catch a wild chicken, let alone bigger animals he eats today, without the use of weapons, other instruments for cutting, and cooking utensils. And if at all he did, he is ill-equipped to actually consume it without the aid of instruments.
Now the question is, what do these basic truths mean in our daily lives? They truths hold the secret to healing from practically all of our physical ailments and diseases. Eat the foods that Mother Nature has designed for the human body, and in the form that She has given to you, without alteration by heat and cooking, and you shall be healthy. It's as simple as that—at least theoretically. Practically it needs courage to change, much reflection, and adaptation to the present-day conditions: For we as a species have altered our environment so much through pollution, toxins, pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers that Nature's ecological harmony and balance have been significantly messed up. However, our natural foods in their live form can still be used to heal ourselves from disease if we keep a few points in mind: that the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables today is only a fraction of what it used to be before we depleted the soil through chemical treatments; that organic fruits and vegetables are far better than the conventional ones, and wild fruit and greens in virgin land, when available, still provide the best source of food for healing.
The difference between raw vegetables and cooked vegetables is that cooking totally destroys the enzymes—the life force—of the vegetable, rendering it dead. The raw fruit or vegetable constitutes live food—something that has been demonstrated through kirlian photographs. The difference between a piece of meat and a fruit will be easy to appreciate if you place each on a table in two different rooms, and visit them each day. In fact, within hours, the piece of meat will begin to rot through bacterial decomposition, emitting a most disagreeable smell that will soon fill the room. In the other room, the fruit will keep ripening—a process of enzymatic autodigestion—until it is ripe enough to eat, when it will give out a most inviting aroma. If we were to have placed a bowl of cooked food in another room, we would see that it behaves like the meat—starting to emit a bad smell after a few days. That is because both the cooked food and the piece of meat are dead food, while the fruit is live food.
The natural road to good health involves adopting a diet of fresh organic fruits, vegetables and greens. Of these, the fruits and greens provide the most nutrients per unit volume. For instance, a medium sized carrot is about 30 calories, whereas a medium sized banana fetches 100 calories. It is necessary that you explore and learn the calorie and other nutrient content of the foods that you like so that you can draw up a practically feasible and balanced diet for your sustenance. There is no alternative to effort when it comes to taking charge of one’s own health—we simply have to learn how our bodies work, which foods go well with our system, and how much to have of what foods. We also have to become knowledgeable about the foods we eat. Processed foods (such as chips, snacks, cakes, and other store-bought ready-made foods) are to be totally avoided. The body does not recognize them as foods at all. It may not be possible to avoid cooked foods altogether, for most people, because of the circumstances of location and availability of high quality fresh produce. The only reason to cook is to make the food more concentrated, thus enabling us to take in the amount of nutrients that our bodies would need. But the way we cook is another issue to scrutinize. Simple boiling with the least spices or salt is the best, making sure that we don’t overcook the vegetables and take any water left over from the boiling as well. The more elaborate the preparation, the more difficult time the body has in dealing with the ingested matter.
Healing versus healthy diets
The case in healing is more diet-specific. A healing diet is not the same as a healthy diet. A healing diet is meant to get the body back to normal from a debilitated state, and usually is for a specified period of time; a healthy diet is what is needed to maintain normal health over the long term. So in healing the diet and other conditions prescribed may differ from case to case, and the nature of the disease or ailment, even with the use of the natural foods that has been explained above. For instance, many cases need a period of fasting to start with, while in others fasting may actually be contra-indicated. The specific foods and combinations may also matter in certain cases. But the general principles of the truths about human food remain the same as outlined in previous paragraphs. Also, in certain cases, specific vitamin or mineral supplementation may be needed to help the body recover even with the healing diet, in cases where it is already in serious trouble. Some important points must be kept in mind with healing regimens.
- What works for one person may not work for another for the same type of ailment or disease, because of differences in body constitution, oxidation rate, endocrine system functioning and a host of other factors.
- The cause of the same ailment or disease need not necessarily be the same for two persons; in fact, the cause may be entirely different in the two cases and no precise prediction is possible, although there might be general common factors as well that contribute to it.
- Heredity is a term often used by the medical profession when they don’t have a clue about the cause of an ailment or disease. They then use this excuse to say that nothing really can be done about something that has been generated by hereditary factors. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While it is true that genes can transmit certain dispositions and tendencies, research has demonstrated as early as the 1950s that gene expression of these tendencies can be changed through manipulation of the environment of the gene—in other words, factors like change of location with different climatic conditions and changes in diet can be used to change the behavior of these genes so that the medical condition can be overcome.
- The rapidity of recovery from a disease or ailment would naturally depend on the strictness with which a regimen is followed, and the rapidity with which the transition to the healing diet is made. For people who depend on experiencing some tangible results to be convinced about a diet, a rapid transition and strict adherence to the diet is a must. For those who are convinced of the basic philosophical foundation of the program, and wish to be more gentle with their bodies, enjoying the process, a gradual transition works better.
- In general, results are greatly influenced by the client’s belief system. The stronger your belief in this road to health, the better the results will be for you.
Getting equipped for natural health
For both healing and maintenance diets it is a good idea to equip yourself with some basic kitchen tools and appliances that would make your life not only a great deal easier, but are practically indispensable in today’s context of busy lifestyles. When you have the right tools and devices to make a variety of recipes easily and quickly, you get the best chance for making a success of the program. Many people start with great motivation but soon give up because they say it takes too much time to make even a salad, let alone something fancier. On further investigation it turns out that even cutting the vegetables takes a lot of time because the knife is blunt and too small or too big or simply not the right one for the job. The cutting board is too small, requiring one to frequently transfer the cut pieces to a container before cutting another small batch. Such details may seem trivial, and we may not even be conscious of them, but they make a chore out of what could be a pleasant experience. Again, certain specialized appliances greatly increase the variety of recipes we can make, thus helping us avoid monotony in our diet, which can soon put an effective stop to our efforts on this road. So this aspect is dealt with at some length in the following paragraphs.
First and foremost, one needs to invest in a professional cutting board and knife. At the very least, you should have a good-sized wooden or bamboo cutting board and two knives with sharp edges—one with fine serrations on one side of the cutting edge and the other plain on both sides of the cutting edge. The serrated knife is ideal for cutting greens, tomatoes, aubergines and such vegetables, while the straight edge knife is easier to use for root vegetables like carrots and yucca. In any case, the sharper the edge, the easier and quicker the work becomes, preventing fatigue of the hands. Wooden boards are easier on the knife blade, but themselves are prone to mold and surface deterioration over time; bamboo boards, while being very durable and mold-free, have a much harder surface, resulting in your having to sharpen your knives more often. I do not recommend the plastic cutting boards as minute pieces of plastic invariably find their way into the food, and are also much more susceptible to mold than the wooden boards.
The next and practically indispensable item is a good quality blender (known as mixie or mixer in some countries). Vitamix and Blendtec have been long-established brands, but whatever you buy, make sure it has sufficient power and sharpness of blades to make a fine paste of anything if necessary. It is not a pleasant experience for many people to have a green smoothie with plant fibers that catch in the tongue. A good blender like Vitamix can blend, grind, pulverize, make a paste, or simply a dense salad depending on how it is used, so it is a very versatile and useful appliance for any kitchen. The investment is well worth it, and the device can pay for itself within months in terms of the savings in medicines and doctor’s bills.
The next most important investment—especially if you are starting on a healing program—is a slow juicer for juicing vegetables and greens. Today many of these juicers also come with adaptors for making nut butters and milks. Why not the conventional juicer? Though cheaper, the conventional juicer extractor that works by triturating at high speed is not very effective when it comes to juicing greens like spinach or kale. In any case, the metal shredder and filter results in a relatively higher level of oxidation of the juice, thus delivering far less nutrients per unit volume than a slow juicer, which has the main crushing auger made out of a tough and bpa-free plastic and thus behaves more like our teeth on the vegetable. There are vertical and horizontal models, single-auger and double-auger. In general, price is somewhat related to the quality and extent of warranty you get on the product, but it would be wise to do some research based on your specific priorities and requirements before deciding on the brand and model. Vertical models need less kitchen counter space, and are usually faster than the single auger horizontal models; on the other hand, the horizontal models come with adapters for making nut milks and butters, although these features are coming to the vertical models as well. The double auger models usually have metal augers, so oxidation becomes an issue with the juice as from the conventional triturating juicers. In general, the horizontal models do extract a little more juice than the vertical models, but then the pulp from the vertical models, being slightly more chunky than from the horizontal models, lends itself to making a dense salad with a little forethought in the vegetables used and with the addition of ground or whole seeds, lemon or other ingredients and mixing back in of a little of the juice extracted, to enhance taste and moisture content. Thus a part of the pulp at least can be used for making a salad. I use even the balance with other added ingredients to make snacks and dry or semi-dry flat breads in the dehydrator. The pulp from horizontal models is too dry and fine to be used for salad and is good only for the compost heap.
After these basic three, there are a variety of other tools and appliances that can enhance your dietary experience, such as a dehydrator, spiralizer (or raw spaghetti maker), vegetable chopper, sprouter, food processer etc., that you can explore as you go or at the beginning, depending on your level of expertise with food matters and the amount of time you have at your disposal for making things like live chips, sprouts, cakes, sweets, breads and a host of other dishes without using heat and preserving the live enzymes in the foods.
Unless you are in a state of medical emergency in which time is a critical factor, it is a good idea to start with simple changes in your diet and build it up from there. But substituting well-chosen alternatives for the items from your diet that you want to eliminate, your program will move smoothly without your experiencing negative reactions or emotions. For people needing to start urgently for medical reasons, it may be necessary to start a fast or a very specific kind of diet, but this is not something you should do on your own unless you have enough experience and expertise on the subject already to know what you’re doing. The safest route in such circumstances is to seek the help of a qualified and experienced health practitioner.
One nice thing about a natural health diet is that there are rarely any negative side-effects except perhaps a negative reaction to a food unsuited to your system. Adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet, for instance, has never produced a documented cases of negative side-effects or a life-threatening condition; the changes have always been for the better.
All it takes is a will to take charge of one's life, and the determination and perseverance to overcome any obstacle in the way. After all, good health is our natural heritage, we only have to recover what we lost!