Naturopathy - The Inside Job
by Kavita Mukhi
The Joy Of JumpingThe counterpart of the simple natural diet, without which its wonders just will not work, is activity. As a student of lymphology I learned that cells need to be in a dry state. One of the ways to
The late John D. Rockefeller, one of America's pioneering millionaire industrialists, lived in a beautiful beach town in the US called Daytona Beach where I lived for several years when my son was little. Rockefeller was a man obsessed with perfect health, or the attainment and maintenance of it. He chose Daytona Beach, Florida, above all other places to be his home because of its clean air and great climate. When he had doctors do a survey to find the best food on earth, which is, the most perfect, nutritionally speaking, they found mother's milk was by far the best.
For me, nursing my baby was exhilarating because it was my first conscious realization of how nature has everything planned to perfection. Imagine a tiny baby, weighing a mere few pounds, doubling his/her weight in six months on just mother's milk. A feat not repeated in the life of the child again. When your child suckles, burps, gurgles and then sleeps with a look of innocent bliss, you feel full of power, capable of nourishing the baby singlehandedly by adhering to nature's laws.
Rockefeller, by the way, got a wet nurse and made sure he had the perfect food even when he was a baby no more. But that is true American extravagance for you. Thus my tryst with food began. That glimpse of power was enough to make me realize nature's potential.
Besides, I had lived with the ultimate naturalist grandmother, a practical mother with sound advice, a father who until today has not seen a doctor (not even the natural kind), and had been brought up on a farm very simply without taking tea or coffee. Charged with these many experiences and a formal study of nutrition, I soon regained that power to the degree of fearlessness.
Although umpteen teachers, schools of thought, role models and books have tutored me, I will only touch upon a couple of major deviations from the norm that caused the shift in consciousness for me regarding health. I will not name anyone or any institution since I would then want to tell you more about each of them.
Some of my initial encounters with nutrition made me unlearn many preconceived notions. A dramatic unlearning was with relation to the germ and virus theory. It really blew my mind to discover that germs and viruses are not the real cause of any illness. It is undoubtedly the way we live that creates the conditions for them to survive. And in any case, we do want the good bacteria around. So how do we discriminate? Don't even try. Leave it to that wonderful machine, the human body. Listen to your body, and watch the magic. After all, germs and virus are everywhere, why do they get to us at times and not at others? What makes the difference is our level of immunity. Not the germs and viruses.
One of the prerequisites of achieving vibrant health is to understand that illness is our body signaling us to take charge. So at least when we fall sick, we should revert to simple food and rest in order to recover naturally. However, our instinctual abilities are so depleted that even when we have an upset tummy we want to eat and take medication. It is actually common sense: give your stomach a break, rest it a bit, give it some fresh lime water (with natural sugar and rock salt) or coconut water depending on the cause of the ache. Usually, just skipping one meal does the trick.
Similarly, when we have a fever we should understand that a fever is the body's way of fighting the germ/ the virus/ the infection. Instead of fearing it, we need to assist it in doing its job. If we drink a lot of water and fresh lime with water, light liquid natural food if needed, the fever will do its job and leave us feeling well again. Today, with all the complications that arise with fevers, we tend to panic. I believe it is the rampant use of antibiotics that has created this lowered state of immunity. Susceptibility to all kinds of virus strains has become an issue wherein diagnosis and treatment, even the allopathic way, becomes a health risk.
Thus, treating all acute problems with home remedies and following nature's laws has been an all-important part of my understanding. In this way we do not get to the chronic stage of any illness because we have dealt with it sensibly at the acute stage. It is pointless to eat the best of natural foods and then pop pills when any symptom surfaces.
However, I do believe that the mind and our emotions can make or break us. So be it meditation, introspection, reading, quiet moments, healing hobbies, music, dance, creative activity, sports, useful work - anything that works for you to unwind and be at peace with yourself and the environment is important in keeping well.
In my study we see all disease as a body signal, and besides the emotional quotient, usually a cleansing act. However, I have come to experience that one can reach a point of balance whereby the body can cleanse via its true check points - the liver, lymphatic system and kidneys, and not have to continually be afflicted by colds, coughs, headaches, skin problems and the like. This has been so freeing for me. I used to sneeze a lot as a child and had colds often. I remember a kerchief over my nose constantly.
Having studied nutrition and also experienced it moment to moment when I first got into it for the sake of giving my son the best start in life, I've been through all ways of eating - from raw foods, to veganism, to vegetarianism and have been brought up on a mixed Indian diet. Today, food is not a matter of a simple choice. It is a platform for bringing awareness of various related issues such as the environment, animal rights, spirituality, religion, emotion and of course, nutrition. Then there is research telling us that certain blood groups do better with certain foods. Nor can we forget the presence of adulteration and pesticides. So food choice, unfortunately, is not just about fuel for the body.
One night my father made my brother and I (at ages seven and eight) sleep on an empty stomach because we fussed over the vegetables at dinner. Never again did we fuss. To date we treat food as a blessing and will never embarrass our host with our food preferences. We can therefore never group people as per their food choices. The other lesson we learnt that night is that a family that eats together stays united. I think that incident also helped keep me from being addicted to any foods, including health foods! So even if I'm drinking beer, it is in that moment (often to lighten my serious take on life) and not because the body cannot do without it. Also, all of my eating is done with full awareness. Having no addictions, I feel, contributes to my having no ailments, fatigue only catching up with me when I am obviously pushing myself.
Therefore food for me has been just that: fuel for the body. Nothing more, nothing less. And simplicity the operative word. Yet, my food is never boring nor am I on a diet ! In fact, I find what passes as food today not just boring, tasteless with an overdose of spices used as a camouflage. I do believe that if our kitchen has an array of organically grown whole foods, whatever would be prepared in that kitchen would turn out to be good for us.
Here are some of the essential changes that we would be wise to incorporate in our diets. Whole grains instead of refined ones with an emphasis on brown rice, should be 50% of our diet. The balance of brown rice can keep us from nervous breakdowns, depression, stress and fatigue. Replace bread with roti or khakda made with jowar, bajra, ragi or other millet. Substitute refined sugar with jaggery, golden sugar, or raw sugar. Cold-pressed or ghani oil instead of refined oil. Rock salt instead of refined salt. Organic fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, and spices.
Naturally, all the above need to be organically grown as far as possible. Eating organic is good for the body and for the soil of our earth. Being eco-conscious is a vital consideration today once we understand that this earth has been borrowed from our children. The extra money spent on this is the most important lifestyle change investment we can make. To complete the list of changes, consume a minimal of dairy, meats, eggs, and other addictive foods. Within this framework, we need to eat what is most tasteful to our palate. Also, eating this way (and not by the book or dietetian) will satiate our hunger quicker and for longer periods at a time.
Believe me, you don't need to know a thing about vitamins, minerals or calories (the most unintelligent way to eat, which is why I never put these details on my products), to eat well or be healthy. All you need is some common sense, trust in yourself, and an understanding of nature's laws. I know that the simplest of natural diets, coupled with activity, will supply the body with all its known and 'still to be discovered' nutrients which I call the 'X' factor.
However, if I were to take foods to supplement the simple basic natural diet, I would take the following kinds of natural foods: spirulina in powder form only, tulsi, flax seeds, alfalfa seeds, sesame seeds, amla, kombucha, indigenous herbs like brahmi and harde, (recommended by our ayurveda for varying body types), all preferably in the organic form only. At present, I do not consume supplements because I haven't found the need to. However, especially as I grow older, I would begin adding some of these. If we partake of synthetic supplements, we actually make the body lazy and incapable, in the future, of producing its own. Of course if we have landed in a disease situation then sometimes even these will help, but only until our lifestyle changes to incorporate whole foods that can then become our natural medicine.
One fact that contributed to my faith in the body and my consequent fearlessness was awareness that we keep renewing ourselves at the cellular levels: in seven years, the body that we have is a completely new one because the blood is being renewed on a daily basis with the food and thoughts we feed our cells. That is, in seven days our blood stream is afresh. So in seven years practically all our cells have undergone a change and you are refreshed anew. If we carry on our old habits of living in a way that does not replenish but damages, then we will continue to be in a state of ill health and aging as we know it.
The insight I got from it is that I need never be ill. My son has surpassed me in that, at 23, he will refuse even ayurveda and knows his body will heal itself. Just the other day an evolved friend asked me if I went for smear tests. I answered 'of course not'. I wouldn't even think about it because, for one, I don't think of being ill ever (why would I if I'm well?). If I am ever ill, I know given the right conditions, my body will heal itself. And secondly, I am too busy to even think that far. Keeping busy keeps me happy and keeping happy keeps me well and without worry. When I see people so full of fear, I try giving them the power that I feel or at least plant a seed, if they are not ready, for them to nurture.
Another reality is that no one kind of food is always right for us. The body is too dynamic for that. Health is maintained and achieved moment to moment. If we love and allow love to flow in our life we can experience superior health at all times. Yes, we can be germ-virus proof. The body-mind-soul connection is continually at play and a 10-day silent Vipassana course is a must for all. And even if we do not confront emotional situations or choose to ignore them, the body does not lie. So if we deal with issues, not shove them under the carpet, we'll be able to open up blockages to our health. We need to start living with our heart, follow our intuition, realize that all that happens, happens only for the very best. Nature plans only for perfection!
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