By Akber Ayub June 2008 It is only when we can take care of ourselves physiologically that we can hope to find a balance within and feel emotionally and spiritually connected When we say that after air and water, food is most crucial to sustain life, we are merely referring to a biological fact. The truth is, in addition to fulfilling a biological need, what we eat also affects our consciousness – and by inference, our psychological well-being. How does food affect our consciousness? To understand this, it is necessary to know that food is not merely fuel for our physical body – it is as alive as we are. A fruit or vegetable plucked from a tree or plant is living matter, imbued with the vital spark of life within it including cellular biochemical processes. It is said that these so-called green or ‘live foods’ carry an inner light – both philosophically and biologically. Chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green colour, converts absorbed sunlight into plant nutrients. According to nutritionists, when we consume green foods, we are consuming a chlorophyll module – which is found to be very similar in structure to our own haemoglobin. More importantly, it contains trace elements that not only nurture our cells but are also the precursors to all our genetic material. Like plants, we too need light to survive – light deprivation affects us physiologically and psychologically for light feeds not only our physical body but our mind and spirit as well. Acidic and alkaline foods To understand this connection better – between what we feed ourselves and our spiritual awareness – it helps to differentiate between acidic and alkaline foods. Acidic foods are those that are predominantly acidic in nature as well as those that leave behind an acidic residue after digestion, and vice versa for alkaline foods. When we eat foods that leave acid byproducts, our bodies work to rid our systems of these residues but do not fully succeed, and so we store some of it in our tissues. Since it is crucial that our blood pH be maintained at 7.365, just slightly alkaline (a pH of 7 being neutral and below that acidic), if acids are being generated, upsetting that balance, those acids will be stored in our tissues. As it builds up, a chronically over-acidic body pH begins to corrode body tissues, produce neuro-toxins, and interrupt all cellular activities and functions from the beating of our heart to the functioning of our brain. The upshot of this overly acidic condition is easy to imagine. The microbes normally present in our bodies get a signal to start doing their job of decomposing healthy organs – leading to a range of illnesses from ravaged heart muscles to growth of cancerous cells. Microbial infection brought about by a biological imbalance is said to be the root cause of most of our diseases. This also triggers another insidious phenomenon – all regulatory systems including breathing, digestion, blood circulation and hormone production also become exhausted by constantly working to balance the body’s pH. What is the solution? Eat more of alkaline foods – at least enough to help our body maintain an alkaline environment within. We will then be giving our cells a chance to rejuvenate. Healthy cells also carry a negative charge, and have a harmonic vibrational frequency, thus raising our overall energy vibration. However, it is to be understood that not all fruits and vegetables are alkaline in nature, including those grown using organic methods. Fruits like apples, oranges, pears, bananas, pineapples, grapes, are not alkaline because of their high sugar content. When the sugar in these fruits is fermented during digestion, they produce an acid ash. Alkaline fruits, on the other hand, have low sugar content – green peppers, avocados, tomatoes and lemons are prime examples. Some of the other alkaline foods (in descending order of alkalinity) are: string beans, yellow bananas, asparagus, beetroot, carrot, sprouted seeds, pomegranate, plums, spinach, almonds, dates, sprouts, cucumber, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower, guava, mango and melons. Acidic foods include (in descending order of acidity): alcohol, white bread, coffee, oatmeal, peanuts, excess of rice, sugar, meats, tobacco, cashews, egg yolk, chillies, dry peas, butter, cream and margarine. Minimal cookingCooking is the next important issue. While frying, roasting, boiling, and even microwaving depletes nutrition to varying degrees, steaming is found to be the least damaging. The bottom line is, the more raw the food – at least in the case of vegetables – the better it is. They not only have all their nutrients intact, but also help in detoxifying our body. The electrochemical vitalising can manifest in so many ways from increased immunity and energy levels to sometimes dramatic improvements to skin, hair and nails. It is necessary to include at least some uncooked food in our daily diet. In fact, we are biologically and genetically hardwired for a diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts and sprouts. Starting the day with a breakfast of a bowl of freshly cut fruits would be an excellent prescription, and closest to nature. Follow that up with an early lunch made up of freshly prepared salad, steamed brown rice, rotis made of bajra or jawar and sprouts, lentils and vegetables (eschew wheat, for it contains the indigestible gluten). Dinner could be a variation of the same menu. Mix and match between acidic and alkaline foods. It has been found that a balanced diet should contain 35 per cent acid-forming foods and 65 per cent alkaline foods. To recap, eating the wrong kind of food – overly acidic, microwaved and irradiated foods, overly cooked or junk food, processed and packaged foods and meats – not only disturbs our pH balance, it also builds up toxins in our bodies, drains us of our vital energy, and brings on chronic diseases. Confront food addictionThere is another phenomenon that is as widespread as it is damaging: Compulsive overeating, while detrimental to health and wellness, has its roots in psychological problems. When there are unresolved issues deep within and subconscious fears, layers of fat on the body seem to produce a false sense of security. Unfortunately, when the stomach is groaning under an overload – when most of our resources from blood supply to vital energy are busy digesting the food – we also suffer from a congestion of consciousness, and the light within us becomes dim. It is only when we can take care of ourselves physiologically that we can hope to find a balance within, and feel emotionally and spiritually connected. It calls for a shift in our thinking, and confronting our food addictions. Changing our outlook about these aspects, and coming into a new awareness about food, and how it affects our overall well-being and harmony, helps us in our evolution toward the spiritual. To that end, gastronomic pleasures, among others, must be put in their right perspective. Food is also a medium through which the feelings and the consciousness of one can be transferred to another. While being cooked, food absorbs the vibrations of the cook, and the surroundings, later passing it on to the person who consumes it. Food cooked lovingly, in a happy mood, absorbs the good vibes, and is found to be more healthy and nutritious, while that cooked in anger, distress, depression, and hatred absorb these vibes, and when consumed over a time, can be detrimental to health. When you eat the wrong kind of food or overeat, your body always sends out subtle signals – if you care to listen. While habitual overeating might dull your senses toward these signals, a conscious awareness of the malady, and a will to correct it has the ability to sharpen your senses. As soon as you finish another binge at the dining table, you might become aware of a strong discomfort radiating from a heavy stomach. And the next time if you consciously eat less, the comfort you feel around your belly will be soothing. You will be able to discern that your stomach tolerates tea better than a strong cup of coffee – a highly acidic brew. A purposive regimen of dietary discipline will almost immediately result in increased energy, vitality and a feeling of lightness long before a reduced waistline appears. Even in something as prosaic as this, you will be surprised when you see the power of your intention begin to work for you, as your system kicks in and digestion and elimination revive, beginning to work once again like a well-oiled machine. On the flip side, however, if acidity, heartburn, heaviness, erratic bowels, and a distinctly unhappy stomach are routinely ignored, the stomach will begin throwing up a desperate signal – routinely expelling some of the stuff back up the food pipe soon after eating – you retch and belch! If you listen to your body you will be surprised to find that it will often self-regulate itself – if given a chance. Hours of discomfort and years of ill-health is indeed a steep price to pay for the fleeting pleasure of a few seconds while you chew the food. Enjoy yourselfThis brings us to another aspect – the pleasure of eating. Food needs to be savoured, rather than wolfed down as if it is just another chore you have to get over with. If you can shift your awareness to the food in your mouth, and focus on taste, texture, flavour and aroma, you will, first and foremost, give your jaded palate a chance to recover. Secondly you will obtain much more than just nutrients from the food you eat. You will then absorb the natural energies in it almost completely. Food grown using organic methods with care, attention and love, and prepared with equally good vibes, has been found to be rich in natural energies. It is as capable of raising your vital vibrations, as good music, or spending time with nature would. Not just
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