-R K Chandrika
There actually is a rare smattering of people who can eat, drink and inhale anything and continue to be in the best of health. Consciously or unconsciously these are the blessed ones who do not let ‘facts’ get in the way of their ‘truth’ of complete health.
For the rest, it is best to work and play with the facts, while arriving at the truth. I’ve come across enough self-delusion to know that merely ‘telling myself that I’m fine irrespective of what I put into my mouth’ without knowing how to live from and in that truth is going to cause me a lot of harm.
We will, therefore, take a look at how food can be your medicine or poison, as proclaimed by texts as ancient as the Yajurveda, right up to modern diet gurus in their swanky Manhattanmud houses (Don’t go looking for them there … I just made that up).
Apart from the obvious junk like aerated drinks, deep fried, heavily preservative laden snacks, and packaged drink and foods, here are two very basic edibles you would be better off in eliminatingaltogether from your daily diet. After all there are healthy alternatives you can easily adopt.
Most of the sugar in India (which incidentally is the largest sugar producer after Brazil) comes from sugarcane, which of itself is very alkalizing and high in minerals. However, there is absolutely nothing natural or healthy in the sugar we consume daily.
Beauty without Cruelty, an Indian NGO that promotes a vegan lifestyle, established that the companies here, unlike their western counterparts, do not use bone char in the sugar refining process. They instead employ other chemicals like sulphur dioxide, lime and phosphoric acid. These harmful residues come with the sugar, which after the treatment is totally bereft of any beneficial minerals that the cane juice came with. The residues contribute to respiratory diseases and cancers.
The high carbohydrate refined sugar itself is highly acidic, causing the blood to draw calcium from the bones to offset the acidity, thereby contributing to osteoporosis. The acid in the sugar is party time for bacteria in your mouth while sending your teeth off to their early funeral.
Refined sugar is an established causative factor in diabetes, hypoglycaemia, and obesity. It is also responsible high triglycerides and low HDL or ‘good cholesterol’, which is a contributory factor in heart disease. Further, refined sugar uses up the body’s store of calcium, magnesium and B-vitamins in its own digestion causing the body to be deficient in these., leading to bone, nerve and other metabolic issues.
Alternative cure therapies for cancer ask the patient to first completely stop refined sugar intake. Which includes a lot of packaged foods like fruit juices, candies, chocolates, baked products, bars and sweets. Once you’ve eliminated refined sugar from your diet, it actually tastes unpleasant when you go back to it after a gap.
Refined sugar Alternatives
Some alternatives to refined sugar are raw sugar (khand, khandsari in Hindi), unrefined dark jaggery or gud, palm jaggery, honey, natural stevia, dates, raisins, and if you have access to them, maple syrup and blackstrap molasses. All these come with essential minerals, amino acids and vitamins that are very nutritive, other than their sweetening attribute. All fruit and vegetable sweetness is good for you, even if you are diabetic, but follow other rules of diet for reversing diabetes.
Beware of crystalized ‘brown sugar’ that is manufactured with the same toxic process, with only some molasses added back for more mineral content (usually iron). Read the labels of all ‘sugar-free’ claims to make sure it does not have aspartame,acesulfame potassium, sucralose, saccharin, neotame or advantame. Despite food authorities declaring them ‘safe’, research has revealed them to cause long-term side-effects ranging from migraines and memory loss to diarrhoea, bloating and digestive disorders. Some of these are neurotoxins too, and can in the long run contribute to certain cancers, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, and other neuro-degenerative conditions.
Moreover, artificial sweeteners, very high on the sweetening scale while being low or zero on calorific value, over time alter the way you respond to natural foods like fruits and vegetables. Since the latter have relatively low sweetness per unit calorie, you slowly began discarding them in your natural appreciation and preference of tastes. This will invariably lead to unnoticed nutritional deficiencies.
This innocent looking everyday additive in our foods poses a lot more danger than just high blood pressure and hypertension as we are commonly lead to believe. A number of nature therapists assert that the refined or ‘table salt’ we use is the one that is likely to aggravate hypertension, and not the other kinds.
Refined salt or the common ‘free-flowing’ iodized table salt that we use for all our food is sea salt heated to very high temperatures, destroying over 70 important trace minerals.
In order to remove ‘impurities’, make the crystal size uniform, and to make it free-flowing, several chemical processes are applied to the salt. Additives often include sodium aluminosilicate, talc and ferrocyanide among others, the long term use of which can lead to neurological disorders, water retention, hypertension, and worsening of chronic conditions such as diabetes and gout.
Alternatives are rock salt, and natural, minimally processed (like washing and drying for cleaning) sea salt. Rock salt versions commonly available in India are Sendha or Lahori salt. Sparkling white crystal salts sold as sea salts are assuredly fake, since genuine sea salt has a yellow or grey or pink hue.
Some minerals in unprocessed sea salt are:
- copper (helps body form new arteries, when clogging occurs),
- selenium (chelates heavy metals and toxins from body),
- boron (helps prevent osteoporosis), chromium (regulates blood sugar levels),
- calcium (promotes teeth and bone growth, regulates nerve and muscle function),
- and magnesium (helps in synthesis of RNA and DNA).
Some minerals in the natural sea salt help stabilize blood pressure as opposed to the industrialized version, which in the absence of the minerals, has propensity to increase blood pressure.Naturally occurring salt, sodium chloride, derived from sea water or rocks, taken in low doses, is also important for maintaining the body’s sodium-potassium and electrolyte balance, and to hydrate and alkalize the body.
It is mandatory for salt manufacturers to add iodine, which they do after the refinement. Iodine deficiency has been rampant in the last few decades because of our highly chemicalized artificial farming methods, and plant genetic tampering that strip produce of requisite elements. Natural sea salt has a small amount of iodine in it, but probably insufficient for a deficient diet. So what do you do for your iodine if you are not consuming the regular iodized refined salt?
While all sea vegetables and sea non-vegetarian food are rich in iodine, most mainlanders in India have neither access nor a culture of eating sea food. For vegetarians, organic potatoes with their skin are a decent source of iodine, as are bananas, corn, curd and green beans. Dried seaweed additions to diets must be considered. Soils rich in iodine will transfer them to the plants cultivated in them. Going organic is not an option any more; it is imperative.
If you want to add sugar and salt to life, go closer to the natural sources of these. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the difference it makes to your health.
R K Chandrika has been imparting nature treatment and spiritual healing and practices for the past 20 years, apart from being a professional documentary filmmaker. She runs a holistic nature care enterprise accessible on www.grasroutes.com. You can send in your questions at [email protected]. She will answer the more relevant and generic questions of them, which will be carried the following Sunday.
Disclaimer: Everything related to health in this column is for information purposes only. Readers are expected to exercise their own good sense in following any of them, and consult a professional therapist or doctor for conditions that warrant doing so. The author and The Morning Chronicle bear no responsibility for any outcomes from following anything described herein.