Third chapter in Bhagavad-Gita says Ananta Bhavati Bhutani, which means that human beings are made of food. That translates into whatever the person is today is a result of what he/she has consumed over the years. Food nurtures everyone from conception in a mother womb till death.

Risk of getting lifestyle diseases causes a constant confusion on what to eat to maintain good health. It’s not really that difficult if we understand the basics about our food. We can enjoy food as well as good health.

According to science, human system is continuously engaged in two kinds of work-to nurture the body and to cleanse the system by eliminating waste from the body. The body works as a factory with smaller individual machines performing within, to contribute to complete wellbeing. If one machine has a problem, the body has a mechanism to correct it. But the system is unable to cope when there is a pressure on it, just like how a computer or a mobile phone fails to perform all tasks when the storage space is running out. Hence we have to maintain a balance to have a well performing system. Learning about nutrition and its benefits come-in handy.  What, when, how and how much we eat plays a crucial role.

Choosing right
Seasonal, fresh food in natural form gives maximum benefit. Many vitamins are lost when subjected to heat. One has to eat more of those things that can be consumed raw. All fruits can be eaten raw. Many vegetables like carrots, tomato, cucumber, salad greens, raddish, cabbage, green mango, gourds, coconut, garlic, onion and tender peas can be eaten raw directly, in the form of salads or chutneys. All nuts can be eaten raw as well. Whole pulses in the form of sprouts when eaten raw, are rich in protein and help in production of insulin, required for digesting sugar in the body. Rest of the few food items can be boiled or prepared in less oil for a healthy meal. These will also help in enhancing the taste of our meal and satisfy our taste buds.

Foods that are grown without the use of chemical manure or pesticides (organic food) are healthy. If organic food is not available, wash fruits and vegetables well before consuming. Polished or refined foods are devoid of many essential nutrients. So sticking to wholesome food like wheat instead of maida, pure filtered oils instead of refined ones is beneficial. Don’t fall for advertisements because many generations of our ancestors have lived healthier by using freshly crushed oils. Vitamins extracted while refining oils are sold separately at higher prices.

Eat just enough
One question that bothers many is how much to eat. There is no fixed quantity for everyone. Each individual needs to consume according to his/her activity level and age. Listen to your natural instincts. Brain sends subtle signals when the body has had enough. Eating less is fine but not more. You can always eat little more but throwing away excess from the body is a long process!

Eat on time
Begin the day with a natural food like a juice or a fruit, after a gap of at least 10 hours, though 12 hours is ideal. Don’t eat anything before the excretion of the previous day’s waste. First meal of the day should be the main meal as the digestive system is fresh to digest food and give required energy for the day. You can include your favourite foods in this meal-never mind the calories as you already know how much to eat. Mid-day meal should be smaller and dinner should be the smallest.  It’s best to have dinner before the sunset but if that is impossible, have it as early as possible, at least two hours before bedtime.

Chew well
Digestion process begins in the mouth and a third of it should happen here. It is said in ancient scriptures that each bite should be chewed at least 32 times. This helps in breaking the food to small bits and aides in further digestion in the stomach. Our body is an amazing system. The brain sends signal to digestive systems while we are chewing food. Digestive juices are thus produced while chewing to aide in digestion. This is surpassed while we eat in haste, thus resulting in improper digestion.

As eating is important to our body functioning, fasting is too. As discussed above, fasting for at least 12 hours every day gives the system enough room to keep what it needs and dispose the rest. Breakfast should happen after this process. In addition, fasting for a full day once in a fortnight will give space for our systems to cleanse all the toxins that may have formed within our body. If you have missed on this practice for long time, there is a solution for that too. Long fasting can be carried out under the supervision of an expert or a naturopath. This involves gradually shifting to fruit diet, then juice diet and to fasting. Fasting can be done with liquids like tender coconut water or lemon and honey taken at regular intervals during such period. Fasting has wonderful effects on our system and that can be discussed in another detailed article.

By Editorial Team

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