Talking about healthy nutrition is not an easy task, if we take into consideration the conditions of our soil, the air we breathe and the water we drink. Despite much of the efforts and attention given to the environmental concerns about our fast growing world, the industrial, social and economic developments have been, to certain extent, ignoring such warnings and concerns.
Overpopulation, food supply restrictions and overdevelopment of urban areas instead of important designated rural areas have all been factors that restrict the creation of a proper balance for our planet, and consequently it has been affecting the quality of our food and ultimately the quality of our lives.
When we mention health and wellness we must address all aspects that affect it. According to the foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the concept of health is based on clean energy – Qin Qi (pronounced as, Queen Chi). This clean energy is created within and around our bodies, and is affected by food energy that is created by clean nutrients, and lung energy that is created by clean air. In turn, these energies will supply the kidney with strong energy which will flow into our meridians with a strong stream of healthy cells that, in turn will create a good immune system in our body. Although Traditional Chinese Medicine has a poetic way of describing such principles of good health, these facts can be confirmed and proven by the current medical establishment. When we say that “we are what we eat”, we are in fact making a very true statement.
One must understand thoroughly the impact of the food we consume on our bodies, in order to make good and sensible decisions about what we choose to eat, or not. Without turning this post into a heavy dissertation about nutrition, it is important to mention a few foundations that will lead to a healthy and nutritious diet plan. The first one is about creating a proper alkaline/acidic balance in our diet. This is accomplished by practicing, on a daily basis, a conscious exercise of what we should eat and what we should avoid. From the moment we are born, our bodies will have a tendency to acidify and age, which is a natural process. Through our maturation phase, especially in the first 7 years of our life, it is extremely important to create a good and solid foundation of healthy and nutritious nourishment. This foundation will help determine the foods we choose to look for, and consume, for the rest of our life.
As a rule of thumb, most green vegetables, root vegetables and fresh fruit are considered to be alkaline foods. That also includes most vegetable protein, such as beans and chickpeas. Hence, most balanced vegetarian diets tend to be alkaline and healthier that those diets rich in animal protein and processed foods. Canned foods are always acidic, as well as are pasta, rice, bread, and dairy products.
A well balanced diet should consist of 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic foods. That is like having a ratio of 4 to 1 of alkaline/acidic food portions on your plate, at every meal. It is, however, important to understand that we should not avoid all acidic foods, but instead reduce its quantity and increase the amount of alkaline foods in order to compensate.
Another good practice in food preparation is to serve animal protein with vegetables, avoiding the use of carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta, and rice), or serve carbohydrates with greens and vegetable protein (beans and chickpeas). This all requires some effort in changing our diet and lifestyle, but it would certainly lead to a much healthier society.
Fresh fruit and vegetable juices, or smoothies for breakfast are always a better option to toast and butter. Also, in addition to a bowl of whole wheat cereal (with almond or rice milk), a glass of freshly squeezed fruit and/or vegetable juice is another healthy and nutritious way to start your day.
Depending on what is available at most markets, locally grown produce should always be the first option. Also, organically grown should be an indication of the absence of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. In order to create a healthier diet, we should always eat the fruits and vegetables of the season that preferably grow locally, taking into consideration our geographic location and accessibility to fresh produce.
Reducing the consumption of animal protein is always a good choice, and it can be easily replaced by other sources of healthier vegetable protein. Vegetable soups are also a great way to get a good percentage of alkaline foods in your diet. In addition to vegetable soups, the consumption of fresh salads and fruit should be equally encouraged as part of our routine daily diet.
Mealtime should be a moment of relaxation and enjoyment. Food should be always well chewed, to facilitate the digestion process in the stomach. Consumption of liquids with the meals (especially water or bottled juices) should also be avoided so as to prevent the dilution of our stomach acids, necessary for a proper digestion.
Finally, one must find a good balance between fresh, locally grown and organic fruits and vegetables, served raw, in many salad combinations, or even lightly cooked. Thoroughly cooked vegetables tend to lose most of their nutritional value, as does many vitamins and minerals which are sensitive to heat. A healthy diet should have a balanced combination of all types of food, including fresh, raw, and lightly cooked (or steamed) vegetables, and fruit. Sliced apples and nuts can be a great addition to fresh salads, as well as the use of avocados, tomatoes, etc. The dressing of salads should be made simply with olive oil and lemon or balsamic vinegar, avoiding those tasty but over-processed salad dressings available in jars, generally abundant in undesirable fats and other hidden chemicals used for preservation.
If we eat healthy, we will in turn become healthy! Since we maintain all of our bodily functions with the nutrients of what we eat, should we not pay a little more attention and care to what we put into our mouths? Here is literally some food for thought. If we take some time to think prior to ingesting a meal we are promoting our good health in both body and mind for overall health and wellness. So remember, think before you eat, drink and be well!