Dead Food vs Live Food
If you pick up fruit, having it whole, i.e. as-is, is the best way to eat it & having it as a packaged juice is the most undesirable way of consuming the fruit. Take sugar made from sugarcane as an example – Having a sugarcane whole, i.e. as-is, is healthy. Having refined white sugar is the most undesirable form of consuming that sugar. Jaggery is somewhere in between, in the processing chain.
Hence, view every food that you eat from a whole vs part perspective to choose whole foods or foods as close to whole as possible. We have specifically discussed this in the context of salt, sugar, oil & wheat in our other blogs.
4. Raw: Raw food is food that hasn’t been cooked & hence retains nutritive value often lost in cooking. They are live foods, teaming with enzymes that help in digestion. Cooking often destroys these enzymes. Raw foods add to our alkaline reserve. They are easier to digest. They help people cure naturally, you can read Health Journeys to know more. Fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds, sprouts are raw foods. You can read more about why raw foods & how to introduce them to your daily diet here.
5. Local & regional - In fruits & vegetables, the time of plucking impacts the nutrient levels. Nutrition keeps increasing till fruits/veggies ripen, being at its peak when they are ripe & starts reducing a few days after plucking. When we pluck fruits/veggies at an unripe stage because they need to be transported over long distances, we cut short the higher nutritional value that was developing in them. This is why you must prefer consuming locally grown fruits/veggies that are plucked very close to their ripening stage. Fruits/veggies that are to
Nature has already provided foods intended to keep us in perfect health till our last breath. Undue processing of food like refining, adding artificial flavors, aromas or preservatives denatures the food and builds toxicity in the body, which is the starting of disease. But how do we know what is natural food?
Natural foods are foods that nature has designed for us to eat, as per our body needs. They are best eaten as they exist in their natural state, i.e. as found in nature or with the minimum amount of human intervention in the form of processing. They are nutrition-rich, easily absorbable by the body & help it to function at its optimum. Natural foods give us good health, they help us in staying illness-free.
The more a food is processed or refined, the more it is likely to lose its nutrition in the refining process. Also, processed foods include artificial agents such as preservatives, chemicals, color, stabilizers, aromas, etc. Such foods leave a toxic residue in the body & over a period of time, toxins lead to illnesses. Processed food is also likely to cause us to overeat as they interfere with our bodies ’ natural signals.
Hence, eating a diet rich in natural foods on an everyday basis is the best way to stay illness-free, energetic, happy & in control of your health. We have many stories in our Health Journeys section where people have been able to manage their health issues just by being in-sync with nature & eating natural foods.
What are natural foods?
So, what are natural foods? This can be best explained with reference to 2 groups of food:
- Plant-based &
- Fruits, including dry fruits such as raisins, apricots, figs, etc.
- Legumes & beans – all pulses, rajma, chholey, chanaa, lobia, etc & their sprouted versions
- Grains – rice, wheat, makki, jowar, bajra, ragi, millets, amaranth, etc
- Nuts & seeds
- Nuts – almond, cashews, walnut, pista, peanut, coconut, etc
- Seeds – watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds (til), sabja seeds, etc
The first thing that you should check here is that are you having food from all these 5 groups. Most likely, you will be eating a lot of grains, legumes & beans but less of fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds. This is where you can begin changing your food choices.
Our lens to choose natural foods
There are a few rules we like to follow while choosing our food, we call it our prism or lens to view foods, to ensure what we choose is truly natural. Here is what our lens shows:
1. Digestion time – How much time a portion of food takes to digest shows how much energy is spent by our body in digesting that food. If we eat heavy foods, the body spends a lot of energy on the digestion function & other important functions such as elimination of body wastes, making of new cells & tissues to replace old or dead ones, etc is impacted. Hence, good health is negatively affected. Fruits & vegetables, in their raw form, are easy-to-digest foods. Fruits are digested within 30 min to an hour’s time, raw veggies take slightly longer. On the other hand, any cooked food, comprising of cooked veggies, grains, legumes & beans takes at least 2-3 hours.
Therefore, one should try to incorporate more of easy-to-digest foods in their day-to-day meals.
2. Acid-alkaline impact – Fruits, vegetables & sprouts are alkaline foods. The body is quite capable of getting rid of acidic residue of foods. However, given that the modern-day diet is quite rich in acidic foods, we need to focus on eating more alkaline foods in our day-to-day meals. You can read our blog on the body’s acid-alkaline balance to know more.
3. Whole foods - Whole foods are those that haven’t been processed/ refined & hence are 1) free from additives or other artificial substances added for processing/refining & 2) retain nutrients often lost in refining/processing.
be transported over long distances are doused twice with very harmful chemicals. First they are doused with preserving chemicals, just after they are plucked so that they do not ripen while being transported. Then on reaching their destination they are doused again with ripening chemicals so that they ripen quickly for sale
Hence, buy & eat locally available fruits & vegetables. For eg: prefer a Shimla or Kashmiri apple to a Washington apple, Indian guava to a Thailand guava, etc.
6.Seasonal – Nature has designed different fruits & vegetables to grow in different seasons, based on our body needs. For eg: Summer veggies like lauki, tori, kheera, kakdee, kaddoo are high in water content & so are summer fruits like melons & mangoes. These days a lot of fruits & vegetables are available in the market all around the year. But these are likely to be more artificially grown than natural. Food is at its most flavorsome & nutritious level when it is in-season. Hence, whenever buying fruits & vegetables, buy only what is in-season & fresh.
7.Eating by instinct – We need to understand what are we attracted to instinctively? Our multi-colored vision draws us to eat fruits and vegetables which are available in a myriad of colors. The sweet smell and taste of fruit attract us. Hence adding a variety of seasonal fruits and veggies in all colors of the rainbow will greatly benefit our health.
From now onwards, when you choose your food, view them from our lens of – digestion time, acid-alkaline impact, whole, raw, local, seasonal & eating by instinct. Viewing from this lens, one can explore the following food choices of natural foods:
- Eat more fruits, raw: Many people don’t eat fruits at all or eat fruit as a snack. However fruits are easiest to digest, energizing due to their glucose content, alkaline & nutritious. A plate of fruits can be a meal by itself.
- Eat more veggies, raw: That’s the best way to eat them. Eat them as salad or juice.
- Eat more nuts & seeds, raw: Many of us miss out on this. Have a handful of them daily – as-is or as nut powders, nut pastes & nut milks. Eat them whole & raw.
- Eat more sprouts, raw: Sprouts are raw & live foods, alkaline & nutritious. You must be eating a variety of dals, sprout them, that’s the best way to eat them!! Nuts & seeds can also be sprouted.
- Reduce cooked food: Cooked food is difficult-to-digest for the body. Try to have not more than 2 cooked meals a day. Whenever you eat a cooked meal, start eating a lot of raw veggie salad with it.
- Reduce acidic food: Processed, packaged & refined foods are acidic. Legumes & beans and grains are largely acidic in nature. If they form a large part of your diet, shift focus on fruits, raw veggies & sprouts.
- Focus on adding & not on removing: The focus should always be to add more to your diet, rather than removing more. As & when you keep adding natural foods, you will automatically consume less of other foods & also your body will become more capable of dealing with them.