You are what you eat, and drink
Consume an ounce of whiskey and you will notice the change in mood and behavior immediately. However, it is not just whiskey everything we drink, even the quality of water, or anything we eat has some subtle or significant influence on our behavior. Consumed over a period, not just the weekend binge, the type of food we consume literally shapes our personality prompting ancient thinkers like Hippocrates to remark, “You are what you eat”.
Some question this by saying that it is our experiences and habits that shape our personality but the two are linked because it is our habits that shape our tastes and food choices. In another post in this blog it was mentioned that a human personality is shaped by memory and experiences and one might ask which of the two is more significant - food or experiences?. My understanding is that humans gravitate towards the foods and actions that agree with their inner inclinations and personality and so in the end both causes are two sides of the same horse.
Not just individuals it seems that entire geographical regions, people and civilizations are influenced by the food and water of the region. An ancient Indian, highly revered Saint, Kabir had noted during his travels that people who had sweet water to drink spoke sweetly and those who drank salted or foul tasting water often had harsh or foul speech. Similarly he noted that those who consumed highly pure food had pure thoughts and personality as compared to others whose food was not of similar quality.
It appears that entire civilizations are shaped by food and that the excellence of European and Japanese civilization is tied in with the food the majority consumes. The consumption of wine, cheese, vine vinegar, freshly baked breads and cakes, olive oil, olives, nuts, fruit berries of various kinds are historically quite unique to the European culture just as the consumption of seafood, tea and rice is historically unique to the Japanese culture. Individual geographical variations exist and the uniquely harsh mechanical character of the Germans in Europe as compared to the French may be linked to their consumption of hard breads, bitter beer, Sauer kraut and massive sausages just as the easy going character of the Italians and Spaniards in comparison may have something to do with olives and tomatoes besides the heat and the type of vegetables that grow in that heat. I do not mean to generalize the behavior of regions. What I refer to here is the behavior of a significant majority and average traits that do vary. Individual behavior varies, so does individual food preferences and at the present time there are very many vegans as well amongst the Germans. In my experience they are gentler in behaviour. Here too there are notable exceptions, Hitler being one.
In India people living in Delhi have been historically known to be more energetic and disciplined as compared to others of nearby regions and that is in spite of the heavy pollution of the city. Just across the river from Delhi are the districts of Ghaziabad and Meerut that have been recognized as the crime, decay and filth capitals of the country. The food consumed by both the areas is similar but there is a significant difference in the quality of water. In the latter districts it is foul tasting, impure and saline. Recently however the crime scene has been moving into Delhi as has the water from further north because of increasing population.
The human body is virtually a chemical factory and it manufactures very many chemicals that the body needs for its functioning. Therefore often if an essential component is missing in food it can manufacture it if the component elements are available in the food.. This is especially true when a person is young and the body processes functioning at their peak. As one ages though the various factories of the bodies slow down and aging persons (those who have crossed forty and especially those who have crossed fifty or sixty) can benefit greatly by introducing a new supplement in their diet. Here are some I have found effective in my own experience recently,
1. Increasing intake of iodine and potassium slightly is likely to be helpful in diet and the easiest source for it is modified table salts that contain these additives.
2. Adding a Mallic acid and magnesium supplement may be considered in consultation with a doctor
3. Consume a bit of apple cider or wine vinegar in a salad, soup or water.
4. Switching to Green tea from the roasted black variety. Do not add milk to the tea but you may add one or more of the herbs –ginseng, ashwagandha, holy Basil leaves (dried if fresh are not around), dried white mulberry leaves. Replace more than half your sugar with honey if natural honey is available and a bit of stevia extract. There is a post about Stevia in this blog.
5. Five freshly shelled and soaked almonds consumed daily as well as a couple of freshly shelled walnuts may help keep Alzheimer and Dementia at bay, and introducing other nuts and foods from trees help restore missing elements not found abundantly in modern vegetables.
6. Include at least one raw food item (as in salads) daily for the live enzymes to help digestion. If nothing else, let the raw vegetable be mung bean or alpha alpha sprouts that can be made easily at home.
7. Include a green leafy vegetable four or five times a week in diet, spinach being the most common and useful.
8. Do not get onto a low carbohydrate diet if you are underweight or normal weight but do go for it if overweight or obese.
9 Although it is good to look for foods that you deduce as healthy and avoiding those that are deduced as unhealthy, it does seem like a good idea not do this fanatically. Try for a variety from the amazingly diverse bounty of nature. Personally I do avoid meat to the extent possible but if a rare occasion serves it, I enjoy it. On the other hand, I try and tell vegans that milk products and eggs are some of the best foods around and instead try a lovegan diet (described elsewhere in this blog)
10. It is best to make your meals out of basic and natural (produced by mother nature without industrial intervention) ingredients you can see and feel. There are other posts in this blog with reports of not just horses, cats and dogs in processed food but also poop and pee. One should detest eating all that especially if one believes in - you are what you eat - LOL :)
Watch your own body chemistry to see the effect each change has by adding these changes one at a time. You do not necessarily have to believe in anything suggested here or elsewhere even if it comes from a good source because each body chemistry is unique. What is good for one person may be poison for another. You may have heard that brown bread is better than white but white bread may in fact be far better for a person with a laxative stomach and all bread can spell doom for a person with Gluten allergy. I have had the great fortune of saving some persons here from severe perpetual asthma by getting them off wheat.
Do ensure purity of foods and avoid or minimize processed foods that contain chemicals or have used chemicals during the processing. If you find organic vegetables too expensive at least soak the vegetables you eat in clean water for an hour or so before consumption to leach out some harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
Even more important is the fact that if you find a good thing that works for you do not overdo it. Too much of a good thing can be poison. An example is Brazil nut. One or two a day will do magical wonders for a person deficient in selenium which unfortunately many persons in the modern world are but ten a day will probably kill you because just as selenium is a necessary chemical for a human body it kills if in excess. Why modern foods are deficient can be found from an excellent article by Dr. Dawson here :
Just to quote briefly from him here
The alarming fact is that foods (fruits, vegetables and grains) now being raised on millions of acres of land, that no longer contain enough of certain minerals, are starving us - no matter how much of them we eat
Ascertain the dose of great potent foods carefully through your own research, experience and consultation. Besides switch to wine and beer from whiskey and rum in case you are fond of an alcoholic drink and do not consume alcoholic drinks for a period exceeding an hour during a twenty-four hour period. That gives the impacted brain cells a chance to reset. Sometimes with age they do not and lead to Alzheimer/ Dementia in the best case or psychosis in the worst. Avoid tobacco altogether especially the smoking kind as in cigarettes. Incase you have been doing this do not worry but make the change even now and in time the body will recover.
NOTE: This post was updated slightly in May 2013