Thursday, December 16, 2010

Towards Good Health

In some earlier posts the issue of health and nutrition had been taken up. It was mentioned how some health issues may be addressed in a natural manner through a proper selection of food. The health issues that I had faced over the last three years are not uncommon with age. The ones I had to deal with are stiffness of muscles, chronic fatigue, disturbed sleep and some lapses of memory, particularly short-term memory. These issues had persisted for me since mid 2007, subsequent to a prolonged bout of ill health that lasted for about six months. The cause of that illness has not been fully found although inadvertent chemical poisoning has been suspected. That illness had disappeared without medical intervention but I did rely extensively on spiritual help during that period. The illness had disappeared but it left in its wake the sort of problems mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph. In the following three years, in spite of the fatigue, I have led a rather eventful life with many projects that involved traveling, particularly to Nainital Himalayas and did not pay any specific attention to the health difficulties hoping that they might disappear on their own. However, beginning this summer, there has been more time to pay attention to the matter. As per my inclination, my mind turned first towards natural and spiritual methods rather than medical ones. As mentioned earlier, I am not against modern medicine. In fact my daughter, Keya, is pursuing an advanced Johns Hopkins program in USA in internal medicine after much encouragement from me. However, I restrict the use of modern medicine to acute and emergency health problems, preferring natural methods most times especially for less acute chronic problems.

Vincent had been kind enough to offer another non-medicine based method that had worked well for him as regards fatigue. On examining that method on the Internet I deduced that it was a psyche based method and did not take up that offer. This is not because I do not have faith in methods that deal with the psyche or our inner emotional health. Rather, I do believe that the root of disease and health problems lies in the psyche and unless that root is healed, merely treating the external body is simply a symptomatic cure. The disease will either reoccur or if permanently kept at bay by medicinal intervention, will lead to other probably more serious side effects. I have discovered my own spiritual methods to deal with the psyche and these include mantra medicine as well as resolution through dreams and I have employed these over the past few months. Certainly many problems are physical such as the chemical imbalance caused by a missing essential vitamin or mineral. These require a physical solution but even here it is my belief that with proper psychological healing of the inner self, one would be lead to the knowledge or taste for foods that help restore the chemical balance. One’s own self can behave as one’s friend or one’s enemy depending on the state of the inner self or soul. A soul bent on destroying itself would be led to foods or drugs that can cause such destruction or vice-versa.

Through the sort of suggestions of diet contained in earlier posts, I did manage to recover from my health problems to a considerable extent but not fully until a few weeks ago. I augmented my diet with tree nuts, spinach and clarified butter (fresh butter will do in countries where clarified butter is not available). The human body needs a range of vitamins and essential minerals in trace amounts in order to function properly. The body can manufacture some vitamins and chemicals needed by the body, but others have to be obtained from foods. A generally healthy diet containing a range of fresh vegetables and food grains with some animal products like milk and eggs (lovegan foods as described in an earlier post) should normally be adequate to provide these other chemicals. It has been so since the beginning of civilization. However, every age brings with it its own problems as well as solutions and the modern scientific age has introduced new parameters.

Modern farmers have found new ways for intensive farming practices assisted by the use of chemical fertilizers such as urea. This means that modern farmers can produce far more grain and vegetables than the traditional farmer. This also means that trace elements such as magnesium, manganese, chromium, potassium, copper, selenium etc. etc. get depleted faster from the soil then the rate at which they can be replaced with natural methods of recycling. Farmers rarely bother to fertilize their fields with the necessary trace elements restricting themselves to the prime chemicals N, P, K required by their produce. The resulting produce thus becomes deficient in the trace minerals. Humans suffering from a deficiency of a particular mineral (different ones depending on location, life style, illness etc.) may thus continue to suffer from the deficiency. They may then suffer various health problems that cannot be diagnosed properly by the present state of development of modern medicine. Unlike some, it is my belief that modern science is still in its infancy and there is yet much that has to be discovered or revised by science.

As compared to ground foods, foods produced by trees – fruits and nuts – are less deficient in essential minerals. The reason is that the roots of a tree spread wider and go deeper into the ground. Thus, the consumption of nuts such as almonds was recommended in an earlier post. Nuts are strong foods and caution is necessary in their consumption, for example an excess of almonds may lead to cyanide or oxalate poisoning and an excess of Brazil nuts to selenium poisoning. Five to ten almonds a day (both soaked and dry) and a couple of walnuts should suffice for an adult. If Brazil nuts are available then just one or two should do and in case pine nuts are available in your area about ten or fifteen of these delicate nuts from heaven should suffice. Edgar Cayce the Christian mystic was a great fan of almonds and many of his declarations have been substantiated by modern studies. I did not find good pine nuts or walnuts in the local Jaipur market but have found good almonds and have been consuming these over the last few months. As a result the disturbed sleep issue and memory issues were taken care of. There had been an improvement in the fatigue issue but the problem of fatigue and muscle stiffness was evading a full solution. Both problems apparently arise simultaneously and result from an alkali/ acid imbalance in the body.

As mentioned, every age brings new problems and new solution with it. Thus just as the new age has introduced deficient or compromised foods it has also produced assorted multi vitamin and multi mineral pills to address the deficiency. At first I had not considered this solution due to my inclination for natural methods. Vitamin and mineral pills can do much more harm than any food, even nuts, if taken in excess or when not needed. I have been consuming vitamin C, a safe vitamin for the last several decades,(about 500 to a thousand milligram a week) and that has kept things like flu and colds at bay. Therefore, a few weeks ago, I decided to explore the use of other vitamin and mineral pills available in the Indian market. For this task I trusted my own knowledge and research more than that of a medical practitioner. I feel that I have more knowledge of this area than many practitioners in the city.

Exploring what was available in the market, my search narrowed down to two supplements the first was Becadexamin and the second Surbex XT both produced by reputed multi national firms and both containing between them, a wide range of vitamins and minerals of the sort required by an aging human body. Further research however led me to the suspicion that both have problems as well. Becadexamin contains 5000 International units of Vitamin A along with a host of other vitamins and minerals. There have been some studies that recommend this amount of Vitamin A a day but there are also many others that regard this much vitamin A as far too much with possible ill effects. Surbex xt also contains a range of minerals and vitamins. There was one in particular that appeared risky. This was the form of chromium in the pill. The form used is water-soluble and has been preferred by pharmacists around the world for its greater absorption. However it is a form of chromium that does not occur naturally and some studies have shown that it is mutagenic (causing DNA damage) if consumed in excess. The amount contained in surbex xt appears to be on the high side. In my view, Becadexamin would have been a better pill if Vitamin A had been limited to 1000 I U per pill and surbex xt a better pill if chromium chloride had been used instead of chromium picolinate, but who is listening?

Anyway I have devised my own solution. I have been consuming Becadexamin and Surbex xt on alternate days for four days a week (leaving the other three days for good old sunshine and fresh air). The combination appears to offer the best possible balance and the good news is that my Fatigue and Muscle fitness has completely disappeared. I need less sleep at night but sleep like a baby for eight hours a day in my cozy and comfortable bed (earlier it was ten hours) close to a window with a view of fragrant bushes and trees with the grace of the Almighty.

In coclusion though I must add that my preference for appropriate food as medicine rather than pills continues and I hope to taper down even these few vitamin pills in the coming months. I see them only as a temporary measure of relief rather than a perpetual crutch.

In the meantime, a new problem has arisen though. I do not know what to do with the extra time and energy on my hands now. I am looking for some good new books to take care of the late hours.

Rose by Petr Kratochvil from