Monday, May 11, 2015

When Food and Medicine are Natural



Stevia the natural sweetener
Our planet produces such an immense variety of foods that humans still do not even know about them all even in this modern age of rapid information exchange and the internet. Often what is consumed as a great food in one part of the world is discarded in another because people have no knowledge of it. An example is mustard (a close cousin of rapeseed). It is grown widely in many countries for its oil. Persons in the northern provinces of India also consume the young leaves of this plant in the same way as spinach. Many of these persons are some of the healthiest persons in the world (from the provinces of Haryana and Punjab). It has a different taste from spinach and to prepare delicious food out of it, one has to know the recipes. However, just to the south, in the Province of Rajasthan, where too this plant is grown widely, poor villagers who cannot afford even spinach regularly do not know that this leaf is an excellent replacement available near free in season. In the west too, when some talk of this or that food (e.g. walnuts or fish) that contains some little omega oil, many do not know that this humble oil used daily for cooking by some of the poorest persons in the world is nothing but a mix of different omega oils blended together in a balance that the Lord or Nature deemed fit as suitable for life. This is just one example. There are numerous others and perhaps it is time that an International Institute for food Information is set up to increase awareness and facilitate exchange of information between countries and regions.

Sometimes modern scientists isolate one of the compounds of a natural food, feed it in large quantities to a rat, find that it produces harm and then damn the whole food. Some such thing may have been done with mustard oil that has been consumed for centuries in Asia without any ill effect. The important thing to realize is that a plant chemical in isolation has quite a different effect from a group of compounds present in a food and perhaps there is not one single food out there that does not contain a chemical that would not harm if isolated from its natural companions.


A rapeseed field is a sea of exotic yellow in the season

The plant world not only produces an immense variety of foods but also medicines. While Mother Earth has provided the planet with a vast variety of  foods to sustain life, it has also provided many medicinal plants to ease discomfort and pain if the need arises. It is a pity that modern humans consume something artificial from time to time when a healthier natural alternative is easily and more cheaply available. Take sugar for example. It is a great ingredient for numerous beverages and recipes. However, it is  a pure chemical and especially bad for the health of the obese and the aging, especially persons whose bodies are compromised in a manner that their blood does not control sugar properly. Many such persons go in for artificial chemical sweeteners that make up for the taste. On the other hand, there is a natural leaf called Stevia that is many times sweeter than sugar and even has health benefits especially for the aging, helping to improve the pancreas, lipid profile (cholesterol) blood pressure, cardiovascular state etc, that plague many aging persons. It has been used for centuries in Latin America and is used widely in Japan as a sweetener but there are others in many countries who know nothing about it. This is just one more example. There are numerous others and the interested reader shall find a lot of information on it on the net by googling if he or she wishes to.

For those who do not suffer from diabetes and are not obese, a natural alternative to cane sugar is Jaggery or shakkar that are dehydrated forms of sugar cane juice and not a chemical sugar derived from them. Children need sugar for energy especially but it is best only in its natural form, not the chemical crystalline sugar many modern humans consume. Brown sugar is not much of an alternative. It is only slightly better than white sugar because it is made from white sugar. Honey is even better but good honey is not always available and it is expensive. Jaggery on the other hand comes from a variety of grass just as wheat does and is therefore abundant on the planet. Moreover procurement of honey involves cruelty to another life form - bees, and it really is not necessary to perpetuate violence in order to acquire good food in modern times of fast transportation. Check this out for foods sans violence

A human is safer when he uses a part of a natural plant with natural processing as food, flavor or medicine rather than a chemical thing, simply because the designer of the latter is not as smart as the designer of the former who has designed all life. Sometimes, medicines are extracted from natural plants through excess processing so that they become unnatural and less healthy. A plant product that has undergone only natural processing such as treatment by air, sunshine (drying), pickling, fermentation or extraction by water and steam may still be regarded as natural. However, another that has been extracted by use of extreme processes such as extreme pressures and temperatures, chemicals etc. is no longer natural but rather a chemical thing. Such extractions are especially dangerous when the original plant or food in its natural state is a potent one such as cannabis, opium and alcohol extracted from fermented foods. Doctors may sing praises of the chemical extracts but it could be because they have a share of the profits from drug makers who make obscene profits and who might have patented an extract of something that God made and placed for free in nature for all mankind.

The fundamental difference between a natural food or medicine and an extract is that the natural form contains a host of other supporting chemical compounds that make it more suitable for life. If you do not believe this, you may try a simple experiment. Take fruit juice that has been fermented to create say 10% alcohol. Now prepare another drink by diluting pure chemical ethyl alcohol with water so that it is 10 % by volume. On different days consume a couple of large glasses of either and notice the difference. Both would give a high but the pure alcohol drink might  give a headache too and a hangover besides. The difference between the two drinks is that the first is a natural food whereas the second is not. Alcohol being something that produces a dramatic effect, one can do this experiment in a couple of days. With other foods, similar things happen to the body over a period of weeks, months and years and one may not be able to discern the changes so easily and quickly although some who lead very disciplined and peaceful lives can make out the difference fairly quickly by noticing changes in their sleep, breathing, energy levels and thought patterns. That is how ancient Himalayan mystics discovered and tested several Ayurveda medicines.

However, do note that even among natural foods, not all are safe. Some are poisonous and others such as fermented wines, cannabis and alcohol are for medicinal purpose only to deal with serious  conditions of the mind, body and soul and not to be used for recreation or as a daily habit. Although cannabis may cure some serious impairments of the mind and even not kill if used regularly, it will impair the ability of a human to work for his or her daily needs. Alcoholic beverages, although they can be handy at a moment of stress, trauma or sorrow, if  consumed regularly can turn a human into a psychotic or even kill.. Opium, even in its natural state will kill easily in excess. The funny thing is that while Opium kills many, Alcohol too kills some and cannabis hardly any, the most respected of institutions to give their opinion on drugs, of the leading nation of the world i.e the FDA seems to have figured out these drugs in the wrong reverse order. They have placed cannabis as a schedule I drug and opium as a less dangerous schedule II while alcohol does not even figure in the list. Just goes to show how well off a human is if he trusts even modern scientific institutions as compared to trusting Nature or God.

Humans have acquired the ability to genetically modify an entire plant and here too extreme caution is required before trusting such GM foods. Human intelligence comes no where near that of the Universe that has created all life. Although life spans of modern humans have increased because of things like antibiotics and surgical interventions, the cutting and chopping of a human body, many are perhaps not having the best quality of life because of prevalence of diseases such as obesity, strokes, joint pains, diabetes, difficulty in shitting or conversely the lower end running like a faucet left open, hypertension, insomnia, conditions of the heart, Alzheimer's, assorted cancers, depression and assorted conditions that would help the shrink to acquire a new BMW and the drug major a new aircraft and a cruise liner besides, chronic fatigue, lack of vitality, a dick that just won't  rise to the occasion even  for essential duties such as procreation of new life until perhaps one pumps in enough Viagra to get a  possible heart attack. It is very likely that such incidences would reduce hugely when humans depend more on nature rather than man as regards to what goes into their mouths and bodies accompanied by spending some time in sunshine and strolling through green natural areas. Something along these lines has been mentioned in a recent BBC new report here

Based on a life time of experience, observation and study, it is the firm belief of this author that in the modern world there are millions of humans, who having suffered once from an episode of mild to moderate hypertension, type II diabetes, depression, trauma and other conditions, resorted to chemical medication and have become more or less impaired for life, while on the other hand had they depended on natural food and medicines with a few improvements in life style they stood a very good chance of full recovery to continue a life normally that is not dependent on a drug that comes with undesirable side effects. Similar is the case with some commonly resorted to surgical interventions. In case a condition is not severe enough to pose a serious danger it is always worthwhile for any human to explore the natural option first and perchance if they did not do it, make every possible effort to return to it, although it is always harder when a dependence on a drug has developed.
A BBC report at the time of this writing seemed to indicate that over the last fifteen years alone there has been a 50% rise in incidences of strokes in persons younger than 55 in the UK. Modern medical technology shall keep them alive for a very long time and a make a lot of money out of it too. This author in similar condition would welcome moving on to a brighter new life while singing a song rather than groan his way into the grave for more than thirty or forty years when there were no essential family duties left. More important than how long one lives is how well one lives and leaves as taught by a Himalayan mystic to this  author.

If one were to analyze how mankind created problems even with something as basic as food and medicine, one would find that at the root of it all is almighty greed, and the ignorance born out of it. The escape lies in love, truth and simplicity and it is with the help of these that a human may escape the world of the devil full of misery and suffering, howsoever murky the waters may have become.


UPDATE: For a recent exhaustive study on how synthetics cause cancer, that appeared after this article was written please see:
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/06/natural-vs-chemical-is-health-vs-cancer.html



Public domain photo with thanks from

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