Has abandoning traditional ways of eating in favour of a Western diet led to some of the most prevalent illnesses in modern society?
Western society has largely overcome the problem of infectious disease due to public health measures. As a result we have eliminated many infectious diseases, yet hospitals and mental health clinics are under huge pressure. We have replaced many infectious disease with degenerative diseases. I believe that macrobiotic nutrition, that is a good diet based on whole cereal grains, vegetables and fruit, rather than our present reliance on animal products, refined/chemically engineered foods, and sugar, can help us regain our physical and mental health.
What is Holistic Nutrition?
Nutrition is the process of assimilating food for the growth and repair of worn tissue. It is also the science and study of proper balance within the diet to promote health. Holistic nutrition accounts for the total person, their dietary intake including supplements and lifestyle, and on prevention and the use of non-toxic, natural therapies. The goal is to ‘do no harm.’ Then with the use of natures healing power address the needs of the whole person. Nutrition is fundamental to the practice of Holistic Medicine. Correct diet is the foundation for other therapies and generally makes them unnecessary.
Evolution ensures that all living things which exist today are well adapted to their environment provided that they live according to the forces which shaped their evolutionary development–this definition does not translate to nutrition. According to the Macrobiotic philosophy it was by eating whole cereal grains as the principle food that man[kind] developed his superior intellect. Use of fire for cooking allowed man to change his food which in turn allowed man to become more flexible and adaptable and therefore the most successful species.
Principles of Natural Health Care:
- Good health is a natural state
- The body works to maintain balance and heal itself
- Acute illness is a manifestation that the body is struggling to heal itself
- Chronic illness is a sign that healing has failed
Essential Components for Macrobiotic Nutrition:
- Carbohydrates – whole grains, (no wheat) beans, vegetables, seeds, fruits
- Proteins – beans, bean products, fish, seeds, nuts, meat, eggs, dairy
- Fats and oils – cooking oils, nut butters, nuts, seeds, butter
- Minerals – salts, sea vegetables, vegetables, fish, meat
- Vitamins – vegetables, fruits, sea vegetables
- Enzymes – fermented foods, raw vegetables and fruits
- Water – spring water, vegetables, fruits
Using the description of disease development, we can readily understand the need for change. For convenience the description is described as three distinct phases but in practice the stages meld into each other with no clear division.
Development of Disease – Stage 1
By definition there is an imbalance between intake of, and requirement for nutrients. In theory this could be a deficiency but in our modern society it is more likely to be an excess. There may be a loss of appetite or the person becomes a fussy eater; most people over-ride this by eating ever-more tasty processed foods. The excess may be stored as fat (nature’s way of providing for lean times which no longer exists). Avoid the mistake of thinking that if a person is lean they are not overeating. Instead of storing excess, the body may work to maintain a balance by eliminating the excess. This creates one or more of the following symptoms:
- Increased physical activity, boisterousness (diagnosed as ADHD — pharmaceuticals are prescribed)
- Persistent hair loss (diagnosed as genetic baldness)
- Dry, scaly skin
- Itchy skin
- Occasional vomiting–(diagnosed as 24-hour flu or an exotic name du jour)
- Occasional diarrhoea
- Discharges from orifices – eyes, genital system
- Tooth tartar
- Unpleasant body odours
- Strong-smelling urine, urinary crystals
- Bad breath
These are warning signs of improper elimination rather than true illness. They show that the body is making adjustments to maintain its healthy status. If only one of these symptoms is present this is a warning that changes to the lifestyle – especially diet – are needed.
Development of Disease – Stage 2
If imbalance between intake and requirement persists, the build-up of wastes will eventually lead to impairment of the major organ systems. If the organs of elimination are affected this will accelerate the process of deterioration. In time, (days/months depending on the individual) signs of true illness will appear. At first these tend to be physiological in nature rather than as a result of degenerative changes in the organ systems:
- Signs of inflammation e.g. Pancreatitis, hepatitis, joint swelling,
- Abnormality of the immune system – allergy/intolerance, susceptibility to infection
- Hormonal imbalance – false pregnancy, abnormal oestrus, thyroid problems
Development of Disease – Stage 3
As the build-up of waste products continues, the major organs will begin to fail. Signs of organ failure may not appear until 75% of the organ function is lost. At this stage the person is in danger–e.g. Kidney or Liver failure; Diabetes; Malignant tumours. This description provides a framework for the categorisation of all the disease conditions we experience. Using this we can form a holistic view of what is happening in the body and offer a prescription for action.
Idiopathic epilepsy (idiopathic–cause unknown). Holistically this is a discharge of excess energy (Development of disease Stage 1). Therefore management would require a low protein, low fat, and chemical free, high in complex carbohydrate (unrefined grain). The amount of food needs to be kept low to meet but not exceed needs.
2. Pan-osteitis (bone inflammation) I include this, not because it is common but because it is comparatively unusual. What causes it? Without the benefit of holistic thinking we wouldn’t know where to begin. But we can see that as generalized inflammation it fits neatly into the category of Stage 2 of the Development of Disease; control and prevention become obvious.
People who practice a Macrobiotic food plan experience:
- physical appearance, vitality and energy comparatively 15-20 years younger;
- no prescriptions or seldom use over-the-counter medications;
- seldom experience headaches–if they do, it can be linked to a specific issue, which is corrected naturally;
- less of the so-called ‘aging’ symptoms;
- their weight is low to moderate on the scale for height and body build;
- seldom experience colds, flu or allergies.
That’s it, in a nutshell. Now it is your decision to design your health.
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