Sunday, September 18, 2011

Your Nutrition Guide - Indian Style!

If you have noticed, we are all facing an ever ending flood of information about different dietary habits and guidelines from each end of the world! Different dietary systems seem to conflict entirely with each other.

I had the chance to visit the fascinating India this summer, in which I learned that, we are no where near the Indian cuisine and the community's dietary habits! Most Indians are vegetarians - No meat, fish, poultry, milk nor eggs!  Even non-vegetarians don't consume meats (beef, pork, lamb, mutton), rather, they have their proteins from legumes, fish and poultry. To top that, everything is super spicy, even if you ask for it to be spices-free, dream on! Herbs and spices are a major part of Indian dietary habits and cuisine - from cayenne to cinnamon, ginger, oregano, rosemary, chilli, cumin, cardamon and turmeric, the list is enormously long and extends to spices I have never heard of. Therefore, spices, herbs and their health benefits will have to be discussed in a separate article alright!

So long story short, according to Dr. Anjali Mukerjee, a nutritionist, medical doctor and alternative medicine specialist, she explains in her "Healing with Food" book how to energize your body Indian style! Some of the points that are helpful to both Indians and us are:

1. Drink enough amounts of water: Although many seem to forget the importance of this essential non-nutrient, drink at least 10 glasses of water daily in order to balance electrolytes, cleanse the kidneys and rehydrate your cells.

2. Have yourself some goodnight sleep: Dr. Mukerjee insists that there's no substitute for adequate sleep - no amount of healthy nutrients and no mutli-vitamins can rejuvenate your body like 7 hours of good sleep.

3. Avoid stimulants: such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine which stimulate your body for a short period of time only to cause chronic fatigue if used for a long period of time! These stimulants promote dehydration and increase your blood pressure!

Breathe and relax
4. Relax and try to control your every day stress: In this section, i loved the statement: "Toxic emotions are worse than toxic food." Stress zaps all energy right our of our bodies! Work on controlling your stress, breathe, meditate and relax - don't just say life is too hectic to relax, find time.

5. Limit your sugar intake: Sugar may give you the instant energy but in the long run, sugar reduces the life span - that serious! Soft drinks, pastries, cakes, ice creams, dressings, low fat foods, etc. all contain added sugars that cause imbalances in our bodies, deteriorate our immune systems and increase our risk of gaining weight.

6. Avoid fried foods: that get digested slowly, prevent the digestion of other foods and lead to sluggishness, other than the very well known adverse effects of fries on weight, blood profiles and chronic diseases!

7. Limit your intake of red meats: like beef, lamb, pork and cold cuts which are loaded with saturated fats and which some (like processed meats, salami & packed meats) are hyped up with preservatives, additives and colorings. Red meats cause an increase in inflammatory agents, build up of uric acids, increase the risk of various types of noncommunicable diseases like hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cancers as well as mess up our blood profiles!

8. Limit milk and dairy products: that increase the formation of mucus, sinus problems, intensify acne problems and may trigger allergic reactions. Make sure to get your calcium from green leafy vegetables, broccoli, almonds and soybeans. Milk could be beneficial is small amounts, such that it aids in relaxation of muscles and sleeping well so limit your consumption (to 1-2 servings per day).

9. Multivitamins supplements: especially B vitamins decrease fatigue, help your body's metabolic reactions and convert your nutrient intake from food to energy! Have yourself some mutli-minerals and vitamins to complement your healthy diet, not to replace it.

10. Get movin': Have at least 40-50 minutes of exercise each day such as walking, swimming, jogging, etc. Increase your heart rate and sweat, but don't overdo it! Regular exercise creates balance between water & electrolytes in your body, aids in weight loss, helps your body to get rid of toxins and burn extra fat, promotes muscle mass and helps building calcium in your bones so you don't want to miss out on its benefits!

11. Eat food closest to its natural form: Eat whole foods - a point world-wide guidelines are now emphasizing on and a point in which we are so advantaged to have! Our Lebanese cuisine helps us in eating foods closest to their natural form from Mjaddara, Loubye, Fasolia stew, Koussa, Vine leaves, Tabboule, you name it! Eat foods with minimal processing such as whole grains, brown rice, brown bread, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), fresh fruit and veggies, raw nuts and seeds. These foods provide your body with complete forms of energy while refined foods provide you with non-essential nutrients and with only the partial energy your body needs.

This book "Healing with Food" is seriously helpful with more of lots of information and tips on how to prevent and treat diseases through food, each disease at a time! Its ways are unconventional and in some points, it opposes the Western school of nutrition! For those who are advocates of the Western school of nutrition, I'm all with you - they are scientific based but as you can see, most studies end with "more research is needed" so we can't totally shut off the possibility of new, unconventional information! This information may complement what we already know, so it's up to us to wait for conclusive results, be less biased, less influenced by food politics and wise enough to learn from different nutrition schools!

1 comment:

  1. Paty great post!!

    thanks for sharing the experience and such great info :)