Principles of Good Food
What is good food?
The first thing is we should add a clause, "for human beings" to this question. What is good food, for, say, a lion will be different from what is good food for a cow, a bee or a human. We cannot say in absolute terms whether something is good food or not. It all depends on, 'for whom". One creature's meat can be another's poison, quite literally. Physiological, anatomical, sensory, psychologicaland other factors have to be considered before classifying food as suitable for a particular species or not.
This is a very controversial topic Today something is hailed as good food. Tomorrow it is not. Even at the same time, there is considerable divergence of opinion. Some people say milk is the ideal food. Others (notably Maneka Gandhi) say that it is "cow's blood"! Who is to be believed? And even if people generally agree on something (eg: Alcohol is bad for health), others will say, “Yes, but in small amounts, it helps prevents heart disease. Wine helps digestion.”
No wonder there is confusion and people end up eating whatever they want. But is there no objective way of evaluating whether something is suitable for human beings or not? Something that does not change with time? Fortunately, there is. Natural Hygiene gives you a method to evaluate the suitability of the food to a particular species.
Natural Hygiene evaluates the suitability of food to humans using several criteria.
1. Non-toxicity (-100 to 0)
Any food that contains toxic elements, whatever else good it might contain, is immediately disqualified from being a suitable food for humans. Let us consider tobacco leaves. They are very high in proteins and amino acids, and several vitamins. But the presence of nicotine and other toxic compounds immediately disqualify it as being a suitable food. In other words, if any food contains any toxic element, it is an overwhelming disqualification that over-rides all its other qualities. Foods can be rated as going from -100 (very toxic) to 0 (non-toxic)
2. Fuel Value: (0 to 40)
Food is that it gives us the energy to live. Therefore the fuel value of the food is an important consideration. The primary fuel for humans is carbohydrates. Hence foods with rich carbohydrate content (especially simple carbohydrates) rate high as +10. Foods high in protein, fat, oils etc do not rate so high.
3. Edible when raw (0 to 10)
A food edible in raw form by a particular species indicates its physiological suitability for that species. For example, birds eat grains raw. But we cannot.
4. Sensory and Gustatory appeal : (0 to 10)
Food suitable for a particular species will have appeal to the senses of the creature. All creatures instinctively know what food is good for them and they find it tasty in its raw form. They don't need to be told that this is food. They see it and they know. It appeals to all their senses. It makes them salivate. There is an inbuilt taste and liking for that food. There is no need to cultivate a taste for this. You can make a full meal of this food. Fruits score the highest on this count. A cow enjoys its meal of grass, a bird of insects. Human beings would find both these foods repulsive.
5. Ease of digestion: (0 to 10)
Food that is suitable for a particular species will be easily handled by its digestive system. A cow eats grass for example. It's four stomachs handle this high cellulose food with ease. We would never be able to eat more than a handful of grass without getting a severe upset stomach.
Fruits are the food most easily digested by humans. They pass through the stomach in approximately half an hour. Compare that with meat, which may take 4 to 24 hours or more, to pass through the digestive system!
6. Efficiency of digestion (0 to 10)
If food is suitable for a particular creature, its digestive system will be able to efficiently handle a particular food. For example, a petrol engine can run on diesel or kerosene, but it will be very inefficient and wear out quickly. Let us say a particular food has 100 calories of energy. If it takes 50 to 70 calories of energy expenditure to digest that food (for example high protein foods) then only 30-50 calories are available net from that food. The efficiency of digestion is only 30-50%. With a watermelon, over 90% of its calories are available because it is so easy to digest - it passes through the stomach in 10 minutes!
7. Water Sufficiency
The human body is at least 70% water. This needs to be constantly replenished. Food suitable for human beings will typically have high water content. Fruits and vegetables have over 70% of water. Other foods, having less water content, will make you feel thirsty.
Since the human body has to maintain it's alkalinity to survive, it thrives best on alkaline foods. or food that are alkaline-forming or that have an alkaline reaction in the body. Animal product, dairy products, grains (except millet) are acidic in reaction. On the other hand, fruits and veggies are alkaline
9. Vitamin sufficiency (0 to 5)
Foods suitable for humans will be rich in vitamins that are needed by the body for various functions. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains are good examples. However, most vitamins are heat sensitive and are destroyed when the food is cooked.
10. Protein sufficiency (0 to 5)
A certain amount of protein is required by the adult human for repair and maintenance. An infant, in its maximum phase of growth, survives on mothers milk which is typically 2% -3% protein. As adults, we need much less. The body recycles over 70% of its proteinaceous wastes.
11. Fatty Acid Sufficiency (0 to 5)
There are some essential fatty acids such as linolenic acid which the body cannot synthesize on its own. We need to get this from foods.
12. Mineral Sufficiency (0 to 5)
The body needs small amounts of various minerals like sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, calcium etc. Foods supplying these nutrients are good for us.
So now, let us examine how some normal foods are rated by this scale
These are indicative numbers, not absolute values, but you can see the suitability (or otherwise) of these foods.
Other Hygienic Factors
The combination in which foods are eaten, especially by people with impaired digestive systems, plays a great role in whether the value from the food is obtained. Many people find Protein/starch combinations difficult to handle, for example
The state of mind and body of the person eating the food is also of great importance. If you are sick, ill, tired, mentally or emotionally upset, angry etc, then even the most nutritious food will not be efficiently digested and putrefy and become poisonous
Hygiene stops at the physical aspect of food. But there is a spiritual aspect of food as well
- The violence caused when obtaining the food makes a big difference. You just cannot compare a fruit that has naturally fallen to the ground when ripe, to an animal that has been killed for food. They might be identical in all other respects (and they are not) but still, the violence done in the second case is a big minus point
- The attitude of mind when eating the food plays a great role. If you say grace before meals, thank God and all those who provided the food to you before eating and eat with an attitude of gratitude, the food will do you a lot more good.
- The attitude with which the food was prepared, served etc and by whom also makes a difference. Why is there nothing to beat Mom's cooking?
These things may or may not be measurable but that does not mean they do not exist. We would be wise to consider them as well.