Sixteen most wanted Public Enemies (of Health)
Everyone knows alcohol, tobacco and drugs are bad for our health. Let's look at the insidious enemies to our health, which are more dangerous since we do not know how bad they are. We thus consume them indiscriminately.
1. Animal Products, excess protein
Overconsumption of animal products is the cause of most lifestyle diseases like high cholesterol, blood pressure, heart problems, ulcers, and even some cancers! Click here for an overview of problems with animal products.
The China Project is the world's most extensive study on diet and nutrition and its effects on health. It was conducted by Dr. Colin Campbell of Cornell University for over 20 years on 10,000+ Chinese families. confirms the issues with animal products. There is book available on it on Amazon and you can find details online.
Don't get fooled into thinking that only animal products can give you enough protein - read this article to learn how much protein we need.
For those with cravings for meat products, tofu can serve as a substitute in the transition period.
Eggs are not health foods. They suffer from all the infirmities of animal products. They are particularly high in cholesterol and can be carriers of the salmonella germ as well.
Tofu can be used as a substitute.
3. Milk and Milk Products
Instead of regular milk, you can use Almond milk, coconut milk, peanut milk, soy milk etc. Almond milk can be made at home and stored in a refrigerator for 4-5 days. It is indistinguishable from ordinary cow's milk. Coconut milk is also another option.
For Butter: A ripe avocado is as good as butter. Nut butters cashew, almond etc. are also good ideas, but are expensive to buy and difficult to make at home.
For Yoghurt - Peanut milk can be made into yoghurt in the same way as ordinary milk, by adding a small quantity of regular yoghurt as a starter the first time.
For Cheese : Vegan cheese is available but expensive.
Besides the obvious problems of tooth decay, sugar plays havoc with the body metabolism, causing obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and a host of other issues. Refer to our page on sugar for more details
Substitutes. Dates, Date Syrup, Maple syrup, Jaggery (Gud), and even Honey are better alternatives. Stay away from conventional sugar substitutes. Erythritol is another good option for occassional use.
5. Sugar Substitutes
To avoid sugar, many people use substitutes such as aspartame. In this case, the cure is worse than the disease! Refer to our page on sugar for details.
Here are some surprising facts about salt:
- In ancient times, the Chinese drank a saturated salt solution to commit suicide!. The salt leached out the water from living cells, killing them. If you sprinkle salt on a cucumber, it sucks all the water out of the cucumber cells; it wilts. This is what excessive salt does to your body as well. No wonder you feel thirsty after eating anything salty.
- The body retains water to cope with the excess salt, which can make you overweight
- Salt is a contributing factor to High Blood pressure, stroke and osteoporosis,
Salt is added while cooking food, but processed foods are loaded with salt.
Substitutes: I suggest eating about 20-25% of your diet as fruits. This is zero salt. Another 20-25% should be a raw salad, ideally without added salt. Try to minimize the salt used in cooking, and certainly don't add any salt on the top. Avoid all processed food.
7. Tea, Coffee
Tea and coffee are "socially acceptable drugs". Tea contains tannin, coffee contains caffeine and hundreds if not thousands of other chemicals. Tea and coffee are repulsive to the unperverted taste buds of infants. That indicates that they are not suitable for humans. You have to "cultivate" a taste for them.
The "kick" or "high" you get from your cup of tea or coffee is as a result of the stimulant effect of these drugs on your nervous system. It is the equivalent of whipping a tired horse to make it run faster. It will run faster but eventually collapse. If they were not drugs, why would you get headaches and other "withdrawal symptoms", when you go off them?
The tea and coffee habit is less than 200-300 years old. Humans have existed for thousands of years without it. So it's not something you cannot do without.
What should you drink in the morning then? Nothing. Or if you must, some fruit juice or tender coconut water. If you feel the need for something hot, drink hot water, maybe with a twist of lime in it.
Another option is "herbal tea" or "green tea". Avoid regular tea and coffee, when served with milk and sugar (enemies #3 and 4). Your body gets a triple whammy (tea/coffee + milk + sugar)!
Substitutes: Nothing (the best). Or hot water with lemon or herbal tea.
8. Soft drinks
Coke, Pepsi and other soft drinks are anything but soft on the body. They contain either about nine teaspoons of sugar (enemy #4) or even more harmful sugar substitutes like aspartame. This makes them highly acidic. A tooth immersed in a can of a soft drink will dissolve in a few days.
To prevent the bubbles from going flat, they also contain phosphoric acid made by treating phosphorus with sulphuric acid. It is used to etch glass! Finally, they have little nutritional value – they are just empty calories.
A scientist in BARC in India found that when these drinks are transported unrefrigerated at high temperatures, they develop high levels of Hydroxy Methyl Furfural (HMF). This worsens if they are stored for long periods at summer temperatures. HMF damages nerves, genes and cells and may even encourage the growth of tumours. Sustained intake can reduce the strength of limbs, affect eyesight, kill cells and also alter genetic characteristics.
Substitutes: Plain water, Fresh Fruit Juice, Tender coconut water
9. Maida (white flour), White Bread, White Rice
The refining process removes almost all the nutrients in the wheat to produce maida (white flour). It is "foodless food." White rice has the same issue
Substitutes: Best to have whole wheat bread or unpolished brown rice instead.
10. Ice Cream
Enemy#3 + Enemy#4 + Enemy#5 + Food processing chemicals.
Substitute: Home-made ice-cream, or vegan, sugar-free alternatives.
11. Oil, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil Deep-fried food
Oil is bad for health, but hydrogenated vegetable oil (Dalda or Vanaspati) is worse. It contains trans-fatty acids that disrupt cellular function and cause severe health problems.
The high temperatures used for deep frying alters the molecular structure of the foods and makes them carcinogenic
Frying and stir-frying both add fat to foods at a high temperature. They deplete nutrients and form harmful free radicals, which causes inflammation and immune suppression
The oils used for deep frying are often re-used in India, making matters worse.
So what do you do
(1) Read the book "Oil-less Cooking" by Aroona Reejhsinghani which shows you you can conjure up all kinds of dishes without a drop of oil
(2) Avoid deep frying altogether
(3) Avoid Hydrogenated Vegetable oils. If you must, use unsaturated oils like Olive oil, til (sesame seed) oil etc. Cold pressed oil is the best
(4) Reduce the amount of oil you use – go for raw foods and cook conservatively – steam, bake or roast..
Ajinomoto is a seaweed-based flavouring used in Chinese food. Nowadays, a chemical substitute called Monosodium Glutamate or MSG is used instead. Look up how harmful it is.
What to do: Do not use MSG when cooking at home. If eating at Chinese restaurants, tell them not to add MSG.
13. Processed Food
Processing food removes vital nutrients and adds chemicals such as preservatives, flavourings, colourings, anti-oxidants, salt, sugar, oil – a whole bunch of nasties. Check out Processed food page for details.
14. Cooked food.
It is difficult to eat a 100% raw food diet, but a 100% cooked food diet is not good for is either. Most of us consume very small quantities of fruits and raw vegetable salads and consequently lose out on the benefits. Consumption of raw fruits and salads is minimal. Check out the fruits and vegetable page for details
Cooking is a process that destroys nutrition. Heat kills and destroys. If you put a piece of bread into a toaster, initially the bread has some food value. As it gets heated, its food value decreases, until finally, when it becomes burnt and black ash, its food value is zero. It is a gradual decline. The more you cook, the more you lose.
What happens to food when it is cooked?
- Proteins coagulate (and become difficult for the body to handle)
- High temperatures denature protein molecular structure
- Carbohydrates caramelize
- Overly heated fats generate numerous carcinogens
- Natural fibres break down. Cellulose loses its ability to sweep the alimentary canal clean,
-30% to 50% of vitamins and minerals are destroyed
-100% of enzymes are damaged
- Pesticides are restructured into even more toxic compounds,
- Free radicals are produced
15. Genetically modified Food
A very controversial topic. I am not an expert here, but when I hear the producers of GM food opposing the labelling of the food as GM food, then I become very concerned. Why do they not want us to know that it is genetically modified?
16. Irradiated /Microwaved food
The jury is still out on the pros and cons of such food, but I would not like to take a chance, especially since so many other options are available.