HJ: Much of the health advice these days is well intentioned, but misguided. With all of the noise and hype regarding various diets and supplements, it’s hard to get a grip on what works and what doesn’t and what’s flat out dangerous. Here’s a few tips to sort through the mixed messages: 1) Steer clear of anyone preaching a one-size-fits-all type diet plan — we are all unique and our diets need to reflect that. 2) The only dietary suggestion that applies to everyone without exception is: Eat only whole, organic, unprocessed foods. 3) However you eat, make sure it is balanced between cooked and raw foods and that you don’t cut out any food groups altogether (meat is an exception to this, although certain people may need small amounts in their diet to feel normal). 4) If you react badly to something, it is usually not the food, but your digestion that is causing the problem. Most peoples digestion these days is extremely weak and damaged. Fix that and all the other problems usually go away (make sure you are not allergic to the food you are having the reaction to first, though — use common sense here).
Beyond these four core truths, the dietary suggestions in the article below will help you refine and hone your health in a way that is uniquely and perfectly tailored to your own body and constitution. You do not need to rely on a diet guru or doctor to guide you — you just need to learn to listen to your body and the signals its giving you. It is truly that simple.
Food and You
By Dr. Greg Yuen, M.D. | Greg Yuen
Last Saturday was a glorious day at my Kailua taichi class. The sun was out after our bouts of rain, there was a nice group of people attending, and the interaction was lively. The topic for the Special Day, which we have every second Saturday of the month, was Food.
Here are the simple bullet point takeaway points for that session:
1) Consider your dietary intake as a factor for all of your health conditions ranging from a chronic medical condition to the passing cold. Consider food as a factor in your psychological state of mind and your ability to deal with stress. If you eat a certain way, you will be more equipped to deal with stress and your emotions.
2) Don’t just blindly listen to what your doctor or anyone tells you to eat. Try it out for yourself and you decide whether that regimen makes a difference or not. Be your own best doctor.
3) Remember that food changes your body slowly. When you start a new dietary regimen, give it at least 3 months. I have seen changes take over a year to manifest in my body when I was following a particular dietary regimen.
4) One scheme used to break down the timeline for food to change your body’s condition is:
10-14 days on a regimen are needed to change the plasma in your blood
It takes 120 days to change all your red blood cells, all of your blood. The life cycle of red blood cells is about 120 days.
It takes 7 years to totally change all your body cells.
5) What you like to eat the most may be what will kill you or cause disease. Even something that is purportedly good for you in the short term may lose its benefits over the long term. This applies to vitamins, nutritional supplements, or even food items. Use all of these with benefit but consider a holiday from them at some point to see if you can do without them for a bit. You can always come back to them later. Moderation in all things; too much of anything could lead to an imbalance in your body.
6) Health is about balance and keeping the “whole” in mind. What you think is good for you needs to be balanced with other things that you probably have not considered. Eat a variety of foods and not just what you think is good.
7) EAT WEIRD FOOD. In line with the philosophy of eating a variety, try to eat a little of things that you might generally avoid or dislike. For some people, it might be something like uni, the sea urchin roe used in sushi.
8) Most of the world does not live on dairy products. This suggests we also do not need to be so dependent on them. Those developed countries that consume large quantities of dairy products, in fact, suffer more from osteoporosis than those countries where less dairy is consumed.
9) Non-dairy sources of calcium include: seaweed, dark leafy vegetables (like kale or broccoli), soy products, fish with their bones, sesame butter, beans, nuts, sprouts.
10) There is no one food that is “good” for you. Every food is good in the right situation and the right proportion. Consider why you are eating a certain food. See in your experience whether in fact that food is making a difference where you want it to.
11) Consider eating more warm foods when the weather gets cooler. Living in Hawaii, we may think that salads and fruits are the mainstay throughout the year. Consider reducing them in cooler weather.
12) One way to choose the foods that are good for you is to consider the yin and yang of food. In the macrobiotic tradition, yin foods have more expansive energy. Yang foods have more contracted energy. Salt is more contractive as evidenced by what happens when it is poured over a slug. Water is more expansive as noticed when it soaks into furniture made of pressed wood. Yang foods, more salt and animal foods, will get you more geared up for action. Yin foods, salads, fruits and vegetables, are more relaxing. Grains are considered balanced foods.
13) Find the water intake that suits your body condition. Don’t simply live by the dictum of drinking 8 glasses of water a day.
14) Don’t get oversold on the marketing of various foods or supplements. All of them have a place in your overall health. Rather than just consuming them because they are supposed to be good for you, develop an awareness of how they might actually be making a difference in your body’s function.
15) ABOVE ALL, LEARN TO NOTICE THE EFFECTS OF FOOD ON YOUR MIND AND BODY!