Saturday, December 17, 2011

Part 2: Watch what you eat, as it becomes you!!

*This article has been summarized from a talk by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev - Founder of the ISHA FOUNDATION*

Here is the 2nd part of the previous post

One of the issues that has confused me for the last 5 -10 years is: Why should I be vegetarian? And to be honest I am still plagued by this question on and off. Here is my case as, why it is good to follow a veggie diet (as reasonably as possible). For comparison lets look at the bodily constitution of animals - herbivores and carnivores and then draw a hypothesis.

If you look at the digestive system of animals, herbivores and carnivores have different digestive systems. For carnivores the length of alimentary canal (AC) is 3 times the body, since meat stays longer in the system it makes sense to have a small AC. Moreover, their teeth and jaws are meant only for cutting, no grinding occurs in the mouth so they do not chew food. Henceforth, the major digestion happens in the stomach. On the contrary for herbivores the teeth have 2 functions: 1. cutting and 2. grinding. And so the incisors and molars are developed but not the canines. Furthermore, the alimentary canal is 6 times the length of the body, vegetables travel through the system faster than meat thus the long length works fine. 

Now if we compare the human system both the AC and teeth are structured as herbivores i.e. the AC is 6 times the length of the body and canines are not prominent. Thus, it makes more sense to follow a vegetarian diet as the system is geared towards that type of food. Secondly, too much of non - vegetarian food reduces the flexibility of the system (personal experimental observation). And last but not least whenever an animal is being slaughtered/killed it goes into a state of shock/nervousness this leads to an increase in the acidity content of the cells - consuming such meat will lead to inexplicable conditions of anxiety and tension in you. 

It takes longer to digest meat and thus any food that remains in the system for a long time leads to bacterial growth and lethargy, unless one is physically very active. Thus, if you are not able to give-up meat 100 %, you can make some rules for example: eating meat only after intense physical activity like 10K etc. 

If these reasons do not  motivate you to be a vegetarian then think about the effects non vegetarian diet has on planet earth - I will not write about this stuff as there are sufficient number of resources online. 

Now the question is, how to categorize the food, well the answer lies in the yogic culture where food is always looked in terms of pranic energy (life energy) i.e. certain foods have the capability to increase or decrease the energy and certain foods do not do anything they are just for taste. Here is a partial list:

Foods that Decrease Energy: Garlic, onion, asfoetida, chili, eggplant, coffe, tea and other neuro stimulants and intoxicants.
Note: Chili includes both green and red chili, though peppercorns are fine.

Foods that Increase Energy: Nuts, fruits, vegetables, sprouts

Foods with no effect: Potatoes, tomatoes

Moral of the story is: Exercise, watch your diet, do some pranayam/yogic kriya etc and the body will be like a breeze. If we watch our food habits and eat more consciously 50 - 60 % of major ailments will be gone. Why is it important, as only when the body is comfortable you will seek something higher.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Part 1: Watch what you eat, as it becomes you!!

I am writing after a long time, no excuses, but the rough draft of this post was prepared 2 weeks ago and somehow I kept procrastinating to refine the article. So here it is:

Disclaimer: * This article has been summarized from a talk by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev - Founder of the ISHA FOUNDATION*

Food if taken in the right amount and proper type serves to keep oneself healthy and alert, but if the required amount is not proper it can make you weak or lethargic. An analogy would be that if the body is like a car and if you put the correct fuel it will work great but if the proper fuel is not given it won't work to its highest efficiency. Thus, rather than being wishy - washy on what to eat it is important to think on this in a rational manner. 

Food is the building block for the body as what we eat becomes us. Fundamentally, food is eaten to gain energy and for our well being. There is a lot of debate on what to eat and what not to eat. I have had discussions with a variety of people from different cultures, backgrounds and countries and my 2 observations are: 

1. The way a person eats decides not only how the body will function but also the mental state.

2. What to eat or not eat is a subjective decision i.e. when you decide what to eat, you should consult your body not any one else. 
Caveat: Taste should not decide what we eat, as we are sacrificing the body for a patch of tongue which is not a smart idea. Always eat what the stomach likes, not what the tongue likes as the stomach never asks for taste, stomach only wants food that is easily digestible. That does not mean that you do not eat anything tasty, but I assume you are smart enough to make a decision. 

Which brings me to the question: what kind of food to eat?
The answer is simple, food that makes you alert, agile, energetic and calm is good to eat. Food that brings dullness, lethargy is not good as the system is having trouble digesting it. When the system gets dull you hype it up with stimulants (tea, coffe etc etc) which impact the body in a negative way. Ideally, the diet should consist of 50 % raw and 50 % cooked food. Moreover, the process digestion should begin in the mouth (50%), continue in the stomach (50%) and end at the anal outlet. But currently due to over cooked food majority of the digestion happens in the stomach. The reason for this is, over cooked food is not chewed properly, thus the enzymes in saliva are not used and the food travels to stomach and digestion occurs there. This results in less burden on mouth and more on stomach - now you know why you want to sleep in office after that lunch :).

Next post I will make a case for why it is important to be a vegeterian and foods that have high enegy content....

To be contd......