Modern Nutrition Goals and Wellness in India is in process of rediscovering the importance of the use of traditional systems of medicines to resolve problems of holistic health and wellbeing.
Ancient wisdom, systems, and processes, once an integral part of everyday life, now forgotten, would play a definitive role in boosting India’s nutritional goals.
Improving from immunity to mineral deficiencies, and shift of focus from the type of food grown to consumed and what utensils its cooked would be from the ideas from the three main pre-modern systems of medicine in the subcontinent, Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddha, that merit a re-examination in our present-day habits as simple but effective solutions.
Modern Nutrition Goals and Wellness is the Prime Focus
Good nutrition is the foundation of good health. As per the ancient wisdom food is a medicine. The true purpose of food is to provide information to the body so that it can function in the way it is designed to function.
One of the most famous quotes by Hippocrates around 400 B.C. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
Many ancient medicine fields including Ayurveda and Chinese medicine have focused on using food as medicine for thousands of years. Using home remedies for healing common health issues is a common practice in many parts of the world.
Chronic inflammation is at the root of many chronic diseases.
Poor diet, stress, and gut permeability play a role in chronic inflammation. Our modern-day diet is a big culprit in the increased incidence of inflammation and chronic diseases.
We have become a nation that is malnourished, inflamed, and sick, over-fueled with foods that lack the essential information humans need to function properly.
It is time we focus on changing the fuel we are providing to our bodies. Eating a healthier diet rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and good quality fats can help in reducing inflammation, maintain stable blood sugar levels, and boost our immune system.
As we know ~ 70% of our immune system is in the gut – what we eat becomes extremely important to support our immune function.
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Our microbiome (gut bacteria) plays a very important role in our health. What we eat affects our microbiome; which can either increase or dampen the inflammation in the body. Eating a plant-rich diet with minimally processed foods can feed the healthy bacteria in our gut and hence provide protection against chronic diseases.
Healthy Diet and Our Genes
A healthy diet plays a role in how we express our genes. Nutrigenomics is a science of focusing on how nutrition impacts our genes. A balanced diet can have a protective effect on genes by turning them on and off. Food provides information to the entire body and mind; it is a biochemical messenger to our entire system. What we eat can impact on sending positive messages to our genes.
The quality of food plays an important role as a quantity. The use of pesticides, hormones, and chemicals as well as genetically modified foods has increased significantly in the last 20 years.
Many of these chemicals are inflammatory in nature and are endocrine disruptors which can create an imbalance in body systems; hence, it is extremely important to pay attention to how we grow, produce and prepare our foods.
Growing research supports that the type of food we eat is not only important for our physical health but can influence our mental health and mood.
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Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in the brain, neurotransmitters, and mood protective compounds like antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Omega 3 fats are the building blocks of happy neurotransmitters. Hence, a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats is extremely important for better mental health.
Food nourishes our body, mind, and soul. In addition to focusing on what we are eating; it is also important to pay attention to how and when we eat our meals and how we prepare our meals. It is important to understand your bio-individuality. We all are unique in our body needs, food preferences, and cultures. It is important to make small changes gradually as it can help make a long-lasting health benefit.
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Top 10 nutrition guidelines to use food as medicine:
- Eat real, unprocessed foods: Food in its most natural form is the best source of nutrients. Eat nutrient-dense foods that are full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to support your health. Minimize intake of processed and packaged foods. While choosing a product; look for minimal ingredients and no added preservatives.
- Choose non-GMO / organic foods: Organic foods reduce our exposure to pesticides and additives which can have a harmful effect on our gut bacteria and overall health.
- Eat a wider variety: Eating a variety of foods provides adequate nutrition to support various metabolic functions in the body. Eating local and seasonal foods is beneficial to add more variety and reduce exposure to preservatives and/or ripening agents
- Eat your rainbow: Eat mostly a plant-based high fiber diet. Eating fruits and vegetables from different colors; loaded with phytonutrients, polyphenols and fiber can help reduce inflammation and provide vitamins and minerals.
- Include good quality proteins: Good quality proteins help maintain stable blood sugars. Choose high-quality products like sprouted lentils, beans, and nuts as your protein choices.
- Minimize sugar and processed carbohydrate intake: Sugar is very inflammatory in nature and a major cause of obesity. Sugar hides in many foods under various names. Look for added sugars on the label to guide you. Reduce intake of processed carbohydrate products made from white flour-like cookies, cakes, pasta.
- Feed your good bacteria: Our gut bacteria play a crucial role in our immune function, mood, and overall health and well-being. Consuming probiotic-rich foods like fermented foods have been associated with greater health benefits. Include Sauerkraut, Kimchi, fermented coconut yogurt, and low sugar kombucha in your diet to provide these beneficial bacteria.
- Include healthy fats: Good fats have beneficial effects on brain health, hormones, heart health, and blood sugar stability. They are essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Include healthy fats from Avocado, nuts and seeds, olive oil, Ghee, fatty fish in your diet.
- Spice it up: Many herbs and spices are powerful modulators of inflammation as well as add flavor to the food. Ginger, turmeric, parsley, cilantro, garlic, oregano all have beneficial effects on reducing inflammation and digestion as well as provide phytonutrients to detoxify and prevent chronic diseases. Include these foods in your cooking.
- Nourish your whole self: Balanced health goes beyond physical health. Food nourishes our body, mind, and soul. The environment in which you eat can affect your digestion. Cooking and eating in a peaceful manner can boost your digestion. Practicing breathing/gratitude at mealtimes is extremely beneficial in supporting a healthy relationship with food.
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