What is Health?
Posted in Nourishment for the Mind » Learn on Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nutrition and Health

by Dr. Shahnaz Noori Khavidi

What is Health?

The answer to this question is not an easy and simple one. In order to find the meaning of health, we must first understand the purpose of human life. Second we must recognize the meaning of health from different individual, with different educational and cultural background.

So, it might be easier to answer what our body is. What is the function or our body? How much attention should we pay to our body? For this paper, and better understanding in this short article, I define our body as like a vehicle, needing to be functional and in good shape, and having enough fuel, to take us where we want to go. If we understand that our body is only a vehicle, we will have less attachment to it, as well as abuse it less. I remember, when I was manager of Student Health at North Western University, I knew that at certain times during the year, we would need to have more appointment availability, due to receiving more students with illness. The reason was clear. First there was so much stress at the time of mid term or final exams, so more illnesses. Second, at certain times during the year the students were abusing their bodies more than any other time. Again, the example is during mid term and final exams. Due to too much consumption of coffee, smoking, lack of sleep. Interestingly, the other difficult time was around happy times of the year such as holidays and break. So I learned by direct experience how much unnecessary abuse we do to the body without realizing how damaging is to our health.

So, if something feels good, it does not necessarily mean it is of ultimate benefit to us. The opposite is true, if something does not sound sweet to our taste at the time, does not really mean it’s bad. A good example is a child going to play with something enjoyable for him or herself, not realizing how dangerous will be. However, the mother is able to recognized the danger, and prevent her child from doing what he or she was about to do. Obviously the child will cry, will be unhappy, without having the ability to comprehend what kind of danger she/he was facing. I believe this is true with us. Some of us having more illness and suffering than the others without being able to comprehend the reason for it.

As we accept the body is our vehicle, so the vehicle’s color or the shape does not matter, but the function to take us from point A to B. Consequently, we have to have a vehicle that is drivable, so we must keep up maintenance and put the right fuel in.

So, let look and nutrition as a fuel for our vehicle, so as travel we can maintain the body in optimum Health.

The first step is the digestion. It is important to choose the right food, in order to not have problem with digestion. Prophet Muhammad said:

"The stomach is the home of disease. Diet is the main medicine".

How true this statement is. It is very clear that when the digestive process becomes unbalanced, disease will arise. A good example is over eating. It is very clear, when a person eats too much, consequently feeling tired. Headache or fever may arise, lose or diarrhea and many other symptoms. And most of the time we go to more food to undo what is done already. For example, we drink tea, or sweet to counter act the bad feeling what we have as the result of overeating or consuming wrong food.

Here are a few tips to help:

  1. Do not over eat. In Sufi tradition they said: Fill your stomach with 1/3 food, 1/3 water, and 1/3 empty.

  2. If at all possible, eat homemade food. Especially if from someone that you love, or make the food with love. The ways the food it is prepared affects the vibration and health of food. For example, there is significant difference between the food that is prepare by a Mother with love for her family, than an Angry, Unhappy cook outside the home.

  3. Try to eat the food relevant to the season or time of year, the time of day, the climate, altitude, and distance from the sea. Rev. Hanna Kroeger used to say "Do not eat meat and heavy protein after two PM." Or in the East, you see the big meal is eaten at noon, and the dinner is very light. One of the reasons for this is that generally our body is in Acid State from 3:00 AM to 3:00 PM, and Alkaline from 3:00 PM to 3:00 AM. So certain food digests better in acid or alkaline environment.

  4. Certain food should not be mixed and eaten together. This is a very common practice in the East. One example is not mixing fish and milk together. The rational for this might be that both fish and milk could have high concentration of certain amino acid. So, when eaten together, the concentration will be high in the body and cause allergic reactions.

  5. Do not eat fresh fruit and vegetable the same time. Each needs different enzymes for digestion, so it will be difficult for the body to process two different things the same time. Again if you look at a cookbook from east, you see generally these two are not mix together

  6. Quality of food it is important. Fortunately, today we have more natural food available, and that is much easier. For example the difference between the potato you buy at regular store and the one you get a health food store is significant. Because what is in the soil is directly absorbed by the potato.

  7. Attempt to buy food that grows in your neighborhood. I understand this is difficult, but the food from farmers markets is much healthier, due to certain nutrient in food that has effect of certain bacteria and virus for that particular environment. Good example is Onion, Potato, and Honey.

  8. Attempt to eat more naturals than artificial. For example, it is better to take regular sugar than an artificial one. It is better to drink regular pop than diet. However, I recommend natural sweets, such as dates and raisins to replace sugar. And water and natural juice for the pop.

  9. Eat the fruits that are ripe naturally. If not possible, you could buy your fruits in advance, and keep under the sun a few days before consumption.

  10. Always take some acid food like tomato or lemon with the consumption of meat. That will assist the digestion.

  11. Attempt to eat food combinations that give you all the basic tastes, like Sweet, Salt, Sour, Bitter, Pungent, Astringent. If you have a tendency to over eat, finish your food with a sweet taste. If you have digestion problems, finish your food with salt. In fact it is Sufi tradition to start and finish the food with salt.

  12. Always pray before you eat. Be thankful for the all the people and the animals and plants that help to make the food available to you. Please do not waste food.

If your life style does not allow you to do all the above, or if you have some health concern, the alternative is nutritional analysis and appropriate supplementation.


 

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