We should thoroughly assimilate the fact that acquiring good health depends only on obeying the rules of Nature. In order to get rid of disease or weakness, one should think along improving the digestive system rather than taking the shelter of medicines or tonics. If the digestive power is not good, even the valuable nourishing elements will not be able to impart any benefit. They will go in the stomach and without getting digested will be excreted. If they are not digested and juices and blood are not formed, how can they nourish the body?
How will they augment strength? If the digestion is proper, even an ordinary food can provide full strength. Billy-goat eats only grass and accumulates so much fat from it. Pig never gets milk, cream or butter; its food hardly contains any nourishing elements. Even then due to its digestive power, its body is quite strong. Look at other animals – buffalo, ox, horse, elephant, etc; they are neither served wholesome dishes nor get any invigorating drinks / medicines or aphrodisiac drugs. Even then they are very strong; they acquire sufficient blood and flesh from ordinary grass and leaves.
Which eatables have vitamins and what is their quantity? Which drugs are powerful and to what extent? Instead of getting into this maze, one should assess whether ones digestive system is functioning properly or not. If not, then the same should be considered as the root cause of all the weakness and disease; and one should pay attention to rectify the malfunctioning. A village farmer remains healthy and hefty simply by eating a coarse meal, works for twelve hours and enjoys deep sleep in the night.
On the other hand, people working in cities eat sweets, milk products, pickles, sauce, and a variety of dishes, and also take tonics daily. Even then they remain weak and thin; they get tired by just sitting in the office for 6 hours, return home with the pain of migraine and do not get sound sleep in the night. All this is the play of digestive power. There is no power in the eatables; the power resides in the digestive system. The digestive juices that are excreted by the mouth, stomach, liver, intestines, etc are so magical that when mixed with the food they make it suitable to fulfill the bodys need. The digestive juices of Billy goat make the grass such that it produces sufficient fat in its body. If the digestive power is perfect, a human being can also extract all the essential ingredients even from ordinary food.
A person desirous of rejuvenation should keep in mind that he / she should first get rid of artificiality and adopt a simple, sattvik and natural way of life. Next, he should pay attention to improve the digestive system. A simple test of the digestive power is whether a person feels hungry at the right time or not; the food intake is properly digested or not; whether bowels are easily cleared or not. If these functions of the digestive system are not right, then one should try to rectify them; and if they are perfect, then one should try to maintain them.
Proper functioning of the digestive system depends on four factors. They are – (1) selection of eatables (2) the technique of eating (3) appropriate physical activity and (4) proper management of daily routine. If these factors are properly taken care of, then the digestive power will remain perfect all the time. If per chance any malfunctioning occurs, that will be rectified quickly. Now let us look more deeply into these four factors.
(1) Selection of Eatables: A human being resembles the configuration of a monkey. The latter eats fruits and leaves. Therefore, the dieticians recommend fruits and vegetables as the best food for the human beings. There is no other food that matches its easily digestible, nourishing, invigorating and pure blood forming qualities. The scripture says – Jeevo jeevasya bhojanam (meaning – only live eatables are best food for a human being). That is why milk, curd, buttermilk and fruits, which are supposed to be full of vitality, rank first among the eatable items for human species. Apart from being juicy and lively they also satisfy the taste buds.
Next follows the category of vegetables. They certainly possess vital elements but do not fit in the criterion of taste. Therefore many of them are not consumable in the natural form. For example, gourd, pumpkin, potato, brinjal, bitter gourd, round gourd, etc cannot be eaten raw. They have to be cooked. But there are certain vegetables like tomato, carrot, radish, cucumber, ladys finger, etc which can be taken in the raw form. In this sequence, dry grains / fruits occupy the third place. Sapless dry grains are less beneficial as compared with green grains. For example, gram, peas, maize, millet, wheat, etc in the green state are more nourishing than their dry counterparts. Similarly, grapes, wet dates and green coconut are better than currant, dry dates and dry coconut respectively.
More natural and lively the food, better it is. In other words, less the food grains are processed better they are. For example, sprouted wheat or gram seeds in raw form constitute an excellent food. Next in the order of merit are Daliya (coarsely ground grains), bread of unfiltered flour, bread of filtered flour and then the bread of maida (fine flour) respectively. The reason is: more the food grains are transmuted from their natural form, more they become harmful. Daliya is digested easily because the grains are only broken into small pieces; however in making maida the grains are crushed into a fine powder. As a result, the bread of maida is digested in a relatively longer time and hence causes constipation.
If the same is fried in ghee or oil, much of the nourishing elements are destroyed. Therefore, poori, parantha or other fried preparations become devoid of nutrients. Khoya (a thickened milk product made by excessively heating the milk) loses all the virtues of milk. Juice of sugarcane is much more nutritious than sugar or sweets made out of it. The reason is simple; when any raw eatable is dried, heated, processed and mixed with spices, it goes on losing its nutritious elements depending on the number of cycles it has passed through.
While examining the utility of eatables, it should be seen whether they suit the taste buds in their natural form or not; they are juicy and live or not. Foods that pass this test should be considered best. There are some fruits like apple, grapes, pomegranates, etc which can be obtained in good quantity only by rich people; however there are number of fruits which even the poor can afford to buy. For example, orange, mango, lemon, papaya, raspberry, guava, rose-apple, plum, musk melon, water melon, carrot, tomato, cucumber, etc are such seasonal fruits which are not very costly; even the poor can buy them. Among the green cereals gram, peas, millet, maize, wheat, etc are quite delicious; and if they are slightly steamed, the taste increases tremendously.
This is followed by those vegetables which cannot be eaten raw. For example, gourd, spinach, fenugreek, potato, etc need to be boiled before eating. However, it must be kept in mind that neither the husk of cereals nor peel of vegetables should be removed nor the juice be thrown out after boiling. The shell/husk/peel and juice of every fruit, vegetable and cereal contain nourishing elements, vitamins and minerals; and hence they must also be consumed along with other parts of edible items. Chilies and spices should best be avoided. The amount of salt that is needed for the body is normally available in the eatables. However, if there be extra need for augmenting taste, small quantity of salt may be added to the food.
Barley is the only grain among the cereals which needs the removal of husk; all other grains should be used with husk. They should be taken in the form of khichadi or daliya. The latter may be cooked in milk or whey. Pulses like moong (kidney bean), masoor (lentil), etc should not be split. Daal of whole grains is more nourishing. While preparing roti (bread), care should be taken to make it thicker and cook it on low flame. Frying vegetables or daal with ghee or oil also partially burns their nutritious elements. Another point to remember is that a variety of vegetables or daals should not be taken in a single meal. Each edible item is digested in a different manner, and hence consuming several items together increases the chances of indigestion. Taking bread with one daal or one vegetable is enough. The tradition of decorating lunch / dinner with several dishes is really harmful for health.
Pure and succulent food is most nourishing because it is digested more easily. Easily digested food makes pure body fluids and blood; and this is the very basis of making the body healthy and energetic. The quality of an eatable should not be judged by its taste or price but by its virtue of being pure, sappy and succulent. Sweets, dishes garnished with heavy milk products like cheese, ghee, butter, khoya, etc are devoid of wholesome elements and they are consumed more due to their taste. But they are not digested properly and hence create problems particularly for the stomach and the whole body in general.
Readymade / packaged food available in the market is much more harmful. In general, it has been observed that, in order to earn more profit, pedlars / vendors / restaurants and even the manufacturers of packaged food do not even follow prescribed norms. How can one expect healthy food from them? Sattu made in home is thousand times better than halua of the market. Similarly, non-vegetarian food, wine, smoking or chewing tobacco, etc have no place in the human diet. Such tamasik items produce harmful effects on the mind-body system. Therefore one should keep oneself away from them; and if by chance habit
of any of these has been formed, it should be rectified as early as possible.
(To be continued)