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Being holistic beings, we can’t detach the physical from the emotional, mental and spiritual: everything is connected. Therefore we must look after our body, for it is our host in the present existence. Good food habits make our body healthy, and that propagates to the other aspects of our being and also allows us to have energy to and increases our mental capacity and awareness. Have you ever had one of those nights of insomnia, where you’re not even sure if you slept at all, and on the next day you can’t even think properly, and are utterly upset for no particular reason? That’s a simple example of how all of the aspects of our body are connected, and how important it is to give it the right ingredients to be nurtured, strong and healthy. 

So which are the right ingredients? Each person is unique and there is no diet or lifestyle routine that works for everyone. Different types of medicines will give you different answers, so even though there will be commonalities (e.g. prevention, keeping hydrated) it really depends on the approach that is taken. Ayurveda for example is a holistic science of health, focused on maintaining a physical and emotional balance. It dates back about 5,000 - 6,000 years ago when Indian monks discovered that preserving their health helped them meditate and develop spiritually. It offers a simple, direct prescriptive path developed for each body type, or dosha. The three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, each with a unique set of characteristics. Most people are a combination of two doshas, but one typically predominates. An Ayurvedic practitioner would give you the dietary recommendations according to your dosha. If you’re curious as to what yours could be, try this link.

There are also those who base their diet on foods that cause alkaline reactions on the body. The theory behind it is that for our body to be able to digest certain foods it needs to create a certain amount of acid. And too much acid can exhaust the liver, kidneys and heart in trying to purify the system back to its original state. Eating foods that cause the body to generate the least amount of acid possible (e.g. fresh fruits, vegetables, juices, see complete list here) will allow our internal organs to relax and maximise their ability to purify us. 

Further than that, some traditions, such as Yoga tend to be vegetarian. Others, such as the Gnostic tradition or the Sufi tradition, will not eat specific animals, such as pork. Others will be vegan. But in the end, it is all about what feels right to you, your body and your being. At different stages of your development, your body will ask for different types of foods. The one important thing is that you listen to yourself – it’s where all the answers are anyway.

What worked for me

I have always been a food lover, and conveniently spent most of my life in denial that the food I ate actually impacted my body and caused many of my physical symptoms: I'd much rather attribute them to bad luck or universal wrath. I ended up with chronic fatigue, digestive problems and a chronic auto-immune disease, lasting almost 2 decades. One day, inspired by some brothers and sisters at a Yoga retreat, I decided to take ownership of my own condition, and bring myself back to health (a dark trip into the unknown for me, who knew next to nothing about nutrition). I have since found my way back to health, with the help of friends that gave me the precious knowledge below. These are the most important things I have learned:

Organic foods

It is also essential to eat organic foods, so that we don't flood our body with chemicals that saturate our immune system and increase inflammation. There are elements that our bodies need, which have severe impacts on our wellbeing, diseases and inflammation.

Probiotics and prebiotics

80% of our immune system is related to our gut, specifically the good bacteria that lives in there. What antibiotics do is to kill the bacteria, so it's easy to understand what happens to the immune system when that happens (a funny author called it the A-Bomb). Now I'm not just talking about the antibiotics we take ourselves, but especially the ones we take indirectly, e.g. through lactose products (antibiotics are regularly given to cows). Additionally, the food that we eat these days is full of chemicals, to preserve it, protect it or grow it faster. These also kill the good bacteria in our gut. Hence, it also kills the immune system. It's so simple, that I could not believe I lived most of my life without knowing this. That I had been to more specialties of doctors than I could count, and no one had told me this.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 reduces inflammation in our body, reduces the effects of ageing, prevents cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, skin conditions and other diseases, and has scientifically proven improvements on mental health, depression and anxiety.

Minerals

Especially magnesium + chloride + calcium, iodine, zinc, and selenium.

Enzymes

Raw food contains enough enzymes for us to digest it. But when we cook it, the enzymes present in food become wasted, so our body needs to produce the enzymes to break it down. That is why 60% of the daily energy that our body produces is spent on digestion. Proteolytic / systemic and digestive enzymes are important to help break down the foods we eat, and still have enough of our own enzymes to break down waste in the rest of our blood stream. See more here.

Vitamins

Especially D3, B12.

Vegetarian

10 years ago, if you told me that I would become a vegetarian, I would laugh in your face. But I have since learned that our body takes 3.5 days to rid itself of meat, when it only needs 1.5 days to do the same for vegetables. Considering that 60% of the daily energy that our body produces is spent on digestion, the body will spent much more energy in doing so for meat than vegetables.

Parasite removal

Some herbal detox components are useful every now and again to remove parasites.