When striving to optimize health we can see that the Earth has supplied us with all the medicines needed to care for ourselves. I once heard that 99% of our nutrition exists through our living and breathing of the Cosmos. This certainly helped me when I thought my toddlers never ate, yet seemed to grow vibrantly. Water is sacred. Water is life. Without it we could not survive. Food as medicine is important before looking to medications whether they be natural or pharmaceutical. And even of utmost importance are the thoughts we think day in and day out that feed our mind.
Remember, in diet and nutrition as in all matters of health, the key is to connect with the body’s innate wisdom. Some cravings, like those for salt, protein or water, are expressions of the body’s needs. Other cravings, like those for alcohol, chocolate, sugar or baked wheat goods, are symptoms of an imbalance in the body and are a cry for raised consciousness.
Our digestive system and our whole body will function better if we follow the old guideline of ‘breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper.” This means eating your richer and heavier proteins and fat foods, like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, butter, oils, legumes, beans, seeds, and nuts mostly before 3:00p , and your fruits, desserts, and sweets after 3:00p. Vegetables and grains are ‘neutral’ and can be eaten pretty much anytime.
No diet will be beneficial if we dislike it. Enjoyment of our food is a sign of health. When our body and soul are in healthy balance, then what tastes good to us is good for us. For most of us, however, taste in food and drink is strongly influenced by factors that have nothing to do with nourishment. Nevertheless we are all capable of educating our senses, including our sense of taste. It is also important to add that due to justifiable social considerations we may not always be able to eat according to our taste.
Improving the quality and rhythm of our eating can be a path of cleansing and strengthening for body, mind, and soul. As in all paths, occasional lapses are to be expected and should not discourage us. The major indulgence we may allow ourselves once in a while is less harmful than the little indulgences we repeat every day.
These pages are meant only as a guide and not a rigid prescription. The task is courageous, and self-detached exploration into the nature of food and into our own nature as well.
A note about your liver: Like Prometheus in the Greek myth, everyone’s liver today is under attack. The story goes that by day Prometheus’ liver was pecked away by vultures, then by night the liver fully recovered. If we cannot get to sleep before 10p, then the liver continues to breakdown and cannot regenerate. Every hour before midnight is like 2 hours of sleep.
Any toxic, cooling or stressful influence on modern life will weaken liver energy. As the word suggests, the liver is the center of our life forces, and also of our will. We have a sense of well-being and a ‘can do’ attitude when our liver is healthy. When the liver is stressed we are irritable, when its congested we are depressed, when its depleted we are exhausted and when its dysfunctional we crave addicting substances and can become angrily irritable. When its healthy we desire foods which truly nourish and strengthen us, when it’s unhealthy we often desire foods either for their stimulating effect or for their numbing effect. Substances which stress and weaken the liver are alcohol, chocolate, colas and soft drinks, sugar, coffee, peanuts and peanut butter, fats and oils, which are fried or heated, and in many people, wheat flour products.
Foods which strengthen and cleanse the liver are bitter herbs like yarrow, dandelion and chicory, root vegetables like beets, carrots, turnips and parsnips, vegetables in the onion-garlic-leek family, vegetables in the kale, cabbage, broccoli family (crucifers) and thistles like globe artichokes. Sour and bitter tastes strengthen the liver while sweet tends to weaken it, especially a sweet breakfast. The liver functions better when you eat most of your proteins, fats or oils before 3:00p.m.and most of your carbohydrates, fruits, sweets, grains after 3:00pm.
Many traditional cultures have developed a process whereby foods ferment naturally and produce lactic-acid. Such foods are sauerkraut, cultured milk products (like yogurt), sourdough bread (without yeast), kombucha, and pickled beets, cucumbers, and other vegetables made without vinegar. All these foods are healthy especially for the liver. Some of these, available from local Whole Foods, New Seasons, such as Kim Chi – a culture of chopped organic carrots and cabbage (Organic sauerkraut and pickles by Bubbies). Look for these in the refrigerated section. They are refrigerated because they are fresher, full of enzymes and not pasteurized. All of these processes can be learned and made at home.
Actively choosing foods that are more alkaline, like green foods are preferred and cancer-preventative. Mostly people are eating foods that create acidity, such as pastries or what I call the ‘beige’ diet, consuming alcohol, drugs, or unnatural tobacco. The incredible amount of chemicals and pesticides in our food are cooling and destructive to life.
I think it’s important to focus on the foods one may have rather than think about a ‘diet’ of foods one cannot have. My diabetic patients often express a feeling of denying oneself, to eat well is seen as a punishment. Think about what you CAN have. Invite the soul to relish in the goodness of the foods that nourish throughout. Likewise one can create a soul blockage or overastralizing effect by becoming overly rigid to the use of nutrition. Breathing into and out of life enlivens the etheric or life-body of who we are.
Below is a list (though not complete) for everyday nutrition. Sometimes and usually a good idea is to bring the body through a nutritional cleanse twice a year, Spring and Fall. These are the natural Earth cycles to clear and renew. This is a further discussion where I often guide individuals to get back on track or optimize their health with nutrition through a nutritional cleanse. Often I review and advise patients to come in February or August to prepare.
Use it as a starting point. Inspire oneself to unfold the creative beauty of choosing foods that nurture from the inside out. Sometimes foods or drinks can be seen as sacred or medicine, used sparingly. My husband’s English mother used alcohol for illness in the way of ‘hot totties’ colds and homemade dandelion wine for anxiety, while with my upbringing alcohol was seen negatively, I would imagine only becoming sicker thinking about it. Just a little can be medicine and used very once and awhile, whereas regular use soon becomes detrimental. In the South, chocolate was originally considered food only for the Gods. Of course today we can see why, though it’s use was primarily used in ceremonies to pray and give offering for thanks.
Sources of food from most natural places are preferred. Organic good and biodynamic sources are even better. No matter how small your living space, work to have a garden of some sort and share with your community. Otherwise, local and farmers markets preferred. Become thoughtful of where your food is coming from and what it takes for it to arrive on your plate.
There are endless sources of nutrition and diets. This is to provide sensibility for your day to day practice. I encourage you to explore, question what you read, and utilize an educated healthcare practitioner that can meet you with the truth about nutrition rather than the collective beliefs in our times. I do not believe in the Standard American Diet, the news on cholesterol, the recommendations for diabetics. etc.
For those with Cancer and chronic debilitating illnesses certain aspects must be considered. If a person is under a specific athletic training, starting an exercise program, or one experiences places where their health has been taxed, such as from surgery or a recent acute illness , then I often recommend constitutional therapies, nutritional supplementation or administration of nutritional IVs or injections. In all ways your nutrition can be tailored to your unique needs.
Jump in, enjoy! I wish the best in your journey for vibrant health. The smallest change you are able to make will have lasting results on all of your being. If you make an undesirable choice, just make another until it becomes rightful. Line yourself with who you are and who you want to become.
Resources to start for your review are:
• Nourishing Traditions By Sally Fallon.
• Weston Price Foundation
• www.dietcure.com. Take 9 quizzes to assess nutritional deficiencies.
• Gerson therapy.
• Movies: Food Inc. Super Size Me, Queen of the Sun (upcoming new release), The real dirt on Farmer Jon.
BEVERAGES: Filtered water, some research shows now that alkalizing water good in our times of high cancer rates. Fresh, organic vegetables juices, especially beet, carrot, parsley, or other green juices. These are rich, powerful, alive and are infinitely better than any supplement or vitamin in powder or pill form. Best juice oneself, yet brands Naked or Columbia good. Organic loose berb teas. Chamomile, fennel, and licorice root good for indgestion, especially in children. Yarrow, dandelion root, peppermint are good for the liver. Horsetail (Equisetum), cornsilk, rosehips and parsley are good for kidneys. Kombucha or probiotic drink containing healthy enzymes and bacteria.
Best Avoided Alcohol, cocoa, black and pekoe tea, coffee, and soft drinks. Any juice with added high fructose corn syrup or sugar or artificial sweeteners. Avoid all diet drinks, containing aspartame (nutrasweet, Equal, etc.), which is a known poison whith toxic effects on the nervous system. Splenda is chlorinated table sugar. Fruit juices in moderation as high sugar content.
BREADS: Sprouted Grains and Rice bread are easy to digest. Rye & Spelt are preferable to Wheat. Sourdough is preferable to yeast.
If you bake your own bread, keep your flour in the freezer to retard rancidity or else use a flour mill and grind it fresh each time you bake.
Best Avoided Frequent use of white bread and white flour, products such as macaroni, noodles, pasta, crackers, muffins, doughnuts, cookies, cakes, pastries. (unless spelt or rice based )
Nourishing GRAINS Rice, quinoa (high-protein), millet, spelt easier to digest. More will forces of digestion are necessary for Wheat, corn, barley, rye. If easily bloated with wheat-type substance consider celiac testing or removal trial.
Avoid Processed, boxed cereals which are sweetened, fortified, etc. have little or no nutritional value.
Nourishing EGGS: Best in morning and no later than 6p.
Avoid Eggbeaters & powdered or replacement eggs. Eggs are harder to digest when hard-boiled.
Nourishing MEATS Fresh fish, chicken, or turkey (organically raised) broiled or baked. Wild game or organically raised buffalo, deer, elk. Use sparingly.
Avoid most other meats, especially pork, shell fish. Canned meats usually have nitrates, nitrites, antibiotics, or hormones.
Nourishing OILS: We must have fat to think properly. Consume moderate amount of good fats, such as organic butter, virgin olive oil, coconut. Almond, grapeseed oil, avocados and oil. It has been a big lie that humans do better on a low fat diet. Fats are essential for many systems in the body to be healthy. Use cast iron or stainless steel pans.
Avoid Most all other oils, especially cottonseed oil, canola (rapeseed) oil. No rancid or continuously heated oils. No hydrogenated oil or fats, such as margarine, soybean oil…If you knew how they were made you wouldn’t want them. Whenever any oil is heated, stir-fried, sautéed, etc. , it gets more rancid and more toxic (especially for liver) faster. If you must fry or sauté, try not to get the skillet too hot and use a little butter or coconut oil. Olive oil cannot be heated past low-medium. Absolutely DO NOT USE Teflon, non-stick pans, sprays, or aluminum.
Nourishing NUTS: Raw is better than salted or roasted. Almonds. Almond milk, raw almond, macadamia, cashew, sunflower butter freshly made best.
Avoid Peanuts & peanut butter highly allergen and also contain aflatoxins.
Nourishing SEASONINGS Kitchen herbs are specified medicines that compliment and aid digestion for most dishes. Chives, garlic, parsley, bay, oregano, basil, sage, thyme, savory, kelp, dulse, rosemary. Lots of cayenne, ginger, and horseradish to warm the digestive fires.
Avoid Any artificial flavorings. No MSG, or hydrolyzed proteins. Words like ‘natural flavorings’ are not good.
Nourishing SOY/LEGUMES: Soy is best when fermented, as in miso, tamari, or tempeh. Legumes, such as lentils, beans, and peas can replace animal protein when added to a grain in those who eat vegetarian or vegan diets.
Avoid Unfermented soy products contain many natural toxins or antinutrients, which can be harmful. Avoid soy milk, soy cheese, soy butter, and soy protein powders, and other processed soy products. Use non-genetically modified tofu sparingly.
Nourishing SPROUTS Sunflower, broccoli, fenugreek, radish, garlic, clover, buckwheat, and wheat, which can be made into wheat grass juice.
Nourishing SWEETS Raw honey, agave, molasses, maple syrup, stevia used sparingly. Best not before 3p and not more than ½-1tsp /day.
Avoid White sugar, high-fructose corn syrup. Any artificial sweetener: nutrasweet, saccharin, phenylketonurias, aspartame. These are severely toxic to the nervous system, even for diabetics causing symptoms similar to MS and other neurologic disorders.
Nourishing SEEDS Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia, and flax. Better raw, not toasted. Better before 3p.
Avoid Roasted or salted seeds.
Nourishing VEGETABLES All green vegetables, like broccoli, kale, chard, lettuce, sprouted greens, cabbage, spinach, celery, cucumber, etc. Root veggies like beets. Sweet potatoes, yams, carrots.
Avoid Use sparingly tomatoes, eggplant, or white potatoes as they are a part of the deadly nightshade family.
By: Julie Foster MSN, FNP/Philip Incao MD