Proper nutrition, along with good sleep and exercise, is vital for keeping the physical body working properly. Without the right balance of macro and micro nutrients, the body will be in a state of stress, preventing other systems to function optimally leading to unease and possibly disease. The foods we eat are the fuel for all processes occurring in the body and while that may seem like a no-brainer, proper nutrition is not commonly achieved in our fast paced western society. With the explosion of prepacked processed foods yielding a low density of nutrients and imbalanced vitamins and minerals our culture has become far less healthy in recent generations. To make matters worse there are many conflicting opinions on what proper nutrition is and what it means to get the right foods at the right times. Advertising and government recommendations have proven to not have our health and well-being in mind leading to confusion for consumers and rising diet related illness.
Food should be one of the easiest methods we have for ensuring healthy bodies which in turn foster healthy minds (which allow for a healthy spirit as well). However with our industrial food production, rampant use of chemicals and destruction of the natural soil microbiome, food has become little more than a commodity for profit rather than the life sustaining force it needs to be. Combined with our unnatural lifestyle of over working and stress, gut health has declined with the result of not only increasing disease of the body but also a direct negative effect on the mental health of our society. We know that food comes first in the healing process and focus much of our energy into supporting the education, development and implementation of appropriate diet and nutrition for proper health. Firm supporters of pesticide and GMO free foods grown locally to their highest nutrient dense potential, we believe no other single lifestyle change can improve a life like good food.
Everyone is different. We as humans have dynamic and unique diets in the animal world, utilizing so many different foods in so many different ways. Unfortunately this has caused issues trying to figure out just what is the best foods for us. Food has become battle ground of belief systems from extreme fad diets to emotional based decisions of what we eat. Everyone has their own requirements and restrictions (ie allergies) based on your own genetic expression of what foods do or do not work for you. However with emerging research into the human microbiome and a deeper understanding of how food affects our bodies systems we can start to narrow down foods that are better or worse for us. Genetic expression and history cannot be denied as some cultures ate significantly different than others for thousands of years. This must be the starting point for appropriate nutrition as certain foods may not integrate well into your body.
Whether you are eating to lose weight, gain weight, for an illness or to achieve optimal health on your path to enlightenment there are some direct correlations to what you choose to eat and how that makes you feel. While many trendy diets come and go, there are time tested ways to improve your health and wellness through food. Conscious eating is about being aware of our food choices and understanding how that affects our bodies and our minds. Everything we put inside our bodies is going to interact and cause a response in some way. Food may seem like a minor part of a healthy life but it is the thing that we do most often besides sleeping and as such has one of the biggest impacts in our lives both short-term and long-term. There really is nothing more important than an appropriate diet for wellness, especially in our toxic and hectic western lifestyle, and one of the easiest things we can do to take control of our mind-body health.
From ancient texts to modern science we can see that some diets are of immense benefit to the body for healing and proper mental functioning. Ayurveda is a 3000 plus year old system of mind-body health that focuses on the individual needs of a person and uses herbs and foods as medicine as well as nutrition. 'Conscious Eating' byGabriel Cousens is a modern text for contemporary western readers that is considered one of the best sources of information both science and spiritual for transforming the way you eat into a practice that encourages optimal health of the body and mind.
Conscious Eating by Dr. Cousens MD Goodreads.com has this to say about Dr. Cousens book: Conscious Eating has been referred to as the "Bible of Vegetarians," for both beginners and advanced students of health. This classic work in the field of live-food nutrition is an inspirational journey and a manual for life. Included is new information on enzymes, vegetarian nutrition for pregnancy, and an innovative international 14-day menu of gourmet, Kosher, vegetarian, live-food cuisine, plus 150 recipes. a quote from Conscious Eating: “If our heart and mind are focused on experiencing food as a love note from God, eating becomes not only a way to nourish and love ourselves, but each meal becomes a time for enhanced spiritual awareness and gratitude to God. It becomes a way to directly experience a meaning of “give us this day our daily bread.” It provides a regular opportunity for the conscious eater to take the time to receive and read God's love note, rather than toss it unconsciously into the garbage can of the stomach. Eating consciously is a way of opening one's heart to God. It is a way to feel the Divine presence.”
Thousands of years before modern medicine provided scientific evidence for the mind-body connection, the sages of India developed Ayurveda, which continues to be one of the world’s most sophisticated and powerful mind-body health systems. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). It offers a body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy while realizing their full human potential.
The two main guiding principles of Ayurveda are 1) the mind and the body are inextricably connected, and 2) nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind. Freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness, bringing it into balance, and then extending that balance to the body. This process isn’t as complicated as it may sound. For example, when you meditate you effortlessly enter a state of expanded awareness and inner quiet that refreshes the mind and restores balance. Since the mind and body are inseparable, the body is naturally balanced through the practice of meditation. In the state of restful awareness created through meditation, your heart rate and breath slow, your body decreases the production of “stress” hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, and you increase the production of neurotransmitters that enhance wellbeing, including serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins.
The Ayurvedic system recommends diets based on 3 body types which can be found by taking a simple quiz that uses both physiological and behavioral attributes. Once you know your 'Dosha' (which is your type) you can then tailor your diet to work best with your unique needs. This system may seem complex at first however it has been used and refined over thousands of years and can be implemented by anyone.
As Ayurveda teaches, good health is dependent upon our capability to fully metabolize the nutritional, emotional, and sensory information that we ingest. When our digestive energy, known as agni (fire), is robust, we create healthy tissues, eliminate waste products efficiently and produce a subtle essence called ojas. Ojas, which may be envisioned as the source of our vitality, is the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and immunity. On the other hand, if our agni is weakened, digestion is incomplete and lead to an accumulation of toxic residue known as ama. The buildup of ama in the body mind leads to obstructions in the flow of energy, information, and nourishment, and is the basis of all disease. Here are a few Ayurvedic practices to strengthen your digestive fire:
Always sit down to eat (don’t eat in front of your computer or TV or while you’re driving).
Eat in a settled atmosphere and not when you’re upset.
Don’t eat until you’re definitely hungry.
Dine at a moderate pace. Don’t gulp down your food or eat too slowly.
Minimize raw foods, which are much harder to digest than cooked ones.
Include all six tastes at each meal.
Drink hot water with ginger or lemon throughout the day.
Practice some form of moderate exercise on a regular basis.
Perform a daily oil massage with herbalized oil that balances your mind-body type.
Spend time in the quiet of meditation every day.
Use detoxifying herbs such as triphala, ashwagandha, guggulu, brahmi, ginger, turmeric and neem.
While a list of 'good foods and bad foods' cannot be made and universally implemented, it is quite obvious that our current obsession with sugar and processed grains and factory farmed meats are not healthy for anyone. Whole foods grown without chemicals in bio-active soils will always be a good choice as these are quantitatively more nutrient dense with less potential to introduce unwanted chemicals with the potential for disease into our systems. Some people feel that a meatless diet is preferred while others see the value in returning to proper animal husbandry that has fed their ancestors since the dawn of time. The issue of foods and what is most appropriate is a very complex question that touches every part of our lives.
Your body is yours and only you can listen to the subtle messages it sends related to the foods you eat. Many ancient and modern diets exists to be explored and experimented with and we encourage and support you on the path to optimal nutrition which is the keystone to optimal health. There is nothing more important for your health than getting the best food for your body and is one of the easiest things you can do. We all eat multiple times a day so it can be challenging to stay focused however with persistence and practice eating well can change your life.
I will suggest (I am not in any way an expert on nutrition) an 'elimination diet' to those who are lost in the hype and controversy of todays many modern takes on food and nutrition. This type of program is in essence a way to hone in on exactly what foods do specifically to your body. It is not necessarily an easy thing to do, it requires discipline and attention however once completed you will be armed with direct knowledge of what common foods make you feel better and can guide you in crafting a true understanding of 'proper nutrition'. Alternatively there are many well educated experts in the field as well as medical testing of the body (blood, hormones etc) that can give you qualified advice on what foods may be good for you.
Once you have implemented a proper diet with all macro and micro nutrients established based on your health goals you will be able to move toward optimal physical health. This will help all your systems work better and may improve mental functions in a significant way. No matter what you choose to eat we believe that for the health of our kind and the planet that you vote with your wallet to end the damaging practices of industrial chemical agriculture (including use of pesticides, GMOs, factory farmed meat, and foods shipped from long distances out of season) that has negative effects to our planet and the people who live here. We encourage eating organic/pesticide free foods, grown locally in season and avoiding processed foods and GMOs.