The main purpose of food in our diet is to provide necessary substances for the body to keep itself fit and healthy. A diet for healthy living – and naturopathy in general – maintains that the body will stay healthy if the supply of protein and starch is adequate, and that of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements and enzymes) is plentiful.
The cause of widespread ill-health in the West (especially with age) is that too little attention is paid to the diet – to the nutrient content of our food, and too much attention is paid to the quantity of protein or calories consumed. This must change if you want to promote healthy living.
If the diet includes a large proportion, and a good variety, of foods which are nutrient-rich – fruit and vegetables – then it will almost certainly contain enough protein and calories and so encourage healthy living.
A healthy diet, or what we eat and drink, has always been an important part of the oldest medical systems. For example, the Chinese five elements system and Indian Ayurveda can direct an individual towards a good diet – the foods to which they are constitutionally suited.
Western doctors recommend a ‘healthy diet’ but give too little detail as to what this consists of. The idea of ‘detox’ is pretty alien to most of these. The directions to ‘eat less fat’ and ‘cut down on sugar’ are over-simplifications which can be misleading when related to a healthy diet.
For example, many consumers are keen to buy ‘low fat’ foods and will pay a premium price for them in pursuit of the elusive ‘healthy diet’. In the past, manufacturers have been guilty of simply replacing one unhealthy ingredient with another – such as replacing the missing fat with extra sugar to make the product ‘tasty’ and so acceptable to the consumer. But the point we can easily miss is that a healthy diet will always consist mainly of fresh food; manufactured foods should only ever form a small proportion of the diet.
‘Low fat milk’, for example, is simply an unhealthy food with one of the most harmful parts taken out. It should still be minimised in a healthy diet, however. Similarly, lean meat can still contain 30 or 40% fat. This is why many people lean towards being vegetarian when searching for a healthy diet – though this is not without its problems.
The need for a ‘system’ for a healthy diet
It would be useful if there was a system of dietary care which could guide us towards a healthy diet. This could help us to assess fairly the ‘soundbites’ which come at us from many directions, every day, through advertising, government information campaigns, information from the doctor’s surgery, and newspaper and magazine articles.
For example, there is a great deal of solid evidence to show that milk should not be part of a healthy diet (see especially www.notmilk.com), and that sugary sweets are not a good source of energy. Yet how many people still have the phrases; “Drinka pinta milka day,” and “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play,” strongly in their subconscious? (Mars is a popular UK sweet, or candy.) These phrases have not been advertised for more than 25 years, but the ideas persist for a long time.
Similarly, doctors continue to recommend milk to osteoporotic women, when recent studies show that milk consumption produces a net calcium from the body. For example, see:
Healthy diet principles
For many people it is best to adopt your healthy diet gradually. It is better to improve one aspect of the diet at a time and persist, than to overhaul the diet completely – only to become overwhelmed and fall back into previous bad habits.
The healthy diet presented here:
Has strong and simple rules to help you decide what to include in your healthy diet
Here is a summary of the main principles of this healthy diet.
- Fruit and (non-starchy) vegetables are a large proportion of this healthy diet – 50-80% (half to four fifths). (Starchy vegetables – mainly potatoes in the West – are fine, but starches are included in the ‘other part’ of the diet.)
- Starch and protein are a small proportion of the healthy diet – 20-50%. This includes potatoes, rice and bread (starchy foods); meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese (we recommend you minimise these types of protein); and legumes (beans), nuts and seeds (moderate protein + starch).
- Eat as much food raw as possible. Of the large proportion of fruit and non-starchy vegetables in the diet, cook as little as possible, because cooking destroys some of the life-giving qualities of these foods.
- Reduce to a minimum foods which detract from health. These include meat (which putrefies in the intestines of humans, so favour a vegetarian diet), dairy foods, alcohol, tea and coffee, sugar, salt and food additives, which are common in manufactured foods.
- Preserve teeth by cleaning them after every meal.Food particles remaining in the mouth provide nourishment for the oral bacteria which cause gum disease and weaken teeth. Ideally, brush after each meal and floss and irrigate once a day. See Tom Cornwell’s site:www.mizar5.comfor background information about dental health and a description of dental irrigation
- 100% adherence to these healthy diet principles is not necessary; strictness can just add stress to life. If you are one of the few who can follow the diet principles completely, that is fine; but to follow the healthy diet by 90-95% is a worthy aim, and will make you healthy far beyond the average
The main topics when considering a healthy diet are those of the low proportion of fruit and non-starchy vegetables which most people have in their diet and the high proportion of starch and protein which is really not healthy.
Your healthy diet will have a high proportion of fruit and non-starchy vegetables; and a low proportion of protein and starch (potatoes are a starchy vegetable and so included in the ‘starch’ category).
Fruit and (non-starchy) vegetables in your healthy diet
The main purpose of food in a healthy diet is to provide necessary substances for the body to keep itself fit and efficient. The body will stay healthy if the supply of protein and starch in the diet is adequate, and that of nutrients in the diet (vitamins, minerals, trace elements and enzymes) is plentiful.
The cause of widespread ill-health in the West (especially with age) is that too little attention is paid to the nutrient content of our diet – which is maximised by eating plenty of healthy vegetables and fruit; and too much attention is paid to the quantity of protein or calories consumed.
If your healthy diet includes a large proportion, and a good variety, of foods which are nutrient-rich – fruit and vegetables – then the diet will almost certainly contain enough protein and calories.
Eating too many calories in the diet is extremely common and is not healthy, contributing to an overweight condition in many people. Eating too few calories, on the other hand, is very rare in anyone eating reasonable amounts of food in their diet.
Nutrient-rich foods in a healthy diet
Fruit and non-starchy vegetables contain a large quantity and variety of nutrients. These are the foods which must comprise the greater part of a healthy diet. The larger the number of different fruits and vegetables in your diet, the more healthy it will be and the easier it will be to meet our nutritional needs.
By eating salad daily in the diet, it is quite possible to eat 8-10 different vegetables and fruits during the course of a day. This is very healthy. This may sound a large number, but it is usual to have moderate amounts of four, five or more vegetables in one salad alone. If, in addition to this, you are ‘sprouting’ healthy and nutritious seeds and beans, (a great addition to a healthy diet) these can be added to the salad giving, perhaps, eight or more healthy vegetables in just one salad.
Once fruit and vegetables from your healthy diet have been eaten, chewed and digested well, plentiful vitamins, minerals and trace elements are absorbed into the blood stream, with a very healthy result.
Sources of fruit and vegetables
Foods freshly picked from the garden are ideal for our healthy diet; but few of us have the luxury of our own well-stocked vegetable patch. Supermarket ‘fresh’ foods are reasonable – but be aware that they may be 6 months old or more thanks to modern storage methods. However, these foods are probably richer in nutrients than tinned or frozen vegetables and fruit and so need to form part of a healthy diet for most of us.
Raw vs. cooked food in your healthy diet
Any form of cooking will destroy some nutrients. So, the aim should be to eat as much fruit and as many vegetables as possible raw in our diet, or with only minimal cooking. Salads should be an everyday part of a healthy diet.
A very few people may find that raw foods really do not suit them and so should not be part of their diet – or only a small part. For example, those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find that raw foods are unsuitable. In these cases, it may be possible to introduce raw foods to the diet slowly, preferably together with measures to treat the underlying condition. Professional help will probably be beneficial.
A few other people are not suited constitutionally to having raw foods in their diet. They just do not feel good when eating too many of them. It may still be possible to eat raw foods in the diet, but the proportion of raw to cooked will be lower. A small mixed salad can be eaten with a cooked meal containing plenty of lightly cooked non-starchy vegetables, for example. For most people, though, the ‘raw is best‘ principle is best for a really healthy diet.
Super nutrient-rich foods to supplement the diet
Certain foods are extra-rich in nutrients, and including these in the diet will make it extra healthy. Some of these are: sprouts, juices, and natural supplements.
Sprouts: An easy-to-produce and healthy supplement to anyone’s diet is to grow sprouted seeds, grains and pulses in the kitchen. These are cheap, highly nutritious, and convenient.
If you ever make too many sprouts to be able to eat them raw, they can be eaten lightly steamed, or added to a stir-fry, casserole or stew near the end of cooking.
Juices: Fruit and vegetable juices are also very rich in nutrients and so tremendously healthy. Fresh juices can be prepared if you have a juicer. Include juices in your diet every day.
Bottles or cartons of fruit and vegetable juices are very nutritious, though not as high in nutrient content as freshly-extracted juice, so not quite so healthy. Drink a variety of juices for maximum nutrition. A litre of juice provides the equivalent of a good snack, and is healthy compared to many other snacks.
If you want to buy a juicer, here is a website which shows the various features of juicers on the market:
A UK supplier of some good juicers:
Supplements: Certain supplements supply high amounts of nutrients naturally, rather than in the chemical form which multi-mineral/vitamin tablets provide. The natural supplements are of a lower quoted potency than most mineral/vitamin tablets, but as they are much more readily absorbed, they can provide a similar benefit. They are a great daily addition to your healthy diet – alternative between them and try to include some regularly in your diet.
Examples of such supplements are:
- Barley Grass
- Wheat Grass
These supplements are rather like concentrated and nutritious green vegetables and supplement a healthy diet well. Being dried, they are not as rich in nutrients as the fresh product would be. But they are still healthy, and are very convenient.
Seaweed can also be included as a supplement to your healthy diet. It can be found in shops as a snack, and is very nutritious.
Starch and protein in a healthy diet
Eat only moderate amounts of starch and protein
It is beneficial to eat smaller amounts of starchy foods and whole protein (meat, fish, eggs and milk) than most people do to make your diet healthy. This may require a great shift in thinking.
Many of us are used to a large portion of potato or rice, and a chunk of meat or other protein in our diet. This is ok now and again, but is really not healthy as a daily part of our diet. This approach is common because, in the past, priority was given to getting enough protein and starch to provide calories to keep healthy.
What are calories?
A calorie is a measure of the amount of energy delivered to the body by food. The number of calories provided by a food depends on what it is made of: protein and starch each provide about four calories per gramme, whereas fat produces about nine calories per gramme.
Getting sufficient protein and starch
Getting enough protein and starch in the diet is really not an issue for 99% of people. In fact, sufficient protein and starch (and calories) for our needs are easily available in the diet if these foods comprise 20-50% of the diet. Even 50% is probably too much – try and get nearer 25% in your healthy diet.
It is a big problem in our Western society is that we are getting too much protein and too many calories in our diet. Clearly this is not healthy, as reflected in the high level of excess weight and obesity in much of the Western world.
Nearly half of the UK population are overweight, and almost half of these are obese. Figures for the US are a little higher. Interestingly, although Germany’s rate is near to that of the UK, France’s obesity rate is much lower than that of the UK.
We all know obesity is not healthy, leading to raised incidence of various diseases, not least heart disease and arterial disease, common causes of death. Another issue is diabetes which is rising dramatically and which is, together with obesity, hypertension and heart disease part of the ‘Syndrome X’ which we are hearing so much of today. Syndrome X, or metabolic syndrome, is very much related to diet.
Another ailment related to a poor balance of dietary intake, is the high level of osteoporosis in the West. This is closely related to excessive dietary protein.
A further disadvantage of eating a lot of starch and protein is that they easily fill up the stomach. The protein they contain is valuable for health – in moderation – but there are relatively few vitamins, minerals and trace elements in these foods compared, ounce for ounce, with vegetables and fruit. They are therefore less healthy. Where a lot of protein and starch are eaten, there is less appetite for the more healthy and nourishing vegetables and fruit in the diet.
The answer is to eat starch in smaller amounts in your healthy diet; and to greatly reduce the amount of meat, fish, and dairy foods and eggs in the diet.
Starchy foods in your healthy diet
For nearly everyone, it is healthy to leave as many nutrients as possible in the food in our diet. In the case of salad vegetables, we can eat them raw – so that’s quite easy. With potatoes, though, this is not possible. But one thing we can do with potatoes is to leave the peel on. The peel is a good source of nutrients, and should just be scrubbed. Remember to cut down on the amount of potatoes in the diet, though, to be healthy.
Similarly with rice, the outer part of brown rice contains B vitamins and valuable amounts of other nutrients, whereas the main part of it is pure protein and starch. The picture is the same with wheat, so wholemeal bread has a few healthy minerals but, again, is mainly starch. It is certainly better than white bread, but still not very healthy compared to fruit and vegetables. For your healthy diet, cut down on the amounts of rice and bread in any case.
Refined starches – white rice, peeled potatoes and white bread, for example – are not worth eating from the point of view of the nourishment they contain. To digest such nutrient-poor foods, nutrients already stored in the body are ‘robbed’. Such foods deplete the body’s stores of vital nutrients, but return virtually nothing to those stores after they have been digested. Leave these foods out of your healthy diet!
Healthy starch sources for your diet
Whole grains and pulses (the bean family) are good sources of starch – though they should be eaten in moderation in a healthy diet.. These foods also contain a proportion of protein. Whole wheat grain can be found at health food shops. It can be soaked overnight and simmered in water, or it can be sprouted in the same way as other seeds are sprouted. Brown rice is also a healthy source of starch, and accompanies bean dishes well.
Bread is made from powdered wheat and, as such, is probably less healthy than whole grains. It is best used only occasionally in a healthy diet.
Remember, these starches should provide only a small part of your diet to be the most healthy.
Athletes and manual workers – exceptions to the rule
If a large amount of energy is expended every day, for example, for concentrated manual work, or athletic exercise, then the requirement for calories in your diet will be much higher than for the majority of people to keep healthy. Extra starch and protein will be needed to provide these extra calories.
Whole grains, which are a combination of starch and protein, are a good source of the extra calories and protein required. If the extra calories are obtained from meat in the diet, there is a tendency to put on weight, unless the body type is such that it can digest the extra fat which is contained in meat. If the same amount of calories are eaten in the diet as are expended in work and exercise, body weight should stay balanced.
We should be moderate in our starch consumption – for most people, we should consume less than we are at present in our diet. It can help to use the following guide: reduce the amount of potato or rice on your plate, and double the amount of vegetables. Or reduce the amount of bread and the protein content of a sandwich, and treble the amount of the salad content. This guidelines will make your diet more and more healthy and will soon become habit.
Summary of a healthy diet
In summary, the aim of this healthy diet is to maximise the amount of vegetables and fruit eaten – especially raw, for most people; and moderate the amounts of protein and starches eaten. In almost every case this will produce a healthy change. A vegetarian diet – without meat – would be fine. For help on sustaining a well balanced vegetarian diet go to: Vegsource.com
Most of us eat too much protein and starch; and insufficient vegetables and fruits – the foods which contain most nutrients. A healthy diet contains many more vegetables and fruit – as much as possible raw.
Keep manufactured foods to a minimum for a healthy diet. It is quick and convenient to cook ready meals or even “meat, spuds (potatoes) and 2 veg”; However, these meals are not the most healthy. Keep them for occasional use only in your diet.
If we want to live long and live healthily, we will do best to maximise our intake of nutrient rich non-starchy vegetables (ie all vegetables except potatoes) and fruit. Certainly have a little potato – but do keep it to a minimum, and “max out” on piles of those lovely multi-coloured vegetables!
Your body will love you if you give it this type of healthy diet which is rich in nutrients, fibre and life-giving energy. Eat this type of diet and you are helping your body to keep you healthy. Your body cannot nourish and repair your cells and body organs without the necessary raw materials. Eat the type of diet described here and the raw materials will abound, enabling your body to keep you healthy and vibrant.
Good luck with your healthy diet!