Throughout life we are constantly faced with choices. If we are wise about our options it can lead us to great things but if we go wrong we can do damage to ourselves and others around us. O nly by learning the facts can we make the right decisions and when it comes to our health there is a lot of very confusing information out there.
The environment we live and work in is a major factor in health and there is no doubt that if you can get outdoors and breath fresh air every day it will help you feel more alive. However, we can`t stay fit and healthy just by breathing it is important to exercise regularly and to make good choices in what you eat and drink too.
We also need to make considered decisions on how green our food choices are. Many of our favorite ingredients travel thousands of miles to get to us which although convenient for us, it is not always good for the environment. It`s also important to consider how nutritious food is after traveling half way across the world to reach us. As a general rule it`s best to keep the harvest to plate distance to the bare minimum. Eating healthily and ensuring your diet is rich in fresh local produce will have a long term effect on the health of you and of the planet.
There is no need to join an expensive gym in order to take control of your fitness. In fact if you want to be green and fit it could be argued that a gym is not a very carbon friendly place, with all the electricity burned up running it. Quite simply walking, running or cycling outdoors are excellent ways of keeping fit. It is important to get your heart rate up above your normal for at least 15 to 30 minutes every second day and you will start to see the benefits before too long.
Smoking, drinking and eating high fat or sugary foods all have a direct impact on your health and your appearance. Your skin, teeth, hair and nails will show signs of ill health on the outside while your body struggles to cope on the inside. Red wine, coffee and nicotine can not only harm your health but also stain your teeth. However it is possible to hide the cosmetic signs of damage with teeth whitening
Food is probably one of the most important considerations governing our lives. What is on my plate? Should I have it, is the food right for me? Ask this question and a hundred experts are ready with advice on its pros and cons. The food industry is huge, the medical industry is also huge but our food problems are getting bigger by the day. People are just not eating right. This body is made up of what it eats; if our eating habits are unhealthy there is no way that we could be healthy. The old maxim says when in doubt go back into history.
What did our ancestors eat? Each civilisation formed its own food habits which could be right or wrong. So it would only be right to go further back that is before the advent of civilisation. The Neanderthal man existed from 2.5 million BC to 10,000 BC. He lived in forests and dwelt in caves. His food was governed by his habitat. Unlike popular belief the Neanderthals were omnivorous. They ate what was available in the forests around them. Their food comprised of fruits, vegetables, roots, seeds, nuts, leaves, grasses and flesh of animals, birds and fish. Each day the elders would go out and collect the above items from the forest around them, bringing in a great variety, say 30 to 40 types of seasonal items for the family to consume. Usually the family ate together under the watchful eye of the patriarch.
A look at the caveman’s food shows that the cavemen had no staple diet like wheat, maize, rice etc. Let us see the highlights of this diet – all the items were fresh, there was no sugar, no salt, no preservative, no dairy product, no potatoes, no millets or lentils, here is the interesting bit – the diet is essentially low in fat and carbohydrates and high in proteins, minerals, fibre and vitamins. Diseases like diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and obesity were unknown. Does this diet not remind one of what the good doctors and the dieticians often advise us on the type of food that we should be having. A visit to any forest will show that all the animals in it are well fed and healthy, we rarely find a sick or weak animal in the wild. Similarly, the Neanderthals were well fed and healthy, they did not lack good nutrition. Research shows that an average Neanderthal woman was as strong if not stronger than any super athlete of this day. They had no one to advise them and they followed their basic instincts.
Humans have evolved over millions of years. Our body organs have developed over a long period of time. We have been civilised only for the last 10,000 years, even in the medieval ages food was highly simple and primarily vegetarian in content. It is only recently that food is being grown or bred in such large quantities and so heavily processed. Our organs find it difficult to digest the various types of food that are on the table today. The forests of our ancestors have been replaced by the supermarkets of this day. I am sure we can enter them and make intelligent choices on what we should eat or avoid, and not be overly influenced by what ‘A’ or ‘B’ company says.
If there is anything we truly desire it is a break, from pressures of work, from family routine, from a low paying job, the juicier the break the greater our pleasure. We give a break to the car after having driven it for some time? Our eyes get a break, after having read or watched TV for long? Our legs are given a break after a walk or a jog? Everything gets a break, but for the butt, how, let me explain.
When we go to work, we may carry the burden of the whole office, but who carries our burden, the poor little (?) butt. When we return home after a long day’s work, we relax watching TV, on the computer, watching movies, visiting the pub, driving, etc but all this while we are parked on our butts. Everything gets a break, but for the butt. Then who can blame the butt for padding up a bit for a little comfort.
This story goes back a long way. As a child when little Joey wanted to go to the park or the beach, Mom and Dad were too busy doing whatever they were doing, to allow them to indulge in him. Well what does Joey do, he picks up a bag of wafers, a coke, switches on his favourite cartoon on the TV and gets onto his butt. True to form, Big Joe continues in the same rut of office, TV, computer, bar, and so on and enjoys/suffers the consequences.
Since time, life has been tough for us. In the past hundred years things have become increasingly easy and sedentary; the change is too sudden for the body organs to adjust their behaviour, which has been learned by them through millennia. Today we no longer need to do the type of physical work and exertion which was normal just a hundred years ago. Our physical systems which have been accustomed to very hard physical labour and not so much food are in fact being devastated by what we perceive as comfort and progress. Our organs are confused and do not know how to address this sudden change in life style. We need to help them by understanding our genuine requirements and then shaping our lives accordingly.
Don’t we all appreciate if our work is shared by all who enjoy the benefits? Mom loves it when the kids help at home, Dad loves it when little Joey does caddy for him on Sunday, the boss loves it if the staff contributes towards success of his favourite project, if all this be true then the butt is no exception. When he has to bear the body burden with no relief from the other body members, the butt feels used and taken for granted, he doesn’t like it and takes revenge on them. In vengeance he doesn’t permit the stomach to digest, pads up all the body parts with loads of lard, makes the joints rusty, blocks the arteries, gives the head an ache, the back a pain and makes everyone miserable. But the butt is not as wet a blanket as people make him out to be. He hates working alone but is a great one for team play. He loves it when the legs take him for a jog in the park, for a trek in the hills or a dip in the pool. He loves cycling and is quite a sport; he invariably helps by cushioning falls. And in return for the fun, he ensures that all his friends are happy and cheerful.
The message is quite simple, we have progressed a great deal in many fields but today many of us are unable to maintain our bodies the way we need to. The body feels happy only when all its components are made to work, the harder the work the better for them. The body shows its happiness by a spring in the walk, and a cheerful face. The problem is ours the solution too lies in our hands we have to find time which is strictly one’s own. So, the next time we stay longer than required on the TV or the computer, we could tell the TV that Mr TV you and your friends are great, but my butt needs a break.
Hi, recently I was in Hrishikesh, it is located on the Ganges in the Himalayan foot-hills and is famous for its many centres of Yoga. At Hrishikesh I spent a few days with Balyogi Premvarni. A balyogi is a person who becomes an adept in yoga as a boy. Balyogi Premvarni is truly an amazing person; he has a beautiful hermitage on the banks of the River Ganges, tucked away on a mountain slope, in deep forest. Here he lives alone; at times some people visit him for learning yogic practices, to enjoy his beautiful ashram or just out of curiosity. The yogi is 81 years old; he spends his days in retreat, carrying out yogic practices and rendering spiritual advice to those who visit him.
Each time I visit him it turns into an unforgettable experience. The few days that I spent in his company were unique in many ways, it is not that he taught me a great deal and it is not that I did not learn a lot. Each time I return from his ashram, I have more questions than answers. What is it that makes a person like him stay up in the mountains; all by himself, supported by whatever little is given to him as donation by his devotees. He has the talent and the knowledge to mint millions, what is it that keeps him so content in the little that he has. He has so much to give to the world, messages of health, happiness, contentment and very importantly the message of leading a life of frugality. In a sense the world gone wild with insatiable desire, if we have to leave something for posterity we need to instil frugality in all our dealings. He is quite content doing his spiritual practices in his hermitage, content in watching the world rush by. He has no desire to come down into the materialistic grime of worldly life. Unfortunately most of us are unable to spare the time, to stop and look and learn from people like him.
I spent a fair amount of time watching him at his daily routine. I often watched him while he was doing his yogasanas (yogic postures) and pranayamas (yogic breathing). The first thing that struck me was the way his body was structured. His physique was not muscular, in fact it was quite devoid of visible muscle, yet he was quite devoid of fat too. There was so much grace and economy in all his movements that there was need for anything more. Then what strikes one the most, is the high degree of comfort he enjoyed in whatever posture he adopted. Whether he was sitting in the lotus pose, standing on his shoulders or doing any of the more complicated contortions, he was in absolute comfort and the ease with which he moved into and out of the postures was amazing. His face shone, and his skin could well be the envy of many teenage girls. He performed difficult postures like the hand-stand and elbow stand with ease and grace. It is in fact quite difficult to describe all that he did. Yet in people like him we can find answers to a large number of our day to day problems. Aren’t a majority of our problems due to wrong posture and over indulgence? Are we not suffering because our bodies are not properly proportioned or we are unable to move ourselves the way we should?
Adopting an exercise system is a matter of taste. There are various systems which a person could follow and each one of them has its plus and minus points. It is for us to properly weigh each system for its benefits and take what suits us best. A suitable system would be one which gives us the maximum benefit without unduly taxing the environment or our pockets. Yoga and body weight exercises largely meet these criteria and one can practice them anywhere and anytime. They can be imaginatively designed and are great fun when done in company.
Our Hearts Tell Us The Truth.
You know it, I know it, so why not just follow it. I don’t think another study needs to be done to point out the facts we know in our hearts. Fruits, nuts and vegetables will give us all that we need and heal our bodies of disease and allow us to live a fulfilling life. The plan, although simple, is still tough for many with their current lifestyles.
We have to get the kids here, get the kids there, no time for gardens, no time to prepare meals. However, it is time we set our bodies as our main priority. In reality, we consume beyond our needs. Most of us are focused on material things that really don’t matter. They will continue to matter less and less as your health declines to the point where you can’t even enjoy those material trinkets. Because, compared with your health, all else in life is just a trinket.
So why not take care of your body now?
When it comes to our bodies’ health, that is something that truly matters. In the end, it is all you have to sustain even if all the material things were wiped away.
I had a discussion today with a friend of mine and we discussed a very important fact. When we were put on this earth we could only consume what we could produce ourselves. We met our needs and that was it. Now we meet our needs, wants and desires and then proceed to over- consume, beyond belief. This is causing the earths’ health to decline as well. Simply put, this cannot continue at the current pace.
A study I recently read about http://api.tr.im/xqgw reinforces the fact that we need to consume more fruits and vegetables. As you can see from the article there are several food choices of the fruit and vegetable variety that are high in antioxidants.
Foods that are high in antioxidants