Up Your Wellness Quotient

Words: Dr Rajgopal NIDAMBOOR 

There is a good old, also timeless, Oriental aphorism: “If you have a good diet, of what use is a doctor? And, if you don’t have a good diet, of what use is a doctor?” This leads us to the big question: what is ‘good’ diet, or what, in effect, epitomises a ‘normal’ diet? This is as unpretentious and also as composite as untangling ourselves from our fixated habits and/or getting any real outlook on what has become au fait in our life.

In our jet-set age we seem to have far too much information and not just enough nutrients. Picture this — the glut, or the infinite enormity of research and popular material to learn from. As a matter of fact, one nutrition researcher is of the opinion that in order to keep pace with the volume of studies being published, one would have to read an article every three minutes, seven days a week. Put simply, there is no way even for a super-duper team of experts, writers, authors, and lay readers, to keep pace, although the fact remains that most of our research is related to biochemical nutrition.

Biochemical Nutrition

What is biochemical nutrition, you may well ask. It is the study of the molecular components of food and metabolic mechanism of the body. In other words, it is the best thing medical science has been able to do — a time-tested register of molecular nutrients, their upside and downside in a given population. Yet, notwithstanding all the gloss, the basic approach of biochemical nutrition is, paradoxically, short-sighted.

All of us know how our nutrition from the soil has been depleted over the years. Mineral depletion of the soil has, no less, come about through poor soil management. Add to this the excess use of chemical and ‘artificial’ fertilisers as a substitute for composted organic matter — and, this has left our soil open to erosion and loss of minerals. It does not require a nutritional scientist to articulate that plants and vegetables grown on depleted soil are unhealthy, impoverished and poor in nutritional value.

In other words, our soil has lost much of the minerals to erosion. Our grains, likewise, are further fragmented by our new fad — ‘refining.’ To highlight one example: milled wheat is now much poorer in vitamins and minerals than it was 50 years ago. Milling, as you know, removes much of what might have remained by way of nutritional value. As our nutrients have vanished from our foods, we now have entire industries emerging and proliferating rapidly to fill the void — the world of food, nutritional and dietary supplements. You get the idea — as supplement manufacturers offer ‘replacement,’ if not substitute nutrients, food processing industries — the sunrise sector -— now add flavours and colours. The idea is obvious — to reconstruct the appeal of natural food.  

It is a tough task, any which way you look at it — to reorganise from supplements and available foodstuffs a more than a passing resemblance of what nature has provided for our bodies to use and progress. One simple, and also big, idea is — we need to give up our long-cultivated reductionist approach. How do we do it? By committing ourselves to using fresh, wholesome produce and by incorporating a diet of simple food that is wholesome, nourishing and nurturing. 

Address The Question

Well, before we get going with our ‘natural’ idea, we need to really look at one monumental question and address it. Does it make sense for us to turn to supplements, or pills, to supply what is missing from our food? Next — how do we ever decide what supplement pills suit our requirements best?

It is a question with no easy answers. That the supplement industry has invaded pharmacies and grocery stores is common knowledge. Supplements, in such a ‘healthy’ setting, are augmented, or lined by, vitamins — all of them in their different strengths and brands. You will often encounter a ‘wall’ of vitamins and minerals. That’s the sheen, although the idea carries weight and logic.

For those of us living in chaotic city conditions, supplements make great sense. It may, however, not be a welcome prospect for folks living in the countryside — with their instant access to good nutrients, fruits and vegetables, not to speak of produce, albeit the ‘natural’ equation is slipping rapidly, thanks to the commercial domino effect.

Supplements: Good For You

There is a simple strategy that would help you to decide what you should, or could do — harmoniously. If you are the stressed, high-adrenaline type, give yourself increased doses of supplements. If you are the relaxed type, it is best to give your system an occasional holiday, a chance to clean out excesses that may have built up when you were swallowing nutritional pills — with gay abandon.

Stressful living increases your supplement needs. This applies to a relatively peaceful environment too, where you have lots of emotional hubbub. In either case, you are burning the B vitamins. As for individuals who are highly and constantly pumped up emotionally, they are also using up great quantities of one, or more, of the B vitamins and also vitamin C. It is time to fill the void with a good supplemental diet and nutrients in a jar — because, it is also the best thing that your nutritional medicine doctor ordered.

The best thing to also do is to read about supplements — but, you shouldn’t read too deeply into them. You will get marooned by unwanted information — which will, again, do you no good. Also, don’t overdo your intake — you will overdose yourself.

Balance Holds The Key

It is advisable that you just get the right balance of vitamins and minerals. Your physician, or nutrition therapist, would be best able to decide what you need, and what you would not [Also, try another practical idea — practice meditation on a regular basis — 20-30 minutes daily. It will give you tranquillity, peace and relaxation of the mind and body and also the insight to be yourself — not somebody else].

Most importantly, follow a regular, simple regimen for your dietary requirements — a diet with at least 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables and leafy greens. Make salad a part of your daily eating plan, because a high fibre diet is what you need most — to ward off free radical damage, if any, or before it bares its tentacles, and leads to illnesses, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Even in the presence of disease, a good diet plan helps you live a healthy, normal life — it perks up your existence in a manner that medications don’t.

Think also of doing exercises regularly and/or yoga — exercises that suit your physique and psyche. Speak to a qualified trainer and create an exercise plan that takes into consideration your specific needs, not something that others fancy. You may do your work-out at home, or enrol in a gym close to your place of residence, or work — but, the important thing is you need to stick to a plan. A 25-30-minute work-out, 4-5 days a week, is all that you need — not just a pump-it-up exercise plan for extended hours.

Remember, fitness takes the murmur out of your laid-back attitude and life. It gives you the energy and also the confidence to do better and well in your day-to-day life. Think of exercise as a time to focus on how you move spontaneously too, not on auto-pilot, and without looking at the end of the session. When you immerse yourself fully in the experience, you will feel the emotions and the memories that connect to different parts of your body with certain postures, or movement.

Simple, isn’t it? This is all you’d need to do and add to your daily schedule on a regular basis — once you do it, you will reap the rewards cumulatively. Because, when you are healthy, you will be able to do your work better, and also more productively. The resultant effect is — optimal health and well-being which will have a definite bearing on your incremental earnings and wealth.

Now you know the reason, don’t you? Being healthy, as already emphasised, gives you the self-assurance to feel good. This feel-good feeling will extend to your decision-making abilities, poise, balance, and well-being — and, when you begin to do well, your personal index will be what you always wished it to be.

Dr RAJGOPAL NIDAMBOOR, PhD, is a wellness physician-writer-editor, independent researcher, critic, columnist, author and publisher. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, web articles, essays, meditations, columns, and critiques on a host of subjects, eight books on natural health, two coffee table tomes and an encyclopaedic treatise on Indian philosophy. He is Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360 — a mobile health application/platform connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic and Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.

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