Yoga food and an organic diet

Eating is arguably one of the most important act for one’s yoga practice. The nourishment of the body forms a foundation for nourishment of the mind and your emotions. Think of it this way. Imagine yourself devoting all your days to perfecting your yoga practice, and then sustaining your body only on high doses of sugar and caffeine. What kind of effect do you think it will have on you body, your emotions?

Just as you commit yourself to your morning Pranayama and daily asanas, it is easy to see that a balanced mind can come easily to you if you commit yourself to nourish your body with the right kind of food. But how exactly do you do that?

Extending your yoga practice to your dinner table is not an easy feat, mostly because the classic yogic philosophies do not list any specific foods for following a ‘yogic diet’. Moreover, even if our yogic ancestors did prescribe some sort of diet, it wouldn’t be easily available or appropriate today for each one of us.

However, there is still a modern-day yogic diet, with ingredients that enhance clarity and lightness, keeping the body light and nourished and the mind clear. Eating organic food is a classic example of something that is better for both the body and the environment.
Close to Mother Earth

Our food choices have a tremendous effect on our physical and mental health, the quality of our subtle energy, our meditation and spiritual practice, the economy of the world, and the ecological health of Earth. By becoming mindful and aware of our food choices, we can help address many issues.

The organic food diet, much like yoga, supports one’s spiritual practice. It includes fresh, healthy, free-from chemicals food that is close to its natural form, that provides all necessary nutrients, and that is prepared in a spiritually pure atmosphere, having minimal impact on the Earth’s ecological health.
Eating Fresh

We evolved eating foods fresh from the ground, or tree. Foods were not stored or processed. When foods are in their fresh, natural state, their subtle energy is intact, and we receive and absorb that energy when we eat whole foods. Once a food is picked or stored, its energy begins to leak. In addition, foods begin to lose their nutritional value as soon as they’re picked or processed.

Just like yoga, by eating organic food, we are trying to build up a bank of energy. The more energy we have, the better the progress we make. To preserve and build this energy, our food, just like our yoga practice, must be full of vitality. This will not only improve health, but heighten spiritual consciousness, reduce pollution, destruction, and global greenhouse gas emissions for a better future for us and our future generations.


Toxic chemicals in your foods

We have all been told about how fruits and vegetables form the most essential part of a healthy diet, but have you also been told how some of your favourites could actually contain a staggering amount of chemicals?
Inorganic Fertilizer

The overuse of chemical or inorganic fertilizers has serious consequences. The leaching of these chemicals into the groundwater supply and the introduction of certain contaminants into the soils, not just harm the environment, but have far-reaching consequences on our health as well. Fertilizer runoff into ponds, lakes and streams over-stimulates algae growth, suffocating other aquatic plants and fish. Toxic fertilizers made from industrial waste can bring mercury, lead and arsenic to our soil, water supplies, and our bodies.

And if you think the chemicals are ‘important’ for growing more nutritious food, you should know that synthetic fertilizers tend to deplete most nutrients and minerals that are naturally found in truly fertile soils. Thus, modern farming actually leads to nutritionally-deficient foods.

The biggest threat to our health comes from pesticides. Using synthetic fertilizers creates a trade-off — high yields of plants with a lot more insect problems. Pesticides also aid pests in developing resistance and create stronger bugs. Every time a field of vegetables or fruits is sprayed, a few insects who are stronger and more genetically advanced are likely to survive. These survivors mate and create offspring that are even more resistant to the pesticide. Because the lifecycle of an insect is so short, and each generation is more resistant than the last, it doesn’t take long for a ‘super bug’ to develop, thus fuelling the need to create a stronger, more toxic pesticide.

A lot of modern herbicides that are designed to kill only plants may have extreme consequences in the environment, changing habitats in ways that affect insects and wildlife. These extend to water courses where they may kill beneficial aquatic plants and fish. Moreover, many studies link herbicides with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer in humans.

Garden chemicals were championed as the hero of agricultural produce. It was said that pesticides and insecticides were the answer to farmers’ woes of dealing with insects, weeds and other intruders that harmed their crops. People said that herbicides would increase yields by decreasing weeds, while chemicals would keep soils fertile.

However, over time, we came to realize the truth of these tall claims. It’s not just the soil and animals that feel the brunt of chemical use. These chemicals are linked to the proliferation of chronic diseases in our lives. From premature births and low birth weights in humans, to causing miscarriage, from reduced sperm counts, inability to breastfeed and rise in infant deaths, to the more fatal cancer and even Parkinson’s disease, autism and mental retardation – chemicals in our fruits and vegetables are all linked to deteriorating human health and pose grave danger to the environment and ultimately, our future generation.


Healthy grocery checklist

A trip to your nearest grocery store can result in two things – you’ll either ended up buying chips, chocolates and cookies, or stock up your basket with green leafies, fruits and healthy proteins.

Grocery shopping can be daunting even for the most organized and disciplined person. Unhealthy foods lurk everywhere and tempt you with their charm, threatening to throw you off the health wagon.

Here, a grocery list becomes essential, to help you navigate the different aisles and see to it that you stick to your healthy eating plans, minimizing impulse shopping and saving you tons of money, too! Take out your notebooks for our tips on how to shop with a healthy grocery list-
Cereals and breakfast foods-

What to have on your list? Only whole-grain or multigrain cereals, steel-cut oatmeals and whole-grain cereal bars. Avoid the ones with high sugar content and opt for organic, high fiber varieties that will provide you ample nutrition and also keep you full for longer hours. If you want some sweet, buy dried fruits or berries for natural sweetness.
Meats and other poultry-

Organic skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey, fresh salmon, trout, or any of your favourite seafood should definitely be in your cart. Don’t forget to add eggs to be able to whip up quick, nutritious omelette snacks. Avoid the packets that have high sodium content, and buy meats with the leanest cuts.
Edible oils and other good fats-

Olives, olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, are some of your best friends. You could also add cashews and flaxseeds to your list, and use them in your breakfast or simply as snacks.
Bread, pasta and other carbs-

Choose brown rice over white, and whole-wheat pasta over the refined flour ones. For more variety in carbs, add Sweet potatoes, potatoes, oats, butternut squash, quinoa to your list. Remember, wherever possible, choose the whole grain version of everything.

Most of your favourite brands of ketchups and sauces can contain high levels of sugar and salt. Opt for the low-sodium, sugar-free varieties for a healthier switch. Replace mayonnaise with low-fat options like salsa or hot sauce. Also remember to add balsamic vinegar, spices, herbs, raw honey, and stevia.
Fruits and veggies-

Always remember to think global, but eat local. Look for variety of colourful fruits and vegetables that are in season and are locally grown. They will not taste better, but also cost you less.
Dairy products –

Put low-fat or no-fat versions of dairy products in your cart – from skim milk or soymilk, to fat-free yogurt, cottage cheese and string cheese snacks.

Avoid soda and other sweet beverages like the plague. Opt instead for unsweetened seltzer, green tea, ginger tea, and unsweetened iced tea.

Helpful? Let us know!


Frozen Food or Fresh Food

Not really. Frozen fruits and vegetables are often priced more reasonably than fresh items, especially when not in season. Sales on frozen vegetables and fruits can make them a great purchase for your household budget.
Frozen foods are high in sodium

Frozen vegetables are actually less likely to have added sodium. Many manufacturers are now taking a health-conscious choice to cut the sodium content. Before purchase, just scan the label for proof.
Frozen foods expire sooner

Frozen food pretty much remains safe indefinitely. They have expiration dates because they won’t taste good forever. The flavour and texture will break down over time as you expose it more and more to air, but otherwise they are fine.

More benefits of frozen foods include the chance to choose from a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables. It provides consistent variety in meals and snacks, and a wider source of essential nutrients, irrespective of the season.

So when are you trying this easy, economical, and nutritious option for healthy eating?


Refined and Natural – SUGAR

Natural sugars are sugars that are found naturally – simple. This includes fruits, vegetables, and also honey(shop for organic honey). There are two types of simple sugars – glucose and fructose. Glucose is found in all foods that have carbohydrates, so they include mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, etc. Glucose is vital to life, is also produced by our body and easily broken down by every cell. Fructose, on the other hand, is fruit sugar, because its main source is fruits (and honey). Fructose is a bit harder to break down, as only your liver breaks down significant portions of it.

Coming to processed sugars, they are natural sugars that have been modified, combined and processed to make something. The white sugar that we all have in our homes is a form of processed sugar called Sucrose, which combines (half) glucose and (half) fructose. The other types of processed sugar include high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, and molasses, among others.

Is one better than the other? Well, you can’t pit the two against each other. The main difference between natural and processed sugars is how each one delivers glucose and fructose to your body. For instance, fruits(buy authentic organic fruits) are not just fructose, they also have a host of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. Your regular white sugar doesn’t do that. Having all these other nutrients allows your body to slow down the absorption of fructose, because if your body gets overloaded with only fruit sugar, the liver can’t use it all and it gets stored as fat.

However, that’s not the case with Glucose, which your body loves and digests easily. But it does affect your blood sugar levels. Too much glucose and your pancreas may overproduce insulin and actually cause low sugar levels. Confusing? So, have you noticed why after eating a lot of candy, you crash. This is the reason.

Processed sugars combine both of these and mostly leave your body overwhelmed, and riddled with health issues in the long run.

Are there any sugar alternatives then?

Coconut sugar is a great alternative(buy now), since it raises blood sugar slower. It may also contain nutrients, so it isn’t just a combination of fructose and glucose. Date paste(shop here) is another easy sugar alternative you can make at home with pitted dates. There is Agave nectar(buy here), a natural sweetener, which again raises blood sugar lower so it doesn’t lead to spikes.

What about diabetics? Are natural sweeteners and fruits okay for them?

Not really. Something like an Agave nectar contains a lot of fructose, more than high-fructose corn syrup, which can increase insulin resistance, and also lead to weight gain and obesity. This is also the reason why diabetics aren’t really recommended to have all fruits. Certain fruits may cause blood sugars to spike at a quicker pace than others, like grapes, cherries, pineapples and mangoes.

So, you see, it’s not that easy to say natural is better than processed. What matters is how much you consume, how your body uses it and in what form it’s delivered. Too much of anything is bound to result in health issues. To get the best for your body, load up on a good mix of fruits and vegetables, to prevent overdosing on sugar, and also get some much-needed nutrients.(Also read: What happens to your body when you eat too much sugar)


What is GUT Health

The health of your gut is usually determined by the levels and types of bacteria in your digestive tract. An imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria results in gut troubles.

This imbalance could be the result of too many bad ‘bugs’, as your grandparents probably told you, including bacteria, yeast, and sometimes parasites, and not enough good ones. This imbalance can cause damage to the lining of your intestines, making them permeable, and allowing food proteins to enter into the bloodstream. This then activates your immune system, causing inflammation, food sensitivities, and many other symptoms in the digestive tract and the rest of your body.

Research shows that when your gut is inflamed, which usually happens when the body is trying to digest foods that are overly processed, it signals the body’s nervous system to