Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Saturday, July 25, 2020
RULES FOR HEALTH, PART 2
Thy Food is thy medicine, thy medicine is poison
Humans are omnivores with the physiology of herbivores. Our alimentary canals are deigned like those of grass eaters, with long lengths to digest the roughage. Meat-eating animals on the other hand, have short digestive passages, since meat putrefies faster and needs to be pushed quickly out of the system.
However, as we evolved from being monkeys collecting food from the trees to hunting on the plains, man developed the ability to digest meat. Pastoral peoples developed the ability to digest milk; not all races have milk as part of the diet. Eskimoes subsisted mainly on a diet of raw meat. Hot regions gravitated towards more spices in their food, and colder places towards bland food.
People fail to appreciate the importance of food in our overall well-being. The modern tendency of counting "calories" and "nutrients" has completely obliterated the wisdom of knowing what is healthy.
Food is a mechanism to transfer "vital energy" from one organism to another. The Indians gave this vital energy the name "prana" and the Chinese called it "Chi". Like electricity that powers a machine, the prana powers the body of all living beings, courses through it, and gives it life. The sages of ancient cultures like India and China recognized the need to cultivate prana. The entire science of Wellness, from time immemorial, is geared towards nurturing and enhancing prana or chi. This includes the rules of daily regimen (called 'dinacharya' in Ayurveda), sleep, diet, medicine, exercise, and even the arts like martial arts, dance, music, etc.
Western medicine views food in terms of reductionist paradigms like calories, vitamins, etc. The entire science of nutrition taught in colleges today, and the "medicine" that doctors study is devoid of any understanding of prana, which is what sustains us. Which is why it is unlikely that any good advice on health will emerge from the allopathic medical body of knowledge. Once in a while, they do get something right, but that is more out of luck than any real understanding.
Humans and "food" have evolved together for thousands of years. The body has learnt to recognize "whole foods" and "natural foods" and is in a position to digest and assimilate the nutrients contained in them.
Fruits and Vegetables are the primary food sources for humans which are most healthy. Among vegetables, some are recognized to be especially beneficial like green leafy vegetables, and carrots. Grains came much later on the evolutionary timeline; in fact grains were initially used only to feed animals. They entered the human diet only about 6000 years ago. They are not very good for health in terms of nutrients, but they have a lot of slow burning calories which helps in sustenance. With increasing population pressures and with man moving to agriculture grains became a staple. From a health perspective, the use of grains in the diet needs to be minimized.
Salt is absolutely essential to the human diet. Land-locked people without access to the sea used to specially import salt, since they recognized it as necessary for the human body. Salt has about 80 trace elements which are necessary for the human body, in proportions that are ideally suited for digestion and assimilation. The story of salt is a very good example of how processed foods have helped to destroy our health.
What we are told is salt, is today nothing but processed NaCl, with all the minerals and trace elements removed. To add insult to injury they say they are adding iodine! And of course they add other chemicals to make it free-flowing, look white, etc. So what is the table salt you buy, is it salt at all? It is effectively something that looks like salt, tastes like salt, has some great properties that don't belong to salt (it is not hygroscopic for example, and is thus free flowing; is very very white), but what exactly is it? It is salt with all the beneficial trace minerals stripped out, and some artificial chemicals pumped in. We still think it is salt because we are all products of a reductionist educational system which teaches us that salt means NaCl – Sodium Chloride, something that can be manufactured in a test tube if you combine sodium and chlorine together! And we are then schooled to believe that "pure" NaCl is good; the natural kind has too many "contaminants"; that the added artificial iodine (which is anyway useless) is "needed" for us; that manufactured salt is "standardized", and so on, and we are indoctrinated into believing that what we need is salt manufactured in a factory, and not the natural variety.
So when we say we are eating salt, what we mean is we are eating a chemical that is called salt, not salt at all. But through some magic of the thought process, we think that the chemical slop that we are eating is better than the original! Hail modern science!
Salt is just one example, at the most basic level, of processed food.
Similar are the stories with
food with "added nutrients",
"vitamins" in a tablet form,
children's "health" drinks,
ready to eat foods,
any food that lasts for months,
two-minutes-for-cooking wonder foods,
foods that last for a long time without spoiling,
foods with added preservatives,
foods with added chemicals in order to imbue them with various good "qualities",
any food that is advertised as good for you (remember advertising needs money, and money can never be made selling you a commodity, it needs to be made by selling you something "special" which by definition is bad for health),
And a host of other abominations. We can write a separate article on each one of them, but it will only be an increasing tirade of litanies against the modern food industry.
All the above foods have lost their prana. They do not enhance health, they destroy it.
Rather than go the negative route, proving why each of the above is not good, it is better to go the positive route and see what is good for health. That is a shorter and more direct route, and is better for clarity and understanding.
We shall do that in the next part of this series.
Meanwhile, you can empty your pantry of all the "foods" listed above. You did that, and there is nothing left in the pantry? Ha Ha, we are off to a good start then.
Have a great weekend.
25 July, 2020
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. But perhaps that is why you may do well to listen to me. When it comes to health, never listen to doctors is the right principle to follow.
(Posted to my blog http://www.dineshgopalan.com )
Link to earlier articles in this series:
Rules for Health Part 1: https://www.dineshgopalan.com/2020/07/rules-for-health-part-1.html
Rules for health are quite simple.
1. Sleep, get enough of it
2. Dinacharya (Daily Regimen):
2.1. have an oil bath at least once a week. Along with bath, do jalneti.
2.2 get fresh air and sunlight into your life. Avoid AC as far as possible. Step out without a mask and breathe deeply. Wear masks only where it is mandated.
2.3 . Corona is a flu, period. You will get it, develop the antibodies, and will be immune. Same as for all things out there. Ignore the fear and the panic around, a fearful mind and masks will make your body less immune. There is a small chance you will die of corona, welcome it, life is nothing without some uncertainty.
2.4 Walk. Preferably in the sun.
3. DIETARY RULES
3.1. Have food . Processed factory sludge is not good.
3.2 eat only those things that spoil but eat them before they spoil. Manufactured goods with long shelf life are not food.
3.3 buy only what grows, this includes vegetables, fruits, rice, dal, etc. Maggi does not grow. Biscuits and ready to eat foods don't either.
3.4 cook, or buy from the local auntie-ji who cooks at home. Eat fresh food within hours of cooking.
3 5. Let your diet consist predominantly of whole foods.
3.6 gradually reduce meat in the diet. Once that is done, gradually reduce the grains specially rice and wheat this is a long term multi year prescription.
3.7 ensure the stomach is at least half empty at all times, even after a full meal.
3.8 eat light at night, or not at all.
3.9 do intermittent fasting.
3.10 avoid or reduce: white sugar , pasteurised milk, refined oil, processed salt
3.11 have instead jaggery, organic milk or no milk at all, cold pressed oil, and raw sea salt or Himalayan rock salt. ( To be continued)
Friday, July 24, 2020
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Monday, July 20, 2020
We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
Oh, deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day
We'll walk out in the sun
We'll walk out in the sun
We'll walk out in the sun some day
We'll go meet all our friends
We'll go meet all our friends
We'll go meet all our friends some day
We'll feel the wind in our face
We'll feel the wind in our face
We'll feel the wind in our face some day
We are waiting for the germs
We are waiting for the germsWe are waiting for the germs to go away
We shall all be free
We shall all be free
We shall all be free some day
We are not afraid
We are not afraid
We are not afraid some day
We are not alone
We are not alone
We are not alone some day
The whole wide world around
The whole wide world around some day
We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
Sunday, July 19, 2020
ओय बाहर आ!
Friday, July 17, 2020
Thursday, July 16, 2020
1. Immunology 101: Exposure generates immunity.
a. The body is a colony of co-existing germs, trillions of them. Germs are necessary to our existence – bad germs are taken care of by the body's immune system which handles the load is unless it is too high or the germ is too deadly. The day our body stops handling what is out there, we are dead. It is moot, whether, the day we decide to stop handling anything out there and hide in our homes, we are already dead.
2. There is a cost to being too gentle, there is a cost to being too kind.
a. When we go out and face things, we become tough and strong. When we shelter behind closed doors, and masks, we become weak. That is because exposure is key.
b. The contradiction here, is, how far do I get exposed. Should I walk into battle as a sixteen-year old armed with a machete – the Red Indians would have said yes. Should I go out as a child wherever I want, without informing my parents, and get exposed to all kinds of people - our parents and grandparents would not have bothered, the paranoid parents of today would die of shock if their child is missing for ten minutes. Different times call for different approaches, but you will agree with me that any extreme is not correct.
The other extreme is to not step out at all. You will then not die of accidents, not die of diseases (ha ha ha, that's what you think)… You will not do so many bad things nor have so many bad outcomes because you are not doing anything at all.
There is an old person in the house who is weak. She is susceptible to every virus out there. So the only way to keep her from getting that virus is for no one in the family to step out, stop all life, in fact it is good if no one in the family breathes! You know and I know that that is not an option. But then the world is behaving as if it is! Why is it not an option? Because by not stepping out at all, we are all making out immunity weak, and we are making ourselves more susceptible to all diseases out there. Let us agree in this case that complete disregard for safety is not good, but complete protection is not possible and more detrimental than the result that is trying to be achieved?
The germs are there in the air all around us. We need to develop and maintain a strong immune system, so that our body fights them and develops the required antibodies.
There are millions of flus and viruses and germs out there, our body takes care of them all without even our knowledge. Once in a while, a very very deadly one comes along like small pox, and you go take a vaccine for it. Like all allopathic drugs, vaccines are harmful, in fact more harmful than the normal drugs. Not taking a vaccine for even small pox is one extreme. Taking a vaccine annually for flu is the other extreme, like it is encouraged to do in the US nowadays. So what is the mid-ground? I propose that it is to take vaccines only for the rarest of the rare cases, and extremely deadly illnesses. By following any other option, you are weakening your own immunity, and it is a never-ending race to the bottom.
3. How deadly is Corona virus? Not very deadly at all, not even close to what it is being made out to be. The fatality rate as a percentage of total population is very low, in the region of 0.2 percent (this is ballpark, too much accuracy is not required, since the points I am making are broad). You may of course disagree that 0.2 is "very low", or you may look up and tell me it is 0.4 – that is fine.
4. Most people will get the virus. Unlike other flus, this one is an extremely fast spreader. So from the government's point of view, it will swamp available infrastructure. From a personal point of view, this should make no difference.
5. A lot of percentage statistics being thrown around are needlessly alarmist, since they are of fatalities / no. of people tested. This is not a good benchmark, since nine out of ten people will not even show symptoms.
6. It is highly debatable whether asymptomatic people will transmit the virus.
7. It is almost certain that children and younger folks will not die of it.
8. Older folks with "comorbidities" will succumb in greater numbers. But then, that is as it should be. They will succumb to anything in greater numbers, when our turn comes, we will too.
9. From a personal point of view, what is the best strategy? Given the above facts, it is best to go out and get the virus, let the body fight it, and develop the required antibodies. This requires you to not wear a mask, not use sanitizer, not isolate, and be out there.
The alternate option is to do all the above , wear a mask, sanitize, etc. Why would you want to do that, considering the following:
In any case, there is no guarantee that it won't spread to your near and dear ones. This virus is almost impossible to control, it slips t very easily through all these measures
For a low-guarantee outcome, you will be compromising your own immunity by reducing your own exposure. If it is for a very brief period, that is fine. But, for how long will you do this? Till the vaccine comes? Which is till when? Till next year? Even when the vaccine comes, are you sure you want to take it (remember it has its side effects like all allopathic drugs, vaccines are deadlier in side effects) for every flu out there? For every variant of corona? For every future flu out there? For every variant of every future flu? With each shot reducing your own immunity in the process? Is that the path you want to head towards?
10. You will agree it is not an open and shut case that everyone should wear masks and shelter in place. Maybe you don't agree. Fine, you will agree there is at least a case that exists for not doing these things?
Then why is society forcing me to wear a mask when I do not want to? Why is it forcing me to stay at home when I do not wish to? To protect me! Or the old people! Or all of us! I am not, firstly, convinced of the necessity or wisdom to try to do so, and, secondly, given the nature of this virus, I think it will not work anyway.
11. All the arguments that I have advanced are from the individual perspective. What should the government do, in this situation? Well, this article is not intended to address that. This article is purely about what I would do as an individual.
12. On balance, my response to the virus is that, given the risks posed by the virus, the costs of avoiding it, and the impossibility of trying to avoid it in any case, I have decided that as an individual the best option for me is to not wear a mask, not use sanitizer, and not restrict my own movements. I have been following that prescription form Day 1. This has nothing to do with my personal level of immunity, or lack of it, it is what I think everyone should be doing.
You are of course free to make your own choice, the facts are out there, but you may choose to give a different weightage to each factor.
13. What is your preferred response to the virus and why?
Disclaimer: I am neither a doctor, nor an immunologist, nor a politician. Which is good, since it looks like they are out to destroy the world as we know it.
16 July, 2020
PS: Some of my friends have told me that these constant rants of mine, with respect to Corona, against the mad mad world is getting tiresome, so I am not going to post anything on this topic from now on. Such pious resolutions never last, but I will try my level best!
Sunday, July 5, 2020
Saturday, May 23, 2020
We are afraid of germs, of the air we breathe, of fellow human beings, of stepping out - all the things that keep us alive.
We now revel in fear, mistrust, paranoia, defensiveness, exclusion, isolation – all the things that kill us from within.
We have given away our freedom to choose, to the government. The government has taken away our freedom to move freely, breathe without impediment, and step out – all in the guise of protecting us.
All governments justify their excesses by saying that it is for the benefit of the populace.
My personal freedoms are being taken away in the name of protecting the weaker among us – in the process, they ensure that I become weak too.
There are two schools of thought about vaccines – first, that they are good; second, that they are bad. Which is fine. What is dangerous is the third school of thought that is sought to be imposed – that, if I don't get vaccinated, I am a threat to the others. Never mind if I think it is harmful for health, not only for me, but for all of us. Like vaccines, ditto with masks.
Someone has ensured that worldwide, people are shit scared, and hiding from an invisible bogey-man. First, comes the fear. Then, the obedience. Lastly comes control. We are being primed.
Human beings are no worse than sheep. They are easily led.
It is very amusing how the meanings of things have changed. Virtue now consists of being scared; bravery consists of hiding; and patriotism consists of doing nothing and ensuring that other people hide.
The Bhagavad Gita has to be rewritten. Do your duty, Oh Arjuna, by packing your bows, putting your arrows in the cupboard, getting off from the Chariot, and sitting at home. And don't forget your mask! Your Dharma lies in doing nothing, your good karma in not infecting others, and punya consists of convincing others to do the same.
Politicians are smart. They have convinced us that they are saving us, while denuding us physically, mentally, and economically.
Everyone is busy hiding. From what? For how long? What will hiding achieve? What will be the situation a month from now, three months from now, that does not exist today? For what day of deliverance are we waiting? No one knows.
It is the media's dharma to keep sensationalising things, distorting facts, and misinforming us on a sustained basis – to feed into all our negative emotions. The current negative emotions the media is feeding into is Fear.
All faith healers, of every religious hue, are waiting for Corona to go away, so that they can start healing people again.
Don't listen to experts. Half the times their knowledge is suspect. Half the time, they have other axes to grind. And half the time, they lie. Three halfs add up to one and a half. I know.
Whenever you are fed with any information or opinion or advise, always pause and consider – who stands to benefit? This caution applies to advice about Corona too.
There is no slavery worse than slavery of the mind, where we willingly suspend our critical thinking faculty, and hand over decision making to "those who know better".
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Further to my article yesterday, there is one more topic left to cover, that is Dietary Supplements or Tonics to keep your immunity strong.
Ayurveda is wonderful in this respect, and offers several general immunity boosters which anyone can take any time. Most of the suggestions given below are from Ayurveda:
1. Dasamoola-arishtam: This is a tonic made of ten potent herbs (along with some more stuff). It is a general immunity booster. Being an arishtam, with self generated alcohol, it has been pre-digested, and hence should be taken after food. 30 ml arishtam plus 30 ml water, after food, once a day. The big advantage of most arishtams is that they taste like wine, so it is not at all an unpleasant experience to have some arishtam after meals.
2. Ashwagandha-arishtam: Ashwagandha is also known as the Indian Ginseng. A panacea, highly regarded in Ayurveda, it is great vitality booster. Dosage: same as above, 30 ml with 30 ml water after meals.
3. Chyavanprash. General immunity builder. Being a lehiyam (ghrit / paste) it needs to be taken on an empty stomach. There is no need to write more about this, since everyone knows about the benefits of Chyawanprash. Beware of buying the more popular commercial brands though. They are cheaper, but their quality is highly suspect.
4. Giloy Juice. Juice of a single plant Amritavalli (Nectar!) highly celebrated in Ayurveda for its innumerable health benefits. One of the benefits is that it is good for people with Diabetes since it reduces blood sugar. My personal experience is it is best to take it along with a bit of honey, to balance out the drop in sugar.
5. Moringa leaf powder and Alfalfa powder are loaded with nutrients. You can have them anytime, either with water or mixing them with your soup or something.
6. Check out Spirulina powder also. Again, loaded with nutrients, great supplement.
7. Narasimha Rasayanam: This is a substitute for Chyawanprash.
8. Tulsi Cinnamon tea. Tea made from cinnamon powder, and tulsi leaves from your home garden. Can add gud / sugar for taste.
9. And, last but not the least, actually the one thing that everyone should have everyday is Triphala Churna. This is a powder made of three herbs one of which is Amla. This should be had as a herbal tea – bring water to boil, take off the flame, put in some triphala powder, let it steep for a couple of hours, then strain, and have it as a tea.
There is no need to have all these supplements all the time, or even necessarily to have all of them. But dietary supplementation, once in a while, based on the above, cannot go wrong. At best, it will improve your immunity and keep you healthy; at worst, it will do no harm. Traditional wisdom maintains that the former assertion is true, and I am a great believer in traditional wisdom.
While taking supplements, remember to take breaks. Never take any supplement for more than forty days at a stretch. After that, give a longish break before starting again.
Monday, May 18, 2020
With the Covid crisis, "keeping your immunity strong" has become a trending topic. The doctors only talk about it, but they have no clue as to what immunity even means. They don't study such things in medical school. The newspapers publish many articles and suggestions, because it is the trending thing. The journalists who write or, a better term would be compile, have no clue themselves what immunity means.
The answers we are seeking is not new. It is all out there, and has been, for ages. Traditional wisdom across cultures, has the answers. However, traditional wisdom never anticipated the onslaught of modern methods of processing food, the allopathic school of clueless doctors, and the pharma and food industry trying their utmost to peddle misinformation.
Let us try to go from the ground up, and understand some of these things.
Germs are not bad. Germs are everywhere. Our body, as is the body of every living being, is a colony of co-existing "germs". In fact, there are trillions of different varieties of "germs" within us, helping us to survive.
The human body has evolved over the years to stay healthy in the environment of the earth. Throw any germ at it, and the body will fight it, develop anti-bodies against it, and remember the precise formulations for ever, so if that germ invades again, the body uses the experience it already has gathered in dealing with it.
Part of the human body's defence mechanism is also the skin. The skin is a living organ which is the first defence and shield against the environment.
The body has evolved to survive and thrive in nature, that is, when it is exposed to the elements, when it is exposed to sun, wind and water.
Emotions play a critical role in maintaining the entire body, including the immune system. Anyone who is anxious, fearful, or angry, or sad, will immediately be susceptible to even a passing cold, since their immunity will be compromised.
The body has evolved to eat whole foods grown by nature. All foods have co-evolved with man, and are a synergistic package of nutrients that the body can assimilate and thrive on. It is not possible, or at best sub-optimal, to try to extract "nutrients" in isolation and take them either as foods or supplements.
Man is a social animal. A large part of his happiness is linked to meeting other people and bonding with them.
A lot of this might seem like simple common sense, but is it? A lot of the advice that is being thrown at us due to Covid, goes against this.
The governments, in announcing their lockdowns, and their social distancing measures, are perhaps doing the right thing, or perhaps not. That is a debatable point, not the subject of this article.
What should you do, personally, to keep our immunity high?
1. Keep a positive mental state. Do not read all the bad stuff out there on covid and worry yourself to death. It is just another virus, like a flu, and our body is capable of handling flus. It is out there in the air. How long will you escape it? Where will you run? How will you shut yourself up for ever?
You are doing yourself a lot of harm by cowering in fear; when I see people walking around these days, it is difficult to understand whether they are on the Earth or on the Moon!
To the extent government regulations or social norms require, by all means wear masks. Otherwise, a mask is not necessary at all, in fact it is a damn nuisance.
2. How often will you wash your hands? Be reasonable about it, and don't overdo it. Washing with soap is still fine, but I don't understand how people can even be using hand sanitizers. Remember, anything that is supposed to kill the bad germs, will also kill the good germs along with it. Every time we wash our hands with alcohol, we are reducing our immunity.
3. Don't shut yourself up, away from fresh air and light. Go for that walk, soak in that sun, be out there! By hiding inside your house, afraid of the very air you breathe, you are further destroying your immunity.
4. Sleep well. Lack of sleep is an immunity destroyer.
5. Eat right. What constitutes "eating right" is the subject of a whole series of articles, but a few key rules would be as follows. Avoid eating processed foods. Buy stuff from the grocery store and cook at home. Eat only fresh food, within hours of cooking. Eat mainly vegetarian, and eat mainly whole foods. Replace the "processed salt" in your house with Himalayan rock salt or Raw Sea Salt (unprocessed). Replace the "refined oil " you buy with cold pressed oils. Avoid sugar to the extent possible. Avoid milk and milk products to the extent possible, unless you procure organic milk.
Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat sprouts as part of your diet.
Some superfoods that you can include in your diet, in any form, are Amla, Honey (raw and unprocessed only), turmeric (anyway part of our cooking), ginger, black pepper, and lemon (have a limbu sherbet everyday). Seeds, soaked, dried, and lightly roasted, are a great snack, in small quantities every day.
If possible, and if the budget permits, buy only organic foodstuff.
6. Exercise. Your favorite form of exercise is fine, so long as you keep your body moving. Do not sit for too long, get up and stretch and walk around, once every hour at least. If possible, sit on the ground – why are you at the table all the time? You are working from home now, so you are more free to move around. When the body does not move, "prana", the vital force, stagnates. When prana stagnates all kinds of health problems ensue.
The above suggestions are all broad, I have not gone into details in any of them. If a lot of it seems like common sense, it is. If it seems like a lot of the advice being bandied about nowadays ignores many of these things, it does. If it seems like the world is going collectively insane, then I agree with you fully.
Stay home, Stay safe, is the usual way to end any article or conversation nowadays, but I shall eschew that.
Go out there, be happy, and keep your immunity strong!