Yoga and a Plant Based Diet – Aug 2020

In the world of yoga we often follow Ayurvedic eating guidelines and Ayurveda promotes a plant based diet. The diet is not rigid or prescriptive and you do not have to be a vegetarian. But for good health and longevity this ancient science encourages us to consume lots of plant foods. In yoga we believe good health comes from real food, regular movement, a calm disposition and love.

And one of the more interesting snippets of news that caught my attention recently was a rather lovely and sincere talk by Boris Johnson on his campaign to reduce obesity in the UK in a desire to improve people’s odds of survival should they contract COVID19. He himself was admitted to ICU with COVID, chronically obese, and he is very grateful to be alive. When we contract a virus like COVID our body responds by releasing cells called cytokines which trigger an immune response. According to research, if you are obese your body is often chronically inflamed and sometimes this response is so severe it is called a cytokine storm and can result in multiple organ failure. Also an obese person often has diminished lung function and difficulty with diaphragm contraction. Not good for respiratory illnesses.

Depressing news considering a 2018 survey concluded that 67.0% of Australian adults were overweight or obese. How did our society get to this point? 75 years ago the question “what food should I eat?” was nonexistent. Everyone knew what food was. They harvested food off trees, bushes and out of the ground, and they ate it, either raw or cooked. Our current bewilderment about what to eat is basically the result of confusion carefully orchestrated by the food industry. The food industry has radically altered our diet reducing “food” to a list of individual nutrients listed on a box. Some of these nutrients are said to be “good,” others are said to be “bad.” And “good” and “bad” labels change at regular intervals.

Long term good health can be achieved by eating REAL food. Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. She did not eat quantities of sugar (she either paid a fortune for it or had to harvest the honey or maple syrup herself), dodgy fats, processed dead food, white flour carbs and anything “fast” and junk. Eat only foods that will eventually spoil or rot and treat organic, grass-fed flesh foods as a small, special addition to the meal. The bulk of the meal should be plants.

Cultures who eat plant based, traditional diets are healthier, leaner and live longer. This holds true for the hunter-gatherers of Tanzania, Seventh Day Adventists in California (mainly vegetarian), and the French, whose diet is still steeped in culture, plants and butter! The specific foods may differ, yet they are all plant rich diets.

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