In the Jungle of Diets
A Signpost for Health Cures and Dietary Measures
Weight watchers, diet for nutrient deficiencies, restorative; vitamin-rich, fat-free, low-protein diet; vegetarian, macrobiotic diet … never have we had such cascades of diets. How can one find a way through the maze? How good is the Hay Diet, mineral-rich nutrition, or Dr. X’s “super diet”? Christopher Vasey, experienced healer and writer on the subject-matter recommends a simple guide through the jungle of diets: observing the law of balance.
Central to all natural processes is the law of balance. It operates in the greatest as in the smallest. It ensures that stars and planets stay their course in exact orbits, by keeping their forces in balance, and on the atomic level it brings about equilibrium of forces of protons and electrons.
The law underscores the balance that occurs everywhere between giving and taking. The amount of air we breathe out corresponds to what we inhale. Blood pumped by the heart into the arteries cannot exceed the volume flowing back in the veins. The activity during the day must be compensated by a suitable period of rest, and in walking we keep our balance by compensating the movement of one leg with the other.
The law of balance also covers the nourishment of the body. Here it is necessary that a balance exists between what the body consumes, in the way of foodstuffs, the activity demanded of it, and what it eliminates as waste.
Our health depends on this balance, which has to be achieved over and over again, because we occasionally consume more food than we use or vice versa. The balance is ordinarily restored from one day to the next. But there are people in chronic imbalance, either out of a habit of eating too much, more than what the body would need, or eating too little.
In the case of overeating, illness follows from accumulation of waste products in the body. In the reverse situation malnutrition is caused by a deficiency of nutrients. In both cases the therapy must begin with the eating habits of the individuals affected to restore the lost balance.
How do diets work?
Diets are restrictive regimens where one or several foods are renounced. How severe the restriction is depends on the goal in mind. If the aim is to relieve the body it may be enough to consume less amounts of food than usual. For a profound correction the food intake needs to be less than the demand. Only by depriving the body of what is necessary for it does it commence to draw on the surplus resources stored in the deep tissues. This way the strain is relieved and finally disappears.
The most austere diet is fasting. Nothing but water is permitted. Burning up reserves and waste is at its utmost because the body receives no nourishment. But such fasting should never be done on a whim.
Monodiets are slightly less restrictive, because – as the name implies – only one food item is permitted. This can be consumed at every meal. Among the best known monodiets are grape diet, vegetable juice, macrobiotic rice, lemon juice, and maple syrup diet.
In addition to fasting and the monodiets there are a number of other restrictive but less austere diets, since various foods are permitted. As long as they are a step back from the usual eating habits they can also be effective. The possibilities are countless. Some diets rely on the number of calories, for example 2,000, 1,500 or 1,000 calories per day. Others cut down on fat, carbohydrate or protein, some have minimal salt intake, a balanced fare and so on.
The Hay diet belongs to this group. Here all foods are allowed, but may not be consumed together. Protein and carbohydrate foods are eaten at different meals. Lunch for example could be a fare of raw and cooked vegetables and a starchy food like potato, cereal or pasta. Dinner on the other hand might be raw and cooked vegetables with a protein of choice (cheese, meat, fish or egg). Separating foods simplifies and shortens the alimentary passage and digestive period considerably, which in turn shortens the absorption of nutrients from the partially digested food. The diminished assimilation is able to stimulate the body to break down surplus deposits.
It’s not just about weight!
Although most diets aim at weight reduction or loss, many are also used as therapies. The body may not only be overweight from excess fat, but a profusion of waste materials can accumulate in tissues and organs without causing an increase in weight. To that extent dieting can make sense for rheumatism sufferers or sufferers from cardiovascular disorders and other diseases.
In a rheumatism sufferer for example, such a diet will be low in proteins to avoid an influx of uric acid and urea, which cause inflammation and blockage of the joints. In people with cardiovascular disease the choice is a diet low in fats to reduce cholesterol intake and prevent blood thickening and deposits in the arteries (arteriosclerosis). In cases of eczema acids are to be restricted, in oedema salts, and sweets in acne.
Purpose of dietetic treatment
In contrast to diets, nutritional therapies aim to rectify nutritional deficiencies, that is they aim to replenish vitamins, trace elements, amino acids, and so on, the lack or deficiency of which caused the disease in the first place. Any organism depends on a steady supply of nutrients for its proper function and growth. While temporary shortages are mostly without significant effects, chronic deficiencies can cause considerable damage.
Nutritional therapies are arranged to remedy missing nutrients in the body. Vitamin C deficiency for example is treated with citrus fruits. Mineral deficiency can be helped by vegetables and dairy products, which are foods high in minerals.
But sometimes it is not enough to just use certain foods, one must increase their consumption substantially in order to supply the adequate amount of a certain nutrient. A protein diet, which consists mainly of meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, can be used to remedy protein deficiencies. For osteoporosis a diet rich in dairy products (cheese, cottage cheese, yoghurt and so on) can be recommended, which assists calcium and vitamin D absorption. In certain cases it would be a good idea to add nutritional supplements to the diet and increase the vitamin and mineral intake. So for instance wheat germ is useful to increase supply of vitamin E, brewer’s yeast for the B vitamins, Spirulina for amino acids and linseed or rapeseed oil for vitamin F.
Which diet do I require?
Every diet should have a certain therapeutic goal. It does not any make sense to try a diet simply because it is praised in the media or it was recommended in a book, or because it is in fashion at the time or has helped another person.
The right diet or nutritional therapy should exactly correspond to the needs of the individual. Professional dietary advice is important, because there are manifold interactions in the body, so that what is intended to help may in fact cause harm in the end.
If a diet promises a quick result, without the person having to contribute anything, great caution is called for. In view of the natural law of equilibrium every “one-sided” diet presents an unbalanced eating habit — when the aim is to eradicate an existing imbalance. Diets and nutritional therapies therefore are not part of the normal lifestyle and should not be maintained for too long. Nor is it beneficial to spend one’s life jumping from one diet to another with the aim of doing as many “healthy” things as possible.
Diets and nutritional therapies are temporary aids. During times when we are not on a special diet, we should strive for healthy eating habits which suit our needs. These requirements will naturally depend on our activities and the change of the seasons. When we always adjust ourselves to these conditions we thereby obey the law of balance – and, literally speaking, nourish ourselves in a balanced way.