Eating, or not eating, for health

I’ve been reading a book that happens to put together the bits and pieces of useful tips, information and insights I’ve gathered over years of reading about proper eating.

Proper Food Combining Works (Living Testimony) by Lee DuBelle explains very well the reasons for various good eating habits, reasons based on the nature of different foods, how the body digests them, and how long it takes for them to be digested. Thus, some foods can be eaten together, but not others. Basically, she suggests fruits in the morning, starchy food and vegetables for lunch, and the same for dinner. Non-vegetarians can have fish or meat for dinner, although DuBelle says it is better to stay off meat altogether. Milk too. Water should be drank between, not during, meals.

Here’s DuBelle’s summary of the right food combinations to eat at which meal (she has a longer list; the shorter list below is Philippine-specific):

BREAKFAST FOODS (digested in 2-3 hours)

A. Fruit, Acid B. Mild acid C. Sweet D. Syrup
Lemon

Orange

Pineapple

Strawberry

Tomato

Mango, Unripe

Santol

Apple

Guava

Mango

Guayabano

Pineapple

Sweet mango

Chico

Date

Papaya

Banana

Grape

Melon

Watermelon

Sugar

Carob

Honey

LUNCH FOODS (digested in 5 hours)

E. Starch (with F) F. Green vegetables (with E)
Rice

Corn

Bread

Yam

Pasta

Grains

Squash

Peanuts

Potato

Cereal

Asparagus

Bamboo shoot

Bell pepper

Pechay

Broccolli

Cabbage

Cauliflower

Lettuce

Mushroom

Okra

Onion

Peas, fresh

Radish

Spinach

Squash

Celery

Sprouts

Eggplant

Watercress

Cucumber

DINNER FOODS (digested in 12 hours)

G. Fat

(with E,H)

H. Protein fat

(with [F][G])

I. Protein starch

(with [F])

J. Protein flesh

(with [F])

Butter

Cream

Oil

Avocado

Cheese

Nuts

Seeds

Yogurt

Beans, dry

Peas, dry

Soy beans

Animal meat

Fish

Eggs

Seafood

Remember: Keep meals simple. Avoid mixing food groups. Do not eat between meals. Drink water instead: 15 minutes before or 2 hours after meals, 8 glasses daily.

There is only one point where I disagree with DuBelle. She suggests drinking water that is steam-distilled, or prepared with reverse osmosis or similar methods that remove hard minerals, additives and impurities.

Her aversion to tap water which, she says, “can kill you”, might be location-specific. But I’ve also read elsewhere that drinking distilled water exclusively will leach minerals out of your body. We evolved drinking water from streams, rivers and springs, which are rich in minerals. The people with the longest lifespans, the Hunzakuts of Pakistan, drink mineral-rich water from melting glaciers. In my non-expert opinion, clean spring or mountain water is best.

There’s one area where I can speak with authority, based on personal experience: juices. I led a hunger strike against genetically engineered corn (Bt corn) in 2003. Encamped in front of the central office of the Department of Agriculture, we ate no food, but drank water and various juices. Food was banned around the strike area. After the first week of the strike, we’ve probably tried all kinds of juices (mostly donated by the public): pineapple juice, orange juice, grape juice, apple juice, tomato juice, guava juice, mango juice, and so on. Sometime after the second week, our empty stomachs started rejecting all these juices, except one. This was the one juice that kept us alive for the last two weeks of the hunger strike, which lasted 30 days.

The juice was fresh coconut water. The top of the coconut would be chopped to expose one of the holes in the shell. We’d insert a straw in the hole and suck out the water. I now consider fresh coconut water the best juice in the world.

On the 30th day, when we ended the strike, two hunger strikers were left: Cita Esmao, a farmer-leader of the farmers’ federation PAKISAMA, and myself, representing the Philippine Greens. Ka Cita had been rushed to the hospital a week earlier, but rejoined me after a few days.

Here’s something else to think about: I was healthier after the 30-day hunger strike.

One Comment

  1. Posted January 9, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Taking note of the fact that fresh coconut juice right from the shell is exceptional nutrition, makes me think the addition of a tea or soup of the tree of life (moringa oliferae), leaves, pods or seed would be another addition to the repertoire of permaculture greats. Being both are native to Phils and widespread, could a cottage industry perhaps offer the combined two super trees as a product for fighting malnutrition. Come up with recipes to share where needed most. Other permaculture plants of high nutrition, possibly suited to various altitudes there, might be Dioscorea Batatas ( Chinese Mountain Yam), is cold hardy for high altitudes. Zizyphus JuJube for same zones, will grow in steep rocky areas & is good survival nutrition as dried fruits.

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