Although diet plays a very significant role in one's overall wellbeing, it is just one link in a whole chain of wellbeing elements. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link - paying attention to correct diet is crucial, but optimal wellbeing comes from attending to all the links in a balanced way. The elements of wellbeing, as proposed by proponents of Natural Hygiene, are (the first ten are crucial, the rest are in no particular order):
  1. Clean, fresh air
  2. Pure water
  3. Foods for which we are biologically designed
  4. Sufficient sleep
  5. Rest and relaxation
  6. Vigorous activity
  7. Sunshine and natural light
  8. Comfortable temperature
  9. Emotional poise and stability (positive outlook on life)
  10. Peace, harmony, tranquility, serenity
  11. Human touch
  12. Thought, cogitation and meditation
  13. Friendships and companionship
  14. Gregariousness (social relationships, community)
  15. Love and appreciation
  16. Play and recreation
  17. Pleasant environment
  18. Amusement and entertainment
  19. Sense of humour, mirth and merriment
  20. Security of life and its means
  21. Inspiration, motivation, purpose and commitment
  22. Creative, useful work (pursuit of interests)
  23. Self-control and self-mastery
  24. Individual sovereignty
  25. Expression of reproductive instincts
  26. Satisfaction of the aesthetic senses
  27. Self-confidence
  28. Positive self-image and sense of self-worth
  29. Internal and external cleanliness
  30. Smiles
  31. Music and all other arts
  32. Biophilia (love of nature)
There is no one-diet-fits-all, but there are certainly general guidelines to follow in the quest for a diet and lifestyle on which a particular individual will thrive. Humans are highly adaptible, and can 'survive' on just about any diet. But 'surviving' and 'thriving' are two different things. It is each individual's responsibility to find the optimal diet and lifestyle on which he/she can personally thrive physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This will be different for each individual depending on their circumstances, environment, inherited genetics and many other factors. Finding one's optimal diet and lifestyle is an ongoing responsibility, art and experiment, as one's needs and circumstances will constantly be changing through life!!

The ideal diet is one that keeps an individual in the best possible health to support their whole lifestyle and spiritual development (we cannot 'eat' our way to 'God' but we can certainly use our diets to support that journey!). The most healthful diet is one that is predominantly raw, fresh, natural, whole (ie. no processed foods) and organic if possible. So this would include abundant fruits and vegetables, some nuts and seeds, whole grains and pulses, and some people may choose to include some animal products (meat, fish, eggs, honey, raw/unpasteurised dairy). The proportions will depend entirely on the individual's needs, circumstances and goals. What one eliminates can be as important as what one includes - minimising (and eventually eliminating!) cooking, sugar, grains and their products (especially gluten-grains), table salt, alcohol, pasteurised dairy products and all processed food will speed the journey to health.

An excellent way to start getting more in tune with your particular needs as an individual is through Ayurveda. Although Ayurveda recommends the use of cooking, grains and dairy, these can easily be eliminated whilst still applying the basic Ayurvedic principles to one's diet and lifestyle.

About Ayurveda:
Ayurveda is India’s traditional healing and health system, combining mind-body medicine, natural living and yogic health. It is Sanskrit for "knowledge of life or right daily living", and offers dietary, herbal, life-style and yogic therapies that enable us to live healthier, happier, wiser lives, in better harmony with the greater universe of life. It is often referred to as the ‘sister science’ to Yoga, and complements Yoga in terms of developing and maintaining physical and spiritual health.

Ayurveda is based on the Tridosha system, whereby the five basic elements of creation – ether, air, fire, water and earth – manifest in the human psychosomatic complex as three dosha essences – pitta, vata and kapha. We are born as a combination of all three and our constitutional dosha is determined by their ratio. Health and wellbeing are determined and maintained by keeping your doshas in balance according to your constitutional dosha, through dosha-appropriate diet and lifestyle choices.

Ayurveda, as part of the science of yoga, teaches us to eat primarily sattvic foods, which purify and create harmony, calm and balance in the body-mind-spirit complex. According to the Bhagavad-Gita XVII.8, sattvic food is 'juicy, rich, nourishing and agreeable, and promotes health, longevity, goodness, strength, happiness and pleasure'.
Rajasic foods stimulate the mind and body to action, but are also said to promote pain, discomfort and disease.
Tamasic foods dull the mind and incline the body towards inertia (and in excess, to disease).

Sattvic food is defined as pure, fresh, natural, whole and nourishing. These include fresh fruits, greens and vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, pulses, sprouts, milk (pure, organic, unpasteurised), ghee and raw honey.
Rajasic foods include things such as coffee, tea, garlic, onions, peppers and hot spices, tobacco and stimulants, fresh meat, eggs, refined sugar, oils and fried foods. Salty, bitter, hot, sour and spicy foods are all rajasic.
Tamasic foods are those which have lost their taste and nutritional value - spoiled, overcooked, stale, leftover, processed, excessively oily and impure foods. Cooked meat, cheeese and chemicals are also among these. Alcohol can fall into both rajasic and tamasic categories for some people.

Yogis perceive pure, raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds (sprouted), herbs and roots, as vital carriers for the energy of Prana (the ‘life force’) in the body. To eat a piece of food that is ‘alive’ with Prana will bring the most nourishment on all levels. Foods should be eaten in their pure and natural state (i.e raw) where possible. Canned, frozen, leftover, processed, stale and overly cooked foods are devoid of Prana.
The power of these Prana-rich foods also manifests only when they are used in the proper combinations and in complete coordination with the unique doshic constitution of each individual.

Bronwen regularly runs Introductory workshops on Ayurveda. See the Events page for details of any upcoming courses.

“Everyone has a doctor in him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick, is to feed your sickness.”


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