Few months ago when my parents were with me, there was a discussion between my Mom and Dad regarding healthy eating. Every time Mom would cook a meal for my husband, Dad would argue with her, ‘Why do you have to cook rice, and Roti (Indian bread) always? There are so many ways to fill body with carbs, protein, and Fats. Why do you have to make him eat a typical Indian diet only?’
Mom would just ignore what my Dad said and cooked as per her liking. As a result, most of the times my husband would eat rice, Roti (Indian bread), vegetable curry with some add-on for taste in lunch and dinner. Not that I bothered but sometimes I would just think that what kind of benefit eating the boring same food would bring? Why do we Indians stick to this diet always and do not experiment?
Well, after my parents left I tried changing our eating style, and included more of Pasta, Salad and Raw food. Though it’s healthy too, very soon I got to find the reason behind why our Indian plate is designed that way. So, here is how it happened. Co-incidentally, couple of days ago I came across a book on Immune System named ‘Boost your Immune System‘ by ‘Meek Jennifer‘ and ‘Patrick Holford‘, and it had some secrets which kinda restored my faith in the wisdom of our ancestors. They WOULD definitely be some great minds who had developed a plate full of all the nutrition a body requires!
So, let’s try to bisect an Indian thali everyone eats at his home almost everyday.
A typical thali would have few chappatis (bread), little amount of rice, daal (lentil soul), some curd (optional), vegetable curry, Chutney (a kind of sauce) and Achaar (pickle). (At least that’s how my plate looked like!)
Now, let’s dive deeper, and go back to the basics.
We all know that Protein is the basic constituent of all living cells. They make up enzymes, antibodies, immune cells and what not!
Here is an interesting fact: Protein is a name derived from Proteus, a mythological figure who like protein could change forms!
Protein breaks into amino acids and if required the amino acids would assemble again to make protein (like Proteus). Interesting right? (A little more patience please..)
When it comes to Amino acids, there are eight vital amino acids. Few important once we are talking about here are Methionine, Tryptophan, and Lysine. For your knowledge, you won’t find all these amino acids together in plants. Means if you eat Legune or Lentil soup, you will get good source of Lysine but you will be deficient in Methionine. Similarity, Grains like rice and wheat are deficient in Lysine but contain enough of Methionine and Tryptophan.
But, as soon as we combine grain (rice, wheat etc) with lentil Soup (Daal) we get all the three Amino acids in one go! Therefore, Rice is always complimented with Lentil soup. (Wow!)
Now that we have got protein as well as carbs, let’s talk about Curry.
I am sure you would have heard it thousand times that eating vegetables and fruits is good for health. Reason? Because they are rich in antioxidants which prevents our body from free radical damage. (Free radicals are toxins produced in our body due to various factors. They contribute to aging process as well as number of diseases like Cancer, Arthritis and many more. We need antioxidants to balance free radicals.)
But do you know the wonders of Garlic we use during cooking vegetable curry? Here is how it helps.
Garlic helps the immune system to buckle up and fight against pathogens (let’s simplify it and say that they are germs) found in liver. An enzyme found in Garlic named Allicin is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anticancer. It also helps liver to function better by providing it a clear nutritional pathway improving your overall well being. A happy liver is a happy YOU though you don’t realize how hard it works to put your body in perfect health!
Let’s talk about Chutney (sauce) now. I am fond of eating Coriander chutney. I remember we had this in our plate almost always. But we just knew that it made the food taste better.
However, more than just tasting good, it has so much to offer. Here is something you would love to hear if you too eat it regularly.
Cilantro is a great liver CLEANSING and liver BUILDING herb. It helps generate nerve tissues around and in the liver. Also It is also one of the most widely used plant/herb when it comes to removing undesired metals from your body. (These metals enter in our body through phone radiation, contaminated water, microwave usage, environment , root canal treatment, stored food and much more.)
Last but now the least, let’s now pick the Pickle.
Most of us (especially Indians) are deficient in Vitamin B12 without realizing that our symptoms could be due to deficiency of this vitamin. We suffer from depression, weakness, memory loss, and unable to figure out the reason behind it we just beat around the bush. If there is a way vegetarians or vegans can overcome this deficiency, the only way is to include fermented food. And here comes our pickle in action. Certain strains of the lactic acid bacteria used during it’s fermentation process produce enough B12 vitamins to be used by body. (I have written a post of Vitamin B12 deficiency. You can read more about here.
Hippocrates said that ‘Let food be thy medicine‘.
I believe our ancestors understood this pretty well. Though, we almost forget our own bodies and fill it with garbage, and still expect it to work better! We get very regular, and set up a timer when it comes to taking medicine, but tend to ignore the basic building block of our body on which we thrive and survive. While most of times we are kinda skeptical about the nutritional values our Indian diet carries AND still eat it, it’s good to know how much value our diet brings to our body and then eat it with a little bunch of appreciation.
Ah! I love my food!
Health and peace always,