“If disease has causes, so does health…
Successful doctors in the future will do more teaching than prescribing.” …Henry Lindlahr
Of the many images that come to mind when we think of food and health, least likely perhaps is the idea of “life force.” We often judge foods by the calories and macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) outlined on today’s standardized food labels but pay little attention to a food’s underlying energy and vitality. Meanwhile, when we think of health what often comes to mind are fitness, longevity, allopathic medicine, and the prevention of pain and disease, without considering ways to support and strengthen the body’s natural healing powers and inherent life-force energy.
Before the days of modern medicine, naturopathic doctors viewed all disease as one disease, a product of weakened vitality. By unburdening the system and supporting the underlying life force of an individual, nature doctors believed that good health and wellness would in due course be restored. Rausse, Kneipp, Khune, Felke,Lust, Lindlahr and other naturopathic pioneers employed a variety of therapies including fresh air, sunshine, water therapies, and herbs to restore good health. Of course, they also relied upon the life force of whole foods to support the healing process.
Of the short topics covered in this summer issue, the first two concern the life force of foods. If you do not already, consider life force when shopping for food and think of foods in terms of how many steps are involved from garden to table. I also want to comment on coconut oil and soft drinks. Unrefined organic coconut oil is one of my favorite oils for cooking because it is highly saturated to hold up to heat, yet has no cholesterol. Unrefined coconut oil retains its natural antioxidants and, along with first-cold-pressed olive oil, is one of the least processed of all oils. The subject of soft drinks is also a short subject mentioned here because it is the summer season when reaching for a cold drink to restore energy is often a temptation. Caffeine and soft drinks are topics I plan to cover at greater length in newsletters this coming fall.
Attuning to the Life Force of Foods
A good friend and reader recently asked me about the health benefits of canned chickpeas. My immediate thought was to explain to her what I believe canning does to the life force of foods. If the consideration is just calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates, a canned chickpea will be essentially equivalent to a dried chickpea that has been soaked and cooked. But the energy of a canned chickpea, which has been processed at high heat and then vacuum-sealed in an oxygen-sterile environment to withstand months or even years on the shelf, is lifeless compared to a dried chickpea that has been freshly cooked. Think of it this way, if both were planted in the ground, the dried chickpea with an intact life force would be the only one able to germinate into new life. It is the phytic acid concentrated in the outside husk of a dried chickpea that preserves the life force nestled away in its endosperm (see phytic acid discussion, below).
Across a broad spectrum, we can witness firsthand the life force of foods by simply strolling down the produce isle of any grocery store. Beets and carrots with their fresh green tops feel alive and firm to the touch. Compare these to loose beets, turnips, and carrots. These usually look dull and “give” when squeezed, a sign of dissipating life energy. I hope you are as fortunate as I—my neighborhood grocery sells not only produce shipped from around the world but also fresh-picked-daily produce, especially local greens. If you have such an opportunity, next time compare the wilted kale shipped from California with produce picked fresh from a local garden.
Thinking of foods in terms of their life force adds a new dimension to shopping. Of course, we will continue to buy and use canned foods for their convenience and ready availability, but when the time and opportunity offer, consider buying foods that are fresh. Think of how many stages of processing and storage are involved from garden to table—the fewer will usually mean the greater vitality of a food. Also think of using dried foods such as grains, beans, and legumes, with their dormant life force intact, by preparing them from scratch.
[Interestingly, due to something called “biological transmutation,” many dried foods are more nutritious than those that are fresh-picked because the drying process removes hydrogen and oxygen to increase nutrients. For example, raisins are high in iron, but this is not true of grapes; dried peas have three times the phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium of fresh peas; and dried figs, with three times the phosphorus and magnesium, have more than five times the calcium of fresh ones.1 Perhaps biological transmutation was part of nature’s design to support our survival during the dormant winter food season.]
Copyright 2011 Pathways4Health.org
- Louis Kervran, Biological Transmutations, 104. [↩]