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The body is a finely tuned machine, which requires a careful balance of nutrients for optimum performance. All the various food elements are equally important and rely upon each other for vital functioning in union. Just as there are many layers to The Onion that is Life, so there are many different levels of food. Some foods will elevate you, some will purify you, some can poison or disturb, while others may bring you crashing down to earth. But most are necessary in some form or another, the important thing is balance. Just as one cannot live on bread alone, the opposite extreme of eating just lettuce will eventually backfire. Sometimes just a small amount can have large effects:

An excellent example of this matter, on the positive side, is the increased protein-calcium-phosphorus retention produced by the use of orange juice. The regular use of orange juice results in an increased retention of these elements out of all proportion to the amounts of these actually present in the juice itself. [...]

Drs. Miller and Newell, of Iowa State College, added an ounce and a half of orange juice daily for three months to the otherwise unchanged diet of fourteen underweight children and tabulated the results. The weight of these children increased 146 per cent of the expected gain, in contrast with only 46 per cent observed during the preceding three months.

Dr. Cheney, of California, fed a group of undernourished children an orange a day. To another group he gave no oranges. During two different periods of two months each, the children who received the oranges gained an average of 141 and 118 per cent above the expected increases. The other group, without oranges, gained only 28 and 18 per cent above the expected gain. During the non-orange juice periods, including the preliminary days, the children gained an average of 0.08 pounds a day; with the oranges they gained an average of 0.3 pounds a day -- approximately four times as much as without the fruit.

- Herbert M. Shelton in Chapter VI of Orthotrophy (1935)

From my own recipes, in decreasing order of 'level', I find that meals such as lentil soup and khitchari will provide good brain food for mental agility, whereas chick peas seem to inspire my best creativity. Mushrooms help me survive the cut and thrust of work, and rye toast & houmous provides a good start to the day. Fruits provide valuable nutrients not found elsewhere, and for physical agility and suppleness muesli is beneficial now and again. And for some weird reason, potatoes (or crisps) make good conversation better.

I try to eat just enough (a tricky amount to gauge), aiming low and then adding later if really necessary, as subtraction is not viable. The advantage with eating simple wholefoods is that the body will soon tire of something when it has had enough, unlike sweetened, flavoured foods that always leave you longing for more.

The habit of eating denatured foods is a chief cause of over eating. These foods do not completely nourish the body and, therefore, do not satisfy the demands of hunger, unless consumed in large quantities. Great variety at a meal also overstimulates the sense of taste and leads to over eating. Spices and condiments have the same effect. It is really difficult to overeat when one is eating unseasoned foods.

- Herbert M. Shelton in Chapter XXIV of Orthotrophy (1935)

Less is more. Time seems to go slower when you eat less. (Maybe because the body is less busy processing food, so the brain can take in more of other stimuli.) At work this may be a drag, but you will likely find you have less work to do. Traffic runs smoother. You will spend less money, and bargains will be forthcoming. Anyone else find this?

Of course, denying yourself sufficient food is just as dangerous as over-eating, so tread a safe middle path. There will eventually come a time when you need lots of sustenance. Learn by experience when is good to eat heartily, when to travel light. Don't assume that physical (or mental) exertion requires lots of eating beforehand, as the process of digestion takes up energy that could be otherwise utilised by muscles (or the brain).

Perhaps the most signal demonstration in modern times of the ability of the body to build and maintain Herculean strength and great endurance on little food, was given by Prof. Gilman Low when he established the phenomenal record of lifting one million-six-thousand (1,006,000) pounds in thirty five minutes and four seconds, after a period of training on one meal a day and less. This lift was accomplished by lifting 1000 pounds 1,006 times in the time specified. This feat was accomplished after two months of training on a diet on which the average stenographer would "starve to death." For the first five weeks he ate one meal a day, almost wholly of uncooked foods, having meat only twice during this period. His diet consisted of eggs, wholewheat bread, cereals, fruits, nuts, milk and distilled water. During the last three weeks of his training period he ate only four meals a week; the last meal was consumed eleven hours before the lift. In fifty-six days of training for this lifting Low ate forty-seven meals.

Mr. Low lost five and three-quarter pounds during the thirty-five minutes. Fifteen minutes later, he lifted one ton forty-four times in four minutes. It is particularly instructive that Mr. Low had previously attempted the big feat after training on two meals daily and had been compelled to quit, after reaching a little more than the half-million mark, due to sore distress and dizziness.

- Herbert M. Shelton in Chapter XXIV of Orthotrophy (1935)

Go easy during the festive season, as over-indulgence of food and drink causes colds and 'flu, by way of lowering the body's natural immune system and ability to fight off infections. Colds brought on in this way are contagious, spread not just by germs as such (which we normally carry and are mostly resistent to), but by eye-contact with an indulged person. Your sympathy with their sorry state will inevitably lead you to the same fate, so be warned and stay away from them until they have worked it out of their system.

If you are prepared to take control of your life, and not be a slave to your stomach as most people are, you will discover amazing things. I can't say what they are, since they have not happened yet and they will be unique to you, for they are your potential, what you can become if you strive. The road is not easy, but well worth travelling.

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© copyright Malcolm Smith 2002-04-10 - last updated 2004-02-01 - links verified 2004-02-01