I was exposed to Quinoa over 9 years ago In New York, where quinoa was marketed as a high protein and amazing health grain, and above all gluten free. In fact it still is marketed like that!!! During that time I was able to introduce it into my diet with much ease. It was easy to cook, tasted good, and ‘wow’ , the amazing health benefits seemed too good to be true. Well that’s what I thought anyway. Whilst doing a total ‘western, superfoods overhaul’, I noticed my health was deteriorating in New York. I became fat, pimply, exhausted and angry all the time! On one hand I was learning about all these ‘so called’ healthy superfoods and on the other was suffering from a range of health and emotional disturbances. This didn’t quite add up.
The more I ignored the traditional ancient wisdom I had learnt as a child, the more I suffered. I delved deep into health and Ayurveda, and have been studying it for a good 9 years. Always learning more. Having a rich Indian heritage to fall back on I looked at traditional foods and saw that they were all-health nourishing. This is not based on journals or experiments, but on my own experience. The proof was in the pudding; my ancestors survived and flourished and I was determined to survive and flourish too. I began eating full fat oils like ghee and coconut oil. I began introducing ‘kitchari’ back into my diet (an ancient rice and lentil dish), I began incorporating pickled and fermented foods back into my diet, and guess what. I dropped all the weight and my moods were uplifted. (from eating more fatty foods.) It is so funny that now I do the opposite to what is marketed!
Coming back to Hong Kong I’ve seen all these fads take shape, the newest ‘Gluten Free’ fad, which by no means is bad, but only really necessary if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. As an Ayurvedic Nutritional Therapist and Chef, I never put anyone on gluten free diet, unless they have celiac disease or gluten intolerance in one shape or another. The reason for this is because there are a lot of 'non-nutrient compounds', which are essential for the body that you fall short on when you avoid gluten. Yes I understand that our modern day wheat has GMO written all over it, but what about ancient grains like spelt, which can be just as delicious and organic and non modified?
Now I’m not saying that everyone should load up on the cookies, cakes and biscuits, but what I am saying is that a preventative approach to health is far more sustainable than going with the latest health crazes of marketing. Eating foods enriched with vitamins, mineral etc. is worse than consuming the whole food as it comes from nature in its purest and most assimilable form. Taking out healthy fat and replacing it with skim or low fat versions is not how my ancestors lived, and it is not how I am going to live either. They flourished!
In Hong Kong I see people searching for quinoa, California almonds and other superfoods which are not even indigenous to Hong Kong, China. Yes I understand that some Chinese crops are ridden with toxins and heavy metals, but at least consider the benefits of eating local or even regional. For example quinoa has been cultivated in the Andean region for over 7,000 years and was considered sacred by the Inca Empire. As the demand for quinoa continues to grow in western markets it robs the local farmers deserving consumption of their grain as they switch to more western based diets for higher profit. As the price increases for quinoa it is consumed less and less in Bolivia. Not to mention the thousands of miles it takes to reach our supermarket shelves. People, wake up, we have rice and millet!! Why do we as a culture seem to think that everything can be fixed by robbing another nations crops! Also, why do we suffer from the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome! It really upsets me when people think the grass is greener, when they have so much abundance and nutrition right at their doorstep! Eating local and seasonal can really be a preventative health approach, protect the environment and also help nations economically thrive.
Mis-guided health advise is a form of harassment, end of. Food and health advise should be reasonable, sustainable and be based on actual experience rather than tested on lab rats! You don’t necessarily need to buy some products to make you healthy. True health is unique and can be achieved through a determination to listen to what our thriving ancestors have told us. But most importantly to what your body is telling you.
The truth is that refined food items are highly toxic, even if they are marketed as being the most healthy food in the world. Trust me, a newer food will come along very soon. Yesterday its was Vitamin D today it is algae! Lets take Ghee for example (clarified butter). Ghee the golden liquid is so healthy and beautiful, yet at one point in time people in India were avoiding it and going for more refined clear vegetable oils or western versions of olive oils and canola. What happened? The hydrogenation of the refined oils made these oils far worse and less nourishing and our bodies have told us so. Also robbing India's natural resource of ancient wisdom. But we choose to ignore our bodies! The word refine makes people think that the item is better, but it is removing everything good in the item.
So, after my rant I conclude that ‘Ancient Food Wisdom’ is worth preserving, and if you are lucky enough like myself to have access to the rich and abundant wisdom, delve deep and know that true health is your birthright!