Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ancient Nutritional Wisdom from India & China

I’m Courtney Coleman of and I’d like to give you some ancient wisdom from India and China on whole foods diet & lifestyle so that you and your baby can be as healthy & beautiful as possible. You, as a mother, are my role model. I very much look forward to experiencing the magic of carrying & birthing my own child someday. Pregnant and nursing mothers are role models for women everywhere. Congratulations!

As most of you know, the Standard American Diet of processed & fast food is a huge factor in degenerative diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. This has happened since the mass food-processing & refining era of the 1940's which denatures food. The stripping away of the natural food-state vitamin and fiber-rich bran of grains, the refining of vegetable oils renders them highly unstable and oxidized (rancid), the adding of nutrient void fillers, chemical preservatives, anti-caking agents, antibiotics, hormones, etc. and the refining of sugar all bring our vitality crashing to the floor. Warning! Basically, 99% of the packaged products at grocery stores including Trader Joe’s AND health food stores are made from refined foods. Beware of packaged foods labeled organic - they’re still made from refined wheat, etc. Even when the ingredient list says, “evaporated cane juice” and “sea salt”, these ingredients are still refined to the degree that they are not good for the body.

Sally Fallon, in her book, Nourishing Traditions, shows us why indigenous people have far fewer diseases than modern Americans. They eat regionally, with whole grains, beans and vegetables as the basis of their diets. They use animal products when needed medicinally, for building strength and warmth. And, they soak & sprout or ferment their grains. Unsoaked and unfermented whole grains and flours contain phytic acid which binds with minerals (mostly calcium) and inhibits their absorption, ultimately leading to degenerative bone loss and tooth decay. People who eat sprouted or fermented grains as a staple have strong teeth and bones late into life. Vikings and other European cultures fermented their wheat flour to make sourdough. Even American pioneers were famous for their sourdough breads, pancakes, & biscuits. African natives and the Welsh ferment corn or millet for several days to make porridges. In India, rice and lentils are fermented to make idli and dosas.
(Sprouted grain bread is higher in usable calcium & protein both important pregnancy building blocks! My pregnancy specific additions are in italics-Jennifer)

Also, indigenous people don’t eat processed foods which spike the blood sugar - refined flour, sugar, soda pop, etc. High-glycemic foods over time are being found to be the culprits in not only insulin resistance and diabetes, but in high blood pressure, heart disease, and in depressed immunity and thyroid function. (It is important when growing a baby that we keep the fire of creation set at a consistent temperature. This helps with nausea & tiredness commonly thought of as “normal” in pregnancy. Most importantly it helps prevent pregnancy diabetes which can send women down the path to an automatic cesarean section!)

And as far as sweeteners, we want grade B maple syrup, barley malt syrup, brown rice syrup, small amounts of raw honey, rapidura sugar (sucanat), and organic molasses. Stevia leaf extract is a natural, no-sugar, no-calorie sweetener, which is great for low glycemic and candida diets. (Again helps with gestational diabetes prevention, as well as, yeast and thrush prevention.)

Indigenous people don’t consume refined salt. They use whole sea salts rich in trace minerals (electrolytes), which our bodies need. Refined salt is just sodium-chloride, which acts like a toxin in the body and elevates blood pressure. We want foods to be made with salts like “whole sea salt, Celtic sea salt, Himalayan Pink sea salt, Real Salt brand (sold at TJ’s), or Portuguese sea salt.” These are the salts our bodies can use for their benefit. (Salt is necessary during pregnancy to help balance the chemistry of our bodies. It is recommended that women eat salt to taste.)

Regarding oils, people who live long, healthy lives close to the earth use only unrefined (extra virgin) oils. Refined vegetable oils like canola, corn and soy oil change molecularly with heat and form long-chain fatty acids. Using refined vegetable oils in cooking at home, eating at restaurants & fast food joints, and eating packaged, processed foods (especially those with hydrogenated oils), works in conjunction with saturated fats to clog our arteries. The oils which benefit the body should be unrefined (extra virgin) and cold pressed. Store them in airtight, opaque glass at 65 degrees F or less. To cook on high heat use: ghee, coconut, peanut, grapeseed, palm, or palm kernel. To cook on medium/low heat, use: olive, sesame, almond, apricot kernel and avocado. (Oil or fat is an important ingredient in a healthy pregnancy, as long as it is the right kind. This is commonly misunderstood by American women in their quest for body perfection they have thrown out the good fat along with the bad. Flaxseed, fish oil and Evening Primrose oil are all recommended as supplements.)

Also, we are usually de-hydrated and don’t even know it. There are doctors who recommend drinking more water for every disease. We should be getting ½ our ideal body weight in ounces per day. Hydrate with 16 - 32 ounces of water 4 times per day without food. Only drink 4 oz or so with meals to avoid diluting your stomach acids & enzymes. When you hydrate with large amounts of water, do it 30 min before meals, or about 2 hrs after meals (hydrate, wait 30 min, eat, wait 2 hrs, hydrate...). For the body to really be able to uptake water so it goes to efficient use in the body, re- mineralize purified water with a pinch of whole sea salt, a squeeze of lemon, a tsp or so of raw apple cider vinegar, or an ounce of any real fruit juice. All these things contain trace minerals (aka: electrolytes). So you basically want to create Gator Aid without the sugar. If you think about it, water in nature always has trace minerals present for the body to use, as it comes to us from wells, springs and streams. (For heart burn help, change your water habits! This problem is so common in pregnancy it is considered normal. Don’t dilute your stomach acid before a meal! Instead use Courtney’s time table and definitely try adding the vinegar!)

Basically, if it’s from a package or any restaurant, it’s probably not good for you. If you can restrict your consumption of processed & restaurant foods down to 20% of the time, and 80% of the time use fresh, seasonal, organic vegetables & fruits from Farmer’s markets or health food stores, whole grains soaked & simmered at home like millet, amaranth & quinoa, and whole beans and lentils, you are on the road to a gently cleansing and balancing whole foods diet.

Now, we are all biochemically different & need different foods & lifestyle practices to maintain vitality and balance. Some of us, based on ancestry and other constitutional factors, may need animal proteins and non-starchy vegetables more often than whole grains as the basis of our diets. If you have low energy, you may want to experiment with systems like blood typing, metabolic typing and Ayuvedic typing for a few weeks to figure out which type of diet & lifestyle works best for you. Also, in regard to seasonal foods and cooking, nature knows best and always provides us with foods which help balance us. Eating foods grown seasonally and regionally helps to balance our bodies. We generally need warming foods and cooking techniques in the fall & winter, and cooling, cleansing foods and cooking techniques in the spring & summer. The exception to this is that some of us tend to be cool and deficient with cold extremities, so we need warming building foods year round, and some of us tend to be hot, with excess weight and need more cooling & cleansing foods year round.

In regard to eating a raw diet vs. macrobiotic & Ayurvedic diets, I’ll say this: Each of us has a different quality of digestive fire, or agni, as it’s referred to in Ayurveda, the East Indian philosophy of eating and living in harmony with nature. Where one person may be able to eat some of everything offered at a buffet, another person may need to carefully apply the principals of proper food combining and eat mostly cooked foods which are easier to digest. According to both Macrobiotics and Ayurveda, a 100% raw diet year-round is particularly cooling, contractive and difficult for most people to digest. Living enzymes can be added to meals with salads or other raw veggies on the side eaten at the end of the meal. Also, a lifetime of eating refined foods and more animal proteins than necessary is what leads to systemic enzyme deficiency.
(During pregnancy our digestion slows down to promote more nutrient absorbtion. For some women this causes digestive issues. Add to that enzyme deficiency and you may have a perfect storm going on in your digestive system!) Soaked (and thusly sprouted) and simmered whole grains provide an easily digestible, long lasting energy source that’s gentle on the digestive system. Whole grains lie more toward the middle of the yin/yang spectrum and help us maintain balanced blood sugar, hormones and body chemistry. In balance, whole grains and seasonal vegetables comprise the basis of the diet around which more extreme parts of the diet revolve.

When we are in balance, we can more easily quiet our minds and open our hearts to know what the best action is in any given moment. From this place we can go forward in the world and make it a better place.

Courtney graciously included several recipes to get you started and a reading list for further study!

About Courtney and her CookWell business.

I’m 33 yrs old and for the past 12 years I’ve studied and practiced Macrobiotics, Solar Nutrition and Ayurvedic cooking. My friends loved the whole foods meals I’d make with them and said they felt more vital after eating with me, so in 2006 I started teaching people in their own kitchens to CookWell. I teach how a whole foods diet & lifestyle can prevent and reverse disease, increase energy, and bring the mind, body and spirit back to balance to people all over SLO County. I give guidelines for balancing their particular constitution according to blood typing, Ayurvedic typing and metabolic typing. And, of course, I show them how to make incredibly delicious whole foods meals for their families. This work is incredibly gratifying, and I feel blessed to be on this path. I’d love to talk to anyone anytime to offer further wisdom on the how-to of a whole foods diet & lifestyle. To get you started, I have instructional videos & some delicious free recipes listed at the bottom of the first few pages of my website like: positively perfect brown rice, chipotle beans with sea veggies, and dark leafy greens stir-steam. I teach, sometimes alongside my wonderful husband Don who helps people with their emotions, with developing mindfulness and joy in the kitchen, and with gently transitioning to a whole foods diet & lifestyle. His website is We teach private or small group classes for adults or kids in your SLO county home at affordable prices. We also offer whole foods cooking for your party or event, or for meals for you to store & re-heat. I welcome any questions you may have and can be reached at or (805) 528-8837.
Don't forget to visit her web site at:!

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