The factors that create our health are part of our environment. They form an inward moving spiral in which we occupy the center. At the periphery is our environment in nature, which is composed of solar and other forms of energy, air, water, soil, and other living things. Within this is our more immediate environment, including the climatic and geographic region in which we live, our living place, for example, whether city or country, our work and social environment, and our home. It is within this environment that we think and act each day. Our thinking and actions are the product of the above plus daily food, which is the concentrated form of the environment that we internalize several times a day. Our daily thoughts and actions, which can be termed "lifestyle," determine our choice of food.
Food in turn affects our thoughts and actions. Environment, lifestyle (including our day-to-day thoughts), and food all combine to create our present state of health. If these factors are in balance, or in other words, if our daily life and diet is harmonious with our environment in nature, we experience health. If, on the other hand, they become extreme or one-sided, we lose harmony with our environment and experience sickness. Natural healing is based on the principles of change and balance. Change is the basic law of life. It is the order of the universe. Yet, as manifestations of the universe, we have the ability to cause or initiate change. Everyone has the power to change direction from sickness to health. The first step in healing is to realize that change is possible, and to act upon that realization.
Let us take daily diet as an example. Daily food and drink are the direct source of our physical makeup. Our blood, cells, organs, tissues, and glands are a transformation of the minerals, proteins, lipids, enzymes, water, and other nutrients that we ingest daily. Therefore, any consideration of physical health must of necessity begin with daily food. Many of today's health problems are caused by the repeated consumption of meat, eggs, cheese, poultry, and other foods of animal origin. These health concerns, including cancer and heart disease, are the result of problems of quantity and quality. In terms of quantity, people eat much more animal food than they did several generations ago, far beyond what is necessary or reasonable. Animal foods are essentially the centerpiece of the modern diet. In terms of quality, modern artificially inseminated, hormone and antibiotic-fed livestock bear little resemblance to their natural ancestors. The appearance of "Mad Cow" disease and the European Community's refusal to accept hormone-fed American beef underscores just how serious these issues have become.
Modern chicken is especially problematic; all the more so because many people believe it to be a "healthy" alternative to meat. John Robbins, in his classic expose' of the food industry Diet for a New America, gives a detailed description of how chickens are confined indoors in small cages. They are so weak and susceptible to infection that they require regular doses of antibiotics to keep them alive. They are also fed synthetic growth hormones to speed their development. One result of these practices, according to Robbins, is that as many as 95 percent of the chickens going to market have some form of cancer!
Clearly, modern chicken is not a health food. Now, suppose someone is facing a health crisis caused by over-reliance on animal food. How can he or she change their situation into its opposite, or in other words, change their direction toward health? The first step would be to change from an animal-based to a plant-based diet.
Meat, eggs, cheese, chicken, and other animal products are generally contractive. Plant foods have the opposite quality. However, some plant foods are extremely expansive, while others are moderately so. The comprehensive factor that determines whether plant foods are moderate or extreme is their climate of origin. Foods such as sugar, chocolate, spices, tropical fruits, nightshade vegetables, and coffee come from tropical zones. The heat of the tropics produces lush and expanded growth. Moreover, the greater speed of the earth's rotation at the equator creates strong expansive force. Foods that come from the tropics are generally extreme.
On the other hand, plant foods that grow in the temperate zones are exposed to colder temperatures that cause them to be relatively contractive. Within the overall spectrum of foods, they are centrally balanced. Whole grains, beans, local vegetables and fruits are from the temperate regions and are generally balanced. When we eat in the middle our food becomes our medicine. (The word "medicine" is from the Latin root, "to walk in the middle.") Our food enhances, rather than inhibits, healing and regeneration. Daily diet is the central issue in our lifestyle as a whole. It is a reflection of our priorities and way of looking at society, nature, and the universe. Dietary change, combined with an understanding of balance, can serve as the focus for a change in lifestyle. Unhealthy lifestyle patterns and environmental influences can be reviewed and changed into their opposites, so that they can be brought into alignment with natural harmony. Changing diet sets in motion a spiral that affects all aspects of life. The whole direction of your life will change from sickness to health.