systems, hormonal systems, urinary system, endocrine system, lymph systems and other sub-systems of these are all fed with elements contained within just 3 things - air, food (includes water) and light. The quality of these 3 things we consume day in and day out are only partly controllable by us these days.
The quality of the air which comes to your lungs is a function of many social and global forces which can't be changed over night. But we can be sufficiently in control of the air we breathe within the house or workplace so as not to make it any worse! Through improving our breathing habits with yoga, how the body assimilates that air can be greatly improved, but that's the topic of another book completely! Yogic breathing techniques are powerful methods of health maintenance which can help us to use the breath as a medicine for life.
It is now well accepted that the foods we eat, very much control our physical health. This is brought about through the different chemical and biological reactions that are the result of every substance we consume, no matter how minute in quantity. Every substance which is taken in through the mouth, the nose or the skin, will affect some part of our physiology. Science is gradually becoming more aware of the subtle effects of soil pollutants and food additives upon human health. We know that it only takes the tiniest quantities of certain good trace elements to keep the organs of the body functioning properly and likewise we know that it takes only the slightest amounts of certain toxins to poison our system. Medicines are an obvious case in point. Only a few milligrams may be prescribed to affect a cure but if you exceed the safe dosage level or the frequency, the effects are dangerous. Any deficiencies or excesses of good or bad substances consumed must eventually imbalance one part of the system or another. When it comes to very, very small amounts, as in micrograms or parts per million, the effects of an imbalance may not manifest for quite some time until there has become a cumulative effect.
Instead of just considering food as a substance of pleasure and life sustaining nutrients, it must also be seen as our medicine of both prevention and cure.
The quality of the food we consume is nowadays mainly dependent on the source one chooses to purchase from (as well as the budget)! If you choose or can
only afford to buy processed, no frills junk food, you will only ever get low quality. If you choose to buy closer to the source, from ethical organic growers and sellers you'll get a better quality. Sure, you'll pay more - but think of it as insurance. Don't you look after your valuable car by servicing it with quality oil and spare parts? Why not the same for your even more valuable human body. Once the truth is seen that food can either harm us or heal us, it can then be perceived as a life enhancing medicine. Then one will decide to alter one's life to find and afford quality produce. In a later section I explore ways to change these things for a better shopping routine dedicated to better food quality.
The reference to light as an input for a healthy body is not only to Vitamin D (which is absorbed from the sun through the skin) but also to the fact that the body has very sensitive glands which detect solar and lunar cycles and adjust the hormonal system accordingly. Imbalance in these light forces can play a part in the onset of certain physical and mental disorders. And not just planetary light. Artificial lights are known to disturb the body's glandular rhythms as well. TV screens, computer monitors, fluorescent tubes, entertainment lighting (strobe lights, lasers) may all be considered "foods" which (in excess) may imbalance your health.
In addition to the 3 imported physical sub-stances mentioned above, there are also many psychological processes which contribute to health. Such things are best managed with the methods of yoga relaxation and meditation.
When the body presents an illness, whether inherited or lifestyle, chronic or acute, accidental or wilful, psychosomatic or somopsychic, it is because of some situation which one or other of the body's systems has been unable to prevent or repair. Both food management and yoga practise are able to keep these systems in peak condition. Good food is therefore a direct nutritional medicine as well as a support for the body's own preventative work.
As soon as the word "diet" is mentioned, immediately an impression of a women's magazine special crash-fad-weight-loss-program comes to mind. The Raw Foods Diet, the Cooked Foods Diet, the Thighs and Buttocks Diet, the Hips and Tummy Diet, the Eat All The Good