I'm very much of the belief that the greatest contributor to our nation's health problems comes from the way we've changed our dietary habits over the last 50+ years. Looking at the popularity of the Paleo diet, intermittent fasting, and other 'back to basics' nutritional trends, this viewpoint is likely a fairly popular one now.
Lots of these newer trends find their roots in the oldest of human civilizations - the Chinese Taoist beliefs that stretch back roughly 5,000 years. It is a culture that has looked for ways to enhance health and longevity throughout that time. Because of that, there just might be a few more valuable tips for you that they uncovered many years ago, but have gotten lost in translation.
As we venture into a new year, during the time when so many resolve to live healthier, here are a few more Taoist nutrition concepts that might help you to feel more energetic, drop a few unwanted pounds, and stave off some potential long-term health risks.
Gut health is the absolute #1 key to overall health.
There are good and bad digestive enzymes that are in a constant battle for supremacy within your gut. The good ones fight to drive waste products out of your system quickly, while the bad ones want to slow the process down..
What's wrong with slowing the digestive process down? When waste products back up inside you they ferment and create a toxic cesspool-like atmosphere, leading to a long list of problems for you.
Foods like yogurt and anything high in fiber work (raw veggies are #1) on the good side, while foods high in sugar and gluten are main players on the bad side.
Know if you have a vegetarian, carnivorous, or balanced digestive system.
We are not all the same when it comes to how our digestive systems process food. Some of us may feel great when eating higher levels of meat and fish in our diet while others feel sluggish and sick. Diets high in vegetables can do wonders for one person but nothing for the next.
The point is just because a certain group of foods is working well for one person's health, it doesn't mean you will see the exact same benefits. You'll need to experiment a bit with different foods to find the best fit for you and your genetic disposition.
The good news is most of us, likely more than half, can thrive on a combination of animal foods and vegetables provided you are not overdoing either category.
You probably don't need as much food as you think.
Learn to eat until you are 80% full, and no more.
Eat when you're hungry, not when the clock tells you to.
Most of us are creating our own health issues, ranging from colds to chronic diseases, because we simply have too much food running through our systems at all times. This is catching on in nutritional circles by learning to limit your eating to an 8 hour window, or intermittent fasting.
The point is your digestive system needs a break every now and again. You wouldn't work your cardiovascular system 24/7, would you?
Be aware that some food combinations can cause you problems.
You may find that separating your protein foods and your starch foods into two separate mini-meals makes you feel more energetic and alert.
Or that by avoiding drinking water or other liquids with your starch meals you don't feel as worn down after.
And fruit? Best to eat that on its own.
These are just three of many Taoist food combination concerns that may lead to poor digestion, and in turn poor health. If everything in your diet looks rock-solid and you still aren't where you want to be, research this a bit more and you may find the cause of your problems.
Eat raw foods regularly.
The active enzymes found in raw foods play a very positive role in gut health, and thus are highly recommended. This can be as simple as eating salads, but other foods like raw sushi and garlic are also extremely beneficial. Most of the active enzymes are destroyed in the cooking process and lose most of their benefits under high heat.
As a descendant of Irish, Italian and Greek ancestors, I am definitely not an expert on ancient Chinese nutrition. However, I can tell you that more and more 'cutting-edge' nutrition research seems to be confirming many of the Tao nutrition principles that have been in existence back before the dawn of the Roman Empire.
If you have had problems losing a few stubborn pounds, struggle with low energy and poor mental focus, you might want to adapt your daily diet to follow the principles outlined above.