By Shihan Mary Bolz
Master of Science Oriental Medicine
Doctoral Fellow, FBU
Master Martial Arts Instructor
The old adage is true. If you have all the money and material wealth that you would need for the rest of your life, but you could not enjoy it and do what you wanted to, what good would this money do you? There are thousands of people in this country in that situation. I have seen it. I have been in homes that were so impressive and beautiful, on a great hill surrounded by wonderful scenes of nature and everything seemed so perfect. Perfect until I met the rest of the family. A father that was relatively young was confined to a wheel chair. His face was sallow and lined, his posture was slumping forward displaying a hump on his back. Yet, he could not have been more than 45 years old. The mother could not come out because she was sick in bed.
The entire atmosphere of the house changed and I felt an emptiness and disturbance inside. In fact, the house not only no longer felt welcoming, but downright spooky. It was like a vase that was very beautiful but after looking inside of it one could see all the cracks and flaws where it was beginning to disintegrate. This impressed me-in fact it made such an impression that I really came to the realization that without health we are nothing. I don’t need money handed to me, I thought, I need myself, and then I can do anything.
You may be young, you may feel healthy, and you may feel you are “one mean machine.” Think a little deeper. Look at others around you. Whom do you want to be like? Whom do you not want to emulate? What is your real nature, and who are you? You can do anything and everything that you can imagine. It is true, but you must be able to keep your health to do that, physical and mental health. You need energy, perseverance, patience, focus and a real passion to pursue your dreams. To do that, like a car runs on good quality gasoline and eventually chokes on poor quality, so you must fuel your own body with the best. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to send you the same message. He has a start, he wants to ban junk food from public schools in California. Yeh, Arnold! But the person who is really in control is you. You have the opportunity to choose whatever you want to eat at this very moment. Your choices mandate the market place. Don’t let the rest of the world tell you what is good for you. You can tell it. If you refuse to eat all that junk food, it won’t sell and the businesses will have to change what they offer you. So will the schools. Investigate and study how to keep your health or even change it.
What food is fit for humans? To understand that, let’s take a look at animals in the wild. Humans have always learned a lot from the animals. In China and Japan, people observed the animals when they were fighting to protect themselves from predators. Look at many of the martial art moves-cat stance, bear claw, crane head, crane beak, carp’s tail, tiger claw, etc. If we look at how animals survive and eat, we can understand the way of nature. The factors that determine whether the animal is a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore is how nature constructed them.
Horses have a majority of molar teeth which are used for grinding grasses and grains. They have some incisor teeth in front for tearing off the grass and leaves from plants. Lions, on the other hand, have large canine teeth for tearing into raw flesh so they can eat the animal they have just downed. Lions have very short intestines so the flesh and meat does not get stuck and they have few molars. Lions do not need to chew because their digestive system is set up to break down the particles inside. herbivores have long intestines to properly breakdown and absorb the nutrients from grains and plant-based material. A major portion of the digestion of grains and all carbohydrates takes place in the mouth. Nature gave us those molars for a reason. By chewing well, the glands in the mouth that release salivary amylase are activated. The amylase begins breaking down the carbohydrates immediately and this must take place before going into the stomach, where different enzymes are released, to carry the digestion process to the next step. Amylase is not released in the stomach. So properly chewing is the first and a very important part of digestion.
If we take a look at the human digestive tract, the small intestine is very long, which is a trait of herbivores. Flesh (meats) tends to not get digested and remain in the intestines, even for years. Stagnated and partially decayed food particles lead to ill health and many diseases. It causes poor circulation of blood, nutrients and energy in the body. A person actually becomes “stagnated” just like the stagnate food inside of them.
The safest kind of materials to eat is those that are the least processed. Whole, pure, unadulterated foods are best; whole grains such as brown rice, wheat berries, oats and whole vegetables in their true form. With a little knowledge, it is easy to cook delicious food with a minimum of seasoning,. The raw material which we choose is one of the most important factors. Choose foods that are grown without pesticides or commercial fertilizers, and you will find that they have much more flavor. You won’t need all that saucy stuff and spice. Sweets and baked goods can be made with sweeteners such as organic malted brown rice, barley malt, and even real maple syrup. Nothing in excess, however. There is a saying that comes from Confucianism, in Japanese it reads “chuu yo de ari.” This means “stay in the middle of the road,” or “all things in moderation.” Even the healthiest food is not good if it is overdone. Just to throw in one more Japanese proverb, “yasu mono gai, zeni shinai,” or, “buy cheap things, you lose money.” Spend now for the healthiest food and preventative health care and you will save money in the long run, besides enjoying better health.
You are not too young or too old to take your life in your own hands and shape your own destiny. Think about what makes your body and mind, how does it operate and function on a day-to-day basis? Of course, the fuel. It is no mystery. Like the fuel you put in an automobile. The problem is that the fuel available in the ready-to-eat marketplace is very poor fuel. It is a kind of pseudo fuel. Some of it has become just a mishmash of chemicals and bears little resemblance to what nature produces for us to eat. Think about this at a deep level. Think of the implications of how you eat for your own health, the health of your family, the health of the planet and the future.
Nature was meant to follow nature. We are part of nature. If we stray from the way of nature too much, we cause ourselves and others much grief. Live healthy, live happily, and live fully. Don’t always take what is handed to you. The Farmer’s Market will be opening up soon in downtown Vacaville. Visit these people and enjoy some of the beautiful, delicious products of their labor. Ask for foods grown without those chemicals and for organic produce. You help yourself and you help them! Prevention is always the best medicine. What do you want to be doing when you are older and in what kind of condition?