Apart from herbs (which are my enduring passion!), my next favourite subject is nutrition. I admit that this is mostly because I love food, especially the taste. But I also love the way food looks, smells, and, if you get it right, the fact that it is health-giving. So, what is health-giving food, and what is not, and how do we tell the difference?

It is theoretically quite simple to eat for health. Unfortunately, the practice of eating well can get obscured by a large number of factors, such as habit, taste, financial restrictions, lack of knowledge, lack of skills, and the barrage of food product advertising we are subjected to every day.

As basically as it can be said: Fill your kitchen and your stomach with fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes (beans and lentils).

For variety and enjoyment, you may add moderate amounts of dairy and meat products, including eggs. Add flavour to your cooking with a good selection of herbs, spices, and natural condiments. Eat organically produced food where possible, especially when it comes to high-fat foods such as meat, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, and oils. Oils and fats are the main storage area for toxins in plants, animals, and humans. Include some good quality, cold-pressed vegetable oils such as Olive oil and Sunflower oil, eaten raw.

By making the above statement, I am ruling out fast food, cakes, biscuits, snack foods, basically anything you would buy at a corner shop. Also any foods that have artificial additives, preservatives, and colourings. Bored yet? Have I taken away your favourite foods?

I read somewhere, "don't buy food that has a t.v. advertisement". How true. Try to remember the last time you saw a t.v. ad for raw, organic, homegrown carrots!This, as I see it, is the true crux of the matter. Our food industry is at odds with our health industry. Let's be frank. The food industry (generally speaking) is a highly competitive, commercial and corporate entity. It's concerns are with making money, not nourishing people. It achieves its purpose through advertising (the projection of an image), and taste (salt, sugar, and grease). The state of the food industry is another topic altogether, which I am trying not to get into here! But in short, your keys to health are to decide for yourself which foods you consume, and to educate yourself about which foods they should be.

Back to the actual foods!There is a huge amount of information available on which foods we should be eating, or not eating, for health. A lot of it is conflicting, and can begin to feel like a maze through which we need a compass to navigate. I suggest that the compass we use is common sense, with a dash of logic, and a sprinkling of personal responsibility.

Take, for example, the debate over full-fat and skim dairy products. There was some evidence to suggest that diets high in saturated fat (as found in animal products) contribute to artery and heart disease. This became a huge public campaign against full-fat products, which big food companies were quick to take advantage of. Doctors also began to recommend low-fat diets. Now we see skim and lite products everywhere, and people believe they are doing themselves a great favour by consuming them. I'm sure sometimes they are. However, the development of arterial and heart disease is a very complex biological process. And fats are essential to our health. Now we are getting into an intellectual labyrinth concerning the true cause of heart disease and we need to consider all currrent scientific research before we can decide which milk to buy!

This is just one small element of the nutrition maze. To simplify it, I ask you to refer back to the third sentence. Whole foods, unprocessed, good quality, organic where possible. Yes, milk contains fat. Nature made it so, because fat nourishes us. It gives us energy, it is necessary for proper cell function. The body knows what to do with fat, we have been processing and using it since the dawn of time. What is important is balance. We need fats from nuts and seeds to balance animal fats. You don't need to understand chemistry to understand what balance is. It is variation, it is food in its natural state. It is food that has been grown in rich, clean environments.

Educate yourself. Simplify your diet. Make conscious decisions about the food you eat. Increase your health.

Green Blessings,