Study Uncovers 6 Ancient Healing Secrets of Food

Study Uncovers 6 Ancient Healing Secrets of Food

— By Deborah Kesten and Larry Scherwitz —

“We have stopped our investigation of healing well short of its potential,” writes Larry Dossey, M.D., in Reventing Medicine. In the same way, we have limited our investigation of food and nutrition to a singular scientific framework, a reductionist perspective that reduces food to functional fuel and nutrients for our bodies. Our research has revealed food is a 4-part gift that has the power to heal—not only physically, but also emotionally, spiritually, and socially. These are the “Four Facets of Food,” the holistic approach at the heart of our “Whole Person Nutrition” Program. And over time, we’ve discovered that Whole Person Nutrition leads you to optimal eating, health and healing, and attaining and maintaining weight loss.

The Journey Begins

We vividly remember the moment that inspired our search to find the multidimensional ways food heals. We were in New Delhi, India, where we had been invited to present at the First International Conference on Lifestyle and Health. Many esteemed scientists from throughout India had presented but one of the most charismatic and intriguing was Hindu cardiologist Dr. K. L. Chopra, father and mentor of the well-known author Deepak Chopra.

After his presentation, we talked with Dr. Chopra in the cavernous auditorium, interviewing him for a magazine article we were planning to write about yoga and diet. When we asked him about his orientation toward food, his response was immediate: “Prana is the vital life force of the universe, the cosmic force…and it goes into you, into me, with food. When you cook with love, you transfer the love into the food and it is metabolized…”.

As health researchers trained in the scientific method, it seemed incredible to consider that how we think or feel could actually alter food and in turn, affect us when we eat. However, the thought wouldn’t let go. To find out more, we began our nutrition journey around the world.

Ancient Food Wisdom, Modern Nutritional Science

To plan our journey, we decided to “visit” three worldviews about food and diet:

  • Western nutritional science;
  • Eastern healing systems that include nutrition (such as traditional Chinese medicine, India’s Ayurveda, and Tibetan medicine);
  • Wisdom and cultural traditions (gleaned from world religions, yogic nutrition, the Mediterranean diet, and so on).

To unearth even more wisdom about the profound meaning of food in our lives, our journey took us through various “spiritual kitchens” and scientific laboratories. We interviewed more than forty-five spirituality, religion, and scientific specialists about their food-related beliefs or research. In this way, we were able to merge ancient food wisdom with modern nutritional science, and find the foundation we were seeking for the broader approach to food, eating, health and healing; a vision that may ultimately empower the investigation of nutritional science to live up to its potential.

We were inspired to take such an all-encompassing journey to discover what lies beyond our current food worldview, which encourages us to look at food with binoculars. One moment we point them at protein, the next at carbohydrates, and then at fat—both in food and on our body. Perceived from such a restricted field of vision, we see food solely from a singular, biological perspective of isolated findings. But toss away the binoculars and instead view food through a kaleidoscope of ancient food wisdom, and six perennial principles—that nourish body, mind, soul, and social well-being—emerge.

6 Ancient Healing Secrets of Food

When we stepped back to reflect on what each Western nutritional science, ancient healing systems, and wisdom traditions had to tell us about optimal eating, we were excited when we identified six perennial principles: fresh food, feelings, mindfulness, gratitude, love, and socializing. To make meaning of these themes, we turned them into guidelines. Here they are:

  1. Eat fresh whole foods in their natural state as often as possible.
  2. Be aware of feelings before, during, and after eating.
  3. Bring moment-to-moment nonjudgmental awareness to every aspect of th meal.
  4. Appreciate food and its origins—from the heart.
  5. Create union with the Divine by “flavoring” food with love.
  6. Unite with others through food.

We felt fervor about our discovery because these guidelines are consistent with what health professionals worldwide recommend, as do caring cooks and the millions of us who enjoy, and take delight in fresh, delicious food. But would the guidelines weigh in with weight loss? Would not following the guidelines lead to overeating, and in turn, being overweight and obese? We decided to find out. But first, we had many more nutrition vistas to discover, see, and savor.

Next post:

Begin to think outside the diet to make weight loss last with “Discover the 4 Facets of Food–and Their Power to Heal Body, Mind, and Soul” posted on our next NewView blog.

You’ll get plenty of clarity about what’s true and useful—or not—by keeping up with nutritionist Deborah Kesten, MPH, and research scientist Larry Scherwitz, PhD, the writers of this post, by following them on Twitter, liking them on Facebook, or sending us an email.

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