Read more from the Being Truly Human June 2006 Newsletter
Phiroz Mehta wrote four chapters of The Health Cookery Book, probably in the early years after the Second World War. He seemed to have intended it for publication, but it does not appear ever to have been printed
Food is the most powerful physical influence which will keep you healthy and happy, or make you sick. This book is written in answer to the demand for a cookery book which tells you how to cook your food scientifically so that you preserve all the goodness in it, and how to arrange balanced meals so that you can enjoy vigorous health.
To promote good health, all meals should be:
The usual argument which you hear is this: “Of course I give my children and husband good food. I give them the best fresh eggs and butter and cheese, meat and fish and potatoes, and vegetables and fruits and nuts.” Quite true, you do. So does everyone, more or less. But in spite of the best intentions, and of honest hard work on your part, there are many little ways in which errors creep in to spoil your splendid effort. It is no fault of yours, because you have not been given a chance to avoid these errors.
Perhaps you feel doubtful about these statements. Well, let us look deeper into the matter. How many colds, headaches, attacks of ‘flu, twinges of rheumatism, gout, and sciatica, how much constipation (the supreme enemy of health), insomnia and lack of appetite, and how much irritability, low spirits, painful periods, bad temper and bad teeth do we see everywhere? Why should we have our “usual colds and indispositions” when the weather changes? A change in weather does not mean we should fall ill. I don’t, you don’t, and our healthy friends don’t, but thousands of people do.
Consider again bad nerves — the modern scourge! Just think how many million aspirins, cough and cold tablets, ‘flu mixtures and other drugs and medicines are constantly taken! Look at the number of people, especially the young, who have spotty faces, lacklustre eyes, and bad skins! Look at the vast expense over beauty preparations and health restoratives! If we were really healthy we would naturally have lovely skins, bright eyes, sweet breath and attractive personalities. Even amongst those who live in the country, and those who work in the open air, there are constant complaints of rheumatism, deafness, swollen and stiff joints, etc.
You may say “But what has all this got to do with food?” It has everything to do with food! The old statement that “Man digs his grave with his teeth” is true. Wrong food is not the only cause, admittedly, of sickness and misery. There are other important causes, i.e. unhappiness, insufficient exercise and sleep, wrong posture of the body when at work or at rest, and lack of sunshine and of pure fresh air. But of all these, food is the most important physical cause; for when you take the right food you will find your ills disappearing, and your health and good spirits returning. The proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Let us take only two examples of how we are affected by wrong food:
When the miller removes the bran, middlings, and germ of wheat, and gives us only white flour, he removes the most valuable part — generally given to our livestock as food! He takes away the mineral salts, the vitamins (especially vitamin B.1.), and the protein (or the “meaty”) part of the wheat. The white flour is merely starch — the stuff out of which the paste in the nice white bottle on the office table is made! And when this stuff goes into your and your family’s tummies, the tendency is to make a hard sticky paste inside. This leads to sluggish liver, constipation and many catarrhal ailments.
Our second example is boiled food, especially boiled vegetables. Usually, and particularly in large scale catering as in big hotels, restaurants, and ocean liners, the water in which the vegetables have been boiled is thrown down the sink. This water contains most of the mineral salts — Sodium, Potassium, Calcium (Lime), Magnesium, Iron, etc. These salts are indispensable to the body, and when they are lost various ailments set in. For now an excess of acidic waste-matter is formed. Part of it does not get eliminated in time, but is re-absorbed into the blood stream and thus poisons the system. The normal alkalinity of the blood is not maintained and the electro-chemical actions inside our bodies are upset. Look at a doctor’s prescription, or the formulae of various patent medicines, You will find that they contain the same mineral salts which Mother Nature prepared with such perfection and economy inside our tomatoes, carrots and cabbages! So why get ill and then waste money on medicines when all you have to do is to pay attention to your daily food? Remember this: The body is a snob! It much prefers to have the mineral salts introduced in the right way, by Mother Nature, and not via laboratory manufactured products. Only the wise know this fact. The remainder pay the price of ignorance or prejudice.
So when you boil vegetables — though we hope you will mostly bake them, or cook them conservatively, or eat them raw — you will use the absolute minimum quantity of water necessary, not add soda to make greens look green (for soda destroys vitamins, and it is vitamins you want to eat and not green colour!), and you will then drink every drop of that water which is now rich in mineral salts, with enjoyment.
Continued in part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6
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