This past year I was dealing with a major health crisis. Cirrhosis, in my case was brought on by a traumatic injury, and in its advanced stages affects every organ of your body. Not only does it reduce muscle mass, but also, causes extreme fluid retention, blockages in digestive system, weakens immune system and creates mental confusion to name a few.
As with any other illness, diet plays a major role in bringing things back into harmony. My body was rejecting anything with sugar, carbs and fats, and not digesting anything tough or with fibre, since my liver function was compromised. Having been vegan for about a decade, I have never bought into the protein fad, grains suited me just fine. The switch to meat for protein took a little while to get used to.
The quality of meat at the supermarket is especially poor, even the wild hunted meat is really not as healthy as some promote it to be, because the animal isn’t bled out properly, like in the regular slaughtering process, my body struggled with digesting it.
I was advised to try protein powders, a fine invention of science and its addiction to protein for good health. This led me to research extensively on different plant based proteins available on the market, and I also had to go through the painstaking process of reading through what seemed like thousands of different articles that dealt with the extraction process.
Any grain or seed that is grown, now has a protein powder extracted from it. This usually comes from the flour mass that is left behind after oil is extracted from the seed or grain. Before powdered protein was considered trendy, this flour mass was used in animal feed. Now, it is recycled back as ‘premium health food’, fetching premium dollars. Pumpkin protein seems to be the latest fad, and also the most expensive one on the market.
The sheer variety of protein mixes at the health food stores, is mind boggling to say the least. They are fortified with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, probiotics, flavourings, sweeteners and promoted as ‘complete nutrition’.
This is backed by science, which is backed by some research and it seems every product relies on different research to promote its health benefits. And newer research also constantly creates new and improved versions. These different mixes are targeted towards people who work out, women, men, and also for different age groups.
Given the variety of the products in stores, I am guessing there is a huge demand for them. Their price is often exorbitant as well. With vegetarian and vegan trend becoming almost mainstream, thousands of new products are constantly being created to respond to this (manufactured) fad, the underlying assumption being, as a vegetarian or vegan, you must be lacking protein and deficient in some vitamin or mineral.
I can say during the acute phase of my health crisis, I did benefit from a combination of exclusively rice and pea protein, with absolutely nothing more added. It was easy to digest and gave my body energy in order to rebuild. I also supplemented with different tea combinations to bring in the necessary minerals my body was lacking and to boost my immune system.
My body did not feel nourished exclusively by ‘formulas’, because even though they give you energy, they are far from coming close to providing nourishment that actual food gives . Energy and nourishment are not considered synonyms by the body.
Although I am still in the healing process now, I can no longer tolerate any powdered nutrition, excessive powdered protein is very hard on the kidneys, and it seems very undernourishing to rely exclusively on this for good health.
Through aggressive advertising campaigns, we are somehow made to believe that modern science is the one that has figured out that protein is essential for good health. This is nothing more than hype promoted by proponents of industrial farming, with financial backing from irresponsible economic entities. Knowledge of health benefits of protein goes back thousands of years, and back then, it seems this knowledge was used, more or less, wisely.
There is a legend about Basturma (preserved raw beef), that was introduced to Asia Minor and subsequently Europe by Central Asian and Mongolian Warriors. They invented a technique of preserving and then reducing the muscle mass of an entire cow to a fist size ball, which allowed them to travel extensive distances and engage in fierce battles without ever having to suffer food shortages or ill health.
The Chinese civilization seems to be the earliest that experimented with extracting protein from wheat or barley. Gluten extraction was the invention of monks in monasteries when Buddhism was introduced in China. It has a similar texture as meat and gives one strength during periods of hard physical labour.
Tofu is also an invention of the Chinese, and much throughout the East, it has been consumed for thousands of years for its high protein content for energy and strength. They also knew fermentation process during curdling facilitated digestion and assimilation. Further in South East Asia, in warmer climates, Tempeh (fermented soy bean) is widely consumed for its high protein content.
The Ona Indians of Tierra del Fuego relied heavily on shellfish protein during their long treks to survive in their harsh climate. Among the Indigenous of the highlands of Andes, a rich bone broth soup is a staple for breakfast.
The knowledge of medicinal properties of animal meat are still present in many indigenous cultures, who use various animal organs in concoctions for different ailments, relying on the wisdom of higher science and the doctrine of signatures.
The cooking methods of meat often involved cooking them with bones, ligaments or animal fat, since it naturally fortifies the meat with necessary nutrients extracted from bones during the cooking process, such as gelatine, which helps with digestion of necessary nutrients. In fact in China, a savoury dish just with gelatine cubes is popular, especially during winter. Much throughout South East Asia, offal meat is widely used.
I can not comment on dairy, since childhood it has never caught my interest, depending on your geographical location, I am sure you can easily find out about its traditional preparation techniques.
Unfortunately with science and its misadventures since globalisation of food trade, most grains and seeds are now entirely corrupted by GMO experiments, and unless organic, best to stay clear of them.
The quality of meat with industrialized farming is declining, since the animals are fed GMO grains. Fresh and organic are wiser choices in the meat department. In the West at least, most meat you find is deboned, which is incomplete in my opinion and perhaps even acidic for the body.
If you analyse a seed or grain, you will notice that nature will determine the appropriate percentage of protein, fats, carbs and fiber in that seed, depending on what type of plant it will produce. So, by default it is complete nutrition. Extracting just one component of it, such as protein, and using that exclusively as your source of nourishment, is likely to lead to deficiencies or imbalance, especially over extended periods. Egg whites on their own create acidity in the body, however when combined with the yolk, are nourishing for the body.
Through ancient wisdom we can learn appropriate preparation and food combination techniques that have been passed down through generations, which include knowledge of spices and herbs, and fermented products, suited to the respective region, that are beneficial for health.
Ancient wisdom also teaches us that meat has all the necessary nutrients a person needs for survival, and it also teaches us that the plant kingdom will also do the same, depending on where you live, your body type and individual energy requirements.
If you live in Siberia, or excessively cold climates, surviving on Arugula and Cucumber salads is far from wise. Meat is necessary to maintain homeostasis. Where as in warmer climates, with abundance of plants and fruit, perhaps you can easily live a healthy life entirely on plant based foods.
Through my own process with being a vegan and recovering from health problems, I have come to realise that I am careful now where I source my nourishment from. Anything heavily processed, fortified, imported from exotic lands and ‘backed by science’ is usually what I stay away from. Ancient wisdom mantra of tried and tested, is what I rely on to determine what is harmful or beneficial. I would much rather eat meat or whole grains for nourishment rather than vegan sausages and fortified protein powders.
As I mentioned in my previous post, it is not my intention to offer health advice, rather shed some light on ancient wisdom that I have come across over the years. One has to put in necessary effort to determine what works for them by getting in touch with their body’s own wisdom and listening to what it needs. It is after all your best teacher.
© Lala Rukh 2020
Lala is an adventurous Traveller, her conquests have spanned across 6 continents through 115 Countries and territories and counting, that she records through digital art and photography. She is a life long student of the mysteries of the Self, with training in Plant medicine, Energy Healing and Wisdom Tradition of Ancient Egypt.