Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Adar 5759 - Feb 24, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly

















Home and Family
Preparing For The Future : Eating Your Way to Peak Performance
by R' Zvi Zobin

Dr. Charles Gerson never really intended to find a way to cure cancer. When he opened his Sanitarium in pre-war Germany, his intention was to find a cure for tuberculosis. Dr. Gerson's theory was that bringing a person to peak health through a regime of super-healthy diet, exercise and environment will enable the body to harness its own resources to fight and overcome degenerative diseases such as the dreaded T.B. Beyond his expectation, he found that people attending his sanitarium became cured of many other conditions apart from the T.B. they came for, and one of those illnesses was cancer. When Dr. Gerson fled Nazi Germany and arrived in the USA, he focused his research more directly on curing cancer and developed the now-classic Gerson Diet.

Healthy diet and exercise have always been regarded as key issues in maintaining good health and improving resistance to sickness. And people have noted that with the good health comes a feeling of general well-being and alertness. The effect of environment has received less attention, but there is now a growing trend to look more closely on factors such as coloring and harmony.

Many people "go on a diet" to lose weight, but nowadays, regimes of diet and exercise have become the focus for dealing with many of the ills and syndromes which beset our society, from ADD to Chronic Fatigue.

For many people, "eating healthily" means using whole- wheat bread, brown sugar, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, avoiding food additives, drinking filtered water and natural fruit-juices and taking regular exercise. These steps alone can produce significant improvements in general family health and will also help children's performance in their learning.

Some diets resemble "weight-loss" diets, but other are based on various concepts of healthy eating. Often, someone who adopts such a diet finds that he loses excess weight, but that is not the main purpose of the diet.

There are two distinct concepts of vegetarian diets. One concept is that a diet of fruit and vegetables is healthier than diets which include meat, fish and other animal products. Another concept is that people should only eat fruit and vegetables because it is wrong to kill animals and eat them, a concept which is contrary to the Torah. It is a mitzva to eat meat on Shabbos and yomim tovim and for seudos shel mitzva, but some people do not like meat or feel that they are healthier if they never eat meat. Such people should ask personal shailos from a competent Rov.

Pritikin, Macrobiotics, "Fit-for-Life" and many other dietary systems all aim to balance and regulate food intake to enable the body to digest food efficiently and utilize it in the best possible way.

Intensive research has revealed that the feeling of well- being and alertness which comes with a good diet is not simply a "good mood" but the result of the stimulation of the production of various complex hormones and other chemicals by the brain which result in a whole range of beneficial effects to organs throughout the body.

As a direct result of this research, many dietary additives are available which aim to supplement the deprived nutrition offered by much of the processed foods available nowadays. Some additives come as tablets and capsules containing vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Their purpose is to supplement the regular diet and help maintain a healthy body. Other additives are sophisticated, complex hormone-like compounds designed to boost the brain and nervous system. Many of them claim amazingly beneficial effects, but most are new on the market and their long-term effects have not yet been thoroughly researched.

Similar to these products are concoctions of various herbs which aim to offset the bad side-effects of unhealthy eating. These straddle the border between dietary additives and "natural medicine." Many of those herbs have been used for hundreds of years, but just because a medication comes naturally does not mean that it can be used recklessly or for long periods.

Some people prefer to try and get their balanced diet directly from the food by growing food under the natural conditions of yesteryear. These are the "organic" fruit and vegetables which are grown without pesticides and on naturally-rich soil and also include free-range eggs and chickens, goats' milk and cheese, natural yogurt and other "old-fashioned" foods.

Another source of "powerful" food is produced by sprouting seed and beans. When seeds and beans begin to germinate, they produce high concentrations of extremely healthy vitamins, amino acids and other proteins. Sprouts are becoming increasingly available commercially, but it is easy to "sprout" at home.

Another source of super-healthy nutrition is from naturally- occurring algae, such as blue-green algae and spirogira. They are almost 100% high-power nutrition, though some types of blue-green algae have been suspected of containing low concentrations of unhealthy substances.

A growing practice is the use of special "juicers" to extract the cell contents of green-leaf vegetation and vegetables. These juicers are especially designed to avoid the high temperatures of regular juicers which can damage delicate compounds inside the plant cells during extraction. The green chlorophyll of leaves and sprouts is very similar to blood hemoglobin, and drinking a small glass of juiced leaves infuses the body with an extremely potent and fast- acting dietary additive.

Of course, a healthy diet is only one aspect of a healthy life-style. But when the gemora (Shabbos 140b) suggests that it is a waste of money to use good-quality, expensive flour and drink when a person can manage on low, quality, cheap flour and drink, it responds that waste of one's body is a greater wastage.


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