POSTSCRIPT / February 20, 2000 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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You’re what you eat, not what pills you pop

WHEN God let Adam and Eve loose in Eden, He provided them with everything they would ever need.

Note that He did not give them an emergency packet of assorted medicine. Neither did He open a drugstore or a hospital for them. Everything they needed was right there around them in nature.

The food they ate was their preventive medicine, as it was their daily sustenance.

Our first parents were not designed or programmed by God to eat the cows, pigs, lions, dogs, monkeys and other animals around them. They – and we who came after them — were not meant to eat meat or flesh.

Even their teeth were flat, not pointed like those of the beasts that attacked and ate one another.

God’s design and intention are clear: Man is to be a vegetarian and must adapt to nature.

* * *

THIS is part of my opening spiel when senior friends start complaining of their arthritic joints and asking what medicine to take for this and that malaise. (They’re not really asking for medical advice, but merely moaning out their pains and intimations of mortality.)

Stick to God’s plan and you’ll never go wrong, I would intone with a benign air after reciting that biblical allusion to the Genesis.

But we’re serious. Health is such serious business that it’s no longer surprising to hear of a tycoon offering to part with his wealth (sometimes even his wife) just to recapture the vim and vigor of his youth.

Health is a multibillion-dollar booming business, especially in the rich countries – rivaled only by Beauty & Vanity that our womenfolk are pushing to No. 1 position.

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THE rich in this country “pity” the poor for not being able to afford meat in their sparse diet. It seems nobody has told them that meat is not the only source of protein.

Meat (such as steak) is more expensive here not really because it has superior nutritive value, but because it is short in supply and has gained a degree of snob appeal. Never mind if research has found that many of the deadly diseases afflicting the rich economies are traceable to meat.

Without meaning to be unkind, we pity instead the affluent who have been poisoning themselves with meat, fat and bad cholesterol. But we commiserate, too, with the masses who eat delicacies suffused with preservatives and artificial coloring.

* * *

AT the risk of being accused of aping Ernie Baron of “cleansing diet” fame, when one complains of pain in the knee, we blame uric acid. To cover more bases, we add that he’s overweight and that the cold is probably affecting his nerves/blood vessels.

Avoid meat, we would advice, and other foods rich in uric acid. Stick to fish, vegetables and lots of fruits. Renounce meat forever, and you’ll be surprised with the resulting feeling of well being.

Get salmon if you can afford it. Whatever fish you can afford, just make sure it’s fresh and not de lata. Avoid frying your fish and things, as this will just load them with unwanted fat.

If you have to fry or sauté and your budget allows it, use only olive oil.

* * *

BUT if you’re convinced you would die without eating meat, you may relent a little. But limit yourself to fowl, making sure it is lean chicken stripped of its skin.

The problem with poultry is that mass-produced chicken – including the foreign variety smuggled by a presidential crony — have been stuffed with chemicals, including health-threatening steroids. The way out is probably to buy “native” chicken.

If somebody gave you a turbo broiler on your wedding, take it out of the box and start using it. Seeing the fat dripping from the chicken, you get an idea of the yucky plaque building up in your blood vessels all these years.

Grilling and roasting are alternatives to frying. Make sure you do not eat the parts that are burned black – as in burned barbecued chicken – since these are suspected to induce cancerous growth.

* * *

OKAY, so you have made a firm resolve to avoid meat and shift to a leaner, cleaner diet revolving around fresh fish, veggies and fruits.

To maximize the salutary effects of your new diet, flush and clean your digestive tract. Take a lot of fiber to induce more efficient bowel movement, a minor alternative to old reliable labatiba (enema).

You get lots of fiber from veggies and fruits. When eating oranges (not Sunkist, but ponkan which is easier to peel), swallow even the skin holding the rind. Same thing with apples. But make sure the skin has been washed of any chemical residue.

Bananas are excellent, especially for the brain. When you peel a banana and a few fibrous strands are left, you don’t have to remove them. Eat them, too.

Have you heard—our ampalaya is very good for diabetes. In fact, there are anti-diabetes drugs made from ampalaya extracts.

* * *

IF you hanker for catsup (an unfortunate influence of Americans), ask for fresh tomatoes instead. Again, make sure they’re washed thoroughly.

Stop eating canned goods, including corned beef and Vienna sausages that are favorite pasalubongs of balikbayans. Canned sardines are also on our blacklist.

My provincemates will hate me for saying this, but you can also stop eating longganisa and tocino trembling with fat and preservatives.

* * *

INITIALLY, your body and your taste buds may not take too kindly to this meatless regimen. But soon you will get used to it, because, like a computer, your system would just be going back to its defaults as originally set by its Creator.

Be disciplined. Stick to it and you will notice waning appetite for meat. That’s good.

Another good effect of this new regimen is its cleansing effect on the body. It’s like a car coming out of an oil-change and a tune-up. Little pains and worrisome symptoms can actually vanish after some weeks.

* * *

THIS diet we’re talking about is not for old people, or those with a bum knee. It’s for everybody. And it’s not for later in life, but right now. It’s not something you follow at home but throw out when you’re in parties and business lunches.

You can go ahead and also stop your coffee drinking. If you keep looking for your favorite brew, shift to decaf – but phase it out by gradually reducing the amount of instant coffee powder you use.

Also cut down on soda and shift to fresh fruit juices or plain water. Your can of cola is actually swimming with five tablespoonfuls of sugar and caffeine! Yuck!

The elderly may also want to cut down on their intake of salt and sugar. Fight the urge to take bagoong or patis when you don’t even need it.

On sugar, brown is better than refined, because refined sugar is awash with so many chemicals. Beware of synthetic sugar. Read the label carefully as some of the brands have cancer-causing substances.

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DON’T think that you’re starving yourself by dropping your old favorites. No, you’re just substituting types of food. You’re just going back to your original design as a vegetarian, as God intended you to be.

Normally, if you’re eating the right food in the right quantities, you should be all right. As we said, food is your preventive medicine.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 20, 2000)

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