PHALAHARI – SCIENTIFIC? FANTASTIC!
Nourishment is at the same time change of matter, energy and information with the external world. Eating gives pleasure too, but from a closer point of view nutrition can determine health and illness in our lives.
We differentiate two basic dimensions of nutrition. The quantitative dimension is about macro nutrients, which are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Qualitative dimension depends on the micro nutrients of nutrition, such as vitamins, trace elements, enzymes, antioxidants, izoflavonoids. A balanced diet develops along these two dimensions.
The quantitative undernourishment can develop due to various reasons (starving, fasting, and anorexia). In the long run the extremely low energy intake can harm the body, decrease the effectiveness of the functions of the immune system as well as cause mental and physical slowness. Similarly, the other extremity is not good either: the western type of energy-richness is a risk factor of cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. The qualitative dimension is not that complicated: in this case the more and cleaner micro nutrients we take in, the better it will be for us. Obviously there is an upper limit here too, especially regarding the fat-soluble vitamins and certain trace elements. The qualitative undernourishment often goes along with the western type of energy-rich nourishment as the fatty-meaty-sugary diet lacks fibers, vitamins, trace elements and especially antioxidants. The Indian ayurveda offers us a solution for the diet problems with the phalahari method. The essence of this is, that our diet should be characterized by qualitative diversity and richness which is paired with a rationally decreased energy-intake. Phalahari literally means plant diet. (But it does not mean vegetarianism which in Hindi is sakahari.) The point of phalahari method is that we can eat any kind of plants as much as we like, except for grains (wheat, rye, oat, even corn and the flours made of them), banana and potatoe. Furthermore, we should avoid the intake of luxury calories such as chocolate, coke, crisps etc. You can have 1-2 cups of yoghurt or kefir daily, but other kinds of dairy products are not recommended. You should avoid using sugar and too much honey, too.
What does our food consist of ?
- Pulses (beans, peas, lentil, etc.)
- root vegetables (e.g. parsley, carrot, radish)
- leaf vegetables (e.g. spinach, sorrel, cabbage)
- flower vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower)
- stem vegetables (e.g. beetroot, kohlrabi, asparagus)
- which we consume for their fruit (tomato, paprika, cucumber, marrow, etc.)
- We can eat various kinds of fruit baked, cooked, raw, stewed etc. If possible according to season and climate. The fruit we consume should not be sugared, processed or preserved.
- Oily nuts and seeds. We can consume them ground or in whole on their own or added to salads with some oil-dressing they are really delicious. (Len seed, sesame seed, and other smaller seeds cannot be digested without grinding!)
- 1-2 cups of yoghurt. (In this you can find the necessary amount of B12-vitamin. You can also take as supplementary e.g. inactivated yeast.)
- What to drink? Water, herb teas, juices without sugar. We should drink a substantial amount of liquid!
Who is phalahari recommended for? People, who are overweight and who don’t consume enough fibers. It is also beneficial for preventing elderly dementia and IQ loss, improving heart functions, and lowering blood pressure. Alzheimer disease can be prevented with it, as well as the 2nd type of diabetes and cholesterol based heart attack.
Who is phalahari diet not recommended for?
Pregnant, or breast feeding women, and undernourished or slim people.
WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY?
In an experiment among humans that was well designed and had a sense of practicality Meyer and his colleagues (2006) provided a manageable alternative that could be the way out of the destructive way of western nourishment. They found that (on average 6 years follow-up experiment) those people whose diet consisted of low-energy and high-quality level food (average age: 53) had significantly better results in diastolic function and their body mass index (BMI) was permanently on a low level. What does it mean? The capacity of relaxation of the heart ( the diastolic value, which is from the well known “120/80” the second which follows the slant) shows the “youngness” of the heart, as the work, the compression starts from here. The diastolic functions of the people who took part in the experiment were similar to those who were the members of a 15 years younger age group. Simply it means that during the 6 years of follow-up their hearths become 15 years younger. That is pretty astonishing result since their functions became 9 years younger compared to their age of the starting year. Since the condition of the heart is basically influences the functions of the whole body it is a good means to measure the strength and health condition of the whole system.
With the help of the phalahari like nourishment such risk factors of health problems were decreased that lead the causes of death, e.g. cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases.
The body mass index (BMI) is a number of ratio that is uses to define the obesity or undernourishment states and of course normality as well. We can calculate it if we divide the body weight in kilograms (e.g. 70 kg) with the height square of the body in meters (e.g. 1.752 m2 = 3.0625 m2 in this example the BMI is 70:3.0625=22.86). The average of the BMI is 19-25 among healthy adults. (Men and women differ slightly.) Over 25 the BMI shows obesity and under 19 is skinniness than pathological skinniness are the categories (that are not always equal to anorexia). According to the experiences the reserved quantity in eating habits and low level of caloric intake can help to the persons of the experiment reach that segment of BMI that was 19.7. That type of nourishment rich in nutrients helped to decrease the risk factors of many diseases. In this way the light meals resulted in light and healthy body. The researchers gave the interpretation for the results that people following such diet cannot die of cancer, infarct or 2. type of diabetes (FONTANA&KLEIN 2007).
In another research they reached very similar results with the Alzheimer-dementia of the aged. The average age was 75 years of the participants and they were followed for 4 years in their nourishment and health parameters. People with high intake of energy and fat had 2.3 times higher the risk factor for Alzheimer disease than those with low intake of energy and fat. With the help of diet of low energy intake in most of the cases the Alzheimer dementia can be prevented and avoided. It is good to know about the Alzheimer disease that the ratio of the diseased people is increasing in the western societies and among its symptoms there are the defect of short term memory, and/or loss of certain cognitive functions such as counting, reading etc. The diet like phalahari can help, even when started rather late, to prevent or slow down the falling of loss of mental abilities (LUCHSINGER ÉS MTSAI 2002).
WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
From different researches come the obvious facts that support the effectiveness of phalahari diet. You can prevent many serious illnesses and low quality of life with the help of this type of diet that takes care of relatively lower energy and higher of quality intake of the food. The same results come from the researches on different ethnic groups.
Instead of chronic starvation the caloric restraint increases both quality and length of life. This is shown in the group of Okinawas from the South Japan islands and the Seven Days Adventists from the United States. Both groups have a natural lifestyle among quality nourishment. They take care of avoiding saturation by overconsumption that means Okinawas eat till 80% of fullness and the Adventists are Puritan enough. Okinawas dominantly have the food of fried vegetables on a little oil with plenty of tofu. The sugar content of their food is only 25% and their consumption of grains is only 75% of the average Japanese intake. Their consumption of fish is just a fragment of the average Japanese – they eat fish every second day.
Most of the Adventists have an ovo-lakto vegetarian diet, which is also based on fresh vegetables and grains. Both the Adventist and the Okinawas got in the focus of researches because of their longer and healthier lifespan. The results highlighted more factors, of which nourishment along with an active lifestyle and active stress management was the most significant. The members of these ethnic groups are both mentally and physically fresh even when they grow old. They have significant results concerning their longevity, among the Okinawas it is not rare to live up to 110 years. The Adventists in California live 4-10 years longer (and healthier) than the average Californians. (ROBBINS 2006, SINGH 2001, BUETTNER 2008).
- Buettner, D.: The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. National Geographic, New York, 2008
- Fontana, L., Klein, S.: Aging, Adiposity, and Calorie Restriction 2007;297:986-994.
- Kökény, T.: Falahári – Tudományos?Fantasztikus. https://kokenytibor.wordpress.com/
- Luchsinger, J.A., Tang, M-X., Shea, S., Mayeux, R. Caloric Intake and the Risk of Alzheimer Disease Arch Neurol. 2002;59:1258-1263.
- Robbins, J.: Healthy at 100. Ballantine Books, New York, 2006
- Singh, P.N.: Does low meat consumption contribute to greater longevity? in: Sabaté, J. (ed.): Vegetarian Nutrition. CRC Publications, New York. 135-70, 2001
- Meyer TE, Kovacs SJ, Ehsani AA, Klein S, Holloszy JO, Fontana L.: Long-term caloric restriction ameliorates the decline in diastolic function in humans. J Am Coll Cardiol 2006;47:398–402.