“In all things of nature there is something of the marvellous.”
“If one way be better than another,
that you may be sure is nature’s way.”
“Myrtle” from The Glorious Garden by Debbie Wiseman (courtesy ViolinAround)
Scientists have documented in several trials that various foods contain compounds that can prevent, protect or help to cure many cancers, heart disease, high blood pressure, bad circulation or even dementia, among many other ailments. The Ancient Egyptians knew of the potent combination of raw garlic and onions and gave them daily to the workers building pyramids. They even provided baskets of garlic and onions in burial chambers to accompany the dead into the afterlife. They regarded garlic as a magic cure-all, and they worshipped it. Pliny the Elder, a Roman administrator who lived in the first century AD, recommended garlic for sixty-one ailments. The Ancient Greeks gave garlic to marathon runners to give them strength and power of endurance. In 1858 Louis Pasteur put a portion of garlic in a dish contaminated with bacteria and recorded that all the bacteria died. I wrote at length about the extraordinary qualities of garlic in one of my previous posts and therefore here I will only summarise the main benefits.
Garlic stimulates the immune system, fights infections, reduces blood pressure, thins the blood, contains cancer-preventing chemicals, prevents and relieves bronchitis, acts as a decongestant, clears the arteries of plaque thus preventing heart diseases, and acts as an antibiotic. Garlic has the broadest spectrum of any antibacterial substance that we know of. Recently scientists discovered that garlic prevents the harmful side effects of antibiotics, and also that it enhances the body’s response to further use of them. This prevents the body from not responding to the often essential further future treatment. Garlic is the greatest gift of nature to mankind.
A delicious recipe for flatbread to try – be sure to also add fresh garlic and some chopped herbs to the filling and you will be transported to paradise!
In the 1970s the Italian modernist Luciano Berio wrote a set of character pieces based on texts inspired by Orlando Gibbons’ 17th-century settings about food and London street cries, Cries of London. The recording below is about garlic, not as a flavour provider but as an early antibiotic; “Garlic, Good Garlic” (for eight voices):
Yoghurt, kephir, koumiss and other variations of soured milk have been used for thousands of years. It is one of nature’s most potent foods as it keeps the gut in a healthy condition. Genghis Khan, the creator of the Mongol Empire, fed his troops on koumiss, the fermented milk of a mare, with spectacular effect as they fought and conquered vast lands.
Life on the Mongolian steppe:
Villages in Bulgaria are known for the great longevity of people there who eat yoghurt daily. It is a long established fact that a well-working gut means good health. Yoghurt acts like a natural antibiotic preventing inflammation, stimulates the immune system and prolongs life. It is also a source of vitamin A, vital for the eyes and reproductive health.
Serenade for Strings (1959) by John Jeffreys evokes the pastoral way of life:
Fish, especially oily ones like mackerel, sardines, and herring, are indispensable in our diet as they contain omega-3 fatty acids which prevent the development of several disorders. Here are some of the benefits: they protect arteries from damage by preventing plaque formation, thin the blood thus preventing the formation of blood clots, which are a cause of stroke and heart attack, and lower blood pressure. They are an anti-inflammatory agent. They stimulate brain chemicals, and they have been known for hundreds of years as ‘brain food’. They lower bad-type blood cholesterol, regulate the immune system and prevent some cancers. They provide Vitamin D and Magnesium, among many other minerals. It is well worth noting that heart attacks are virtually unknown among Eskimos who live on fish. Sardines, in particular, are rich in vitamin B12.
Below is an amazing film showing the sardine run of southern Africa which occurs from May through July when billions of sardines or more specifically the Southern African pilchard spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank and move northward along the east coast of South Africa. Their sheer numbers create a feeding frenzy along the coastline.
Olive Oil, especially cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, has been used daily by people in the Mediterranean region for over four thousand years. In Ancient Egypt, Pharaoh Ramses II used olive oil as medicine. It is now proven that it is good for the heart. It reduces bad LDL cholesterol and raises good HDL cholesterol. It thins the blood and lowers blood pressure. It contains chemicals that prevent cancer and prolong life by slowing ageing. It has one thousand active chemical components that counteract a high-fat diet.
Apples help to keep us healthy. It is a fact that has been known for thousands of years. This knowledge was reflected in proverbs taught to children: ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’, or ‘To eat an apple going to bed will make the doctor beg his bread.’ Apple’s active ingredient is pectin, a well-known anticholesterol agent, its potency strengthened by interaction with vitamin C. Apples are regarded as an all-round health food. Those who eat an apple every day have fewer colds. Apples help to lower blood pressure, stabilise blood sugar, keep the heart healthy and are useful in dieting as they stave off hunger.
Green Vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and spinach, are essential vegetables as they protect against many ailments. Broccoli in particular significantly lowers the risk of cancer of the colon and lungs. It provides Folate, which is a B-vitamin and can only be obtained from eating green vegetables daily. It is essential to us because Folate takes part in the making of DNA and metabolism of amino acids which are required for cell division.
Carrots have been proven to be a specific food that wards off cancer of the pancreas and lungs. Vegetables contain about 500 compounds that are converted in the body into vitamin A. A low level of vitamin A is consistently linked with cancer. It is the beta-carotene in carrots that is an important ingredient. Cooking carrots lightly increase their potency as they contain fibre that also keeps the gut healthy. That is why drinking carrot juice does not have the same effect. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant. Carrots are high in vitamin A which is essential for good vision. It is advisable to have one large carrot daily, as too many will colour the skin an orange hue and can lead to skin disorders.
Sauerkraut is raw pickled cabbage. It was used as a means of preserving cabbage to use in the winter months. It can be credited with many health benefits as sauerkraut is jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, Calcium in particular. In recent years sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables have become well-known globally. This is great news because including sauerkraut in daily diet is important for many reasons. During the fermentation process beneficial probiotics, known as ‘live bacteria’, are produced and are indispensable for gut, brain and heart health. Sauerkraut also improves digestion, boosts the immune system, contributes to strong bones and increases blood circulation. It has to be raw, not pasteurised, to be of value. The addition of grated carrot, an apple, a giant spring onion and a dash of extra virgin olive oil will provide a longevity ‘pill’ on a plate, and it is delicious.
Nuts, and walnuts, in particular, are excellent sources of good fat, fibre and protein. Walnuts contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, a number of vitamins like vitamin E, magnesium and iron, among other nutrients. Eating a handful of walnuts a day reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. It aids a healthy gut and decreases inflammation, the root cause of many ailments. It lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes as it controls blood sugar. Walnuts are proven to improve brain function and to slow ageing.
Oats are greatly beneficial to our health as is visually obvious when watching the Highland Games in Scotland. Scottish miners used to take a portion of cold cooked oats to the mines. The oats were poured into a drawer the night before and would set into a solid cake, which was then cut into convenient square portions. There is no doubt that oats are excellent heart medicine. They lower blood cholesterol and regulate blood sugar. Oats help to relieve inflammation of the skin, including psoriasis. They act as a laxative and are a source of vitamin B2. In Holland, the oat millworkers, who eat lots of cooked oats during their work time, have been known to have exceptionally low blood cholesterol.
Blueberries are well known to contain a high concentration of compounds that kill both bacteria and viruses. Blueberries also contain chemicals that act as antidiarrheal medication. They protect blood vessels and prevent hardening of the arteries thus reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Blueberries contain high levels of flavonoids and consumed daily they reduce by 40% the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. As they taste delicious, they are used in culinary traditions in many European countries. By being freshly gathered in forests, they provide healthy exercise and if they are not eaten on the spot, which is difficult to resist, they can be later served with milk or cream. They are also wonderful as a cold summer soup, or as blueberry dumplings. As they provide an unforgettable culinary experience, they also improve memory and thinking processes as some studies discovered. Of course, I am joking, as there are also medical reasons that positively affect the working of the brain.
Dark chocolate – eating high-quality dark chocolate reduces the risk of heart diseases as it contains antioxidant catechins. Chocolate works even better when eaten with apples as studies at Rome’s Sapienza University proved a few years ago. All chocoholics can only rejoice.
L’Heure Exquise (Exquisite Hour) by Reynaldo Hahn
In gratitude and appreciation of the wonders of nature’s bounty and our planet and the daily miracles of life: