NC Files:
File 4 - Article 7 Previous Index Next
Author: Alec Milne
Title: Nutrition

The importance of nutrition is basic to that of understanding Nature Cure.

It is a truism to claim that we are only as healthy as the food we eat. Although it claims first place in the initial impact, it is not the most important factor. That privilege is reserved for recognizing the missing factor that is damaging health and well being: the bit of the bicycle that is broken.

As an approach to a new audience of one or more, uneasy as they face up to what they fear is the messianic zeal of the Naturopath, it works well: if you have a horse, you make quite sure that it is fed correctly for a horse, on oats and hay and verdant pastures, organically grown; that it is exercised daily; that it is worked within its limits, and last but by no means least, it would be loved, groomed and given a pet name. Your body is your horse, its jockey your mind. Once accepted there is the progression. The spelling out of the crucial relationship between horse and jockey that is going to determine whether the race is won, or falling at the first fence. The jockey that believes in his horse will produce a better result on a lesser horse, than a less confident jockey on a better horse. At this point some member of the awkward squad will query the effect of another stallion, or worse a frisky filly, if introduced to the family stable. The answer is of course, trouble. The horse is a herd animal just as we are, so the analogy still holds good.

This underlines the need to respect our bodies as we would for a horse, and us true believers know that it works out pretty well. Combine it with the Healing Power of Nature, organize a daily health regime and it will add up to good nutrition, put any disruption down to a Healing Crisis, and one has made a start in the personal health business. Just as horsy nutrition cannot be improved beyond the three staples, so it is with us. Indeed all the evidence is that as long as we have one food in its most wholesome state, we can survive. So did the Irish on potatoes, and the Scots on oats, and for Far Eastern countries, rice. (The capacity for survival is awe inspiring. Most of us love mountains, even when we can't climb them any more. We can appreciate stories of courage and endurance as with the following: Doug Haston, later to be killed in a car accident whilst heading for a skiing holiday, was a legendary character for whom the climb was all: Quote: “With darkness approaching, the temperature plummeting, and the danger increasing drastically, Scott and Haston built a snow cave on the top of Everest at a height of 28,750ft, it was the highest bivouac ever. By the time they reached camp the next day, they had survived for 30 hours without food, warmth or sleep and for much of that time without supplementary oxygen.” - What nonsense that we need three meals a day, every day.

Nature Cure tends to get itself in trouble when trying to justify itself scientifically. But can so easily in holistic terms. Good nutrition occurs when food is wholesome, natural and fresh and eaten in season, and in the right amounts. At Kingston that was the theory, but difficult to deliver on all occasions. The amount of salad material that could be delivered by the wall garden would have been adequate when the place was lived in by the Christie family, but was no where near enough for feeding our patients. We were locked into an expectation that a salad was lettuce, tomato and cucumber plus garnishing throughout the year. Since any change would have been resisted by the extraordinary and dedicated salad lady we always managed to recruit, as well as by the patients looking for a predictable formula, our freedom of choice was proscribed. Naturally a salad would be based on what was available, lettuce in season, but shredded brassicas when not. One has to mention the bliss of a sprout salad dressed with walnuts and walnut oil. For the cooked meal in the evening, maintaining a Food Reform vegetarian meal did stretch the imagination. Not only had it to be wholesome, natural and fresh, but also attractive and colourful as well as conforming to the balance of 60/20/20. Nor could we rely on hungry patients demolishing every thing in sight (one waitress commented that given the opportunity, they would eat the table cloth as well.) Regularly patients on a return visit would complain of the increased size of the meals. They had of course, learned to eat less. The outstanding feature of this dietary that scored a possible eight out of ten, was that where we had to register a failure, it was never attributable to a faulty diet. There is no such thing as an incurable disease went one of the Kingston maxims; there are only incurable people. A bit cruel that, but we did get more than our fair share of the chronically or terminally ill. The moral is that a diet that contains even a minimum of the basic elements can be sufficient. To become its prisoner of any diet is to be avoided at all costs, and we made every effort to persuade our people to accept a balanced view between what they ate and what exercise brought to them. Work on your daily health regime and have a race to win! Develop a growing awareness of your bodies' needs. Learn some basic physiology. Consider a hungry heart.

Initial symptoms particularly, are to be understood and responded to, and if not understood, then given the free rein that would allow healing to happen. On this personal level, there can be no better health regime to follow, coupled with one of the first rules in understanding health; the naturopathic belief and core principle of the Intelligence of Symptoms. A naturopath's job has to have many of the elements of a teacher in the first place. He then has to unravel other elements. It used to be that the straightforward stressing of the value of a healthy life style was sufficient. It is not very clear whether it was the case that times change and problems reflected stress as much as lifestyles, or that the practitioner started to appreciate that a significant percentage of any ailment went further than a need for simple disciplines. Is there, for example, a case to be made for not attempting to cure the patient if in fact the symptom represents the break point in coping with life? Take rheumatism as an example of the inability of the patient to break free of his conditioning, and it becoming the excuse rather than the cause. The basic reason for illness is the need of the body to defend itself against the life denying habits imposed upon it.

But what do we mean by defeat, when in most cases the reason goes beyond the individual, and certainly back to childhood. 'Conflict' occurs when the conditioning of the child is rigorous and persistent. The rules that seem to be necessary to gain love and approval, even in the most radical of families, can repress far too many of basic instincts. The release of emotions then depends on a conscious judgment of right or wrong, and tend to produce a conformity where Nature seeks diversity. The symptom represents the conflict between conditioning and the basic driving instincts. 'I am so happy except for my bad back'!

One is also repeatable struck by how relationships have such a determining role. In order to preserve the harmony of a relationship one or both go into denial. Love which is not expressed and not sufficiently reciprocated, loyalty to the point of denial, suppression of creativity in order to pay off the mortgage, all can lead to all sorts of physiological malfunction. If the cook really loves the food he is cooking for the partner he loves (I am told that men do, or should do, all the cooking these days), the digestive system will cope with a fair amount of abuse. The best of Nature Cure diets can be so demanding, that one fears for the health of the cook, let alone restricting the boundaries of what can be eaten.

Diets are followed hopefully for the benefits that arise. How much is communicated to the tissues is 'nutrition' and variable. Eating food known to be good for you is only really effective if in a happy state, digestive juices flow and continue to flow. The pressurized supply of junk food to young people, and they are happy with it, means an excessive consumption of salt and sugar, and the poorest quality of carbohydrate and protein. We all accept by now that obesity leads to all sorts of bad things. One worries about the choice of a student when nine out of ten of possible mates are in varying degrees of obesity, and the tenth is anorexic. On the other hand 'A little of what you fancy' has a lot going for it.

Thus speaks the practitioner, as he in his wisdom, seeks to untangle the products of conflict and ignorance, and help the patient to a better life. It sounds sanctimonious, but he is not instructing but rather educating, coaxing rather than demanding, but the end result should be that the patient finally understands personal responsibility. Occasionally it works and sometimes the complications from over involvement can be avoided, and it would seem that the more serious the condition, the more the caring factor has to be felt to be effective. And if that isn't Nature Cure it will have to do, until the real thing comes along (from the song of the same theme).

As it is, our resident poet makes a pretty good shot at the two way relationship which has to develop in 'Mysterious Mirror'. This has not only to be seen as personal, it is also universal.