Kumain ng wasto – Eat from the root to the fruit.
By Penelope A. Domogo, MD
The theme of this year’s Nutrition Month is “Kumain ng wasto at maging aktibo- Push natin ito!”. Eat right and be active. How do we eat right or eat well? If we believe that somebody greater than us created us and the universe, than we let his design be our guide. His design is what we see in nature. So as we discussed in this column last week, unpolished rice is what our Creator gave for us here in the tropics as a staple food. He did not give us wheat or barley or oats. He gave us rice, millet and corn. These are whole grains. Staple food means our main food. Unpolished rice means that its fiber, vitamins and minerals are still intact. These fiber, vitamins and minerals are very small particles but are very important for our health and well-being- they prevent cancer, diabetes, hypertension, etc. In other words, they are part of the package of nature meant to make us strong and healthy. Hand-pound rice is unpolished rice. Well-milled rice or white rice has been stripped of these fiber, vitamins and minerals. So what do you expect when you eat white rice since you were born? The first adjustment, then. that you can make in your diet is switch to unpolished rice.
We also discussed last week that unpolished rice is a complete food in the sense that it has protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber. So in the past in Igorotland, farmers would sometimes just bring along rice and salt to the uma. But God, our Creator, is not monotonous, He gave us a variety of other plants to eat. And we call these other plants “ulam” or “sibban” or “sibo” or “viand”. So what now would be our best ulam? Again we turn to our Creator and look further at His design. What did He give in nature for food, other than whole grains? Vegetables- He gave whole vegetables, not in vitamin and mineral capsules, but in a variety of beautiful shapes, colors and tastes. Some maybe in season but that is the design. What is in season is what is best for us. Let us trust our Creator that He knows what is best for us. Traditional Chinese medicine, the longest-running science that dates back many centuries ago, has discovered a lot of God’s design regarding plants. They have discovered these without having to subject the plant to gadgets. Our modern gadgets have limited capacity anyway, no matter how high tech these maybe. One of the things that these ancient Chinese scientists have discovered is that the different parts of the plant nourish the different parts of our body.
Let us start from the roots. Root vegetables nourish the kidneys. Root vegetables are camote, gabi, cassava, langkuas or arrowroot, potatoes, carrots, etc. By the way, the shape of the vegetable gives us an idea of the organ that it nourishes. See how wise these ancient scientists are! So the shape of camote approximates that of the kidneys. Roots are best taken in the morning.
Next is the sprouts- mushrooms, mungo sprouts, alfala sprouts and all other sprouts. These are shaped like the liver and so these nourish the liver. Also best taken in the morning with the roots as these will waken you up.
Then we have the leaves – leafy vegetables are shaped like a heart. You guessed it right- they nourish the heart. Best taken during breakfast or lunch because they keep you awake. Bukang-buka sila. In other words, alive na alive.
We don’t usually harvest flowers because we would rather have the fruit. Fruit vegetables are squash, upo, tomatoes, okra, eggplants, and the like. These are shaped like the stomach and spleen and so these are best for these organs. Best taken at supper because they are already in a sleeping state- these contain the seeds. Seeds are in a sleeping state.
Beans belong to a distinct category of … beans. If you open the beans, they look like our 2 lungs. Yes, they nourish the lungs. Beans are also best taken during supper.
If you review all of the above, you will notice that all the vital body organs are nourished. The lesson then is to eat every day from root to fruit so that all our whole body is nourished. We emphasize here that when we say “fruit”, we refer to fruit vegetables, not the tree fruits.
When it comes to eating, it is risky if we let our tongue dictate our food choices. We let nature’s design be our guide and we learn from the science of our ancestors, tried and tested throughout the ages.**