Body and mind are strongly connected and the food we eat greatly affects our thoughts and emotions. The state of the body can trap the mind in a gloomy, sluggish and static state and it can uplift the mind into an inspired, creative and sentient state. Food affects the state of the body, and the state of the body affects the state of the mind. Therefore a correct selection of food does not only play a vital role in our physical well-being but also plays a vital role in the process in which our thoughts are formed and our emotions are developed.
Health is not a mere absence of disease. Rather it is the inner freedom and capacity to fully explore and experience our potentials as human beings. It is a state of balance where we can continue to evolve our bodies and expand our minds. Of course food is not the only factor for being healthy, but it is such a significant one, that by neglecting it a person can hinder both body and mind from functioning on an optimal level.
When looking for a food selection and a diet to embrace one needs to take into consideration the physical, mental and spiritual aspect of the human existence. The selected food should enable us to develop all these three aspects of our existence.
According to Ayurveda and Tantra Yoga philosophy as presented by Rajadhiiraja there are three forces functioning in the universe; the sentient force, the mutative force and the static force.
The sentient force (or Sattvic in the Sanskrit language) is responsible for creation; when this force dominates a person, the person feels sentient, aware, creative, focused, clear-minded, inspired and uplifted. The mutative force (or Rajasic in Sanskrit) is responsible for mutation and when it dominates a person, the person feels stimulated, restless, anxious and hyper. The static force (or Tamasic in Sanskrit) is the force of stagnation and destruction; when it dominates a person, the person feels static, dull, sluggish, foggy, with cloud-minded and lacking inspiration.
Food, according to its influence on the human body and mind, is categorized into these three categories: sentient (sattvic) food, mutative (rajasic) food and static (tamasic) food which can respectively increase the sentient force or the mutative force or the static force.
According to tantra yoga recommendations one should completely avoid static food, may or may not consume mutative food and should mainly consume sentient food.
If mutative food is consumed, it should be done in moderation, for the mutative force is the force in the phase of transformation between the sentient state and the static state, so an excessive amount of mutative food can bring upon the static state, while a moderate amount can keep the force closer to the sentient force. However, consumption of the mutative food is not necessary at all.
Static food includes all kinds of meat, fish, eggs, onions, garlic, mushrooms, red lentils, white eggplant, mustard leaves, violet carrots, alcohol beverage, cigarettes, recreational drugs, stale and rotten food. Mutative food (or drinks) includes coffee, cocoa and black or green tea which contains caffeine. Sentient food includes all grains, pulses and beans (except red lentils), all fruits, vegetables and roots (except white eggplants, violet-coloured carrots, onion, garlic and mushrooms), all green and leafy vegetables (except mustard leaves), nuts, seeds and milk products.
It is more natural for humans to be herbivorous than to be carnivorous. Although the body can learn to survive by consuming animal flesh, it is not natural for the human organism and can cause many unnecessary physical and mental illnesses. Many illnesses can be avoided and cured by returning to what is natural.
To see whether human nature is carnivorous or herbivorous, here is a quick comparison between carnivorous and herbivorous animals to make the point.
– Carnivores can tear the flesh of their prey with the help of their canines and swallow it to be digested by their strong stomach hydrochloric acid which is about 20 times stronger than that in herbivores and humans. Herbivores need to use their molars for grinding their food and chewing for mixing it with saliva in order to aid digestion.
– Carnivores have simple digestive system with short tract, strong hydrochloric acid and fast digestion. Generally, the length of their digestive tract compared with the length of their body is much shorter than that in herbivores and humans. The digestive tract in carnivores is designed to digest meat and excrete waste rapidly, as decaying meat requires passing through quickly, otherwise it becomes toxic for the body. The digestive system in herbivores and humans is more complexed with slower digestion and longer tract.
– Carnivores have no sweat glands on their skin and they perspire through the tongue, cooling themselves by panting, while herbivores perspire through their skin pores and cool themselves by sweating, same as humans do.
– Carnivores drink water by licking it while herbivores and humans drink water by sucking it.
The human body has the capacity to adjust and survive. But surviving is not the aim, rather it is to flourish and experience optimal health. Many unnecessary physical and emotional problems can be cured by adopting a natural way of eating.
Some theories say that humans started eating animals during the ice age when vegetation was destroyed and the surviving species fed on each other.
There are also many other factors related to the meat consumption such as environmental and ethical factors.
With the abundance of vegan resources, humans can rationally get all their required nutrition without exercising harm to themselves, to animals and to the environment.
Eggs are advertised as a rich source of protein but that kind of protein does not meet the human requirement for protein. Animal protein is far too acid forming for the body and is associated with heart diseases, diabetes and cancer. There are many vegan resources that are rich in protein and can provide the body with individual amino acids which are easier for the body to use and don’t leave toxic waste as complex animal protein does.
Eggs are also packed with saturated fats and cholesterol which increase the risk of many serious health problems. Eggs contain over three times more cholesterol than a steak.
Onion and garlic
Onion and garlic are mistakenly considered to be healthy because of their antibacterial property. But they can destroy both the bad bacteria and the good ones. The good bacteria in the gut flora are very important for our digestion and proper absorption of nutrients. They also protect us from bad bacteria and contribute to the acid-alkaline balance. Onion and garlic themselves are highly acidic. Moreover onion and garlic are toxic for the brain cells, causing anxiety, restlessness and lack of concentration and they disturb the synchronization between the two hemispheres of the brain. Garlic contains a substance called sulphone hydroxyl which penetrates through all the barriers including the blood-brain barrier.
Mushrooms are fungi and not plants. They have their own classification under the kingdom of fungi, separate from animals and plants. They have no chlorophyll and they obtain their nutrition from metabolizing dead or decaying organic matter.
Mushrooms are considered static in their influence on the human body and mind.
Many yogis consider milk to be sentient. The consumption of milk is, however, completely unnecessary for humans.
The categorization of milk as sentient might apply only for milk when it is produced in an organic and animal loving environment and were cows are not injected with hormones or antibiotics, and were they are fed with plant-based food and more specifically are fed with fresh grass rather than grains. Unfortunately the milk industry has become a place for animal suffering and the original nature of milk has been altered. Although milk in its original form is considered by many yogis to be sentient it is still unnecessary for human consumption as cow’s milk is meant for cow’s babies.
Resources about the sentient diet: ‘’Yoga Psychology’’ and ‘’Yogic Treatment and Natural Remedies ‘’ by Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar. ‘’Diet for Health and Higher Consciousness’’ by Dada Shiilabhadrananda. Food for Thought’’ by Didi Ananda Miitra.
Raw sentient food
More nutrition can be obtained from sentient food when it is eaten raw. Eating food that has not been cooked or exposed to temperatures above 42°C ensures that vitamins, minerals and enzymes have not been destroyed by heat. Eating food when it is still raw maintains all the nutrients and freshness and keeps the food vital. Raw food is much healthier than cooked food, as eating food when it is still raw and vital enhances our vitality and increases our force of life. Health is compromised when our life force is depleted. Eating food that is still raw contributes towards increasing our life force, thus makes us healthier.
To ensure that you obtain all of the nutrition you require, it is necessary that you vary the ingredients you use from meal to meal and integrate sprouts, fermented food and super food into your diet. Make sure that your diet also includes high portions of dark green leaves where nutrients and chlorophyll are packed in abundance.