Begin your journey back to the roots now!
Today I was sitting at a coffee shop close to home sipping on my latte, when I noticed a bunch of really young children enter
McDonald on the opposite road with grins on their faces.
Somehow, I was instantly reminded of the controversy that surrounded McDonald’s many years ago when it had just entered the
Indian market. At that time, a lot of religious groups had created a lot of
noise about beef being used in some form or the other in some of their
products. Needless to say, they succumbed to the reality of the Indian market
and made their products beef-free. But surprisingly, nobody has ever made noise
about the amount of processed products used in their food so far. How cool are
we? We care more about religion that about our health and our children!
Have you noticed how children seem to be thronging to places like
McDonald’s and KFC almost on a daily basis? And
not only children, you may have seen their much younger siblings and much older
parents/ relatives / friends also doing the same. Most of them are hopelessly
addicted to aerated drinks, burgers, pizzas, fries and all other such fast /
junk food. And if you start noticing, have you noticed how little ones have
already started using products like perfumes, lotions, shampoos, oils,
cosmetics and medicines which perhaps people of my generations started in our
teens. While I can still accept the notion of these relatively grown up bodies
being able to digest and absorb such chemically processed and synthetic
products, what worries me tremendously is the idea of babies being subjected to
Allowing chemicals to be our guests
I am not targeting
any particular establishment through this post. If you pick up American
newspapers you are bound to see articles on cases filed against a lot of
organizations that produce processed / junk / fast / synthetic food or other
products, but our country seems to be behind somewhere. We may belong to one of
the oldest civilizations in the world, the land of Ayurveda, and all that, but today we
are allowing out bodies to absorb chemicals freely without realizing the long
term hazards that this will cause.
What surprises me even more is how the situation has spiraled down so fast. There are multiple health problems that most people around us, especially people consuming these processed foods in cities or towns, are suffering from and there seem to be no solutions at all. Most of my friends (and this includes me) are running to allopathic doctors often with allergies, fevers, colds, obesity, asthma etc; but modern medicines seem to be becoming less effective each day. Or are the problems becoming bigger? How is it that my parents’ generation was able to somehow find solutions to a lot of health problems that today seem insurmountable?
Babies’ early growth and development
Please allow me to present a little analysis here. Becoming so fascinated with this topic of natural / Ayurvedic vs. chemical / processed; I decided to do some research, experimentation and present my report on my blog. What made this research more compelling for me was the fact that this concerned very young children mostly, who were obviously not aware of the difference between artificial and natural, Ayurveda and chemicals or organic and processed. I realized that children have little control over what products they use and hence it is the responsibility of not only their own parents but people like you and me to create awareness that will ensure that the early years of a baby’s growth are as natural as possible.
The first few years are a time of rapid development, especially the first three years of life, when the brain also grows at its fastest rate, and this represents a crucial time of development during which proper nutrition is essential. Many studies have revealed that those babies who have been fed primarily processed food have lower IQ, immune system and overall well-being. Babies who have been exposed to chemically processed / synthetic products, at early ages have shown higher tendency for diseases and illnesses. You can find the results of a lot of these studies through a simple Google search.
How bad are chemical additives?
Now, is a chemical additive really that bad in a food or other products used by us or around us? The answer is yes, though you may not see the results immediately. The effects mostly are cumulative; a gradual build-up in the body produces roller-coaster days, some good, some bad. Some children are more sensitive to food chemicals and display immediate effects soon after ingestion of additives, colours in particular. You can read more about this topic here.
The article says that in small amounts additives are not harmful but sadly children are consuming several times more additives than the acceptable daily intake (ADI). It goes on to say that at present, there is no separate ADI for children. Consequently, dose for weight our children are getting horrific amounts of these toxic additives in everyday snacks and meals. What is even more disturbing about this approval process is that additives are tested in isolation. The reality is humans consume innumerable and frightening cocktails of additives in combination. Risk of toxic additives, in isolation or in combination, is evidently most high among infants and children. Age is an important susceptibility factor, with infants and young children being most vulnerable to chemical carcinogens.
The short-cut generation
Leaving aside the fancy or scientific word used in this article, I think the point is simple. Today’s generation wants everything faster, prettier and easier. We want to be become healthy, richer and more beautiful ASAP. We don’t have patience to chop and peel vegetables so we buy ready-to-eat dishes. Companies realize this so they adapt to this and in fact fuel it further. They modify vegetables, fruit, grain and most other naturally occurring products so that they ship more easily, look prettier, taste better, cost cheaper, produce faster and give more profits. Sadly, the nutrients, natural benefits, qualities and advantages have been diminished in the process. Nature had intended things to be in a certain way but the profit motive of business organizations today has tampered with most naturally growing products and made them very harmful for the body in the long run. And sadly, most of us do not realize it when we expose our children to such synthetic products.
In fact a lot of young parents use chemical products because they think it is superior to tradition ones. Based on advertisements, fancy packaging or just under peer pressure, they start using synthesized products for their children. Little do they realize that the richest and best products they can use for their children were present in
India many years before any of the
modern technologies were born. Little do they know that Ayurveda was discovered
and developed by ancient Indian holy men known as Rishis. And that these Rishis
were scientists far superior than those of today.
Ayurveda and Allopathy
No that we are on the topic of Ayurveda, I would like to discuss a bit about the difference between Ayurveda and allopathy. As I just mentioned, rishis were scientists – they made huge advances in the fields of surgery, herbal medicine, the medicinal effects of minerals and metals, exercise, physiology, human anatomy, and psychology. They developed a tradition of knowledge that was fluid and allowed for growth. Ayurveda was built as new therapies and herbs were discovered and trade brought new information from other cultures. Their surgeries included difficult procedures such as Caesarean section, which was successfully performed in the West only in the last 100 years. Passed down from teacher to student for centuries, this information was recorded in Vedas when written language was developed.
Allopathy is based on major three steps: hypothesis, experimentation and observation and finally the theory or the conclusion. In today’s world, allopathy follows a methodological approach towards diagnosing and treating patience. In this system the diseases are treated with drugs which have opposite effects to the existing symptoms. Because of the length of time taken by ayurvedic medicines, and the swiftness with which allopathic medicines seem to take away the symptoms of the illnesses, allopathy has become more and more popular with the passage of time. Side effects like effects like hair loss, weak health, allergies are easily overlooked and so is the fact that ayurvedic medicines actually treat the root cause of the illness or disease.
So, what’s next?
I strongly believe that there is nothing that beats nature. The mere fact that we have evolved today to become such an intelligent species without the intervention of any man-made products or services tells me that there is a design behind everything that is happening. Everything that human beings, animals, birds and all other inhabitants of this planet need is already present on this very same planet in the right constitution, design, quantity and quality. As long as we do not tamper with it, it will serve us just fine. But the moment we start thinking we are superior and smarter, things will get massively imbalanced.
There have been many examples already (as discussed above too) showing the results of manual interference with nature, and there will continue to be more if we do not learn our lessons soon. I would suggest all of us should sit with our parents today itself and learn from them the golden secrets of traditional knowledge. There are so many pearls of wisdom that have got lost from generation to generation because of man’s myopia that if we do not restore it now, it may never be. I suggest that we recognize that traditional is best when it comes to a child’s early growth and development. I suggest that if we want healthy and happy children, we go back to the roots!
Some simple things to remember as you begin your journey back to the roots in your child’s early years
- To give your child the best start at life, and help instill healthy habits that will last a lifetime, you must lead by example.
- Breast feed till at least the baby reaches the age of
- As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce for your family as they contain the least pesticides and fertilizers. Small children are the most vulnerable to the toxic substances present in pesticides and fertilizers and hence as they start eating solids, it is very important to feed them food that is as natural as possible.
- Increase your intake of fresh whole natural foods. Cut the intake of processed, canned and prepackaged foods, no matter how convenient, attractive or cheap.
- Avoid using plastic as much as possible in utensils, packaging and storage. For your children use glass bottle feeders as early as possible though it needs to be under strict supervision.
- Be very careful while buying your baby products like toys, clothes, toiletries etc. a lot of products in the market are highly processed and synthetic and hence expose your child to artificial and toxic substances.
- Do not fall for products that promise quick results whether be instant hair fall reduction shampoos or fat reducing allopathic tablets. These are fads that could be very harmful in the long run. Patience is the key where your family’s health is concerned.
- Plant your own vegetables, herbs and fruit if possible. Use natural manure.
- Plant trees and encourage your children to do so. If they are encouraged to be environment friendly at a young age, they will tend to lead more pro-environment, organic, healthy and safe lives. Tell them the importance of saving water, power, electricity and fuel and how their wastage is bad for the planet. These are cruicial lifestyle choices that can be taught to children early in life itself.
p.s. This blog post has been written for a contest organized by Dabur Lal tail, which is one of the best oils available for children in the Indian market today. It is made of natural ingredients like Till Tail, Ratanjyot,
Camphor and Urad; and is purely Ayurvedic. Shankha Pushpi