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Understanding the cooling and warming effects of foods

Nutrient dense foods, those higher in fat and protein tend to be warming foods, as do some starchy foods. These foods can have thermogenic properties and thus are warming compared to fruits and leafy vegetables. It is also important to note that the addition of cooling foods in ones diet is just as important as warming foods. A balanced diet contains a wide variety of both cooling and warming foods all year round.

Food Temperaments

Each food has a temperament that it is grown or raised with. This temperament is a food’s identity, what it is, and has the potential to effect the human body with that identity. Food temperaments are comprised of four basic temperatures, hot, cold, cool, and warm. These four are then paired with one of two degrees of moisture, dry and moist (damp).

Generally, those foods that fall into the category of cold/cool are foods of plant origin that are high in water (juice), grown in water, high in vitamins and anti-oxidants, high in simple sugars, grow in tropical or semi-tropical climates, are fermented, and are lower in fat and protein.

Generally, those foods that fall into the category of hot/warm are foods of plant and animal origin that are lower in water content, grow in temperate climates, are high in fat and protein or high in starches like some root vegetables, beans and some grains.

I say “generally” because once you add that stamp of dry or moist to the warm or cool food it is more specifically defined in temperament.

Temperaments are easy to observe in people. A heavy set man, overweight by 70 or 100 lbs., perspiring profusely, with a red face and irritable and angry disposition is obviously carrying a general temperament of hot and moist. A skinny man with sunken cheekbones, dry hands and feet, pale complexion, poor obviously carrying a temperament of cold and dry.

These temperaments are not unlike those of foods and like foods, they can be changed. Our temperaments change through our life choices and food temperaments can be changed through preparation methods (steaming, boiling, roasting, marinating.)

Using the two examples of men in the previous paragraph, let us now put them on one of two diets in order to determine the cooling or warming natures of foods on the human body. Diet 1. Fresh raw fruits, raw vegetables, raw nuts, and seeds. Diet 2. Cooked animal products, moderate amounts of fats and oils, some vegetables, and grains.

If all we wanted to do was cool down the heavy set man from the first example it would not take very long with Diet no.1 but it might take some time with Diet 2. Likewise, in order to warm up the skinny cold man we would obviously suggest Diet 2. While these examples do not describe exactly how raw foods cool it does reveal that the principle foods of some raw food diets have the potential to break down excess, reduce fat, and thus cool the body.

All is relative of course but here is another simple example. Conventional ice cream and soy milk ice cream. I think we can all agree that these are cooling, cold foods. However, which one is more cooling with longer lasting effects? The soy based frozen dessert is more cooling because it does not contain the thermogenic qualities inherent in animal milk. The temptation to expose this soy based fraudulent food is powerful but let us ignore it for now.

Getting to know the temperaments of foods is one way to begin understanding the warming and cooling properties of foods.

Building up and Breaking down

Another way to understand the cooling or warming energetics of foods is through their effects in the human body. The human body builds mass from warming foods that tend to be protein and fat based and there is no doubt the Western world has consumed these in excess but a simple fact is that muscle, tissue, organs and cells are built by proteins and fats.

High fiber raw fruits and green vegetables are lower in these two components yet high in vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. These cooling foods are break down foods in the sense that they have the ability to reduce excess fat and protein in the body through high enzyme activity, especially when eaten raw. When fat and protein reserves are diminished the body cools, blood pressure drops, and numerous other changes occur.

One could argue that fruits and vegetables are building foods for apes and monkeys but if you think about an ape and its eating patterns you will find that it eats massive quantities of plant foods at one sitting and a cow grazes all day long. Furthermore, we human omnivores are neither apes nor cows so the argument is not even worth debating. Further, most herbivores get their daily share of animal foods in the form of insects for grazing animals and insects and small rodents for monkeys and apes.

Enzymes and Fermentation

Witness the powerful effect of papaya on meat. A single slice of papaya placed on a piece of meat will immediately begin digesting, breaking down the meat. Fruits are high in enzymes and one of the primary roles of food enzymes is to break down concentrated nutrient dense foods in the human body.

A diet high in breakdown foods (raw fruits, vegetables and seeds and nuts) can be beneficial for those wanting to cleanse the body of excess heat and lose weight. It may not be the best approach for everyone but it is an option that does get results. However, like a strict macrobiotic diet and vegan diets it too leads to the physiological reactions ranging from being hungry all the time to intense cravings for fats and proteins.

In summary then, cooling break down foods are mostly plant foods that contain high levels of enzymes, high fiber content, high simple sugar content, high chlorophyll content (green foods), and fermented foods.

Fermentation actually facilitates the break down of plant fibers and alters the cellular structure of plant cells. This form of decomposition also has a cooling effect on the body. Fermented foods are essential in any healthy diet because they assist in the break down and absorption of warming fats and proteins.

What about tofu? Is it cooling? Hold it in your hand, feel it, squeeze it, bite it. The temperament of tofu is cold and moist. Okay, now slice the tofu and fry it. Add it to a hearty stew of root vegetables and fish, seasoned with miso. Now what is the temperament of that tofu?

How about that papaya? Temperament, cold and moist. Dry that papaya and its new temperament is cool and dry. A foods temperament can be altered by what is done to the food and by what other foods are combined with it. There is no one correct way to eat foods.

By that, I mean 100% raw is not the way to go nor is 100% cooked the way to go. Both are essential for a healthy human diet. Should we eat a carrot raw simply because it has more enzymes that way and were it cooked those enzymes would be destroyed? Carrots are also high in carotenoids, beta-carotene, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. Sautéing carrots frees the carotenoids for absorption and offers another way of getting benefits from carrots you would not get if you ate them raw all the time. Both are great ways to eat carrots depending on what you are preparing and what kind of energetics you are looking for.

Digestion and absorption are part of an organized process that requires warmth. Your digestive fire is activated and sustained by fats and proteins and the regulation of your metabolic fire is dependent on these two macronutrients as well. They are the foods that keep the digestive fire burning.

This does not mean one should eat excessive quantities of these foods but to maintain healthy digestive fire one should consume these warming and building foods in small quantities to offset the cooling break down effects of a high plant based diet.

Other ways you can learn to understand the warming and cooling natures of foods are to think about how a food grows and the environment where it is grown; near water or in water, on fertile land or dry land, in a forest, high or low sun exposure? How was it was eaten by traditional people and why?

These and other important qualities of food are all influences on the human body and mind. Some are subtle while others are obvious. Many of these unique qualities of foods, which were clearly understood by our ancestors through energetic science, are often taken for granted or given little thought by us. Meanwhile, more and more of these energetic qualities are being rediscovered and confirmed through modern science. One of the latest fields of food research has to do with plant communication.

Oh yes, food does communicate with us. Listen, observe, taste, and learn.

Article by Steve Gagne, the author of “The Energetics of Food”

How Vitamins can effect Calcium Absorption

Can vitamin C and D and calcium be taken at the same time?  In the case of Calcium it needs Vitamin C and D to help with the absorption of calcium.

Taking different vitamin capsules at the same time is usually fine. There are a few exceptions which can help you decide what you should take together, what foods will help best absorb vitamins, and when you should avoid taking different vitamin capsules together. Essentially only a few vitamins and minerals inhibit absorption of each other, e.g. avoid taking iron and calcium together. It reduces the efficacy of both minerals. Also avoid taking large doses of zinc with calcium. At high doses, zinc can interfere with calcium absorption.

The body best absorbs calcium, whether from food or supplements, when it’s taken several times a day in amounts of not more than 500mg, but taking it all at once is better than not taking it at all. Calcium carbonate is absorbed best when taken with food. Calcium citrate can be taken anytime.

The body performs different functions at different times of the day. Many people suggest adding food supplements at varied times of the day to accommodate for the digestion and assimilation of these nutrients.

Calcium is utilized at night, and also because calcium can help you get to sleep when taken at bed time. Stimulating vitamins, such as vitamin C, should not be taken before bedtime. Fat-soluble vitamins need fat in order to be absorbed, so they should always be taken with meals that contain fat. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K.

Calcium supplements often come in combination with vitamin D, which is necessary for the absorption of calcium. However, calcium and vitamin D do not need to be taken together or in the same preparation to be absorbed by the body. Minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus also are important but usually are obtained through food or multivitamins. Most experts recommend that nutrients come from a balanced diet, with multivitamins used to supplement dietary deficiencies.

Some calcium supplements may cause side effects, such as gas or constipation, for some people. If simple measures (such as increasing your intake of fluids and high-fiber foods) do not solve the problem, you should try another form of calcium. Also, it is important to increase the dose of your supplement gradually: take just 500 mg a day for a week, and then slowly add more calcium. Do not take more than the recommended amount of calcium without your doctor’s approval.

A couple of other tips -

  • Eat foods high in the amino acid lysine, which is needed for calcium absorption. These include eggs, fish, lima beans and soy products
  • Take a sunbath without sunscreen for 15 minutes, three times a week. Sunshine is the easiest way to get vitamin D, which is essential for proper absorption of calcium. Stay out of the sun when the rays are strongest, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Divide up your doses of calcium. It appears to work more effectively if taken in smaller doses spread out over the day, rather than a large dose all at once.
  • Decrease or eliminate soft drinks from your diet. They are high in phosphorus, which can cause you to lose calcium. High phosphorus intake can lead to calcium excretion in your urine.
  • Decrease or eliminate animal-based products in your diet. High intake of animal-based proteins causes increased amounts of calcium to be excreted in your urine. A high intake of sodium is another culprit.
  • Cut down on junk foods, alcohol, caffeine and white flour. All of these lead to an excessive loss of calcium from your body and a decreased rate of absorption.
  • Eat foods containing oxalic acid in moderation. Oxalic acid interferes with calcium absorption. Foods containing oxalic acid include almonds, beet greens, cashews, chard, kale, rhubarb and spinach.
  • Use wheat bran in moderation. Excessive amounts can interfere with calcium absorption.
    Check your prescription medications. Some, such as glucocorticoids, can interfere with calcium absorption.
  • General recommendations for nutritional supplementation:  To avoid stomach problems and promote better tolerance, supplements should always be taken earlier, or in the middle of a larger meal. When taken on an empty stomach or after a meal, there is a greater risk of some tablets causing irritation, or eventually erosion of the esophageal sphincter, resulting in Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).  It is also advisable not to lie down immediately after taking any pills.  When taking a very large daily amount of a single nutrient, it is better to split it up into smaller doses to not interfere with the absorption of other nutrients in food, or nutrients supplemented at lower amounts.

Cellulite solutions

More than 90 per cent of all women are reported to have cellulite. The good news is that by living a balanced lifestyle and following a comprehensive skin care program, your cellulite can be significantly improved.

What is cellulite?

Cellulite is a non-medical term used to describe the fat deposits under the skin that are characterised by a dimpled or orange peel affect. The skin is connected by strands of fibrous tissue to deeper tissue layers and compartments that contain fat cells. When fat cells increase in size, these compartments bulge and create the dimpled appearance on the skin, especially around the hips, bottom and thighs. It is thought that genetics, hormones, lack of exercise, an unbalanced diet, pregnancy and aging, can all contribute to the cellulite problem.

Does the right diet help?

Eating the right food can help your skin become firmer. Really this comes down to making sure you consume a well-balanced diet, with a focus on fresh fruit and vegetables from organic or biodynamic farms and unprocessed foods. Your body’s acid-alkaline balance is also important as it plays a key role in the functioning of your connective tissue.

Remember to eat foods rich in capillary strengthening antioxidants such as berries, cherries and grapes. If your capillaries are strong your blood can flow freely to the fat cells and reduce cellulite forming.

Does exercise help?

Physical exercise combats cellulite by stimulating blood circulation and fat burning. When it comes to exercise, aim for regular and sustainable physical activities. Never miss an opportunity to walk rather than take the car or elevator. Well-trained muscles in your bottom make your skin tissues firmer.

Your Three Step Plan to smoother thighs

1. Gently exfoliate

Be cautious of harsh exfoliants which can disturb the skin’s regeneration rhythm and damage its protective barrier and immune functions. Gentle, natural treatment is what is needed. A Birch body scrub will stimulate circulation and eliminate toxins via the skin, gently massaging away only dead skin cells. When used regularly it may help to reduce the signs of cellulite, leaving your skin feeling silky, cleansed and ready to receive oils and lotions. It is ideal to get a scrub containing Birch and other organic ingredients to not only detoxify the skin but replenish and support the skin’s regenerative process.
2. Revitalising massage

Next, massaging troublesome areas with organic birch oil can help to smooth skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite. Organic birch oil is well known for its purifying and detoxifying effects, the plant encourage metabolic activity and the excretion of fluids. In fact, results from an independent trial conducted by a team of German dermatologist showed, elasticity and smoothness after just 28 days. (Source: Results from 20 women, as compared to the initial skin condition, DC Derma Consultant GmbH 10/2003)

3. Internal support

While diet and exercise can diminish cellulite, a large part of the condition is due to toxins and the fat that accrue within the body, so improving your lymphatic system will also help. The lymphatic system is a specialised network of connective tissues that control your body’s waste removal system and fat metabolism. You can help stimulate your lymphatic system by drinking lots of water to flush out toxins, aim for at least eight glasses of pure water daily. Adding organic silver birch juice, a lymphatic cleanser, to your water will cleanse your system and leave your skin looking clear and healthy.

Why Birch?

The birch tree was one of the first trees to re-establish itself after the last Ice age. It has a great need for water, but it does not store water, instead it continuously circulates water through its system by draining water up from the roots and then evaporating it from its leaves. This ‘flushing out’ effect is the same principle by which it works in the body, whereby the circulator, lymphatic and detoxification systems are stimulated.

What can help a nervous bladder?

Q. I have a nervous bladder, what can help?

A. The layered, smooth muscle that surrounds the bladder (detrusor muscle) contracts spastically, sometimes without a known cause, which results in sustained, high bladder pressure and the urgent need to urinate. Normally, the detrusor muscle contracts and relaxes in response to the volume of urine in the bladder and the initiation of urination.

With regard to a nervous bladder, many women benefit from squeezing the pelvic floor muscles during a stressful event such as a cough – this acts against the increase in pressure which causes the urine leakage. The trick is to squeeze the muscles of the urinary and vaginal area and pull them upwards prior to the sneeze or cough, and before lifting heavy items.

Other factors that may help is to maintain your ideal body weight with a low-fat, balanced diet and regular exercise. 


  • Constipation by maintaining a high fiber diet and regular water intake
  • Food and drinks containing caffeine, which increases bladder irritability and urinary frequency
  • Alcohol which can cause an increase in urination.

Weakness or incompetence of the structures of the urinary system can occur following childbirth, after menopause or following a hysterectomy or may be a sign of a low-grade, symptom-free urinary tract infection.

Bladder weakness is also a potential side-effect of many diuretics, sedatives, antidepressants, antihistamines, and other medications. Discuss your concerns about these possibilities with your health care professional.

With regards to products that may help:

  • Astringent herbs such as Agrimony help to tighten the mucous membranes of the urinary tract and may assist with bladder control as does Raspberry Leaf.
  • The tissue salt Calcium Fluoride taken over an extended period may help to improve the integrity of the urinary structures.
  • If there is low-grade infection, the herbs Cranberry, Uva Ursi or Buchu may be helpful.
  • St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) can be helpful if the condition is associated with depression.