The Secrets of the Ultimate Nutrition Revolution: From Grandma's Wisdom to Modern Detox Trends!

By Asma Ferdoes

I remember my mother often tell tales of her grandmother who made lavish recipes from pure desi ghee, and made sure all the children ate all the cereals, drank cow’s milk and slept at proper hours. Thus was the country life of people in early independent years (of India). They lived in a fast growing suburb of Tamil Nadu then and followed their forefathers footsteps, cherished the knowledge and wisdom passed down through generations, and made sure everything had the right quality, quantity and received due esteem from all in the family. Nothing was ever wasted and everything was well maintained and clean.

Over the years in my grandmother’s reign, processed foods and packaged items gained popularity and she and many like her transcended to easy to use packaged products and readymade sweets and delicacies. This saved their time and effort and was the modern way of living. Still some tips and kitchen rules were too sacred to be abandoned. Like, children had to be given fresh cow’s milk; food had to be cooked in Desi Ghee and in a certain way and eating hours had to be strictly followed. Yet some simple plain stuff lost their popularity just because they had to compete with a more delicious alternative (like Guavas versus Apples), were a bit complex to prepare (like Ragi, Millets, etc) or became status symbols (like jaggery and palm sugar were too rustic and below city dwellers status to be used), etc.

Then by the time my mother became the Queen of her household, milk began to come in packages, processed and ready to eat food packets became so famous and a lifestyle, cereals and rice began to get polished, poultry and fish began to get farmed and access to old-school methods became nearly impossible. Those who had connections to rural India could still enjoy the olden day’s traditions occasionally but those who lived and had migrated completely to cities were lost in this jungle. But I still remember my parents using shallots for onions, prefer native- tomatoes (over farmed ones), hire milkman to ensure we got pure cow’s milk and use groundnut oil for cooking. Wheat, rice, and various kitchen masalas were still freshly ground in local mills. And fast-food and outdoor eateries were a rare treat. These were the remnants of the knowledge and wisdom her ancestors had endeavoured to pass down. The little odd pearls that were still precious to them, and on whose goodness they could have sworn with their eyes closed.

Fast forward to a decade ago, when we were given the proverbial mantle, and way past the golden jubilee of our country’s independence, everything became modernised. Life was on a roller-coaster, we believed anything propagated to us; the old-is-gold methods became too complex to handle. We had everything at our arm’s reach. My mother would still scold us every time we brought home takeaways, would advice us to eat chapattis and dosas over instant noodles and told innumerable stories of her grandmother and how everything was farm fresh and home cooked, and all enjoyed wonderful health as its reward.

But all was not trash! We became aware and within reach of such international wonders that were never heard of before and which carried a whole-load of goodness like Oats, Kiwi, Dragon fruit, Red Carrot, Muesli, varieties of such millets, fruits and veggies that we fell in love with them at first sight, or to be more precise in first bite.

But now (The Present Day) it is the revolution. In this fast-paced world, hectic life-style and its inherent stress, all we need is easy ad ready food when we return home and a wholesome diet that would keep us energised all day. Thanks to the boom in internet, and easily accessible knowledge we are becoming more aware of the true value of contents and what is better for us. We are questioning everything we are told and not just blindly believing commercial propaganda. We have come to realise the beauty and worth of the age-old knowledge and wisdom lost to us over the years. Plus, the health hazards we became prone to due to our deteriorating lifestyles and mad-rush, and lies we know now that were fed to us in our growing years has opened our eyes, ears and avenues to better and easier options. We are reviving our lifestyle and eating habits to include more fresh air, activities and nutritious and natural products.

The trend today is to start early, eat fresh and detoxify. As such, we take time to make exercise a must part of our morning/evening routine. May it be yoga, acrobats, gymnastics, dance-forms or basic walking and aerobics, we have adapted an exercise form of our choice and suitability to de-stress ourselves and aid our body to absorb more freshness from around us, and also ensure it maintains its health to absorb all the nutrition we know we need.

Next, our diets include a wide variety of fruits, dry fruits, veggies and cereals from morning till evening such that we leave no stone unturned and no option untapped to ensure a balanced nutrition and complete health-boost. We have now access to even the olden-days treasures, aka traditional recipes and foods thanks to online sellers, door-step food deliveries and online recipes now revived via internet.

The key highlights to the recent trends regarding our focus on nutrition can be summed up in few pointers like,

  • · Fresh fruits and veggies: we now prefer to eat fresh fruits and veggies that are bought on the go or on weekends rather than storing it up for weeks together in the refrigerator. This ensures fresher and more nutritious ingredients for our meals and in turn better health and taste.

  • · Unpolished cereals and rice: thanks to eye-opening research and forward-thinking industry research we have regained access to unpolished grains, lentils, cereals and stuffs which ensures that the outermost layer of essential nutrients is not lost. They even taste better and are more wholesome to eat.

  • ·  Rediscovering long-lost gems: the wonderful fruits, vegetables and millets/grains which had lost their sheen to being either boring or too low for our “status” like the ones I mentioned earlier are regaining their due credit. In fact foods like Guavas, Ragi, Jaggery, Groundnut oil, Essential oils, Natural flavouring substances (vanilla, rose, kewra, etc), and even natural food colouring agents are becoming fashionable and no longer looked upon as inferior or plain.

  • ·  More natural the better: we are going far and wide through internet and oftentimes even to lengths and breaths in actual to ensure the products we consume are fresh, hygienic and less chemical are included. As such native-bred poultries, sea food that comes from the seas, and even vegetables that are native (than farm-grown or hybrid) is preferred and obtained. Thus we see a rise in the availability and consumers for native tomatoes, native corn/maize, green lentils, shallots, etc.

  • ·  Wholesome food and sprouts: there was a time not so long ago that white bread was our go-to food, and we didn’t even like sprouts let alone care to know how to make them. But again thanks to our easily available research and knowledge forums we are shifting to fresher bread varieties like pita and sour-dough, opting for whole-wheat or millet breads, whole wheat pastas (and other varieties) and saying no to refined flour. Sprouts of lentils, cereals and even millets are readily available online which offer a whole different load of goodness and nutrition.

  • ·  Desi Ghee and seed-oils: these had faced a lot of defamation in the past decades mainly due to the fact that they are fattening and carry a strong flavour. We had become so obsessed with being slim and trim, and were scared to invite heart related diseases, that we readily sacrificed these golden oils for more light on stomach and light on taste sunflower oil and stuff. We didn’t give a second thought to the numerous health benefits and goodness their promised. But now we know! We know that the benefits their offer is irreplaceable, and to counteract their flop-side (fattening agents) we just need to exercise as much. Use it in moderation and maintain an active lifestyle is the mantra.

  • ·  Natural seeds and dry-fruits: natural seeds and dry fruits was what our ancestors used to snack upon, and these are exactly the stuff the youth of today are beginning to prefer over chips and chocolates these days. As such health-bars made of natural sugars and variety of seeds, and dry fruits like dates, figs, apricots, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, lotus seeds, and even dried kiwi and gooseberries are gaining popularity and their own fan-base.

  • · Moderation is the key: we still love to indulge in temptations. So, we still love to eat outdoor, binge on pizza and Chinese, we still love our soft-drinks, cocktails and mocktails; we are still crazy over chocolate! But we know now to control our cravings and indulge in moderation and back them up with ample exercise and healthier varieties or side dishes like salads, and decoctions.

  • · No to sugar and salt: the youth today are becoming more and more disinclined towards white sugar and white salt, mainly due to them being bleached, empty calories and low in nutrition. Rather we are turning towards other natural and better alternatives like honey, palm sugar, Himalayan salt, pink salt, etc.

Thus, we eat what we prefer, and are tending to eat more right, than merely following the herd, so as to ensure more nutrition and health benefits in what we eat. This in turn ensures keeping several health hazards at bay.

Another wonderful trend we are following now is to detoxify our body. We are falling in love with our body again, and realising the various chemicals, toxins and pollutants we are exposed to due to the present lifestyle all around us, we are going an extra mile to cleanse and detoxify our body internally through the miracles of nature and innovations. As such,

  • ·  We tend to drink as much water as possible.

  • ·  Naturally infused water with herbs and rinds (like mint, coriander, lemon and citrus, etc) that help flush out toxins are also becoming popular.

  • · Fresh soups and fresh juices are also becoming a welcome change in our diets which ensure both added nutrition and detoxification.

  • · Consuming more herbs, spices and greens as they are power-packed with natural nutrients and also cleanse our body as part of their package. Black pepper, spinach, dill leaves, jeera, cilantro, rosemary, and all are just some of the names I can mention. The list is endless so is the goodness their offer.

  • ·  Green tea, green coffee and herbal decoctions are the next big thing. These are becoming very popular as invigorators and detoxifiers and do help a lot in retaining nutrition from our diet as well.

To sum it up, I can only say the recent trend in nutrition is a very promising one, backed with sound knowledge and research, and supported by whole-hearted efforts and dedication. We value our health now, wish to prevent as many ailments rather than find cure after getting prone, and thus we now understand the value and ease of maintaining a nutritious and healthy life-style than we did even a decade ago. We realise now that it is never too late to revert to nutritious and natural foods and to ensure health and nutrition no food is too complex or too plain. If we can send rocket to the moon, we can master any recipe.