The elusive X factor

October 2003

The X factor is the most important nutrient to worry about. It’s available not in any magical formulation, but in whole natural foods

At the time of writing i have been invited by the Dignity Foundation (a senior citizen’s life enrichment services organisation) to a panel discussion on whether nutritional supplements are beneficial when added to one’s diet. There is no easy answer to this question which I have been debating for several years for my own enlightenment and for my work as an eco-nutritionist. So I decided to put my thoughts on paper since this is an oft-asked question. 

Regular readers of this page may be aware that I believe it was my destiny to enter this field having been born into a family which has avoided doctors like the plague and rarely if ever, popped pills. My parents now past the 70 milestone, have been forced by me to go ayurvedic. My grandmother lived past 80. I lived with her for 35 years and never once saw her swallow pills, not even multivitamins. She did however take homeopathic medicine which isn’t pill-popping in my book. Therefore having been raised in this home milieu, I find it very difficult to take even the most natural supplements. When I first began studying nutrition in the US, 20 years ago, Spirulina was just gaining popularity. I read all the available literature on this wonder supplement and experimented on myself.

Spirulina is a sea algae, rich in micro-nutrients and other essentials. It is however, not a mere supplement. It’s a whole food that can be dried and eaten or processed into a tablet. This sets it apart from supplements as it offers the benefit of being a wholesome food, full of vital nutrients. The problem in taking it in the tablet form is that often the starch, added to give it its tablet avatar, doesn’t allow for the full absorption of its nutrients, as is the downside of most tablets. So not only did I take the powdered version but also made it one of my products because my range consists only of natural whole foods.

I have been unable to add mere supplements to my range because I am not convinced. Other healthy whole foods like flax seeds, alfalfa seeds, sunflower seeds, the traditional millets, amla, medicinal honey, golden sugar and not to forget the balancing brown rice (supplying us with the elusive and essential B vitamins), are all part of my product range besides other everyday foods because they are a storehouse of nutrients in natural combinations that everybody knows how to handle. They are natural ingredients added to a dish rather than a magic potion for gulping down.

Being naturally inclined and despite modern research pointing in the same direction, it is difficult to believe that a product created in a laboratory can supply the body with foods necessary to keep its cells alive and kicking. Yes, if you think of food in terms of nutrients alone, then you can imagine a laboratory combining and processing what is needed into a tablet and hey presto, we have a miracle solution to all our health problems. 

But this is the biggest problem. Do we really know what the body needs to function with the precision it does, to keep the cells in healthy condition and to ward off possible diseases? There are dependencies and interconnections which are far too complex for us even to imagine. Science is only just discovering some and will never be able to know enough to make it possible for scientists to design miracle potions and pills.

I’m often asked why I haven’t written a book on a subject in which I have 20 years of experience. My answer is that the deeper I go into my subject and experience its nuances, the more I realise how little I know. Nature plans only for perfection which is so intrinsic that we would be foolish to even attempt to say we know anything. Every scientific discovery simply confirms, without doubt, that nature is the world’s most competent laboratory. So if you look to nature you can’t go wrong. The X factor, I’ve been convincing people, is the most important nutrient to worry about. It’s available, not in any magic formulation, but in whole natural foods. Let me explain what I mean by the X factor. 

If you plan your diet according to mortal ideas of what is needed, you’ll miss out the X factor. Every discovery of a new vitamin, a new mineral is something that nature already knows. Therefore only eating naturally will give you all that was intended by nature i.e whatever still has to be to discovered in the lab. So consume foods as near to their natural form as possible. Only then will you get the X factor, the undiscovered nutrients, and the life force that can never be present in processed and packaged food.

Of course it is naïve to say that supplements don’t help at all. When one’s diet is really poor and obvious problems surface as a result, then yes, synthetic or natural supplements will immediately make a difference. Sometimes when I travel or eat out too often my upper palate feels raw. Popping a vitamin B capsule sets it right. No matter that it is supposedly a banned item and is synthetic. No matter that it’s contained in a capsule made of animal parts or that it’s not in nature’s balanced proportions with protein and other elements to help assimilation. The fact remains that science has discovered a cure which works. Its side effects one does not know. Its long term curative effect is a mirage. It’s like having a crutch you cannot depend on! 

We need to remember and respect time-honoured solutions for good health: incorporating ayurvedic tonics and homeopathic cell salts in our diet. With no dangers of excesses and no side-effects. Why has this wisdom been forgotten? Where has our common-sense disappeared? Is it simply a case of aggressive marketing by Western medicine? Or is it our own apathy?

So I would honestly say, until an apple or any food can be duplicated by a laboratory as a natural food in its whole form, we are far better off ingesting whole natural foods according to our individual taste. The elusive X factor is the crucial ingredient on which our well-being depends.

Kavita Mukhi

Kavita Mukhi

She is the mentor of The Farmers’ Store and the founder of The Bandra Farmers Market. She is a pioneer, evangelist and an over all inspiration and motivating force of our business. She is actively involved in steering the company up the organic path and also is the qualitative think tank and procurement authority behind all the products sold at The Farmers’ Store. Learn more about her on the About Us Page!

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