Can Spices, Herbs and Condiments Be Part Of An Optimal Diet?
By Mikkel Gisle Johnsen
Coming from a standard diet, we’re all used to spices and condiments playing a large role in our food experience. A restaurant table is not complete without salt and pepper, and most meals is accompanied by a wide variety of sauces, spices and other condiments. Now that we’re making healthier choices though, do we have to eliminate all these from our diet? Also, what’s the big deal anyway?
Firstly, we have to realize that no animal in the wild uses condiments. Foods are eaten as they are, by themselves – without any mixing or processing whatsoever, and to the delight of the animal in question. Nature has evolved in such a way as to make the natural food of any animal delicious by itself – to the palate of that particular species. Humans are frugivores by nature, and this means that we are adapted to eating fruit for the most part. Have you ever felt the need to add a condiment to a piece of perfectly ripe and delicious fruit? Of course not – it’s perfect as it is!
What’s the problem? The first problem with condiments is the fact that it allows us to “enjoy” foods that would otherwise be either disgusting or plain boring to our palate. There’s a reason why condiments are so popular in a standard diet – the foods themselves are not tasty! Spaghetti without a sauce? No thanks! Pour a bunch of salty, spicy, sweet and sour stuff on top however, and now you’re bypassing the taste sensors that would otherwise have said “No – this isn’t human food”! It’s a smuggling operation! Eliminate the spices and condiments and you will quickly see that raw fruits – and to a lesser degree tender vegetables, nuts and seeds – are the only foods that qualify as truly delicious, natural human foods.
The second problem relates to the substances themselves. Typically we’re talking about salt, pepper, herbs, chillies, onions, ginger, refined sugar, oil, vinegar etc. Each item has its own problems, and I’m not going to get into all of those today, but generally speaking they have three common properties: They are stimulating, irritating and slightly toxic.
Ask yourself whether or not you could make full meal of the substance in question. Take garlic for example: There’s a reason why you would never eat a meal of garlic – it’s toxic! The second you put raw garlic in your mouth, your body lets you know it’s not food. The supposed “beneficial effects” of consuming garlic is no different from how drugs also have certain effects. It’s a potent substance, causing distinct reactions within the organism – reactions we do better without!
How about a meal of oregano? A meal of salt? If something is to qualify as food, it has to be possible – and enjoyable – to eat a full meal of it by itself. Fruits, with the additions of some mild and tender greens, is about the only foods that truly qualify in this regard.
How much can you get away with though? Some condiments are worse than others and the dosage does matter. In other words, if you find yourself consciously making slightly less than optimal choices and including some condiments in your diet – it’s not the end of the world. The key is to realize that A) The biggest issue with condiments is that it allows us to eat foods that we would otherwise not have eaten – which “keeps us” from eating our ideal food which is fruit, and B) Condiments are not foods, and they have a negative effect on our bodies. Once we are aware of these two facts, we can better judge how much we are willing to put up with in regards to the negative effects of condiments and find our “middle way” so to speak. Let’s face it – we do not all have access to epic quality tropical fruits year round!
Whether you’re playing around in the kitchen making raw food dishes that call for a tiny bit of garlic and oragano to create the full “italian experience” or whether you put a tiny bit of tabasco on your cooked vegetables doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things – just remember that every choice you make has consequences, and as long as you are consciously willing to pay the price, it’s all good!
So there you have it. Condiments are drugs in the true sense of the word. If it’s not edible in its natural state as a full meal, it doesn’t qualify as food for humans. That being said, if we still choose to live on the edge of ideal and include some of these substances for whatever reason – gustatory, cultural or otherwise – there are no severe punishments other than the fact that we must accept that truly optimal health will remain ever so slightly beyond our reach.
The information in this article reflects the views and opinions of the author and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. This is not medical advice. We are not responsible for any action you may take based on the information given in this article. For medical advice please see your medical professional.