Here’s Why Mahatma Gandhi Was India’s First Diet Guru And Nutrition Expert

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Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most famous freedom fighters of India, who helped our country gain independence from the Britishers in 1947. While society knows him as a role model for peaceful protest, Gandhi also spent his 78 years studying one personal passion: nutrition. Some of Gandhi’s diet choices were protest-based, such as fasting. But his other choices were due to his care about nutrition and his body and because he believed that processed food is harmful to a person. Healthy eating was always a crucial part of Gandhi’s life. While Gandhi died over 70 years ago, his diet was well ahead of its time. His diet has raised many questions from nutritionists and his fellow peers.

He was Skeptical of salt

When Gandhi discovered that his favorite fruits and vegetables naturally contain salt, he steadfastly avoided adding any additional salt to his meals. According to Slate, Gandhi started a salt-free diet in 1911, but he eventually eased it a little after listening to his doctors. By the late 1920s, Gandhi was having no more than 30 grains of salt in his diet.

He Tried Veganism For a While

Gandhi was born to a vegetarian family, but he always wanted to be a vegan, he tried veganism as a young adult, but he had to stop it due to health issues. In his book, Gandhi wrote “Experience has taught me that in order to keep perfectly fit, the vegetarian diet must include milk and milk product such as curds, butter, ghee, etc.,” He excluded milk from his diet for 6 years and this caused him severe dysentery and he very thin.

Gandhi Loved Unprocessed Foods

Gandhi wanted simple foods with simple ingredients. His diet was ahead of its time; the high trans-fat Vanaspati ghee is notoriously unhealthy. Gandhi expressed his concerns about this in his book “Diet and Diet Reform”: “In reality, ghee is a pure animal product. One thoughtlessly uses the expression vegetable ghee or Vanaspati, but it is a contradiction in terms. Vanaspati as an article of diet is a very poor substitute for ghee. It not only lacks absorption by the human system but has no vitamin potency.

He believed in Fasting

Most of Gandhi’s fasts are famous for changing history, like his 1948 “fast unto death” for peace in Delhi, but he also fasted for nutritional reasons. Gandhi fasted dozens and dozens of times, including his longest stretch of 21 days.

Gandhi avoided Sugar

Gandhi had a strict diet and for most of his diet, he kept sugar out of his diet, but he had one major exception: fruit. He loved fruit. In fact, while he was quite successful in restricting refined sugar, but he used to give in to his cravings for fruits like mango.