Nutrition for Yogis

Magnesium in the diet lowers the risk of developing colon and rectal cancer.Thats likely because it helps the body to fight inflammation. Magnesium also has a pivotal role in cellular metabolism, and it helps to prevent the development of insulin resistance and the onset of diabetes. Its yet another reason to eat green leafy things. Spinach is a great source of magnesium – as are other green foods. The center of the chlorophyll molecule (the substance that makes plants have a green color) contains magnesium.

Beans, peas, nuts, and seeds are great sources, too and whole grains. (As always – stay away from refined flour and rice, as the act of processing whole grains to white removes the germ and bran that contain magnesium.) Hard tap water naturally contains important minerals like magnesium. When you can, drink filtered tap water rather than distilled or bottled water.

Replacing saturated fat in the diet with both n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) significantly reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death.In other words, if you eat saturated fat-rich animal foods like beef, pork, lamb, and dairy products, youre more likely to suddenly drop dead from a heart attack than if you get the fat in your diet from walnuts, flaxseeds, fish, and corn and soybean oils. Interestingly, in this recent study oils high in monounsaturated fats (olive and canola) had no association with sudden cardiac death at all. They were neither protective nor detrimental.
Even more interesting, the theory that has been circulating that the protective effects of n-3 PUFAs (from walnuts, flaxseed, and fish) are attenuated by a high intake of n-6 PUFAs (corn and soybean oil) didnt hold up. The concern has been that eating a lot of corn and soybean oil negates the health effects of eating walnuts and flaxseeds. This is usually discussed as a ratio – that ideally we need to get equal amounts of each or have a 2:1 ratio of n-6 to n-3 in the diet for maximum protective benefits. This was a cohort study, not a prospective, randomized, and controlled trial, so the results need to be kept in perspective.

If you have asthma, eating a diet high in carotenoids will help you to breath better – but only when those carotenoids come from whole fruits and vegetables and not from a vitamin pill or a supplement. Asthma sufferers eating 5 serving of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits daily do much better than those eating less than 2 servings of vegetables and less than 1 serving of fruit each day. Whether you have asthma or not, its worth it to take notes from this study. A big underlying problem with asthma is inflammation – a common underlying culprit in many diseases. Eating fruits and vegetables in high quantities decreases inflammation in the body.

People eating a high carbohydrate diet with less animal protein and less saturated animal fat are the ones eating fewer calories and having lower BMIs. They also get more healthy vitamins and minerals naturally. Eating fresh fruit, pasta, and rice was better for maintaining a trim figure than eating meat and limiting carb intake. So much for the low-carb diet fad.

These studies corroborate what the Yoga gurus wrote hundreds of years ago. Avoid meat in the diet. Eat lots of whole grain rice, barley, and wheat. Make lentils and beans a primary protein source. Enjoy lots of veggies – especially the green stuff, and satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit every day.


  1. Wark, P. A., Lau, R., Norat, T., Kampman, E. Magnesium intake and colorectal tumor risk: a case-control study and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr September 2012, Volume 96. 
  2. Chiuve, S. E., Rimm, E. B., Sandhu, R. K., Bernstein, A. M., Rexrode, K. M., Manson, J. E., Willett, W. C., Albert, C. M. Dietary fat quality and risk of sudden cardiac death in women.Am J Clin Nutr September 2012, Volume 96. 
  3. Wood, L. G., Garg, M. L., Smart, J. M., Scott, H. A., Barker, D., Gibson, P. G. Manipulating antioxidant intake in asthma: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr September 2012, Volume 96. 
  4. Shay, C. M., Van Horn, L., Stamler, J., Dyer, A. R., Brown, I. J., Chan, Q., Miura, K., Zhao, L., Okuda, N., Daviglus, M. L., Elliott, P., for the INTERMAP Research Group. Food and nutrient intakes and their associations with lower BMI in middle-aged USadults: the International Study of Macro-/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP). Am J Clin Nutr September 2012, Volume 96. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *