Natural Healing with the
Medicine of the Prophet
By Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya
Translation and Emendation
by Shaykh Muhammad Al-Akili
© 1996-2016 Pearl Publishing House
 
 

4

Understanding Healthy Diet

& The Practical Rules of Eating and Drinking

It is reported in the Masnad that God’s Messenger h said: “The human being has never filled a container worse than his stomach. Hence, it will be sufficient for the son of Adam to satisfy his hunger with few bites to strengthen his backbone. If he must eat his fill, then he should allow for one third food, one third water, and one third air.”
There are two types of illnesses: (1) illness of the heart; and (2) physical illness which is the result of excess of a substance whose saturation harms the natural functions and balance of one’s body, and this is the type of common illness that befall the majority of people. Such illness is usually caused by: (a) excess eating; (b) taking in food before complete digestion of a previous meal; (c) eating food that is deficient in nutrients; (d) eating food which is slow to digest; (e) or mixing opposing types of food or eating elaborately prepared dishes during the same meal. When the body becomes accustomed to such diet, it will also inherit various types of diseases. Some of them it can overcome more expeditiously than others. Hence, moderation is the path of good health, and the body benefits from a moderate and nutritious meal more than it does from a combination of food and supplements.
There are two types of illnesses: (1) illness of the heart; and (2) physical illness which is the result of excess of a substance whose saturation harms the natural functions and balance of one’s body, and this is the type of common illness that befall the majority of people. Such illness is usually caused by: (a) excess eating; (b) taking in food before complete digestion of a previous meal; (c) eating food that is deficient in nutrients; (d) eating food which is slow to digest; (e) or mixing opposing types of food or eating elaborately prepared dishes during the same meal. When the body becomes accustomed to such diet, it will also inherit various types of diseases. Some of them it can overcome more expeditiously than others. Hence, moderation is the path of good health, and the body benefits from a moderate and nutritious meal more than it does from a combination of food and supplements.
One’s body can be accustomed to three levels of diet: (1) a necessary diet; (2) a sufficient diet; and (3) a supplementary diet. God’s Messenger h told of the required “sufficient” diet, saying: “…few bites to strengthen his backbone,” and such regime will preserve the body and will not allow it to debilitate or lose its strength. If one is tempted to exceed that elementary level of health preservation, then he should “…allow for one third food, one third water, and one third air,” and this is the best of common diets. In fact, when the stomach is saturated with food, it will not be able take in water, and when food and water exceed their recommended level, one may suffer from pulmonary difficulties, resulting in stress and exhaustion from the lungs’ being unable to easily deliver oxygenated blood to the left atrium of the heart. One will also feel heaviness in his body, his heart and spirit will experience languor and drowsiness, and his limbs will fail to obey him performing his basic religious duties. Such state also will stimulate one’s sexual desire. Hence, a filled stomach is damaging to one’s body, heart and spirit. This case is more harmful when it becomes habit, though if one occasionally indulges himself in a delicious meal, it is rather healthy and comforting. It is reported in the traditions that Abu Huraira, God be pleased with him, drank milk to satiety from a bowl presented to him by God’s Messenger h until he exclaimed: “I swear by Him Who sent you with the message of truth that I find no more place to drive it!” Traditions also report that occasionally other companions also ate to satiation, though, as we have mentioned earlier, excess food will cause the body languor and drowsiness even though it stimulates it. However, the body’s health and strength comes from the nourishment it can absorb and not from the quantity it takes in, and since the human being is made from three elements: (1) earth, (2) water, and (3) air, God’s Messenger h apportioned his diet into these three categories.
 

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