Valentin Grandev is an author of books on he alth, lecturer and organizer of seminars on a he althy lifestyle. His wife - Dr. Tanya Grandeva is a consulting doctor in the field of medical nutrition and fasting. Valentin Grandev is the author of the books "How to raise a vegetarian or he althy principles for everyone" and "The formula of he alth or what is not said about food".
The first of these books tells how the author and his wife fed their child from the womb, to the first signs of maturity, what difficulties they overcame on the path of parental decisions, but also clarified the limits of he althy vegetarianism.
And in the book "The Formula of He alth or What They Don't Say About Food" ten fundamental principles of he althy eating are presented, which are the key to a quality life.
Here is what Valentin Grandev shared especially for the readers of "Doctor" magazine.
Mr. Grandev, how did an opera singer like you get hooked on holistic medicine? And what do you do to keep yourself he althy?
- Long before I took up any professional direction, already in my adolescence, I became interested in he alth. For more than 30 years I have been involved in herb collecting. My first attempts to cleanse the body were from the time of my teenage years.
Since then, it has also been my understanding that one is responsible for one's own he alth and that by ensuring one's he alth one can realize one's potential. While choosing to be an artist for a long time was a matter of talent. But this choice gave me the opportunity to have more time and study what interests me - nature and the role of man in it.
I'm proud that I didn't have to learn the importance of he alth after living abroad - as modern gurus do. I didn't even have to go through some terrible disease to start advocating a he althy lifestyle. It's just that in our family we have tried to devote some of our time to establishing the principles of he alth and turning them into habits. Some are labor intensive, for example we grow almost 100% of the vegetables we eat
We also grow the potatoes entirely ourselves and do not buy from the market. This provides us with the much needed physical activity. Basically, we live in Varna, but most of our time is spent in a village nearby, where our garden is. We communicate a lot with nature, which leads to a deep familiarity with it. I even organize seminars in the nature of the Rhodope Mountains, where I point out the changes we need to make to ensure permanent and long-term he alth.
We also collect medicinal plants. We make useful elixirs. This is our daily life. For some, "we are not with everyone", for others we are an example. But we can boast of good he alth. We are also raising our son this way.
Tell us more about this dietary aspect of he alth? What do modern people do wrong in their nutrition?
- Modern man's wrong decision-making in both nutrition and the other factors in the "he alth formula", as I have titled one of my books, is always rooted in choosing the easy solutions. However, easy solutions are wrong.
Unfortunately, modern man has too high an opinion of himself without supporting it with great knowledge. To show how smart he has become, he first broke away from the traditional diet and lifestyle. And tradition is that empirical approach of hundreds of generations before us that has established the right way of life that can preserve he alth.
The fact is that due to the development of medical science, the life expectancy today has increased, but the quality of life has fallen. In the recent past in Bulgaria we were proud of many centenarians. This phenomenon no longer exists because our mothers and fathers, and after them we ourselves, have parted ways with the traditional way of eating.
Explain this paradox - longer life expectancy but lack of he alth and poorer quality of life?
- Before vaccines, people mostly died from infections. The use of vaccines has saved us, for example, from the deadliest enemy of mankind - smallpox. We officially broke up with this disease in 1977. But in the 20th century, according to various statistics, smallpox killed between 300 and 500 million people. If the second figure is correct, it means that smallpox killed ten times more people in the last century than died in World War II.
The Spanish Flu killed more people in 1919 than World War I, and in a much shorter time.
Medicine's achievements have extended people's lives, infant mortality has decreased significantly. But in previous eras, all those who did not die of infectious diseases lived to a very old age in wonderful he alth. A century ago, there was no pension system. People could take care of themselves and work hard in the old days. Today's elderly people can hardly rely on themselves because they usually suffer from a wide range of diseases.
Valentin Grandev organizes he alth seminars in nature
What was the traditional way of eating for a Bulgarian?
- He has stuck to a few basic principles: less and simpler food, grown by himself, seasonal, plant-based. For example, breakfast in our lands did not exist. It was invented by the British in the 17th - 18th centuries, when they got rich. The Bulgarians did not have breakfast at all. They had a very meager lunch, because a large meal would prevent them from working. Imagine how hard a person can bend down with a full stomach to harvest for example. They ate once, early in the evening, before sunset.
For the traditional meal, we judge by the testimonies of local legends who described the life of our ancestors. One of the famous authors of local legends is the writer Nikolay Haitov, who at the beginning of his career was a forester in various municipalities in the Rhodopes and described the menu and lifestyle of the people of the Rhodopes. Haitov describes his mother's memories - how her grandmother took care of 22 children with one meal a day. Dinner was around 5 in the afternoon, when the adults came home from field work. This is the best time for dinner, and today we have moved it to 9 pm
The food was mainly plant based
Animals didn't have much natural growth like they do now because they were fed natural food that didn't give them much protein. And today we literally feed the animals with bread. 100 years ago, no one fed animals with grain, so there was less animal food. Fasting was mandatory, during which people cleansed their bodies and minds.
Fasts were strict, people were religiously educated and observed them. The religion itself has adopted the tradition of fasting from older, pre-Christian times. Here, in this way, many people have lived to a ripe old age without being sick.
2 years ago in the border village of Kesten, I had an interesting conversation with a 54-year-old woman who complained that everyone was sick and dying at the age of 60. They only had one centenarian, but he got his own food, not going to buy it from the store. The grandfather still went alone with his cart to mow grass for his horse. Such people are the living proof of how he althy the tradition is.
What exactly did Bulgarians eat according to tradition?
- What they grew. In addition to the cereal crops wheat, rye, spelled, oats, they also ate legumes - chickpeas and broad beans, and millet was not food for birds. Beans and pumpkins came several centuries ago from America and entered the traditional Bulgarian diet. Potato crops - potatoes and tomatoes - entered our latitudes last.
The potato was introduced at the end of the 19th century in the Rhodopes, from where most traders now claim to source their potatoes. Tomatoes and eggplants have entered relatively recently. Post-Columbian trade brought about 60% of the foods we now eat from the Americas. Our ancestors were quite skeptical about them.
First they convinced themselves that they do no harm, and only then did they use them. However, this is not done these days. We eat so-called "superfoods" without even knowing how to properly prepare them. The modern man wants to try everything that has appeared on the market. But most of these foods are offered for the sole purpose of making a profit for the merchant. He alth is not included in the calculations. The idea of living for the moment and trying everything seriously harms us.
Valentin Grandev with his son
What can a modern person do to avoid getting sick?
- In the book "The Formula of He alth" I have described a formula composed of six elements. That is, food is not everything to be he althy. Those who think only about their food every day, year-round, even if they manage to make their diet perfect, will not guarantee their he alth. The main thing that modern man does not do is move. Our ancestors were extremely mobile. Physical activity is the first pillar of he alth.
It is illusory to do in one hour in the gym what our ancestors did in a whole day. In fact, people should be physically active all day long. Plus, they have to choose their food and water carefully. To strive to spend more time in the fresh air. Communicating with nature brings exceptional he alth.
Choosing to live among reinforced concrete walls, in closed rooms, is only detrimental to he alth.
From your explanations it is clear that the modern lifestyle is killing us…
- Yes, but he alth is ultimately the result of our personal choices. It is wrong to choose the easiest. At the moment, along with the notorious problem with COVID-19, many people are buying machines for filtering the air from microorganisms for thousands of leva. This practically means that they are doing everything possible to weaken their immunity. Because the immune system is like muscles - when it works, it's strong. But if we leave it idle by filtering the air from viruses and bacteria, immunity drops dramatically. And then the first virus encountered on the street can make us sick. It's easy to get bacterial infections, not to mention allergies.
After the fact, medications are being sought to strengthen the immune system. However, they can lead to hyperimmunity that can cause autoimmune diseases. You can see how unhe althy this choice is, but people are susceptible to market messages and act extremely wrongly.
Do dairy products have a place in the traditional diet of Bulgarians? Nowadays, pensioners can't go without a bucket of yogurt. And most Bulgarians are cheese lovers. Some even buy imitation products
- Part of the wrong easy way is buying something instead of making it yourself. Regarding the fake products, I advise the following - if you see that the label is too long for a product that should generally have only 2-3 ingredients, give up the purchase. Even high-end infant formulas contain palm oil or soy, which is extremely irresponsible on the part of both marketers and buyers.
And regarding the milk on the table of the Bulgarian, I will give you the words of an old lady from the village of Orekhovo. She was one of five children in the family, which together with the adults numbered 7 people. They had a cow of the small Rhodope cattle breed, fed exclusively with pasture. The cow produced between a liter and a half and two liters of milk a day.
This milk was curdled and stored in a kache, and when the family needed money, the father took the cheese and went to sell it in Hvojna to buy pencils and notebooks for the children's school, for example. Both dairy products and eggs and meat in the past were for the peasant mainly a commodity to exchange.
So the old lady told me that they never drank fresh milk in their lives. And this is reasonable, because fresh milk is difficult for the body to digest. Yogurt is a great fermented product and can be digested. But at that time yogurt was rarely eaten. And considering that half of the year was fasting, even if a person had the opportunity to eat yogurt, it was only outside of fasting.
People's food during a greater part of the development of civilization was plant-based. The choice of animal products - meat or milk - has been a choice of the affluent since the second half of the twentieth century. But this choice also brings us negative he alth consequences.