Unhealthy Food. Good Poisons in Our Diet
“The Baby Elephant Diet. A Modern Indian Guide to Eating Right”
Unhealthy Food. Good Poisons in Our Diet
Ninety per cent of our health problems are a result of what we eat. Please understand this message carefully. What this means is that by merely altering the mix of what we eat, we can cure 90 per cent of our chronic ailments. Where does this leave doctors? The very best doctors build a relationship with you and help you prevent illness. But the problem is that doctors themselves, as a group, are some of the unhealthiest people around. Perhaps spending their entire day with sick people puts them into an illness frame of mind. More likely, doctors understand human frailty better than I do, because they see it all the time. On the other hand, I only see strength in people, and spend my time trying to motivate people to discover their own inner strength. Unhealthy Food.
Unhealthy Food. So if 90 per cent of chronic illnesses can be cured by correcting our eating habits, then why are people taking statins, reflux medications, vitamin supplements, diabetes medication and the like? It is because we humans look for the easy way out in everything. We want a pill that makes us look like Hrithik Roshan. Never mind that Hrithik works out in the gym for four hours a day (after all, he doesn’t have a regular day job), and that he was endowed with genes that have made him attractive to begin with and have also given him the natural ability to be a good dancer, which he has refined through years of training. We want to eat all kinds of junk sugar foods, and we want a pill that will make our diabetes go away or at least ‘manage it’, whatever that means. Unhealthy Food.
Unhealthy Food. If you are ignorant about the relationship between food and health, there will always be a doctor or other health professional who will take your money, give you a pill, and let you continue to think that you can eat anything you want, anytime you want and in as much quantity, with few negative consequences. So let me tell you something that you should have been taught, if not in secondary school, then at least in university. Take charge of your own diet. Be just 20 per cent more discerning in what goes into your mouth and you will be 80 per cent fitter and healthier. The last 20 per cent takes a lot more effort, but the first 80 per cent improvement is not that difficult. So what is the basic gyaan, or knowledge, that you should have about food? The simple answer is to identify and avoid foods that are poisonous for you. Unhealthy Food.
Unhealthy Food. Madhu is an active, attractive woman in her early fifties. For six months, she had been complaining of joint pains, especially in the big toe on her left foot. On some days, she could barely walk because of the pain, which to me seemed very much like gout. She came to me, desperate to get rid of this pain which she thought was due to menopause. I decided to forensically figure out what was the matter with her. First, I accompanied her to an orthopaedic surgeon, who could see nothing wrong in the foot X-ray and nothing that could explain the swelling on her foot. He was as baffled as we were, and recommended some Ibuprofen to manage the pain. Obviously, managing pain is not good enough. We have to try and cure, before we try and endure! I finally sat her down and asked her to write down her daily diet. Unhealthy Food.
Unhealthy Food. Nothing untoward stood out in her diet. She is vegetarian, a moderate drinker, does yoga and strength training and is really impressive compared to most people in their fifties who are sedentary. So what could be the problem? She then wrote down all the supplements she was taking: calcium, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, protein in the form of spirulina. Spirulina? Alarm bells immediately went off in my head and I told her to discontinue the spirulina. Two days later, her pain was 90 per cent gone and the swelling on her foot had disappeared. Today she is completely free of pain and swelling and has resumed dancing. I am not against spirulina, though it might appear that way. Spirulina has many health benefits, for the majority of people. It is a protein supplement made from blue-green algae, and is really one of the best natural protein supplements available. Unhealthy Food.
Unhealthy Food. But for about 15 per cent of people, it can be harmful. It can severely increase the inflammation level in their bodies and cause joint swelling and other symptoms. However, in 85 per cent of people, it is not only safe but a healthy alternative to animal protein. When I debate the effects of spirulina with naturopaths and other health practitioners, many of them think that I am crazy to suggest that it could be anything other than a miracle supplement. They scoff at the notion that it can actually be harmful to a segment of the population. Beware of health experts who are dogmatic and have one-size-fits-all solutions to every problem. Unhealthy Food.
Unhealthy Food. Understanding the root cause of the problem is extremely important for curing it. My friend Madhu could just as easily have gone to a doctor who would have prescribed strong anti-inflammatory medicine or steroids that may well have reduced her joint pain. But if she had taken the medicine, she would have created a second problem (side effects from medicine) to add to her first problem, which was an allergy to spirulina. Two wrongs rarely make a right in health. The best solution for her was to get rid of spirulina and regain her health naturally. But how do we know what is harming us? It is easier than you think. Here is a list of common food products and how they can have a negative impact on the body:
|Product. Unhealthy Food||Symptoms. Unhealthy Food|
|Milk. Unhealthy Food||bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, acid reflux. Unhealthy Food|
|Sugar. Unhealthy Food||excess body fat, diabetes, blood pressure. Unhealthy Food|
|Excess carbs. Unhealthy Food||excess body fat, diabetes, blood pressure. Unhealthy Food|
|Wheatgrass. Unhealthy Food||heart palpitations. Unhealthy Food|
|Spirulina. Unhealthy Food||gout, joint and muscle pain. Unhealthy Food|
|Wheat gluten. Unhealthy Food||irritable bowel, ulcerative colitis, asthma. Unhealthy Food|
Unhealthy Food. It is possible to be allergic to any substance, including water. Considering that more than 60 per cent of the human body consists of water, you would think that a water allergy was not possible. But it is. There are about a hundred people in the world who are allergic to it. You will remember, from an earlier chapter of this book, that most plants are not interested in being eaten by predators. Being immobile, plants have to evolve defences and one defence is to have poisonous leaves and stems so that predators don’t touch them. This is the reason why, even though there are about 300,000 known plant species, only about 20,000 are edible. But not all of them are equally edible, some have degrees of edibility based on various factors, including individual body type, and the method of preparation. Unhealthy Food.
Unhealthy Food. For many plant products, the simple act of cooking can turn something that is unpalatable into something delicious and digestible. Think of the humble potato and rice. Just boiling them in water can make these plant products edible. In other cases, plants have co-evolved with their human friends in a process of domestication through natural selection, where wild and inedible species have mutated into highly nutritious versions that have become a natural part of the human diet. Two examples are almonds and bananas. Wild almonds are not only inedible, they actually contain a deadly poison called cyanide, and eating a handful of these bitter, wild almonds can kill you. On the other hand, the domestic version of the almond is one of the most nutritious nuts known to humans. Unhealthy Food.
Unhealthy Food. As for bananas, which originated in Southeast Asia, the wild species actually contains 90 per cent seed, which means you cannot eat them. One out of ten thousand or so wild bananas is a mutant that does not contain seeds. At some point, humans discovered that they could take a wild mutant seedless banana and clone it using plant clippings, and thus the modern banana was born. In India, we are fortunate to have hundreds of varieties of bananas available for consumption, but in Europe and the US, there is only one variety called the Monte Carlo. In other words, every banana you get in the US is a clone of a single banana known as the Monte Carlo. The Americans have sacrificed diversity for an efficient mono culture. The bad consequences of this on their bodies, and on their ecosystem, are plain to see. But this book is not about castigating Americans, it is about making sure that we in India do not go down that same road. Unhealthy Food.