Food Intake Vital

Eat health & say goodbye disease

By Dr. Oishee Mukherjee

Food is essential for human survival. But the nature, type and quantity of food intake needs to be ascertained for maintaining a healthy body. Interestingly, observed a renowned management institute’s Registrar, “the rich have to walk or visit gyms to digest their food which is mostly excess than needed, while the poor are starved despite enormous food wastage in the country.
Undeniably, dieting is intrinsically related to nutrition which is a specialized profession wherein nutritionists give advice on the type of food needed for patients who are ill and those who might fall ill if they do not adhere to their prescribed food chart. Also, there are different types of diseases that affect us for which a diet chart needs to be followed to keep the body fit.
Certainly, this should include primarily plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts and replace butter with healthy fats such as olive oil. There is a need to limit red meat intake to not more than twice- thrice a month while fish or poultry might be taken twice a week. However, for children such restrictions are not valid.
Some common vegetables helpful for the body include, red cabbage which is a boon for cancer and diabetes patients; red finger, packed with dietary fibre, helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels and aids in enhancing production of insulin along-with increasing secretion; bittergourd (karela) has the capacity to stimulate the pancreas and curcumin (turmeric) extracts are known to act directly on pancreatic beta cells to help produce insulin normally by inhibiting phosphodiesterase activity.
But, in India toxicity in vegetables and food is rampant. Shockingly, reports underscore contamination of milk and milk products specially ghee, colouring of vegetables whereby such use of chemicals has steadily affected human health by intake of toxic elements. This has aggravated not only incidence of cancer whose detection is mostly at a later stage resulting in death.
Many countries including India face a common problem of obesity which is a strong factor for many chronic diseases including those relating to cardiac issues which is growing alarmingly everywhere. Studies at London’s Imperial College and Cambridge University found that being overweight increases a person’s risk of coronary heart disease by up to 28% compared to those with a healthy body weight, even if they have healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Moreover, scientific research has shown how being physical active could help lessen CVD risk, leading to people going to gyms or practising yoga. Further, a high carbohydrate intake, another factor leading to obesity, is associated with a higher risk of mortality than high fat intake with a lower risk.
A finding of an international team of scientists who studied diet and mortality in around 135,000 persons between 35-70 years old in 18 countries, following them for an average of more than 7 years. Likewise food like potato chips, junk food and aerated drinks while watching TV or sitting idle leads to obesity.
Certainly, consumption of oils needs to be restricted as healthy diets globally are based on locally available edible oils. People in the Mediterranean use olive, Nordic people rapeseed, South Indians coconut and Hunzas apricot.
Pertinently, Bradley J. Willcox, D. Craig Willcox and Makoto Suzuki in their book ‘The Okinawa Program: How The World’s Longest Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health – And Now You Can Too’ observed that sticking to a low-fat-low-calorie diet packed with fibre and complex carbohydrates via plants and whole grains is ideal for healthy living.
Pertinently, a mere 2% increase in calories from transfats can raise the risk of coronary heart disease by as much as 29%. Substituting a healthy fat for those transfats could prevent 20,000-30,000 premature deaths, concluded the American Medical Association way back in 2013.
Importantly, some of the transfat in Indian food include pakoras, kachoris or any food cooked in vanaspati oil, margarine alongside cakes, cookies and pies.
A common habit among most sections, specially those who work is to skip breakfast or just have tea or coffee with biscuits. Skipping breakfast has been found to risk silent coronary artery blockages and cardiovascular diseases, according to researchers in Spain and USA.
Recent findings in the Journal of American College of Cardiology which analyzed food habits and health of more than 4000 healthy men and women, found more frequent arthrosclerosis and, at higher levels, among volunteers who skipped or ate frugal breakfasts compared to those who had hearty breakfasts.
The problem of skipping breakfast is indeed severe as Harvard School of Public Health researchers found that those who had regularly skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart diseases than men who ate breakfast.
Diabetes is another severe problem in India which is reportedly the world’s Diabetes Capital. Alarmingly, diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases today with close to 300 million people affected world-wide and 450 million people forecast to be affected by 2050. According to experts, the combination of obesity and diabetes (type 2) looms as the biggest epidemic and public health issue in human history.
Clearly, not just medicines but food habits have to be regulated in controlling diabetes. Doctors always give a food chart for those suffering from this disease. Sweets have to be controlled while high carb and high fat diet need to be regulated. Alongside, physical activity needs to be increased like walking, dusting, cleaning, dancing and gardening for around 20-25 minutes per day so as to burn unnecessary calories.
Another vital aspect is children’s poor nutrition specially in rural areas. A National Institute of Nutrition’s recent survey documented 39% stunting (impaired growth with possible long-term impacts) among boys below five years from dalit households and 34% from tribal families.
Additionally, nutrition specialists stated that the prevalence of poor nutrition among socially disadvantaged groups could amplify their disadvantages, including being infected with diseases easily and advocated strategies to tackle this problem with low-cost nutrition.
Sadly, increase in malnutrition and under-nutrition among children has further accentuated the intrinsic link between diet and diseases and a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study March last showed a large percentage of deaths due to cardiovascular disease and diabetes are linked to poor or heavy diet.
In India’s case inadequate diets in rural areas coupled with intake of junk food in urban areas has led to reduced immunity power among all sections, specially children and pregnant mothers. Remember, healthy eating, healthy living! —— INFA