Hypocrites said, “Food is Medicine.”
In ayurvedic medicine there is proverb that says, “ With the right food medicine is of no use and with the wrong food medicine is of no use.”
There is still truth in this ancient wisdom and science is confirming the same.
Studies comparing Rural Chinese diet with USA diet shows what we eat matters if we want to avoid ill health. In the USA it was noted that the fat intake was twice as much, fiber intake was three times lower and animal protein (beef, pork, lamb) was ninety percent higher when compared with the Rural Chinese diet. In the USA the heart diseases was 16 times higher in men, five times higher in women and higher Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Cancer and Hypertension when compared with Rural Chinese. These differences in the diseases were attributed to the difference in the food people eat in the two countries.
Scientists are now also discovering how these foods affect and change our physiology when we eat them. High fat meal for example can impair the blood flow to the heart muscle for up to six hours, in addition to the long term narrowing of the blood vessels. Its is not uncommon that if someone has a poor blood supply to the heart muscle they will get heart pain or a heart attack after a high fat meal; because the fat doesn’t allow the blood vessels to dilate up to six hours.
Red meat and cured meats are linked to colon cancer according to one study completed in 2010. Other evidence comparing indigenous Africans with USA Africans shows that African living in Africa who eat very high fiber diet have 1 in 100 000, where as USA Africans the cancer rate is much higher, 1 in 2000. This is linked to having higher red and cured meats; and low fiber in the USA diet.
Another study in 2010 showed women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer and were on high red and cured meat diet had poor clinical outcome compared with those who were on low red meat diet.
There is also some evidence linking obesity to having more cancer. The obesity is related to eating too many simple carbohydrates and sugars in the North American diet.
The good news is that there are foods that keep us healthy. Study done on people who already had coronary artery heart disease and who were put on Mediterranean diet for five years showed seventy percent reductions in cardiovascular events, eighty percent reduced spread of cancers and people developing cancer later in life was also reduced. The Mediterranean diet consists of more beans, veggies and lentils. To use canola oil or olive oil, eliminate saturated fats from beef, pork, and lamb and also eliminate butter and cream.
Other research confirms the above findings and healthy eating is never too late to start. Another study shows benefits in older people, from age seventy to ninety year olds who were told to follow Mediterranean diet and walk one to one and half miles a day; there was fifty percent reduction in cardiac events and mortality.
Science is discovering what is in the Mediterranean diet that makes it so good for us to eat. It has to do with the right fats, right carbohydrates and the right micronutrients. We will look at these in more details in the future post.
In Defence of Food – by Michael Pollan
The Science of Natural Healing – by Dr Mimi Guarneri