Health & Wellness

A recent MORI poll commissioned by Natural England found that 94% of the population thought it a good idea to refer people for outdoor exercise rather than medication. The FDA (the pharmaceutical regulator in the US) has been handed evidence that antidepressants may be no better than a placebo in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. And Britain’s Chief Medical Officer has stated that being active has the same anti-depressant effect as taking tablets.

Most newspapers regularly carry conflicting or confusing news items on food and health: one day, a snippet announces, ‘Green & Red Veggies great for your heart!” while the next day –“New Drug for Heart disease”. Sometimes, reports say coffee has antioxidants that will boost your cell growth, another time there is research that shows that caffeine promotes anxiety and sleeplessness.

Our extremely anthropocentric civilisation has alienated us from Nature in every way possible, including the way we look at our bodies, our food and health. But there have always been people, ashrams and various communitites who knew that an eco-centric way of life is essential to live sustainably on Earth – and their tribe is gradually increasing today. Several centres around the world offer opportunities to those interested to rejuvenate themselves and learn how Nature’s ways, if only we understand them, are the best for our wellness.

In India today, we have a situation where one third of the babies born are low birth-weight babies. 46% of children under five years old are under-nourished. In this scenario, does the economic growth rate of 8 or 10% that the country is pursuing really matter? How do we understand the distributive injustices and the government’s public health policies that do not recognize the rights of the poor who do not have purchasing power?

We have come full circle. We are again in touch with an essential truth that our ancestors knew without a shadow of doubt: the life-giving and healing power of food to nourish and sustain us and the fact that food can truly be our medicine.

I was an undiscriminating foodie – fond of cooking as well as of eating out at every new restaurant that came up in town. Thinking of my body’s intelligence or understanding its nutritional needs never occurred to me – until I was stopped in my tracks by excruciating body pain and general weakness. Blood tests showed my triglycerides reading was 495, while my cholesterol reading was almost 300.

The change has been fast. The consumeristic mindset is now all-pervading. We have morphed from being plain human beings to a ‘new and improved’ species called consumers.

Twenty years ago, 23 men and women came to Dr Esselstyn out of desperation. They had all suffered heart attacks and were given morbid prognoses. It was then that Dr.Esselstyn, a cardiac surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, began a 20-year experiment that would change modern medicine, not to mention the lives of all his patients. This landmark study is the topic of his book ‘Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease’.