Kitchen is the best hospital, food the best medicine

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By Dr Vijay Janagam

“Finding a cure is always less lucrative than finding a treatment.” As science and technology grow at an exponential pace, it is pretty obvious that drugs and treatments will remain heavily incentivised.

It is an unfortunate reality that our pharmaceutical companies have been prioritising expensive drugs over cure. At a time when medical expenditure is becoming a major worry and is found to have a significant influence on social security costs, it will be worthwhile to reconsider our approach towards what we “eat”. Instead of paying attention to our diet when we are sick, let’s analyse the power of foods and their impact on our health.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or lifestyle diseases have been rising at an alarming pace across the globe. Cardiovascular diseases like stroke, heart diseases, respiratory disorders and diabetes account for 80 per cent of these NCDs. Till a few years back, these lifestyle disorders more prevalent in the aging population and affluent societies. However, in low and middle income countries like India, where malnutrition is still not a completely solved problem, there has been a sharp increase in lifestyle disorders. The increase of these disorders among the younger population adds to the complexity.

An unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco have been observed to be the major contributing factors for most of these diseases. The good news is that 80 per cent of these NCDs can be prevented with slight modifications in lifestyles. There is evidence that adapting healthy dietary changes, physical activity and abstaining from alcohol and tobacco can help achieve the desired results.

Diet plays a major role in adapting a positive lifestyle. A person who is conscious about what goes in his diet could have a better control on overall quality of life. It is important to understand the value of our everyday diet in order to take the best decisions for our own well-being. You are what you eat.

Thanks to the existing knowledge, we are clear on what we have to eat. The basics of nutrition emphasise eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugars.

While what we eat is important, interestingly, how, when and where we eat has an influence on reaping the best of what we eat.

Fancy diet plans and trending super foods might sound exciting. But in order to sustain healthy habits, it is best to consider home as the destination point. Here are a few points to consider:

Decisions start at shopping: What we eat is not a dietary choice made at home, it is a decision made while shopping at a grocery/vegetable store. Pick the right place to shop, spend quality time on food labels and buy fresh. Healthy and tasty can go together by adding a wide variety of fresh produce to your diet. This can often be consistently followed in our home kitchen.

Discipline of time: Beginning from breakfast, the appropriate timing of each meal is vital for matching the body’s circadian rhythm. A healthy and timely breakfast is a great way to start the day on a positive note. Chrono-nutrition deals with correlating timing of diet with metabolic patterns of diseases. Evidence suggests that irregularity in eating meals is associated with a increased risk for metabolic syndrome — high BMI, blood pressure and increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Home remedies: From the common cold to cancer, weight loss to weight gain, there are many home remedies that can help the body perform better. There are plenty of options to serve the needful vitamins, anti-oxidants and essential elements through the right diet. However, it will be good to plan your dietary choices in consultation with your doctor.

Portion size and optimisation: Since there is a personalised approach to cooking, portion size can be optimised with minimal wastage of food.

Economical: When healthy food comes at economical value, sustenance is a great possibility.

Emotional health: Home food can bring the opportunity to enhance emotional wellness. Eating together around a common table is perhaps the best way to strengthen family bonding.

Professional help: Seek a professional support in establishing/supporting healthy dietary patterns at home.

Medical debt is considered the number one reason for personal bankruptcy today. Let us wake up to this reality and instead of falling prey to lifestyle compromises, together raise a toast to good health with a wholesome and hygienic meal made in the home kitchen. (IANS)


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