By Ajay Pratap Singh
The wonders of nutrition therapy and its preventive, curative and health-boosting aspects
Dandruff on your collar, fur on your tongue, stiff joints, bad cholesterol in your blood report? A simple examination of your diet could show up the cause of trivial or more testing physical or mental ills. There is no getting away from this truth: you are what you eat. Pune-based nutrition therapist, Dr Vijaya Sathe, an MD in Natural Medicine and founder of the Commonwealth Institute of Acupressure and Natural Medicine in London, has time and again demonstrated the efficacy of good nutrition.
‘Give the body what it needs and the body heals itself,’ she comments. Your food, as Hippocrates declared long ago, is your medicine. ‘It is the hurry and worry of modern life, compounded by improper eating habits, stress and pollution, which is telling on human health,’ Sathe says, ‘Nutrition therapy, which is safe, simple, cost-effective and yet scientific, can alleviate human suffering.’
This therapy is based on the principle that every illness has a nutritional cause. When the body records a particularly low level of one or more nutrients, it shows up in the form of some disease or group of symptoms. ‘When these deficiencies are taken care of by appropriate changes in the diet and a suitable vitamin mineral supplement, the symptoms disappear,’ explains Sathe.
In its preventive and health-boosting aspects, nutrition therapy strengthens the immunity system, enhances energy levels and uplifts individual performance in any walk of life, athletic or creative. Nutrition therapy, observes Sathe, can be particularly useful for treating symptoms which are hard to diagnose, the so-called incurable diseases, and those which can be controlled only by a continuous use of drugs, such as allergies and arthritis.
It also makes the side-effects of chemotherapy arid radiation therapy in cancer patients bearable. Eye problems such as fast-growing myopia, constant watering or gritty-feeling eyes, and night blindness respond well to nutrition therapy, as do the degenerative diseases of civilization such as high blood pressure, diabetes and gall bladder stones.
In treating coronary artery diseases, nutrition therapy addresses its root causes, such as why cholesterol deposits occur on the linings of the coronary arteries or why a thrombus forms and occludes the arteries. ‘Perhaps the greatest strength of nutrition therapy is that it considers and treats the human organism as a whole. It takes into consideration the interrelationships of the various organs of the body. Thus, when eye problems are treated, it is necessary to correct the liver functions, since the liver influences the eye,’ explains Sathe.
For many, Sathe’s clinic is a last desperate stop, for the cure of debilitating diseases. For every patient, she prescribes a diet-chart, a combination of various vitamins and minerals adjusted to individual needs, and some supplementary powders. These often yield medical miracles. New York-based Neha Abhyankar, 11, who suffered from dry eczema since infancy, would scratch her skin raw at night. Her bedsheet would be covered with dry flaking scales, fatigue and loss of appetite marking her days. A few months of Sathe’s nutrition therapy left her skin glowing.
Hemlata Mistry, confined to a wheelchair for three years, though investigations revealed no structural abnormality, finally knocked at Sathe’s door. After 45 days of therapy, she walked unaided down the cobbled passage that leads to Sathe’s Dombivli clinic. Bhagalpur’s Sourabh Kumar, 10, had undergone every possible medical treatment for a bleeding disorder with nephritis. Turned away by Mumbai and Pune specialists, his bloated body marked with bleeding spots, his urine blood streaked, he started on Sathe’s treatment which included beetroot and wheatgrass juice. Now, in his early teens, Kumar has regained near normal health.
Possibly the most remarkable case cured by Sathe is that of mango trader Swaroop Desai, 23. In April 1996, his tempo turned turtle. Trapped for over an hour before he was rescued, Desai suffered the agony of hot oil dripping from the tempo on to his crushed legs. After 14 months of unsuccessful treatment, one leg shortened and bent due to muscle disuse, he met Sathe.
Even Sathe was surprised by the pace of Desai’s recovery. Within 34 days of treatment he was walking with a stick, the wounds completely healed. ‘Awareness about nutrition in the West is very high but in Asia it has yet to catch up,’ laments Sathe. ‘While traditional Indian food has high nutritional value, changing lifestyles seem to favor foods which undervalue health and well-being.’
Clearly, for a positive state of health, you need to take a hard look at what’s on your plate.
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• Choose a predominantly plant-based diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits, pulses and minimally processed starchy staple foods.• Eat 400-800 gm or five or more servings a day of cereals, pulses, roots, tubers and bananas. Prefer minimally processed food.
• Limit sugar intake.
• Limit alcoholic drinks to less than two a day for men and one for women.
• If eaten at all, limit intake of red meat to less than 80 gm daily.
• Prefer fish, poultry or meat from non-domesticated animals in place of red meat.
• Limit consumption of fatty foods, particularly those of animal origin.
• Choose modest amounts of appropriate vegetable salts.
• Limit consumption of salted foods and use of cooking and table salt. Use herbs and spices to season foods.
• Do not eat food which as a result of prolonged storage is liable to contamination with mycotomins.
• Use refrigeration to preserve perishable food.
• When levels of additives, contaminants and other residues are regulated, they are harmless. But unregulated or improper use can be a health hazard.