Longevity

Why Indians are more likely to have a heart attack than others:
Research points to the South Asian communities being at a higher risk of heart attacks than others. I cannot agree anymore, but have certain cynical reservations about medical research. Medically profiling races and communities have helped the drug companies identify their markets and largely such research was perhaps at their behest. The case of Indians is not an isolated one, but we seem to have become the victims of the heart and diabetes.
One has to go back in time to understand why we have become so, despite the benefits of Indian foods and diet. India (or the sub continent) is geographically a very large area and home to myriads of communities, cuisines and cooking mediums, and, the maxim “one mans food is another mans poison “ can not be anymore true here than anywhere else. Probably the United States could be another region where there has been a mix of several ethnic foods in recent time. The bottom line is what can increase longevity.
Longevity is known to Indians and one evidence that points to it is the practice of celebrating the 60th birthday with a shashiabadputi rituals in a temple. This is peculiar to my Brahmin community and there may be variants of the same in others. In ancient times, it was known that man could live up to 120 years and 60th birthday marked half the way to it and called for a bigger celebration. While the whole world struggles to live to be a 100, there are certain communities that do have longevity as a marked characteristic. A study of the Okinawan (Japan), the Sardinian (off Italy) and the 7th Day Adventists community around Los Angeles revealed that a bias towards vegetarianism, spiritual orientation and sticking to traditional foods seem to be the secret. The Sardinians were however compulsive meat eaters and perhaps attribute their longevity to marrying outside their immediate community and being devout Catholics. Spirituality is definitely a positive aspect, not really religion. There is documentary on this called ‘How to be a hundred.’

But then where did we go wrong to suffer diseases not common to us. Cooking medium is perhaps the main culprit. We moved away from traditional cooking mediums and replaced it with supposedly better oils. In hindsight there seems to be a concerted effort in destroying the coconut, sesame, peanut and mustard oil industry. It was not cool to use these anymore and people called hydrogenated oil as ghee and reserved ‘asli’ (real) ghee (clarified butter) for the real stuff. So the South Indians whose diet is said to be generally of low cholesterol became victims of the cooking medium. Amongst the North Indians, despite a diet which could be called high in cholesterol, incidence of heart disease and diabetes was not common, till they left their traditional oils such as mustard oil and sesame oil. This aspect is well covered in Dr Sandra Cobots book http://naturalhealthdirect.com.au/health/books-dvds-tapes-100/cholesterol-the-real-truth-by-dr-sandra-cabot-878.html

Olive oil seems to be the new medium of cooking for better health, so they say. Nut oils are good, so that brings back all the ones we shunned, back into the kitchen.

The causes of low life span in India were mainly due to poor public health amenities, malnutrition, epidemics and pestilence. Those who over came this lived long. I find solace in the fact that my grand parents lived long well past their 80s some 90s, but not my parents, who perhaps got exposed to  non-traditional food and cooking mediums. I am not attributing everything to only cooking mediums and food, but I believe there is some relevance in having the oils that suit us, as this is a constant in the food we consume day-to-day.

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One thought on “Longevity

  1. Interesting, presume eating / nutrition while important is one part of the equation as a significant input. What about the output, i mean the kinds of work out that we undertake for the foods we intake. Then we have the issue of other input variables. Through the later, i wish to draw attention to the hot liquids /green teas that go with food and help in the overall well being and possibly longevity. Hey not to miss the stress release yoga too!!!

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