|LETTER TO THE EDITOR
|Year : 2014 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 106
Nutrition and Bhagavad Gita: The scientific evidence
Narainsai K Reddy1, Tushima Mashelkar2, Sanjay Kalra3
1 Bellaire High School, Bellaire, Texas, USA
2 Chellaram Diabetes Institute, Pune, Maharashtra, India
3 Bharti Hospital and BRIDE, Karnal, Haryana, India
|Date of Web Publication||6-May-2014|
Narainsai K Reddy
Bellaire High School, Bellaire, Texas, USA
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Reddy NK, Mashelkar T, Kalra S. Nutrition and Bhagavad Gita: The scientific evidence
. J Med Nutr Nutraceut 2014;3:106
This is in reference to an interesting editorial of "Nutrition and the Bhagavad Gita" by Dr. Bharti Kalra, Dr. Navneet Agarwal and Dr. AG Unnikrishnan, published in the January/June edition of your journal, 2013. I find it very fascinating that the scripture written centuries ago has relevance to 21 st century preventive medicine. Obesity is a huge epidemic in both developed and emerging countries. Despite the multitude of efforts of experts, the problem of obesity continues and is growing rapidly. Perhaps, we should start tackling this problem from a philosophical point of view. In a well-written editorial, the authors indicate that understanding the meaning of verses of the Bhagavad Gita in reference to nutrition might add new dimensions and guidelines to curb the problem of obesity. After reading the explanation of the verses, we find it interesting that all the statements are scientific and evidence based. We would like to further expand on the concepts presented by the authors. Referring to Bhagavad Gita verse 18; 51-53, the advice is referencing a balance diet consisting of eating more vegetables, fruits and unsaturated fats. Eating nutritionally dense foods at regular intervals is well-known to provide essential vitamins, minerals and calories, which are not only healthy, but curb further desire for food.  Starvation and skipping meals will bring back stronger cravings and leads to binge eating. Verse 17; 7, refers to useful foods such as vegetables and fruits, which contain no fats, but provide nutrients and added bulk to the food. The addition of spices and salt has been proven to be addictive and should be limited.  The verse also advocates avoiding half cooked food such as rare cooked steaks in the Western world, unhealthy fermented food, stored and processed food with artificial colors, additives and preservatives. Burnt foods such as badly barbecued meats should also be avoided. They contain carcinogens, which cause cancer.  In verse 3; 5, exercise is part of healthy living. In children a minimum of 60 min of physical activity per day has proven to prevent obesity.  Inactivity is discouraged.
Perhaps, the cornerstone of success in managing obesity is the practice of self-control as verse 2; 59 suggests. It indicates that dwelling on sense-objects leads to desires, which if uncontrolled lead to dependence. There is substantial evidence that obesity is akin to the addiction of smoking, alcohol and drugs.  There is a common pathway of reward circuitry in the limbic system, which plays a key role in addiction. The risk factors that lead to the addiction of drugs may be the same for obesity. Some risk factors include dysfunctional family with childhood trauma, family history of obesity, consumption of sweets, salts and fats, chronic stress and psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression. The main issue with obesity is the reoccurrence of desires for food and subsequent weight gain. The best way to manage obesity is to apply the same principles that are utilized in drug rehabilitation. These include behavioral techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga and breathing techniques such as pranayama, group therapy and psychotherapy in extreme cases.
After outlining all the benefits of good nutrition and healthy eating habits, verse 18; 63 gives freedom to practice as one desires. One can only raise awareness and show the right path to eat and live healthy . The scriptures detail some of the methods one can practice to control desires and urges. This needs practice from the formative years. Hence, education should start in schools and carry on to colleges and adult life. The regulations and legislation of food restrictions have not proven successful. Healthy living should start within individuals before the change can be seen in society.
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