We are built to be vegetarian – B. M. Hegde

Kerala Semi-Polished Brown Rice

Prof Dr B. M. HegdeOur legs, our stomach, our small intestine length, our molar teeth, our jaw with its temparo-mandibuar joint not being in line with the lower jaw like meat-eating animals, and our mouth and jaw not favouring eating into animal meat—all tell us that we are built to be vegetarian. – Prof Dr B. M. Hegde 

Our so-called civilised society and our literate masses have an obsession about their body weight. Their role models in the film world show them the need for size zero to be acceptable. This, combined with a sudden spurt in youth income, thanks to the IT czars in India, we have an epidemic on hand. This seems to be one of the few diseases that does not bother the illiterate poor village masses. If, on top of all these, obesity in a girl gets further complicated by an English-educated sophisticated doting mother, the result is chaos at home. I call it the new age malady.

One of the causes of obesity is “Mall” nutrition, nutrition coming only from junk food and sugary drinks marketed in shopping malls, again a disease of affluence! Philosophically, it is money, too much or too little, that causes malnutrition—protein calorie sub-nutrition among the poor and Mall nutrition among the rich. Be that as it may, let us look at our response to obesity. Obsessed with the thin body, we try to do everything to lose weight. A new disease was born thanks to this mania—bulimia. Weight loss industry is another growing money-spinner. Fitness centres, gyms of all hues, and diet gurus of all shades rule the roost in this arena. My good neighbour called me the other day to tell me about her new-found diet that looks too good to be true. Two eggs in the morning, and oats, salads and lean fish with buttermilk for lunch and green tea for evening and finally, close the day with salads again with an occasional serving of white meat—no cereals, no sweets, no milk. I saw a friend, who was diagnosed with diabetes recently. His doctor was very strict about diet. He was told not even to look at rice!

Jackfruit is a superfoodHe could have as much of proteins by way of millets like ragi, eggs, chicken, fish and fats like butter and an occasional fruit. I have a good friend, Dr Khader Ali who treats diabetics on millets only. I have many sophisticated friends who want apples from Australia, olives from the Mediterranean, figs from [Turkey], cooking apples from England, plums from California, dates from Arabia but do not like local mangoes and hate the best fruit available this season, the jackfruit. Many of us have a misconception that rice is pure carbohydrate but wheat is all protein. Even some doctors ask their diabetic patients to switch from rice to wheat! The last advice is good for diabetic pill industry as wheat can maintain diabetes permanently by damaging the pancreatic beta cells with its gluten. While the protein content of wheat and rice is marginally different, rice, especially brown hand pound rice, contains too much dietetic fibre and also the bran contains a very powerful Vitamin D3 receptor stimulator called metadichol. The latter boosts the human immune system to prevent most illnesses very powerfully. One other important point about diet is that man is meant to eat what grows in his vicinity and what grows in each season. Fruits plucked from the tree will lose the essence every day and fruits imported from far will have nothing left. Local fruits are the best and that too as fresh as possible.

A word about meat-eating next. If one goes into human physiology, man is not a meat-eater. Our legs, our stomach, our small intestine length, our molar teeth, our jaw with its temparo-mandibuar joint not being in line with the lower jaw like meat-eating animals, and our mouth and jaw not favouring eating into animal meat—all tell us that we are built to be vegetarian. Meat-eating animals eat raw meat while we eat cooked meat. Animal milk is not a good food as it is foreign protein but if we can denature the protein by fermentation as in curds, we have an added benefit of millions of good gut germs in it giving us additionally vitamin B12 also. This vitamin is not available in animal meat but is generated by germs which are plenty in our environment. Curds, butter milk and above all ghee (clarified butter) are super foods. Vegetarians do not lack special strength.

KitchariIf one does not believe in this statement, he/she has only got to fight to win with a pure vegetarian—our elephant. All crash diets are not only not good, but do not also lower your weight consistently; they could be downright dangerous due to various reasons. Many such diets have come and gone and have also killed millions in the bargain. Ideally, one is safer to eat what his/her ancestors have survived on but the essential part of good health is not the kind of food that one eats but the quantity. If one does not have any endocrine or other causes for obesity, losing weight is simple in that one just has to eat half of what she/he has been eating when coupled with hard work and/or regular walking exercise. Running and jogging are also alien to human physiology as we have inherited the four-legged animals’ knee and ankle joints without having any support for our centre of gravity when we run, we are not built to run. In conclusion I must admit that nature provides some super foods which are otherwise called functional foods in every part. I know about this part of tropical south India.  Our brown rice has been already shown to be functional (food that has additional functions other than giving calories like metadichol in rice husk) food. Our mango has some special medicine to control diabetes.

If eaten in small quantities it is good for the treatment of diabetes! Our jackfruit is a super food. It has everything in it. The raw jack fruit is a very powerful anti-diabetic medicine. Ripe jack fruit is such a good food that it can be eaten even by diabetics as it has plenty of fibre. The seed inside has almost a full meal in it. This was the life saver for the poor during World War II when rice, our staple diet, was very scarce. The poor lived on this king of fruits. Let me reiterate that crash diets and size zero diets are dangerous. Do not experiment on any new ideas without knowing their history. – The New Indian Express, 21 August 2016

» Prof B. M. Hegde  is a  cardiologist and former vice-chancellor  of Manipal University. Contact him at hegdebm@gmail.com