The importance of good nutrition is nothing new. Ayurveda, ancient Indian
medicine, gives preference to dietary prevention of disease rather
than treatment. Back in 400 B.C., Hippocrates said, "Let food be
your medicine and medicine be your food."
Today, good nutrition is more important than ever throughout the world.
In rich countries like the USA, 50% of the population is malnourished,
while in Africa and India undernourishment is a major problem. Nearly half
of California adults who ate out on an average day in 1997 chose a fast-food
restaurant, up from 33 percent in 1989, according to a study released on
September 21 by the State Department of Health Services. Healthcare costs
for obese adults in the US, who constitute 22% of the population, have
risen to $238 billion this year, according to a study released last week
at the American Obesity Association conference in Washington, DC.
Jane E. Brody reports in New York Times that in a frenzy to cut back
on fats (yet to be accomplished lofty goal), Americans have turned to sugar
with a vengeance as their feel-good food. Their consumption of fructose
alone has risen tenfold since 1975. Growing evidence says an ever-louder
no to sugars. A high-sugar diet may be making an important contribution
to health problems like osteoporosis, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes
and heart disease, not to mention the time-honored association between
sugary foods and tooth decay. The sugars naturally present in fruit and
milk, for example, come in a package laden with essential nutrients. The
sugar added to canned fruit or frozen yogurt brings in nothing but calories.
To make matters worse, most heavily sweetened foods are also high-fat foods.
With approximately 39 million Americans meeting the criteria for obesity,
the American Obesity Association's Morgan Downey states in an association
release that obesity "is the ticking time-bomb in the healthcare system.”
There is a saying in Telugu that roughly translates as: “Rich man’s disease
is excess food, while poor man’s disease is lack of food.”
Four of the top leading causes of death in the U.S., are heart disease,
cancer, stroke and diabetes. These are directly related to the way Americans
eat; and diet has been also implicated in scores of other conditions. Eating
right is the key to health, while the wrong diet can be deadly, e.g.,
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) can begin in early childhood,
but the process can be halted and even reversed, if healthy changes in
diet and lifestyle are made. Osteoporosis may be prevented if enough calcium
from dairy products and other vegetable sources is consumed and weight-bearing
exercises are practiced throughout life. Even if you are genetically predisposed
to diabetes, if you keep your weight within a healthy range through diet
and exercise the disease may never strike you. The keys to good nutrition
are balance, variety and moderation.
Women who consume two to three servings of whole grains per day by eating
foods such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, or popcorn, reduce their risk
of heart disease by almost 30%, report researchers at Brigham and Women's
Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.
Osteoporosis is a disease that afflicts women after menopause. There may
be a preventive medicine lurking in your kitchen! Swiss Scientists reported
in the September 23 issue of Nature that the intake of certain vegetables
by laboratory rats can alter bone metabolism. In particular, rats fed 1
gram per day of dried onion for four weeks exhibited augmented bone mass.
Let us hope similar affect will be observed in humans as well.
Diet affects not only adults, but also infants. Growth of middle class
and increase in the number of working women has an avoidable side effect,
the infant malnutrition due to formula feeding. A nutritional study,
being published in the October edition of the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition, finds that 60 percent of the IQ gain seen in breast-fed infants
comes from the mother's milk. Maternal bonding accounts for the remaining
40 percent. On the average, breast-fed infants have IQs that are five points
higher than babies who were fed formula, according to researchers at the
University of Kentucky who examined results of 20 other studies on infant
brain development. The researchers say intelligence benefits occur from
up to six months of breast-feeding, and that infants who breast feed for
eight weeks or less do not show any IQ gain.
According to Australian researchers, feeding breast milk exclusively
until babies are at least 4 months old may protect against the child's
developing respiratory problems. According to the report, which is
published in the September 25 issue of the British Medical Journal, the
length of time breastfeeding was used exclusively was more significant
than the overall length of time that the child was breastfed. "Formula
is not the same as breast milk," said lead researcher Wendy Oddy, senior
research officer at the University of Western Australia in Perth.
Berries and Grapes:
Fruits are good for you. Elderly rats fed the human equivalent of at least
half a cup of blueberries a day improved in balance, coordination and short-term
memory, according to a study published this month in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Flavonoids, compounds found in purple grape juice, help arteries
respond to increased blood flow, a team at the University of Wisconsin
reports in the September 7th issue of Circulation: Journal of the American
Heart Association. Boston, Massachusetts.
Eat more fruits and vegetables to defy aging and feed your babies with
breast milk to improve their IQ.
Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, 09/29/99
Back to The
Telangana Science Journal
Back to Vepachedu