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Pulse to Planet

Reviewed by Soma Basu

Published : Saturday, 9 September, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 528
K Srinath Reddy

Pulse to Planet

Pulse to Planet

Public health experts warn that the children of today are at a risk of shorter life expectancy than their parents. For Nutrition Week, observed from September 1 to 7, here are some books on why informed choices need to be made about food and its sources to improve health and well-being�

Public health experts are of the opinion that the COVID-19 pandemic was a result of our dystopian relationship with nature.

They also warn that children of today are at a risk of shorter life expectancy than their parents, if the unhealthy practices of food production and marketing driving an epidemic of overweight and obesity, diet-related cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancers, are not checked.

A collective way to confront the impending threats the world faces is to understand the connection between humans, other species and their shared environment.

That human health is the single biggest driver for change in environmental management, is brought out well by Dr. K. Srinath Reddy in his new book Pulse to Planet (HarperCollins).

He has put together the knowledge of science, medicine and public health to explain the social and commercial determinants of planetary health and how nature and nutrition promote a healthy world.

Unless we connect the dots of our health and food with the health of the planet, the luxury of good healthy living may be fraught with more challenges in the future, the book underlines.

During national nutrition week, the book comes as a timely reminder of how to secure a long-term healthy living by looking beyond biology, beliefs, behaviour, genetics and the internal workings of the body and comprehending how intricately these are linked to the ecosystem.

The author, as a clinician cardiologist and a public health expert, long recognised the interconnected value of health for individuals and for society as a whole, and believes that nutrition disorders, societal maladies and environmental damage can be corrected only when the link between life and environment is respected.

Nutrition and life-expectancy
Linus Pauling, the 20th century American biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1954) and also the Nobel Peace Prize (1962), believed that good nutrition can prevent 95% of all disease and increase life expectancy by about two decades.

But a majority start paying attention to health a little later than they ideally should.

Mukesh Bansal in Hacking Health talks about the relationship between the body and health, advocating smart choices such as nutrition, fitness, sleep, immunity, weight management and mental health.

Bansal demystifies science, debunks myths and delineates the human body's functioning to make it efficient, fit and happy, with good nutrition as the core of wellness.

Michael Greger and Gene Stone's How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease (Macmillan), is about using diet and nutrition for longevity.

The book examines the top 15 causes of premature deaths including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's, high blood pressure and explains how nutritional interventions can often produce better results than pharmaceutical drugs.

Based on scientific evidence, the authors say diets can help prevent and reverse many of the causes of disease-related death provided one learns which foods to eat and what lifestyle changes to make.

They prescribe a checklist of 12 foods, called the Daily Dozen, for healthier lives. These include a plant-based diet for the heart, hibiscus tea for high BP, coffee for liver inflammation, soy for breast cancer and flaxseed for the prostrate and more.

Diet wars
Disease, frailty, and gradual decline are considered inevitable parts of life. But science today sees aging as a treatable disease.

Scientists believe one can get better with age if the body is fed with the right nutrition. In Young Forever (Little, Brown Spark), Dr. Mark Hyman challenges readers to reimagine health and ease the process of aging with dietary changes.

In another book The Pegan Diet, Mark Hyman offers 21 practical principles for reclaiming health in a nutritionally confusing world.

He writes how for decades, the diet wars left people bewildered and confused even though extreme diets may have unique benefits and drawbacks.

To eat for good health, he suggests combining the best of a paleo diet (good fats, limited refined carbs, limited sugar) with the vegan diet (lots of fresh vegetables) to create a delicious pegan diet that, he writes, is good for the brain, body and the planet.

In Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life (Harper Wave), Suhas Kshirsagar and Michelle D. Seaton argue that wellness is not about extending the lifespan but the health span too and for that, one's outlook to eating has to change.

"It's not you, it's your schedule," the authors point out, and question habits like skipping meals, squeezing in workouts whenever convenient, working late nights to maximise productivity and then 'catch up' on sleep.

Quoting research on chronobiology, the authors say that "clock genes" control more than we realise and small changes can make a big difference to health.

For effortless wellness, Kavita Devgan gives an insight into 40 super foods, their nutrition level, benefits, usage and myth around these foods.

In Fix it with Food (Rupa), she offers 40 quick and healthy recipes that can be added to a daily diet plan to tackle problems related to mood swings, mental stress, hormonal imbalance, fighting pollution and boosting immunity.

The Telomere Effect (Grand Central Publishing) by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elisa Eppel takes us into the tiny world of telomeres, the specific DNA-protein structures that cap every chromosome and protect genome information.

Blackburn, the Australian-American Nobel Laureate, explains why the length and strength of telomeres matter, and how small changes in food and exercise can improve the health by improving theirs.

Genetics professor David A. Sinclair in Lifespan: Why We Age - and Why We Don't Have To can't recommend anything better for long-term health than being hungry a little bit during the day.
Courtesy: THE HINDU

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