GMC FOOD COURTS: At Salt & Pepper and Nescafe snack bars… more junk food then wholesome food courtesy Sodexo!

By Tara Narayan

MOSTLY food for thought this week. And of course I eat to die more times than I care to confess here! But perhaps the times they are a changing for me too more and more and at least that’s what I like to think…the fear of Covid-19 all around us I always say it’s like a game of Russian roulette we may play or not play, good or bad luck plays a role vis-à-vis who will live and who die.
But all this notwithstanding and under the circumstance and like it or not you must anew review what you put in your mouth by way of food to keep your immune system happy and alert. Food is medicine but (sigh) we’ve just got too much industrially processed junk food around us in our urban lives and every now and again, I pause to reiterate this here – it is not just enough for consumption to commensurate with output of energy (as in input-output ratio) but we must find ways and means to put back greens and salads in our meals as the primary need of them all.
At one time the poor ate good in their villages and the rich too indulged in too much of the good things of life; but nowadays both poor and rich are making do with mostly foods of the industrial revolution which come in seductive packages, but offer little nutrition values, mostly killer values. With the menace of corona virus in the air stalking everybody today old and not so old, and from the sound of it, a whole lot of people are actually becoming conscious of what they want to put in their mouth to the detriment of their precious immune system.
THERE’RE quite a few anti-Covid-19 diets circulated over social media with mainstream doctors becoming wise about food as medicine – although it may translate or not translate very inefficiently at ground level. Recently, when I was at the Goa Medical College & hospital, I was amused to note what a lot of junk foods even the superior Sodexo people, contracted by Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, have a range of more or less processed junk food in the cafeterias they run at the GMC compound canteen and outlets!
Sodexo food served to patients may be genuinely health-conscious as per patient’s needs, but take a look at the Salt & Pepper canteen (where the chemists are located too) – the outlets here display a variety of undesirable snacks. All kinds familiar fryums and puffs, too much of factory foods done in hydrogenated vanaspati or palmolein fats – which are the worst of the commercial fats, on top of the list of fats to avoid, they contribute big time to the concretizing of your cardiovascular system.
I still recall how in one conversation with a GMC doctor Dr Jagdish Kakodkar, I think. He put his hand in his pocket and brought out a piece of hardened vein he had collected from a patient’s surgery, saying, “See, how hard it is, feel it, isn’t it like white concrete, this is what happens to a cardiovascular system over time as it hardens…” Food and liquid you put in your mouth is a key factor to how soft and resilient your cardiovascular system stays over time and as the years of life roll by.
Guilty are the industrialized refined oils, salts and sugars we eat. They are the culprits contributing to the hardening and loss of flexibility of our cardiovascular system…from the capillaries upwards to veins and arteries – a vast network with the blood flowing in it transporting oxygen and nutrients to vital cellular infrastructure. As your system hardens blood pressure suffers and yes, it is in the fine epithelial cellular lining of our blood vessels that nitric oxide is produced (one of our strongest indicators of wellbeing).
Whatever we put in our mouth counts, it makes a difference for the better or worse for body beautiful and its wellbeing. So just think about this the next time you’re popping those outrageously advertised biscuits and cookies, cakes and puff pastries, all the crunchy savories of kingdom come India in your mouth! After food come the drugs of mainstream Allopathy which work on the principle of diminishing returns, yet we continue to pop several of them for years on end – because we find it too difficult to make lifestyle changes in our eating and exercising habits. Stress has a big role to play in this.
Synthetic prescription drugs may ease health issues for a while but do not cure, we know that, and…(sigh)… few doctors of mainstream medicine will apart from prescribing newer and more expensive drugs, will also tell you about the properties of green leafy vegetables, salads of garlic, onion, seeds, nuts, cinnamon, coconut kernel, fruit…in your daily eating habits. Never mind that the guru of Allopathy, Hippocrates, said let food be your medicine! Our MBBS student doctors don’t study about food as nutrition in their studies or do they now?

changing story
BUT maybe the story is changing nowadays especially in the advanced first world countries when very many mainstream doctors making the switch from purely Allopathy prescriptions, they have also studied the alternative health systems from around the world and are prescribing them in tandem with mainstream medicine so that the sick heal from the roots as far as possible…given the fact that the body replaces itself in a given timeline. Health does begin with shunning whatever refined, industrialized, chemically treated foods there are in your daily diet.
Study food as medicine, my friends, many are doing it these days of Covid19! Or are they, I really don’t know except that diets are being prescribed too here and there by doctors in their social media chats…and even the big hospitality chains have become conscious about to what to serve to the wealthy covid patients convalescing with them. For example, Chef Mahesh Ishwar of the Radisson Blu down south Goa has a weekly Post-Covid Recovery Plan or menu. A glance in the menu reads such things as begin the morning with a glass of warm water with yellow lemon and six soaked almonds and two walnuts; Plus half tbs soaked methi (water to drink, methi to be chewed)….and da da da! Ten minutes prior to breakfast have one tbs amla powder mixed in a glass of water. Breakfast on dal chila with paneer burji stuffing with mind chutney. And so on and so forth. (See box of a sample menu elsewhere here.)
SEE a lot of young people are reviewing their eating habits not just from the healthcare point of view but the environmental impact a predominantly non-vegetarian has on mother earth! What we eat has a major impact on our health as well as the earth which sustains us all.
Also, a growing number of independent scientists are making a clear connection between the consumption of animal products and zoonotic diseases like Covid-19. They are supporting a shift to a predominantly plant-based diet saying there’s more than enough first class protein in plant-based foods. Hey, a plant-based diet can prevent the next pandemic, so think about it. Viruses of Covid-19, SARS, bovine spongiform, swine flu, etc, have one thing in common. They all come from animals, described by scientists as zoonotic disease spreaders. When we say this pandemic “comes from animals” we are referring to how society raises, harvests and eats animals!
The long and short of all this is that a growing list of pandemics are originating exclusively within the animal and agricultural sectors and this is nothing new but consciousness and linkages are being made between our wellbeing and the wellbeing of Mother Earth’s other residents and how we interact with them as well as our electro-magnetic environment, read up and find out more if you want to be convinced further about what we can do to prevent the next pandemic and how you may safeguard yourself from it!
The story is that since the 2003 SARS epidemic, the time between outbreaks of zoonotic viruses has been getting shorter. So it’s no longer a question of will there be another pandemic but when the next one will get us so that we may say goodbye, cruel earth. Mother Earth is actually very kind, it’s we, the human animals, who are turning out to be killers in more and more sophisticated ways! Think about all this my friends and don’t just think, okay.

An example of Chef Mahesh Ishwar’s post-Covid Recovery Diet…

1 glass warm water with yellow lemon, 6 soaked almonds, 2 walnuts, plus half tbs soaked methi (water to drink, methi to be chewed)
Amla powder 1 tbs mixed in water
BREAKFAST (protein 40/carbs 46/fat 20)
Oats upma 50g/three-quarter tsp tadka in butter or ghee or coconut oil, mint chutney/40 soya chunks/100ml cucumber raita
Fruit of choice, 100 ml watermelon with rind or 100g pomegranate with 1 tbs flaxseeds to be sprinkled on top
LUNCH: (protein32/8DF/carbs 40)
60g masoor dal/60g rice/100g foogath of any leafy vegetable with tadka, 50g paneer steak, 100g cucumber raita. (All measuring are raw) dal 100g /rice once cooked 120g
BETWEEN MEAL 1: (carbs 22/fat 2/protein 12/DF 6)
Herbal tea or tender coconut water/100 g sprouts; herbal tea mix (water, ginger, cinnamon powder three pinch/3 cloves/2 cardamom/6 black peppercorns/lemon juice/jaggery
BETWEEN THE MEAL 2: Green gram dal shorba with , 25g dal/50g lauki, pressure cooked
DINNER: (Protein 35/35 cards/12g fat)
Soya bean and vegetable curry (50 g soya/carrots/beetroot/kachumbari/2 chappatti/50g cucumber raita
Warm water with turmeric/buttermilk with pinch of cinnamon powder/tulsi water
Total Calories: Carbs 143/ fat 34/DF 14/119 protein

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