Friday, July 29, 2016

Prevention is always better than Cure

#PokemonGo became the most succesful app ever in the US within 2 weeks of its launch this month. But what was so unique about it? Like #Pokemon has been around for a while may be 20 years or so. For the first time, the gamers were forced out of their couches and wander around to catch the pokemons. Some hailed it as a kind of fitness app which can tranform the health profile of the US. Almost 70% of the US populace are overwiehgt and 36% of them are obese, inching up last year from 33%. But what is most disheartening is majority don’t think we can reverse this trend as evident from this line in the global obesity report published on April 1st 2016~
What chance does the United States have to stop the rise of obesity by 2025? Zero, the study says.
This app gives us hope. It demonstrates people want to come out of their couch potato status but they need some purpose, in this case catching the pokemons all around. But our case is not as simplistic as we intend or desire to be. Off course we believe #DisruptiveEating gives very high purpose to each of us to make the world or our planet a better place. And we tell people Indian food is key to #DisruptiveEating. But 2 things make our job more difficult - first one is natural as the eating habit after some point is not easy to change. Second is the myth about Indian food.
But first thing first. if 5% of the world population here in the US keep a semblance of health after consuming 52% of the world medicines, something is amiss. Please read my earlier posts. How your bad health or health with the medicines impact you and your family  the income and the educational opportunities. Which in turn may be not let you to come out of abyss of paycheck to paycheck or paycheck to the food stamps life. Health equality is the key to fight the income and educational inequality, not the other way round- 3 components of the social inequality. But as things stand today, there is lot of talk about income and educational inequality but just a lip-service here and there for the health equality. Do you wonder why there is the dietary guidelines by DPHP (Disease prevention & health promotion) once in 5 years? Like given the pace of change in this internet age, you won’t remember what happened in the world or your life 5 years back. See here ~ .
Like first time it says sodium intake should be limited to 2300 mg daily. We get most of sodium from the salt and various preservatives in all type of processed foods. We all know that excess salt and sugar is bad so why we need to wait for 5 years to hear it. I am happy that at least dietary guidelines are related to ‘disease prevention.’ This is what we vouch for when we talk about first 75:25 rule. 75% of our health issues owe its origins to our unhealthy life style and 75% of life style depends on what we eat or drink.
June 2016 could be a watershed month for us as we decided to project  ‘Indian cuisine’ as a key to challenge the status quo going on for too long and people not having many options to change. Take our second 75:25 rule. We ask you to try to stick to 75% alkaline food and 25% acidic food. See the chart here ~ . And you would instantly say that its most logical thing you came across. All vegetables and fruits are in alkaline category. No prize for guessing the sodas, beef and pork are in the most acidic category.  So why Indian food can make it easier for you? Indian food revolves around onions, tomato, garlic, ginger, plethora of spices like turmeric, cumin and coriander and all are in alkaline category. Lentils and goat meat are the staple food items in India and lentils are alkaline. The goat meat could be the least acidic meat in the sense that the goat milk and the goat cheese are only alkaline dairy products. Kind of inference here. Our Mother’s curry has Ph of 6.4, very low acidic as water has Ph of 7, perfect neutral. We call it Mother’s curry (onions based) because we use it at home daily and almost in all foods. Let me admit Makhani and Tikka Masala curry are the most popular items in the US and both are based on the tomato sauce. We may eat tomato based food once a week at home if not more.
I always hear from the people they can’t eat Indian food as it is too ‘Spicy.’ And that is kind of biggest misnomer.  Indian food uses plenty of spices but it is not Spicy. People equate ‘hotness’ of food with spiciness. Hotness come from Chili as in other cuisines like Mexican, Thai too which could be easily controlled. Like you can order your food as mild or medium, hot or extra hot. Our flagship item of Food Box_555 ($5 for 5 items in 5 minutes) has all mild entrees because that is only ready or fast food at Nirmal cafe. All spices are good for health in one way or other but yes it may take some time for your taste buds or bowel to adjust. And the spices are not Hot, Hot. But eating is believing.
But we would make it easier for you to believe once we launch our packaged curry in the local grocery stores this Fall. You can find the bottled curry or mostly entrees in the Whole Foods or the Costco which are beyond reach of 60%. Please read my previous post. So say once you buy a 8 Oz bottle of Mother’s curry in $4, you can use it as spread for your burgers, dressings for your salad or as barbeque sauce or mix it with lentils you cook at home to cook vegetables, chicken ot any other meat as per your choice. Basically it would democratize the Indian cuisine now considered elite. And perhaps that could be the best way to get used to Indian food.
And why this is important for us? Because we want to wean people away from the fast food. We are convinced beyond doubt that if we have to succeed in our mission to contain the obesity or overweight prevalence here, people have to turn to the slow food here. And Indian curry is the slowest, tastier, cheapest and the most healthy food around.
I remember one patron cautioning us about how our claims could be construed as a cure for the obesity or overweight? But here is the deal. We are out and out Prevention mode flag bearer unlike the weight loss clinics or the diet shops or the fitness centers. We say if people here eat Indian food frequently or get used to Curry, we can control the obesity or overweight menace here. And I have so many data to support our claims. Like India has 500 million vegetarians, 42% of its population whereas US has only 10% and China has 5% just for comparison with most popular ethnic cuisine. And the credit goes to Curry or our eating style. We believe that excess meat consumption is central to this meance and that we need to curtail it drastically. I am not yet factoring in the global warming debate yet. Compare this data - India’s  meat consumption per person per day is only 13 gms as compared to 330 gms for US, 220 gms for Europe and 160 gms for China. Like even if we Indians eat meat, it is not our main food. While growing up in India I used to have meat item once a week on Sundays. Off course here in the US we do eat meat now 3-4 times a week.
And we were not poor in India. That is often cited as a reason by the experts whenever I mention India having overweight prevalence of 20% only or the obesity rate of 6% compared to US’s 70% and 36% respectively. See the income level does play some part here but not the main part. If so then how you can justify the obesity rate of 12% among Asian Americans in the US which include Indians given that Asian Americans have the highest income level among all groups here including the whites. I am confident if the obesity data is for only Indian Americans, it would be below 10% as we eat far less meat than other Asians here though our eating styles - eating more grain, vegetables and eating more at home- are similar. The last one is very important to our all data.
Majority of Indians in India may eat outside once or twice a month. Here my family eat outside once a week thanks to our kids as we get to try so many different cuisines. So if you are eating Indian food once a week indulging in the buffet or creamy, oily items offered at the majority of Indian restaurants, these data are not relevant. Because for example, the buffet is not at all healthy eating. Not only one ends up eating more meat if you are non-vegetarian, majority end up over-eating. And this is what I have seen first hand at Temptations, our earlier avatar.  It could be relevant only when you cook and eat Indian food regularly at home or try to eat better at the Indian restaurants, doable due to the flexibility of curry.
When we ask you to eat Indian Curry, our hidden focus is to reduce the meat consumption here. But we are not telling you straight. We don’t have to as our mission to fight obesity is intertwined with less meat consumption. Recently I came across PETA’s announcement for $10000 award for a butcher shop in Kalamazoo, MI if they convert to a vegan shop after a fire ravaged their original store.        .
I liked such approach. Majority here care for the animals as the US has the highest per person pet animals. But read my post - Is Veganism the anti-dote to vegetarianism? The compassion for animals and the meat consumption are two separate things. First, we have to provide the substitutes for the meat and Indian cuisine has plenty.  I hereby ask PETA to start supporting Indian cuisine in the sense that let people first go for #meatless eating and then let them decide to go #meatfree or even VEGAN. See even if you don’t care for global warming or the climate change, the meat consumption as of today is not sustainable. Like 64% of the agriculture land is used for the animals’ feed. How you think we would be able to feed 9 billion people by 2050?
This week I did watch DNC for the first time. Politics is not my cup of tea but from June 2016 we decided to be a part as the politicians have played a major role to sustain this status quo as evident from the soda tax episode in Philadelphia. I admire Mr Michael Bloomberg, one man army for the prevention mode. He continues to pick-up fight everywhere for everything. I always wonder why he can’t support the cities if they agree to make the restaurants in the city Soda free. Like we may be the only restaurant out of 1500 or so in the Washtenaw county who does not offer any soda drink in the menu. The patrons go for other options, majority for the water. At least I am not aware if we lost some patrons for that. But yes the sodas are the most profitable item in a restaurant with almost 300% margin, other items may have 30-40% margins. City can always give some incentives to the soda-free restaurants in the form of 50% reduction in the food  license fees or the local banks giving loans at the reduced rates. Like all of us live in the same community and a health community would be cost effective if we factor in terms of lost man-hours or higher insurance premium due to the bad health. Two things are relevant here. First, the soda-free restaurants would be far more effective than the soda tax. Second, the water becomes the prominent drink, a neutral drink and a free option, so relevant for both 75:25 rules.

Similarly the heart related disease is No 1 killer in the US. We know that simply switching to whole wheat bread can reduce this risk by 20% as per research of University of Washington and similar study by Harvard. Please see our website blog 'Why whole wheat bread.' We also know the majority of restaurants here don't serve whole wheat bread as the Sam's club and GFS, two biggest suppliers for the restaurants, don't even carry whole wheat or grain flour. Then why not the cities can goad or give restaurants incentives to serve only whole wheat bread. We proved at Nirmal that the food exclusion works. We only serve whole wheat bread called Roti at Nirmal whereas Naan white bread is synonymous with Indian cuisine here in the US.

I can here murmur of 'Freedom of Personal Choice' or 'are we slaves' all around which I did take on in my earlier posts. It is all about 'Freedom to let People Suffer' and trust me majority belong to 60% of 10:30:60.
Have you heard - Honesty is the best policy only if majority are honest? Same here - Prevention would work only when the majority start practicing it, not wait for the cure.