Every bite counts: Convergence between Innovators in Western medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine
By Jessica Blanchard
Over the past few months, I've been thrilled to learn about research by top medical doctors in various fields who have made the leap from a drug-based, treat the symptom approach to a more holistic dietary approach for diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. What is extremely interesting, is that they have come to understand and treat these diseases in the same way that Ayurveda, a thousand year old system of health care, has explained these problems for thousands of years. The link between diet and disease has never been stronger.
Type 2 diabetes is quickly becoming an epidemic, not only amongst populations,but also in young adults, middle aged, men and women, even adolescents. This is a disease which hardly existed one hundred years ago. Dr. Neal Barnard, in research funded by the US government's National Institute of Health, has completely redesigned the dietary approach to diabetes. His diet controlled blood sugar three times more than the gold standard (the American Diabetes Association diet). It also controlled cholesterol and accelerated weight loss more than the gold standard. The ADA standard was to count carbohydrates, using exchange lists, however usually the disease continues to progress over time. Dr. Barnard used a low-fat, plant-based diet(1). Dr. Barnard found that the cells gradually lose their ability to take in glucose because the receptors in the cells become blocked with fat, and the insulin no longer works to open up the cell receptors to take in insulin. Changing the diet by eliminating animal fats and eating whole foods helped to improve his patient's blood sugar. Dr. Gabriel Cousins has seen similar dramatic results using a twenty-one day raw vegan diet to treat diabetes (2).
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former surgeon, and researcher at the Cleveland Clinic uses a similar dietary approach to prevent and reverse heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn's twenty years of research has cumulated in his current approach: a low fat, vegan diet to reverse heart disease, not just prevent but REVERSE it. The endothelial linings of the blood vessels are normally strong and elastic, when the level of fats in the bloodstream are elevated, the arterial walls become sticky, and eventually thickened with a fatty coating or plaque, this is atherosclerosis. He uses a completely plant based diet to lower total and LDL cholesterol to levels which completely eliminate the formation of fatty deposits in the coronary arteries.
There are many studies which find differences in rates of cancer in vegetarians and meat eater; I strongly recommend that you pick up a copy of The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell to learn more. Dr. Campbell found a huge difference in rates of cancer between areas of rural china, where the diet consists of whole grains, vegetables and legumes and areas where a western diet of meat, refined grains and fewer vegetables was consumed.
So now we can make the link between thousands of years of observation and knowledge found in Ayurvedic literature and the moderns scientific approach - leading to a very powerful approach to health. If you've ever delved into the depths of Ayurveda, you will have heard the word AMA, sanskrit for toxins, undigested sludge which first sticks to your intestines, then migrates to other parts of the body. In the intestines it may cause GI tract problems such as constipation, IBS, or weight gain or food allergies. Later on when it migrates to other sites it may cause arthritis, respiratory allergies, and more. When it sticks to the receptors that allow insulin to deliver glucose to the cells it can cause insulin resistance and later diabetes.... sound familiar? Ama may stick to the walls of the blood vessels and cause heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Barnard have scientifically proven what Ayurvedic science has proposed: formation of ama can cause many problems within the diet. We can take this logic a step further: to stop disease we must stop the formation of ama through diet.
While western medicine is only beginning to unearth the gems of knowledge that come from linking diet and health, Ayurveda has done this for thousands of years. Ayurveda has detailed guidelines for how to refine your diet, lifestyle, hobbies, home environment and workplace to make you vibrantly healthy. By eliminating the root cause of ama, and later disease we can prevent many major diseases and improve the quality of our lives.
- Barnard, M.D., Neal; Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs.
- Cousins, M.D., Gabriel; There Is a Cure for Diabetes: The Tree of Life 21-Day+ Program
- Esselstyn, M.D., Caldwell B; Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure
- Campbell, PhD Colin T., Campbell M.D., Thomas M.; The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health