According to Diabetes UK, South Asians are 6 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes compared to their white European counterparts. We’re also more prone to contract diabetes earlier, and by that I mean much earlier. Our risk starts from the age of 25 onwards whereas in the white population it begins around 40.
So think about this for one moment and give this post some serious thought!
Your life depends on it!
We need to understand, because of our lifestyles and background, we’re more prone to getting ill than our ‘white’ counterparts, and we should think hard about what we’re putting into our stomachs, and the effects these foods are having on our bodies.
Coronary Heart Disease:
Coronary heart disease incidences are generally higher in South Asian communities, including those that have migrated elsewhere – the comparison here being with our ‘white’ counterparts. There are various reasons for this, and listing all the factors is beyond the scope of this post.
However the following common risk factors play a role for all of us irrelevant of our ethnicity:
- abdominal obesity
- alcohol consumption;
- low consumption of fruits and vegetables
- psychosocial factors sedentary lifestyle
THE ISSUE IS MULTIFACTORIAL
For one reason or another, some risk factors are more prevalent in South Asian communities like ‘High Blood Pressure’ (Hypertension), diabetes, abdominal obesity, smoking (particularly, but not exclusively to British-Paharis, Pakistanis, and Bengalis) and alcohol consumption (particularly, but no exclusively to the Indian Panjabi population).
Genetics and lifestyle play an obvious role in all this, but so do nutrition and diet. In fact healthy eating can reduce the risks of getting diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
It’s important to note that British-Paharis and others from the South Asian communities could be seeing a surge in inflammatory related illnesses like coronary heart disease and diabetes due to all sorts of reasons but mainly,
- no longer using organic foods
- using more processed foods
- changing occupations from manual labor to office based/professional work
The British-Pahari diet just like many diets across the world is riddled with inflammation causing ingredients. However, when combining the above risk factors, as well as genetics and lifestyle, we can see that our community is more susceptible to these conditions.
According to Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health
“Some of the foods that have been associated with an increased risk for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease are also associated with excess inflammation…It’s not surprising, since inflammation is an important underlying mechanism for the development of these diseases.”
One way of reducing our risk of getting these conditions is by reducing inflammation through making conscious changes in our diet. Chronic inflammation can result in heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. It’s imperative that we reassess our diet and look at why our current diet is causing inflammation.
Some of the benefits of organic food:
Non organic meat has significantly higher levels of myristic and palmitic acid, both are linked to cardiovascular disease.
Organic plants have higher concentrations of polyphenols and antioxidants which play a role in reducing chronic diseases like coronary heart disease and some forms of cancer.
These antioxidants and polyphenols reduce inflammation in the body.
Inflammation causing foods:
Corn oil, vegetable oil, canola oil;
- GMO ingredients, DNA riddled with pesticides, dangerous to the body as toxic and can damage gut bacteria;
- can clog the liver;
- the function of the liver is to remove toxins – so obviously a range of conditions can result – takes years for this to occur – but, just because we’re not having any issues now doesn’t mean that we won’t have serious issues in the future;
- Clogs up arteries. Can create inflammation in arteries resulting in cholesterol in arteries.
Healthy saturated fats:
Sesame seed oil;
- Coconut oil Loric acid – antimicrobial- kills off bad bacteria, we have less chances of storing fat than had we consumed vegetable oils;
- Olive oil: high in polyphenols – combats heart disease and reduces risk of weight gain.
Other healthy fats:
Chia seeds, hemp seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados all contain healthy fats that the body needs and it’s always important to ensure some of these are added to each meal.
Non organic meat and poultry contains toxins, as do farmed fish… let’s look at the Law of bioaccumulation.
This basically means that meat will accumulate a lot more toxins than a plant; animals for their part, consume a lot more toxins than plants.
- Non organic plants are grown and sprayed with fertilisers and pesticides to help them grow bigger, produce more grains and stop them from being attacked by insects.
- Non organic factory farmed animals like cows are then fed grains from plants like these that contain pesticides.
- The animals then consume a lot of these grains, therefore a lot of toxins from these grains accumulate in the animals.
- We then eat the meat from these animals and in turn digest the toxins which are accumulating in our bodies. HOWEVER, due to the law of accumulation, at each stage in the food chain, the toxins become more and more dangerous as they become more concentrated. Those of us that consume a lot of meat will accumulate a lot of toxins in our bodies – just to remind you again – come from the plant that was sprayed with the pesticides!
Non organic farmed animals are also usually given antibiotics to stop them from getting ill.
So the more meat we consume the more antibiotics enter our bodies.
This in turn means that we destroy our “good” bacteria also known as our gut Microflora, and this can result in a weak immune system and a range of illnesses.
Organic meat and poultry (halal options available from Willowbrook farm ad Abraham’s farm).
If organic meats are not an option for you because of the cost, or because your can’t source it from anywhere, then purchase grass-fed-meat and poultry.
Always, keep meat intake at a minimum!
Organic beans such as cannellini beans or kidney beans.
Excess Sugar: Very Bad… bad… Bad!
All processed sugar, including white and brown sugar should be avoided. Avoid corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, sucrose, fructose, maltose, and processed honey. Eating a lot of carbs – as this is eventually turned into sugar and impacts the body.
Health concerns of Excess sugar:
- Can cause certain cancers, and feed cancer growth;
- It is one of the number 1 factors for causing high blood pressure and heart disease;
- Can be a contributing factor to Metabolic diseases such as diabetes;
- Can be related to depression due to insulin receptors being destroyed resulting in more sugar in the blood stream. This results in more sugar/insulin spikes and falls, so you experience a burst of energy followed by feeling drained and tired, contributing to fatigue which then affects your moods, making you irritable and horrible to be around .
Eating fruit or adding fruit to recipes instead of processed sugar, for example dates. Using fruit based sugars such as date sugar or coconut sugar, using raw organic honey. It is important to note even these healthier alternatives can cause health problems if used in excess. Moderation is key!
If you take care of your health, your health will take care of you
I have relied on the following sources in researching this post.
2) Barnett AH, Dixon AN, Bellary S, et al. Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk in the UK south Asian community. Diabetologia 2006;49:2234–46
4) Średnicka-Tober D, Barański M, Seal CJ. Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyses. Br J Nutr. 2016;115(06):1043–1060. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
5) Barański M, Średnicka-Tober D, Volakakis N. Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Br J Nutr. 2014;112:794–811. [PMC free article] [PubMed]