Author – Vishal Gudlani
Food delicacies in India mainly cater two functions: be a tool for women to win the hearts of men and other to satiate the hunger of a hungry nation. But I discovered another function of food ingredients when my mom gave a ginger juice mixed with honey to get rid of my irritating cough. In India when people get ill before visiting a physician they try to get rid of ailments by home remedies. The most common home remedy people used is decoctions such as holy basil, black pepper, sugar for fever, methi for diabetes, and mixture of ginger and honey for cough & cold.
Most of the ingredients used in creating these home-made decoctions are regular food items used in our kitchens as part of our daily meals. So I wondered, “Can our food ingredients act as medicine?” I inspected my plate to discover any medicines that are disguised as food. My quest to discover and confirm the role of food as medicine was quite a fascinating one. Garlic, ginger, honey and turmeric are few food ingredients with a wide range of health benefits, but these are hardly used in modern medicine but these are extensively used in Ayurveda.
Here is a list of food ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs that act as medicine:
- Many people apply turmeric on wounds and dressing the wound because of its antiseptic properties. Injured people drink turmeric added milk as turmeric powder enhances healing. Haldi function – an important part of every Indian marriage, since turmeric can bring glow to skin.
- Milk and besan are also used for skin benefits. Further, my mom uses chilled milk to get rid of burning sensation of the stomach due to acidity and it actually works great!
- Water, salt and sugar are simple food ingredients that can be used to prepare an oral rehydration solution (ORS) for treating dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea. Homemade ORS can be prepared by dissolving salt and sugar in 1:6 teaspoon in 1 litre of water.
If we are speaking of food how can we forget veggies, fruits and nuts, which are important part of our diet?
- Green leafy vegetables are good sources of Vitamin B9 and eating them prevents megaloblastic anaemia. Similarly, jaggery, groundnuts, beetroots, green leafy vegetables and other high iron containing foodstuffs if included in diet can be used to prevent and treat mild iron deficiency anaemia.
- Use of lemon in prevention and treatment of Scurvy is an ancient tradition, which is due to the lack of Vitamin C in diet. Lemon provides Vitamin C in appropriate quantity. Similarly, fruits like gooseberry, oranges and vegetable tomato can be used to treat scurvy. Further, lemons are also used for their anti-dandruff properties.
- Physicians advice to have fruits and salads to people suffering from functional constipation, since they not only provide essential nutrients but also provides dietary fibres.
- Carrots not only prevent night blindness by supplying Vitamin A as carotene but carotene also acts as antioxidant and prevents cancer.
Now you know why our moms are after our lives saying “eat your veggies!” Each and every vegetable supplies an important nutrient and plays a vital role as medicine. So we can see that vegetables have been proven to serve as medicine without any complications.
Meat does play an important role in our diet, but we can’t point out its role as medicine except of good store for iron, sea food Iodine and high protein content. Although meat’s nutrition value is much higher as compared to vegetables, but meat has very limited application as medicine. So vegetables are better medicine than meat as vegetables are less likely to be risk factor for diseases.
It is important to note meat consumption increase blood cholesterol and makes you vulnerable to cardiovascular disease. Not only cardiovascular disease, meat also acts as risk factor for the development of cancer as well as for other diseases. So this Vegetarian Day, let’s take vow to eat our veggies and consider them as medicine!