A symposium on Diet, Health & Religion, second in a series was held at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on 5th September, 2012. The Chief Guest was Shri J Veeraraghavan, Chairman, Bhavan’s KM Munshi Institute of Educational Leadership and Management.

Welcoming the gathering, Shri Ashok Pradhan, Director, BVB said that the purpose of this symposium was to examine the relation between what we eat, how it affects our health and how all religions look at this aspect. Nature is also related to our health. Nature tells us what to eat. For example, summer vegetables have a high content of water. Speaking on fasting, he observed that not eating on certain days cleanses our body.

Dr KK Aggarwal

As medical fraternity, we must know what dietary religious practices are.

Most religions agree that fasting is good for health. Pot belly obesity, diabetes, hypertension and paralysis are all linked to metabolic syndrome which is characterized by insulin resistance which can be traced to refined carbohydrates, which are white sugar and refined flour. Any food, which is refined, is bad for health.

The body has a circadian rhythm. The digestive fire is weakest between 6 and 10 pm, i.e. enzymes for digestion are at lowest levels. Foods that are mismatched should not be combined together. A predigested food such as curd should not be mixed with an undigested food, it will lead to indigestion. Ayurveda recommends against eating fermented food at night. Alcohol is also fermented and so should not be taken after sunset. Alcohol is an evening drink (evening is the period before sunset and  with sunset the night starts. Alcohol is beneficial to the body if it is taken before sunset. About 80% of Indians may have vitamin D deficiency. So, 60000 units of vitamin D should be taken with milk once a month.

 Consensus

  • Eat less or in moderation.
  • Eat seasonal and locally grown vegetables.
  • Eat variety and color.
  • Any food that is prohibited by doctors is injuries to health and should not be taken.
  • Food is a gift from God.
  • Eat only when hungry.
  • Most religions have some restriction on combination of food.
  • Avoid alcohol, as per the regulations of your religion.