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The Truth About Health - a Bitter Pill to Swallow

GK Chesterton, the great author who inspired Gandhi to end British colonial rule in India, observed:

"I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite."

There are 711 billion reasons why the pharmaceutical industry and the 'eminent' doctors that legitimise their products will disagree. According to HCAN, that's the mega profits in US dollars 'disclosed' in the 10 years to 2012 by the top drug companies. Like all great salesmen, they have found a way to make us reliant on their products even if we don't really need them.

Approved drugs, a bit like 'approved' banks, don't seem particularly safe or fit for purpose. Since the 1950s, over 56 approved drugs were withdrawn in Europe and the USA. In 2012, Glaxo was fined $3 billion for criminal and other offences including apparently bribing doctors to promote their products. Is this yet another industry which cannot be regulated or trusted?

Let's take statins or rather let's not. The latest 'doctors report' from the USA featured in the Boston Globe, recommends that 30% of the adult US population - 72 million mainly healthy people, should be prescribed with statins. Apparently 15% are already. The FDA highlights the possible side effects of statins: memory loss, diabetes, liver damage and muscle injury. Not exactly a glowing endorsement. The Telegraph reports that the UK is considering these findings. I hope that our doctors follow Dr Malhotra who told the BBC that a Mediterranean diet including olive oil, nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables, is almost three times as powerful in reducing mortality as taking a statin.

Dr. Robert Eckel, a University of Colorado cardiologist who worked on the new statin US guidelines added, "I don't like the concept of 'good foods' and 'bad foods, we really want to emphasize dietary patterns."

Really? Surely, good and bad food is not a concept at all. It's a reality and one we know only too well. Sugar, salt and unpronounceable additives in quantity are bad for us. Food oversaturated with fat is bad for us. Anything that causes toxicity including pills is bad for us. We can stop our intake voluntarily or we can blindly accept what big business sells us ready-made. For example, in a recent Newsnight, the President of Coca Cola didn't even blink when Jeremy Paxman revealed that a large cup of Coke contains 44 sachets of sugar. Dubious alternatives to sugar like aspartame are not the answer either.

Let's cut to the chase. Genes aside or the 'unknown', we don't need a doctor to tell us that we can reduce heart disease and other illnesses at a stroke without pills. How? By consuming less unhealthy food, exercising more and giving up or reducing tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

The truth is that reliance on pills allows us to keep our bad habits - music to the ears of the pharmaceutical companies. In the guise of prevention, they market their products to healthy people who are then too afraid to come off them. Allopathic medicine is no longer a last resort. Doctors, many of whom are overworked, have been conditioned to paper over the cracks by masking our problems with prescriptions instead of dealing with the underlying cause. This is frighteningly apparent regarding anti-depressants as covered in my recent blog.

The chilling dish served up cold, reveals that 600,000 people died of heart disease in USA in 2011 - about 25% of all deaths. Uncannily, over 30% of adults in the USA are obese. Odd that it's nearly the same percentage as those that die from heart disease. We don't have to be geniuses to see the connection. The percentages aren't much different in the UK.

A Message From The East: Ayurveda - The Science Of Life

We could all benefit by following the simple teaching of a great 19th century yogi from India called Lahiri Mahasaya. He advocated good health by having a stomach half full of food, one quarter full of water and one quarter full of air.

He also suggested that to enjoy a successful balanced lifestyle, we should spend eight hours per day hours working; eight hours relaxing; eight hours centred towards our spiritual practice.

Yogis observe the direct effect of food on the body and mind. Food and humans have three qualities in Ayurveda:

Rajasic is the quality that relates to activity, digestion and in its extreme, restlessness.

Tamasic qualities refer to relaxation and in its extreme, laziness and depression.

Sattvic qualities manifest when there is a healthy balance between rajasic and tamasic.

Depending on our disposition and the climate in which we live, garlic, onions, chilli, caffeine, salt, sugar and spicy food are rajasic. They make us restless - a main cause of our unhappiness and why many rush to the doctor. Insomniacs will find it helpful to reduce or stop eating these ingredients. Doctors say that garlic and onions are good for the body, but yogis know that they bring restlessness.

Milk, live dairy products, most fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts promote the sattvic qualities within us. Some example of sattvic herbs and spices are ginger, basil, turmeric and coriander.

Food that is overcooked, microwaved, preserved or frozen is tamasic. By changing our diet and drinking more water at room temperature, but not during or after 30 minutes of eating, we can alter our health.

Destiny is in our hands

By taking responsibility for our own health, we can avoid the biggest 'self inflicted' disaster of the 21st century.

Let us be cautious of 'professional' advice or short term 'remedies' and say no to the fixing of our problems through sugar and pills.

GK Chesterton sums it up perfectly: "I do not believe in a fate that falls on all men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act."

David Green is an experienced practitioner of Kriya Yoga and is the author of a new book, The Invisible Hand: Business, Success & Spirituality which shows how the spiritual wisdom of the East can be integrated into our busy lives and careers.