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What's eating YOU?

Celebrity nutritionist Anjali Mukerjee talks to KAUSALYA SANTHANAM on the use of food as medicine

IF ONLY temptation was in the form of an apple... Today, a whole array of forbidden delights beckon you from every hoarding and commercial to make the calories mount and alter the balance in your body. Pizzas clothed in cheese, pies dripping with cream, wafers wrapped in chocolate... "Eat now and pay the consequences later", is the rule for most. And how the consequences pile up! Galloping sugar, escalating pressure, shortened breath...

"Wrong food habits precipitate various problems. Our hectic lifestyle lowers energy levels and suppresses immunity. I use food as medicine. Every food has medicinal properties and I use it to set right disorders," says Dr. Anjali Mukerjee, award-winning nutritionist who addressed the members of the Ellements Club recently at the Park Sheraton. With her trim figure and clear skin, the doctor is the best advertisement for the balanced diet she recommends. Consultant to beauty queens such as Lara Dutta and Yukta Mookhey, she runs a number of health centres in Mumbai and Delhi. Mukerjee is also a celebrated columnist on health and nutrition.

As she talks, the doctor's passion for the traditional Indian diet comes through as also her concern at the changing lifestyle pattern that has youngsters, especially, hooked on fast foods. "Our ancestors were closer to Nature and instinctively followed the correct dietary practices. Basically, Indian food is healthy," says the nutritionist who has an MD from the Indian Council of Alternative Medicine. "The younger generation particularly has lost touch with the traditional diet. They are not conscious about health. They want to lose weight by skipping meals. Though the older generation is better in its food habits, environmental pollution, stress and work pressures are taking a toll. The intake of food containing chemicals and synthetic substances too exacts a price."

Mukerjee's research in the field of preventive health care has helped patients reap the benefits of non-drug therapy. "We have managed to treat problems such as high cholesterol, Type II diabetes, hypertension and obesity with natural supplements, nutritional therapy, food supplements and exercise," she says. Health Total, the company she founded along with Saurabh Mukherjee seven years ago, dispenses various programmes to suit a person's lifestyle and constitution. It also produces health foods sold through select department stores in major cities.

The nutritionist finds that awareness is growing about natural foods. "In Mumbai, vendors in parks are now selling a whole lot of juices - amla, tulsi, turmeric and wheatgrass."

Health is something you cannot buy. You cannot flirt with it. You have to constantly take care. Awareness is the key, says the doctor on whom the passion for the subject just grew with the years.

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