Ominous signals in the dietary trend

"More than 30 lakh Indians write their suicide notes every year,'' says a thought-provoking advertisement just issued by the US-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). "And this is happening despite the fact that they have no intention of taking their own lives," it adds.

Warning of an alarming dietary trend, the public service message from PCRM depicts a grocery list that includes meat and meat products which are high in saturated fat and firmly linked to urban India's top killers - heart disease, stroke and cancer. It has urged Indians to keep their hearts healthy by going vegetarian as they consume no meat, milk or other animal products.

"The World Health Organisation reports that the number of deaths from heart attacks and strokes in India is projected to increase to 70 lakhs by 2020," reads the ad. "Saturated fat and dietary cholesterol found in meat, eggs and dairy products increase your risk of strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and many types of cancer."

The rate of heart disease among Indians is more than any other group in the planet. Heart disease strikes Indians at two to three times the rate than it does Americans, Europeans, Chinese and Japanese. By 2010, Indians will account for more than 60 per cent of the heart disease sufferers. And the PCRM says last year more than 30 lakh Indians have left the same suicide note - "shopping list - ghee, eggs, milk, potato chips, chicken and curd."

"To change suicide notes back into shopping lists, the first step is to drop the meat and dairy products and include lots of vegetables, legumes and fruit," says PCRM President, Neal Barnard. Studies have shown that going vegan is indeed becoming heart-smart. Research conducted by renowned cardiologist, Dean Ornish, has demonstrated that a low-fat vegan diet combined with stress-reduction techniques, smoking cessation and mild exercise can actually reverse atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) without surgery or drugs.

Without any celebrities and relying solely on the power of words, the brand new ad is being made available to anyone who wants to spread the message around. And according to a study recently published in The American Journal of Cardiology, combining a low-fat vegan diet with cholesterol-lowering medication is the most effective way to prevent coronary heart disease. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's study revealed that, in more than a decade, not a single participant who followed these guidelines experienced a cardiac event of any kind. In 2000, PCRM sponsored Dr. Esselstyn's tour of top medical colleges and hospitals in India where discussed his findings on nutrition's powerful role in preventing and reducing heart disease, reducing cancer risk and managing diabetes.

By Kannan K

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