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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Concept of food in Siddha Tradition & Patients response
Siddha Physician
Centre for Traditional Medicine & Research
Food in Siddha TraditionFood and action of individuals are defined by Indian traditional medicine as mostly responsible for health.
Equilibrium of the tōsam –Vātam-Pītam-Kapam- is maintained by balanced foods, which are made up of six tastes, taken in an appropriate proportion.
Ø Food influences both the mind and the physical body and consequently models individuals’ character and wellbeing.
Impact of change
Ø Relying on these concepts, Siddha practitioners give a special attention on food prescription for treating their patients.
Ø This aspect is particularly relevant to correct change of diet which shifts from traditional food and food habits to high-energy foods.
Ø Due to this change, people are more prone to develop food-related pathology such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disorders and micronutrients deficiencies.
Calorific value Vs Minor Plant constituents
Ø The diet is not determined only by the calorific value of the food or the composition of carbohydrate, protein, fat, presence of vitamins and mineral as done by conventional dieticians.
Ø The minor plant constituents- phytochemical substance which often contribute for the colour, taste, flavour of the food ingredient has a major role in health.
Ø The taste and aroma often suggest the predominant bootha (Gross element) and tosam that the food ingredient nourish or suppress, and consequently has a significant role in bringing back the deranged tosam to the equilibrium.
Food and Mind
Ø Siddha medicine attributes altered metabolism of food that turns toxic as a key factor for disease causation.
Ø Since mind plays a very significant role in many of the diseases like stress, diabetes, hypertension, dermatological diseases, primary food prescriptions are the satvic food which form the base of the food pyramid.
Food Classification
Ø Satvic foods have a mild sweet taste which includes Juicy and pulpy fruits, leafy green vegetables, milk, buttermilk, cow’s clarified butter, which gets easily assimilated into the system at the same time ensure elimination of the waste
Ø Rajasic foods consist of hot, spicy, pungent ingredients and wholesome grains which provide energy.
Ø Tamasic foods are fat rich substances, with astringent, sour taste, including alcohol, non vegetarian, stale food, highly refined and polished ingredients and ones that leads to constipation.

Fish, Fisherman & Skin disease
Ø ”Even in skin diseases, they don’t want to avoid fish”.
Ø Despite the fact that they eat fish, their skin problem is less than in other areas.
Ø So, “though we generally believe that you should avoid fish when having skin problem, here we see that no generalization should be made.
Ø If you look critically at diseases that occur in different geographical zones, they also vary. So it is not correct to generalize diet restriction based on Siddha medicine.

Is Generalization possible
Ø Generalization, as far as diet restriction is concerned, may not apply to Siddha .
Ø Like treatment, dietary recommendation should be individualistic, with a broader understanding
Ø Choice of diet recommendation should be based according to geographical zones, as well as on food habits, age, morphology of patients, temperament (Vātam-Pītam-Kapam) and seasons
Do patients follow
Ø The patients are “very resistant, unable to follow diet advices”.
Ø This is because of their regular habits and the availability of food items.
Ø Most of the time, initial resistance occurs because the practitioner does not offer alternatives, or that the suggested alternative is not affordable or available or palatable

Resistance and choice
Ø Instead of restricting the patient, forbid food items, make the patient aware of the other food items he can eat instead. “Give choice and make that choice affordable, available.”
Ø To a diabetic patient, list all the other food items that patient can eat which will not be harmful : “The moment you list them up, they realize yes I can take this or that. But if you only restrict, nobody is going to come to you”.
Ø Though people initially don’t bother or try to resist to diet advise, once their problem becomes intense and severe, they are willing to do whatever the physician says.
Ø But, if they had started adapting their diet in the beginning, that situation would not have become so worse. If the problem is intense and severe, there is no resistance from the patient to the diet advise that you suggest.”
Special food and availability
Ø Organic food is one and a half times costlier than commercial food but is good.
Ø We are recommending minor millets but the cultivation of it has become so low that its availability has become less and the cost of it has gone up.
Ø What was available to the villagers in the backyard, they now have to buy it at large cost.
Ø Rare items should not be suggested, but it choice should be given in what is available in the shop next to them.

Ready to eat
Ø Nowadays, people want everything in ready made pack.
Ø For example if physician ask them to take [Cissus quadrangularis], they will tell him ‘ sir if it’s available in powder which I can add to food and eat, I will take it. But don’t ask me to go and hunt for it, process it, make it into a powder, keep it ready and use
Ø People’s acceptance of this kind of product will be better if it is ready to use. However best possible effort should be made to increase shelf-life, palatability using natural ingredients.
Ø It as much a problem of time as of availability, laziness and mind set of the people.
Ø There is no point in blaming the patient, the importance of the diet change, or the lifestyle modification should be told to them in such a palatable way so that it stimulates them to follow that
Product forms
Ø Herbal teas (Kasayam)
Ø Soups (Rasam)
Ø Herbal water
Ø Herbal beverages (Amla drink- Aloe drink)
Ø Squash/Syrups (Panagam/Manapaagu)
Ø Herbal powders
Ø Chutneys
Ø Porridge (Kanjee)
Ø Fruit preserves (Thaenooral)
Stable food
Ø Though cereals particularly rice is the stable food, Siddha practitioners recommend parboiled and hand pound unpolished rice particularly of the traditional variety like Mani samba, Seeraka samba, Karunkuruvai.
Ø This is often taken along with minor millets like ragi, finger millet etc and pulses
Food for different period of the day –Breakfast
Ø The breakfast time being the period of Vātam, the porridge is best suited form
Ø Porridge made with rice and dry ginger helps in indigestion, anorexia, Vātam associated with pitham. Porridge of Yavam – barley is helpful in diabetes, Porridge made with puffed rice and milk helps in burning micturation. Porridge made with rice and horse gram improves physical stamina and in renal diseases.
Ø Minor millets cooked with buttermilk and spices are a typical lunch for physical labour as lunch time is the time of predominance of pitham.
Ø Food of hand pound rice with plenty of baked vegetables particularly the tender ones of country beans, cluster beans, beans, leafy vegetables, bottle gourd, bitter gourd, white pumpkin, drumstick etc. banana stem, flower and tender banana are good. Tubers excepting yam is best avoided,
Ø Raw papaya is good in removing renal calculi, large quantity of butter milk is ideal.
Ø The rice when taken should preferably of the following type, Lemon rice,Goose berry rice, Coriander rice , Curry leaf, Mint rice, Sesame seed rice,Jeera rice

Snack food
Ø The snack foods generally are the ones with are either cooked and garnished sprouts of different pulses, roasted nuts, snack balls made with palm jaggery with of puffed rice or Sesame seeds or green gram flour or groundnut.
Ø Fibrous fruits like fig, Guvava, papaya, preserves of Amla, Pomegranate etc.

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