A novel concept of culinary medicine is seen to be one of the emerging trends to help people deal with lifestyle diseases by switching dietary preferences during Covid-19.

Greek physician Hippocrates says,” Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Even before the advent of modern medicines, several diseases were effectively managed by just consuming the right food. The Coronavirus situation in the country has forced everyone to stay indoors and for those who suffer chronic lifestyle diseases, frequent visits to clinics make them prone to infections. Unlike other countries, the Indian kitchens are blessed with ingredients, recipes and flavours, which not only do the magic on the platter but work miraculously to treat ailments. With people switching to healthy diet choices, the concept of ‘culinary medicine’ is seen to be one of the emerging trends in health and wellness zones At a time where individuals especially office goers are constantly battling lifestyle diseases like diabetes,  hypertension, migraine, back problems, etc, it is wise to switch to the medicines lying unattended on the kitchen shelves.

Ancient principles of Ayurveda emphasise that our body knows what it needs. For example, for a person suffering from fever, easy to digest items like ‘khichdi’ or ‘porridge’, seasoned with pepper and lemon are recommended. The principle behind this is fever relates to a condition where the peripheral temperature is more than the diminished heat inside the gastrointestinal system, which ultimately takes a toll on a person’s digestive capacity. So, having foods which are easy to digest are considered best in this situation.” Many lifestyle diseases can be managed with just a change in the diet and lifestyle. All diseases, treated using indigenous systems, emphasise on ‘pathya’ and ‘apathya’ (wholesome and unwholesome food, specific to each disease).The principle of culinary medicine is an age old science which has emerged with a new title in a new form,” says Anuraj Jain, Founder, Heal With Food.

Many common ingredients with magical medicinal properties help to fight many diseases but their importance is still unknown to many. For diseases characterised of congestion and inflammation, herbal teas with dried ginger, pepper, turmeric, etc are beneficial.  In addition, many anti-bacterial foods too work to a great extent to treat diseases of bacterial origin. Spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, etc are also anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiviral. Conditions like nausea, diarrhoea, etc can be effectively treated by consuming citrus fruits and ginger. A cup of sweet lemon tea can alleviate severe conditions like diarrhoea and constipation. A cup of tea made with black raisins is magical to treat bowels. Juice prepared from coccinea, curry leaves, amla, garlic and ginger helps to control diabetes. Diuretic foods help to control blood pressure. Jeera(cumin) in the diet helps to reduce migraine. Whole grains (red rice, unpolished rice or millets) improve metabolism and candied fruits like amla, ginger are immunity boosters and great for pregnant women, etc.

“Culinary medicine is an emerging field. It’s not only about food. I think it’s also about how you go out and buy your food, where you buy it, what kind of produce, how you store it, how you prepare it, etc. Meal preparations have come a long way in helping people to live a healthy lifestyle. Suppose, you only have ‘dal’ and decide to eat it throughout the week, and while dal is obviously not bad, but there has to be a variety of food that should be consumed throughout the week to get ample dosage of vitamins and proteins for keeping yourself healthy,” says Cheryl Mascarenhas, Holistic Wellness consultant at GALF (Get a Life Fitness) and Founder, Aarogyaahar.

The Indian kitchen is packed with all kinds of nutritional benefits. The core problem lies in the lack of knowledge.  Chirag Parmar, founder, NextGen Foods, feels that the irony is all the doctors in the world take Hippocrates’ oath, but they have not actually adapted his thoughts on the importance of food on health. We observe doctors get very less nutritional knowledge. Many lifestyle diseases can be managed with just a change in the diet and lifestyle.