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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Dr Chandrashekar

Being a cardiologist I am often called upon to give free advice to friends, family, newly made acquaintances, practically anyone around about nutrition. I have had to give opinions about various foodstuffs and eating practices and many times I have to make an effort to give sound advice and yet not scoff at many hare-brained ideas people seem to have.

This is about the time when I got terrific insights into certain aspects of nutrition by a well known medical practitioner, Dr Chandrashekar. Dr Chandrashekar is a pediatrician, physician and diabetologist by qualification (MBBS, MD, DCh, PGDDM) and in addition he is most passionate about dietetics.

The reason why I am writing about the good doctor is because, somehow I think his theory holds the key to the question as to why people in the Indian sub-continent and especially the south Indians are at such a high risk of developing diabetes, Dyslipidemia and heart disease.

Here’s his theory:

Dietary fibre is an essential part of human diet. Fiber is available from plant sources in two forms: soluble & insoluble. Both these forms of fiber are beneficial by modifying the processes of digestion and absorption of food in the stomach & intestines. The overall impact is stabilization of blood glucose and prevention of lipid absorption into the body.

Experts recommend that adult daily diet should contain around 30gms of dietary fibre. Dr Chandrashekar strongly argues that progressively Indian diets have been depleted of its fibre content. Rice is polished several times to give a ‘refined’ appearance, wheat flour is refined and re-refined to minimize fibre content. The blame for this transition from a fibre-rich diet to practically fibre-free diet should go to us, he says. We go to a restaurant and ask for rotis or naans (Indian breads) and if they are not extra soft we get annoyed. The softer the rotis, lesser will be the fibre content. Similarly unpolished or semi-polished rice would appear reddish brown and is not appealing in appearance to us. We prefer the fine white grains of rice and that has very less insoluble fibre content.

Dr Chandrashekar has numerous case examples to offer. I saw some patients requiring high doses of insulin. These patients were convinced to change over to unpolished rice and wheat flour straight after milling without putting it through a fine sieve. Insulin requirements have come down dramatically. In some cases patients requiring over 50-60 units are now requiring much less than 15-20 units. There are a few patients who have been taken off insulin completely and are doing well.

It seems quite a plausible hypothesis that if the dietary fibre is increased systematically in the diets the incidence of diabetes in general population and the severity of diabetes in diabetics will come down. Dr Chandrashekar has quite a number of other radical dietetic tips. Systematic study on these issues is highly relevant for our population which is getting more sedentary by the day and consuming more unhealthy diets each day.

In addition to this Dr Chandra is an avid teacher at PES Medical college. For details about his pathbreaking ideas on nutrition and dietetics you can write to him at drchandra59@yahoo.com.

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