Ayurvedic dietary approaches in combatting NCD’s
Professor Gerard Bodeker, UK
Chair, Global Initiative For Traditional Systems (GIFTS) of Health, Oxford, UK;
& Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, UK;
& Dept. of Epidemiology, Columbia University, New York, USA
WHO (2016) has identified Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) as the leading cause of death worldwide, with almost three quarters of all NCD deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
The Global Burden of Disease Study (2013) has found diet to be more associated with disease burden than physical inactivity or high body mass index.
Increasingly, the Mediterranean Diet is touted as the dietary pattern to counter NCDs. The Mediterranean Diet, a Western diet, studied by Westerners on Westerners, is now being recommended for the world, 75% of which is non-Western. This approach does not take into account cultural traditions of nutrition (and hence compliance), local food crops, or perspectives from epigenetics, metabolomics or nutrigenomics.
Ayurvedic diets are rich in pharmacologically active compounds with anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anticancer and cardioprotective properties – hence in combatting NCDs.
Ayurveda’s personalized approach to nutrition is premised on different foods being suited to different metabolic types, different seasons, and different times of day. Here, metabolomics, nutrigenomics, epigenetics and chronobiology converge.
Congruent with the trend towards personalized medicine, research now offers genomic evidence for the construct validity of Ayurvedic body types. Ayurveda’s personalized nutritional framework and six-taste system for classifying foods merits evaluation as a culture-free nutritional strategy, applicable across dietary traditions and food types in preventing and managing NCDs.