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Feb 12, 2016

Precocious killer diseases

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By Dr. B. M. Hegde, India [ Published Date: January 11, 2011 ]

One of the readers of, Mr. Prabhu, wanted me to write an article on the above topic for the benefit of the younger generation which has found itself suddenly in the midst of affluence, thanks to some newer industry's body shopping spree in India. He was worried that they fall prey to early onset of killer diseases, which I do not dispute completely. Writing the first textbook of medicine in the year 1773, a brilliant young man of 26 years age, Charles Scharshmidst, professor of medicine at the Mecca of medicine of that time, Vienna, wrote that all killer diseases arise in the human mind and his strategy to manage them was very simple, viz: change of mode of living, tranquility of mind, and drugs rarely, if needed. I think that advice holds good even today after we went one full circle dabbling in hi-tech stuff. The western experience in that arena has shown that, in the words of an American thinker, Howard Straus, a health freedom and natural cures advocate who says "The number one killer of Americans is the American medical system."

Predisposing Causes:

a) Poverty:

If the youngster had come from a lower middle class family background where the mother was not having nutritious diet during her early pregnancy, the child in her womb will have developed completely under under-nutrition where all the organs-blood vessels, heart, the lungs and even the brain would have been smaller than normal. Many of these children die in utero.

Nature, however, tries to keep them alive when possible, by enlarging the mother's placenta size 2-3 times that of the normal thereby trying to keep the child alive. In the bargain nature also mutates the genes in such a way that they could survive with minimum nutrition-so called thrifty genes. If such children put themselves in a food plenty atmosphere at a young age, if they become affluent, there will be what we call the gene-food mismatch. The small pancreas of the youngster cannot cope up with the large calorie intake and the person becomes a diabetic precociously. Similarly, the blood vessels being small they get high blood pressure very early in life and the coronary arteries being small heart attacks are also common. This phenomenal research work was serendipitously accomplished by David Barker, professor of preventive cardiology at Southampton University in the UK. Even if the young man/woman comes from a rich family similar things could happen if the mother had very severe pregnancy vomiting (hyperemesis gravidarum) in the first trimester preventing good nutrition for the mother at the time the child is being made within 20 weeks of pregnancy.

b) Arrogance and anger with hostility:

When you are young and get lots of money in the pocket humility flies out of the window. One thinks that he could do anything and get away. This breeds hostility which is the prime mover in precocious killer diseases. Some of them get frustrated with the current atmosphere in the industry with the slump. Frustration is another deadly killer. Put together they make a fine combination for killer diseases to come closer to them. Fear of loss of social support is another enemy of the human immune system, the handyman for all body repairs. Body and mind are not separate as Rene Descartes taught. Mind is the body and the body is the mind. One can not suffer to the exclusion of the other. All diseases present through the personality of the patient.

c) Bad Posture:

Bad posture is one of the modern day epidemics. Posture is the window of the spine. The latter is related to many vital organs of the body like the brain, lungs, heart, spinal cord and other body functions. Poor posture is poor health. The first joint in the neck with the skull is the kingpin in this game. Roger Sperry, a Nobel Laureate, is of the opinion that the spine runs the brain: "90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by the movement of the spine." Only 10% of our brain's energy goes into thinking, metabolism, immunity, and healing. Sperry demonstrated that 90% of brain energy goes into processing and maintaining the body's relationship with gravity." The forward head posture that these IT youngsters adopt at their computers is the bane for all diseases. Indian yoga could do a lot to correct this and help these youngsters!

d) Junk food:

American body shopping goes with American junk food pari passu. For thousands of years we have grown with our conventional diet. Our genes are attuned to them. Suddenly changing them will upset the whole system. May be after millions of years our genes get attuned to junk food but not for many hundred generations now. People go mad with this or that fancy diet-Mediterranean etc. but one should remember that our existence is due to our conventional food that has evolved over millions of years of observational research. Present media advertisements are one of the reasons for premature deaths. Less said about it the better. To give one example the cows are vegetarian cud chewing animals. The British farmers wanted to get more money by more milk and tried to make the cow a non-vegetarian by feeding them with giblets from goats and sheep. That is the origin of the so called "mad cow" disease.

The other curse of recent IT boom is the untimely food habits the youngsters develop. Food should be taken in small quantities at frequent intervals, at least six times in a day. Large infrequent meals predispose to diabetes etc.

e) Sleep patterns:

We used to sleep when the sun went down to wake up when the sun comes up. Our melatonin secretion is set to sun light. Today there is no darkness anywhere. The bright neon lights keep the nights bright suppressing human melatonin levels. The present youngsters do not get enough sleep is one thing but their habits to live and even sleep in bright light kills their melatonin secretion. That is one of the reasons for precocious diseases.

f) Lack of exercise:

Youngsters stuck to the computers have no time for regular exercise. Exercise is the best modern medical therapeutic measure and has been proven to be of utmost use in keeping one healthy and avoiding many deadly diseases like diabetes, stroke and heart attacks.

g) Distress:

Stress is an integral part of life and is the tonic for human growth and good health. But distress, abnormal response to normal stress, is deadly. Most youngsters, in busy jobs, have their dead lines to meet almost continuously which could be detrimental to their health. The present style of project work which has no time limit for daily work could be a distress. In addition the time zone problems of the IT sector where most work outsourced from the USA has to be attended to during our nights and their day which might upset the sleep wake cycle of young people resulting in health problems.

h) Alcohol and smoking:

Social drinking gradually goes on to more alcohol intake. This could be a deadly combination with the above life style. Smoking is another very dangerous pastime for the young people who have not come out of the sucking reflex.


Is very simple. One could easily change all the predisposing factors by change of mode of living.

Sensible simple diet, regular sleeping habits, regular walk daily for at least an hour, strictly avoiding smoking and alcohol intake, regular Yoga practice for tranquility of mind and neck exercises to keep the posture right will all help. Gene-food mismatch should be avoided at all costs. Ample water intake is a must. Work very hard and love what you do to be healthy. Ambition is needed to go up in life but greed, anger; hatred and super ego could be killers. Avoid most negative feelings to the extent possible. Humility is the best health tonic. Universal compassion is the key to good health. Be a giver and follow the dictates of the Ishopanishad: "Thena Thyakthena Bhoojithaha." In English it simply means: "rejoice in giving."

Life is not just to live and enjoy. Life has to be useful, to be authentic, to be compassionate and to have been able to touch another life to show that while living well you have let others live well. One more health advice to the young is to live within one's means and not to follow the American system of "I owe you" economy. Buy something when you really need it and not when the sale is on even if you do not need it. Never try and live on borrowed money to maintain an artificial life style. Live a life where you try to walk your talk. Health will be yours for the asking. Live in the present. Past had been a dream and the future is yet to be born. Live as if it is your last day on this planet but plan as if you are immortal. If you fail to plan you definitely plan to fail. Good luck.

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D.P.Kumar, India :
An eye opener for present generation. Very clear.

Porbhu, India :
Thanks a lot Dr. BM Hegde for your wonderful educative article - I think it goes a long way in educating us to the perils of modern life style as well as to the perils of " popping Pills" and be ignorant of the danger or warning signs.

In my humblest opinion, any young person (in 30s , 40s, or 50s) living a sedentary life style, having pot belly (abdominal fat) - is at high risk for sudden deaths.

Abdominal fat can upset the normal bodies balance to carry out its functions - so much so that even seasonal flu or common colds can lead to damaging inflammation - leading to damage to arteries. These young men also have less capacity to maintain their blood sugar (pre-diabetic) and in addition may be prone to develop hyper tension at early age.

My sincere suggestion is to reduce extra abdominal fat.

Firstly is to eat within limits. Eat whole grain (whole wheat chapattis and red rice) as opposed to white rice , bread, potatoes. Bottom line is the food should digest slowly.

Avoid sweets and oily stuff. Eat more vegetables and reduce meat consumption. Avoid or reduce caffeinated beverages (coke, coffee) especially after 4 PM.

But the best way is to indulge in physical activity - every bit helps.

Coming to alcohol consumption - especially red wine, I do not believe red wine consumption is helpful at all. All forms of alcohol is bad.
One can argue that instead of red wine why not drink grape juice? - grape juice is full of sugar!! Too much sugar is not good for sedentary people with office jobs.

All grapes are sprayed with pesticides. so when you consume grapes, you also consume some of the pesticides. These in long run can give rise to cancer and other diseases.

Dr. BM Hegde, I am in complete agreement with your views and I urge you to write more specific articles addressing many issues you have raised.

Thank you.
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