Preventing and Reversing Diseases Through Changes in Diet and Nutrition

By Uma Purighalla, MD, ABIM


Editor’s Note: Uma Purighalla, born in Nellore, AP, India, grew up in the Pittsburgh metro area. With her degree from Medical College of Pennsylvania, she is board-certified in Internal Medicine, and is in private practice with Preferred Primary Care Physicians.

Uma purighalla PictureOf late the buzz word is to go low-fat plant-based whole food. From Bill Clinton to Venus Williams, many people are reversing their diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune disorders by eliminating or severely restricting dairy, meat, poultry, eggs, refined carbohydrates and  oils. Instead, they go for whole grains, vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes. Flowing through their blood and cleansing their livers are colorful smoothies, salads, flavorful stews/soups, curries and even starchy vegetables.

According to recent Adventist studies, low-fat whole food vegan/near vegan diets are strongly associated with healthy longevity. But, Indians long ago had already put much emphasis on plant-based diets.

But why then are Indians and Indians abroad doing so poorly today?  According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, diabetes is soaring amongst Indians. The Indian Heart Association finds that Indians comprise 60% of the world’s heart attack burden, while they are only 20% of the world’s population. Further, 50% of heart attacks among Indian men occur before they are 50. These risks are high even amongst the nonsmoking vegetarians who are not overweight.

The great news is that these statistics can be dramatically improved. Finlanders once also had dire health statistics like Indians today. Over the past few decades Finland has helped dairy farmers become berry farmers. They have reduced animal protein consumption and offer a vegetarian meal option for school lunches. They have greatly improved the health of their nation as a result.

The reverse corollary: Okinawa Japan was once known as a Blue Zone, having the largest population of healthy centenarians in the world.  Their diet consisted of 95% brown rice, sweet potatoes, vegetables and fruit. Only 3 ounces of fish/week and meat only once a month. They did not consume dairy, and oils were rarely used. It was a starchy diet with only 7% fat. Funny, they hardly had any cases of diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis or other chronic illness. Today, their diet is 30% fat, high in animal proteins and refined starches. Consequently, obesity and other chronic diseases of the West are ever increasing in Okinawa.

After reading this, you may think of changing your dietary habits. Before you start, check with your doctor to guide you since dietary needs can vary from person to person depending on body type and medications one may be on. Here are general suggestions for you to consider:

•  Avoid frying and dramatically reduce oils. They get oxidized easily, become rancid and turn into trans fats when heated. Exercising cannot remove such toxins from the body.

•  Instead bake, roast, or steam food, and dry toast spices.

•  Avoid or dramatically reduce dairy and meat.

•  Rely more on beans and lentils. Eat whole grains.

•  Have more fruits and vegetables — some raw; and some fresh.

•  Add one tablespoon of ground flax seed or a few almonds, walnuts or chia seeds into your daily regimen for Omega 3 fatty acid.

•  Check your vitamin B12 level yearly. Vegans must take B12.

•  Check vitamin D and supplement according to your doctors advice.  Too much or too little vitamin D is detrimental to overall health.

For further information on healthy plant based diets and recipes, checkout;;;; or

And review with your doctor.  ♦

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