New Delhi: It is in our guts that we build a foundation of good health. In the human gut there are thousand varieties of bacteria. It is these multiple strains of bacteria that help the gut breakdown food for better absorption by the body. Why is it important? Experts say, better the absorption of food, better the nutrition and better the overall health. It is also these bacteria that help fight the infections and inflammations.
So, how can one ensure a healthy gut? Team Banega Swasth India speaks to Actor Taapsee Pannu and Munmun Ganeriwal, Nutritionist & Gut Microbiome Specialist to know all about good gut health in a special interview.
Munmun Ganeriwal has also recently come out with a book Yuktahaar: The Belly and Brain Diet that explains the reason why we need to shift our focus from ‘you’ to ‘them’-the human-gut microbiome. The book explains that nearly all chronic issues are rooted in an imbalanced microbiome. It adds that the disruption in the balance of your belly-based microscopic community not only causes weight gain and increases the risk of chronic diseases but also impacts the mood, behavior, happiness, and a general sense of well-being.
NDTV: How does gut health impact our overall health and wellbeing? And what role does a good diet play in building a healthy body?
Taapsee Pannu: A good diet doesn’t just mean good health or wellbeing for your body. It also means the diet that can be sustained for a longer period of time so that you are not bending backwards or forcing yourself everyday to achieve something impossible. We should understand that the whole myth of depriving yourself from certain foods or things cannot really go on for a long time. You just cannot have very limited amount of food or go without having certain type of food for years. It is practically impossible. I don’t know anyone who is happily following it and if you are not really happy eating, then I don’t know how that food is going to help your body. Gut health actually helps you have a better mental health. So, if your gut is not happy, your mental health will not be good.
I did not give up on any kind of food that I love eating. And that I think that is something that has really kept me happy from the inside and outside as well. It has been going fine with me because I am not depriving myself from my cravings. Being a Punjabi, paratha and dahi are my staple diet and for some time I had to give up on all that. Obviously, I didn’t like it, I felt deprived of it, which is obviously not a good feeling. Within one year, my body healed and today even when I am on my toughest of toughest diet plans, parathas are the part of my diet. My atta might change, but staple food items stay the same.
NDTV: How will you define health or being truly healthy?
Munmun Ganeriwal: Being truly healthy doesn’t mean being a certain body weight or a certain shape or a size. It is not also the absence of diseases as most people believe, the thing is that we have restricted good health to the physical aspect, but what we rather need to focus on IS physical, psychological, physiological. All these life forces have to be in an equilibrium. When there will be a balance between all these three aspects then we will be able to state that we are healthy. For example, let’s take an example of someone who is in a great shape, perfect body weight but what is the use if the person cannot wake up fresh in the morning or the person is not feeling happy with the work he is doing – so we cannot say that the person is happy or healthy.
NDTV: How following yogic lifestyle during the time of movie Rashmi Rocket helped you bring alive your character on screen?
Taapsee Pannu: After that one year of training for the movie, my lifestyle has changed totally, my body has changed completely. I have never experienced myself so fit from inside. One thing which is really a thing to note is that when all my trainers and nutritionist sat together to discuss the journey, they said we will not take anything that is not natural. It might leave me with lesser results, I might have lesser muscle or physique for the movie, but I had to live with it as I had life beyond that one film. But the good part was because I was not taking anything unnatural, I was in the routine mentally. I was able to give my 100 per cent. I wasn’t deprived of anything.
NDTV: What is gut microbiome and how does it affect our body and overall health?
Munmun Ganeriwal: Microbiome is the collection of trillions of microbes that live inside our gut. The body is the host and they are the resident guests and they are the ones who actually dictate our metabolism and our immunity. We are the ones who give them place to live, food to eat, if these residents will feel nourished, they will in return reward us by keeping us healthy and watch our health with an active metabolism.
NDTV: Experts say, gut balance has a profound effect on our brain health. Tell us the relationship between gut health and brain health.
Munmun Ganeriwal: There is a direct relationship between gut and your brain health. Depression can be the result of an unhappy gut and acidity can have links with stress the person is facing on a day-to-day basis.
Taapsee Pannu: I feel if you are happy from inside, it will reflect on your outside. If you will not reach that goal which you have set for yourself mentally and you will keep yourself away from things you love, all this will affect you and your mind. The focus should be on your overall health, your gut health and your mind. If you are happy from inside, if you are eating well, it will reflect on your brain health and outside.
NDTV: What are some of the myths people believe IN blindly when it comes to following a diet plan and staying healthy?
Munmun Ganeriwal: One of the myths that many people believe is high protein and low-fat diet can help give you a perfect body weight or shape. Anyone who is trying to lose weight or is trying to build muscles feels that this is that one go to diet. It is one of the biggest myths. Another one that people think is that going vegan is the only way they can save the planet. I have nothing against people who are going vegan – everyone has their own choice but the issue is if people think that by going vegan, they will save the planet that is wrong – that won’t help. Lastly, I think, another myth that is making the rounds is if you will follow intermittent fasting, you will lose weight. Many believe it is an ancient way of shedding weight, but again there is no science behind it.
Taapsee Pannu: I think, your food should be proportional to the kind of place you are living. For example, if you are living in a tropical region or a zone which is very cold, you cannot just drastically switch your diet to something which you have never had in all those years and feel okay that now my body is going to react well. You will never know how much damage you might end up doing with your body and you won’t be happy.
Another thing, I want to tell everyone is that please don’t hate carbs, they are very important for your energy, mental and physical energy. Have the right kind of carbs, have things that are available fresh in the region you are living. Just because it is too local doesn’t mean it’s too below your standards. Suddenly, if other countries will announce that ghee is a superfood then we will start having it. We don’t need a validation from abroad, when we have such good science in our country with the food that is grown here. We just need to embrace it well.
NDTV: Tips for people who are trying to lose weight but are unable to do so. What should they keep in mind?
Munmun Ganeriwal: If a person is really trying hard to lose weight and is not able to, it can be the result of inflammation in the body. First the person needs to clear those it is then only they can start shedding the weight. The three R’s are very important – Right quality, right quantity, right timing. We need to select food that doesn’t have any chemicals or has ultra-processed chemicals.
NDTV: Why do we see more diseases happening today?
Munmun Ganeriwal: You can now see a 12-year-old with gluten intolerance, with mental health issues. These are things our grandparents have never heard of, they didn’t even know what gluten allergy is, we are seeing new diseases, it is simply because the microbes we are inheriting from our parents today is much less and that is why we see more of these diseases which we have never seen before.
NDTV: Just by taking care of your gut health, what changes are you feeling?
Taapsee Pannu: So far, I have not contracted COVID. I have travelled to many countries in the COVID times due to work, obviously, have been maintaining the precautions. But the part of this credit also goes to my good gut health.
You can listen to the full Banega Swasth India podcast discussion by hitting the play button on the Spotify player embedded above.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.