Dr. Manjari Chandra is a Functional Nutritionist, Wellness Coach, Speaker, and Author. With 20 plus years of clinical experience in the country’s top hospitals in integrative and functional nutrition, ‘Heal with Foods’ is Dr. Chandra’s second book. Her first book ‘Eat up Clean Up’ was based on how through nutrition we can cleanse the body of toxins. In an exclusive interview with Times Food, Dr Chandra talks about how eating the right way can help promote healing. Excerpts:

Tell us about your second book, Heal with Foods. How do you think is it different from other books on nutrition?

The food we eat makes us who we are. Our food is our fuel and it is a no-brainer to understand that what we eat greatly affects our biochemistry. Many of us today suffer from one or the other form of ill-health which may be as simple as feeling tired all the time or having an ailment like high blood sugars or high blood pressure for which we mechanically pop a pill. With most of us having health concerns on a day to day basis, I wanted to write a book that can talk about how we can return back to our food to heal our bodies and to restore optimal health instead of using chemicals or pharmaceuticals as a regular practice.

The information about how food can heal and also reverse certain diseases exist in literature in bits and pieces. The book “Heal with Foods’ however puts the entire groups of foods together in an easy to read format where people can use food that has been scientifically researched to alleviate sickness. Heal with Foods is different from most of the existing books as it defines the problem of our poor food choices, its influence on our gut and overall health and then puts the various categories of foods in easy to read and lucid chapters. It also gives examples and recipes of how you can use these healing foods in your everyday cooking.
What made you turn into a writer?
The clinical work that we do with patients includes continuous reading and learning about new scientific information and research that has been done over the years. It also leads us to write and contribute to research articles and scientific writing. Many times this information stays limited to research articles and scientific literature and does not reach the common people who could actually benefit from this science.
The idea of writing a book originated from writing a piece that could reach everyone, was in an easy to read format and hence could be read by many people and also contain relevant information which will affect their lives and health positively. Writing a book with a publisher and making it available on bookstores and on the internet marketplace seems to be the best way of reaching out to the maximum number of people. Hence the normal transition to a writer!
How far is nutrition important in triggering or curing a disease?
We have all heard the common saying “Food is medicine”. Although this has been repeated time and again, we have still not harnessed the power of food for human health. A few generations back most people had access to cleaner, real and adulterated food. This has become a rarity now. Many diseases that we know of today exist because of our poor lifestyles and food is one of the larger components of these lifestyles. Because we know that nutrition is such a big denominator of human health it is but logical to correct or improve it to an extent where it only creates better health. Simply put, what we eat either feeds disease or feeds health, that is how powerful our nutritional intake is. So food can either nourish and heal our bodies or create disease. With this information already substantiated by research it’s time for us to relook at our nutrition and eating habits.

Do you think nutrition has any role to play in recurrence or occurrence of serious diseases like cancer?

Cancer is a scary word. Everybody who is diagnosed with cancer wonders why they got it and what is it that they could have done to not get the disease. Like every other disease that we know of, our lifestyles are a big modulator of our health. Cancer is no different, what we eat, when we eat, how we eat, what is the food packed in, how fresh or stale it is, how many food additives or adulterants it contains, how processed or packaged it is, how native it is to our genetic make-up, all these other factors affect both the development and origin of various cancers known to clinical science.
Many biochemical pathways in our body affect the growth and multiplication of tumour cells and this biochemistry is dependent on what micronutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants form part of our nutrition. We have enough information to sift through and come to a conclusion that if we are able to eliminate adulterated and packaged food and add fresh wholesome produce to our plates, we have a fair chance of not even getting cancer.
What are some serious diet mistakes that people tend to make in their daily food habits?
Well most of the serious diet mistakes that people tend to make are really the simplest ones. A few examples could be
Ordering food regularly instead of eating home-made food made with fresh and real ingredients.
Eating food in a setting where we are not conscious of what we eat and how much we eat such as eating on the go- in a car or office desk, eating in front of the television, eating while speaking to somebody on the phone.
Another simple mistake that a lot of people make is to eat too quickly, not giving the body a chance to understand when it is full, mostly ending up eating too much food. A common one is eating small, frequent meals. We have been told to eat every 2-3 hours which does not work with human physiology. Eating many times a day forces our body to focus on digesting and assimilating food and rendering it unable to do other important bio regulatory processes such as reducing infections, balancing hormones, making new cells and so on.