There were two contrasting books discussed one after the other. One was a book on cancer and one a book on how to lose weight the healthy way. The literature of the healthy and the sick seems to be quite a talking point.

theemperorof maladiesAjay talked about the Emperor of Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee; this book won the  Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. Many readers in the group had read this book as well and found that Mukherjee had done justice to a difficult subject. The book is a chronological account of treatment plans over the centuries and treats cancer as the protagonist, antagonist rather. His book features heroes like his patients, researchers and doctors. So much goes into a disease getting the required amount of funding; unfortunately a certain critical mass of patients is required for adequate spending required to formulate breakthrough treatments. The conversation went on to the ‘whys’ of cancer, including the recent potassium bromate in bread controversy. Mukherjee’s book is optimistic and opens up healthy dialogues about this otherwise stigmatized disease.

dont lose your mind lose your weightNowadays there is a lot of awareness when it comes to staying healthy and keeping disease away.  Megha  spoke about a book called Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight by Rujuta Diwekar, expert nutritionist known for her contribution to Kareena Kapoor’s size-zero look in Hindi movie Tashan.

What makes Diwekar’s book so popular is that she encourages you to lose weight without giving up on food. That she is a nutritionist only adds more credibility to her book. Diwekar explodes many myths. For instance, if you eat too much low fat, you end up replacing it with sugar, which is only worse. There is nothing wrong with good old Indian ghee, in moderation, of course. Another observation is about the necessity of sleep and how adequate sleep actually helps to burn calories and lack of sleep can pile on the pounds.

“I don’t understand how such a simple thing as food is now being manipulated by the media. All we need are five to six simple home cooked meals a day. If we eat what our grandmothers did, we would be better off. In fact, we shouldn’t feed our children anything in a commercial. As simple as that,” Megha said. Some criticism of the book was shared, particularly the obsession with healthy food being only Indian.

Abhaya ended the health conversation with two observations:

“India is the second country on earth that spends the largest amount of money on fresh foods.

There is often nothing short of a stampede to buy buy fresh green veggies when they are unloaded in the market.”

This is good news if you live in India. The question is can eating healthy really stave off disease? There doesn’t seem to be a conclusive answer to this, no matter how much literature is out there on the subject.

More books in Part 4.