Saturday, August 14, 2010

How Safe are Raw Vegetable Salads & Juices


Lot of promotion is going on these days all over the world regarding the benefits of eating raw vegetable salads and juices. In India, Baba Ramdev and Dr. Mantena Satyanarayana Raju are the two prominent personalities who have been engaged in promoting the use of Raw Vegetables on a large scale for a quite long time. Millions of people following the practice of consuming raw vegetable salads and juices have greatly benefited. Of late, news broke out on all the television channels of India regarding the death of a scientist in New Delhi by consuming the raw juice of bottle gourd and bitter gourd. Mr. Sushil Kumar Saxena, a scientist from New Delhi was a diabetic patient for quite long and had been consuming the bottle gourd and bitter gourd juice as prescribed by Baba Ram Dev on TV from the last 4-5 years. Mr. & Mrs. Saxena took the juice on that day too as it was their daily routine. After sometime both of them felt uncomfortable with pain in their stomach and rushed to the hospital. Mr. Saxena was declared dead after preliminary examinations where as his wife had survived. The moment this news spread on the national television channels people following the routine were astonished. Some who have been drinking the juices are now cautious while others aren’t affected by the incident. On the other hand doctors didn’t miss the opportunity to bash at the nutritionists promoting such practices. They started to play blame game on the part of people like Ramdev Baba and Dr. Raju for promoting such activities. A doctor from New Delhi has gone on to say that people should consult a doctor before taking any such practices.

People haven’t forgotten this incident and another shocking news flashed on world television. This time was from America. A 75 year old man called Ron Sveden from America was very sick when he was hospitalized on Memorial Day – he was having more difficulty in breathing than he usually does with emphysema. He was expecting to learn that he had lung cancer. Instead, he was surprised to learn a pea seed sprouting in one of his lungs which is half-inch long. Amused Steven giggled for a while and after a short pause he realized it was not cancer. For him, his wife and family it was quite a relief. He later got operated and Dr. Jeff Spillane removed the obstacle. The drama hasn’t ended here; in fact the real debate began now in medical circuits all over. Doctors and scientists have engaged in discussing the possibilities of growing sprout in a lung.

As for the likelihood of something sprouting inside the body, experts say it’s not impossible. Walter Reeves, a horticulturist, author and radio host in Atlanta, Georgia, says it’s conceivable if a seed gets lodged in a lung.

“Isn't that what happens when a seed is underground and gets moisture and warmth? " They [seeds] don't need light” he adds, at least not for the first two or three days.

Reeves doesn’t have more details about Sveden’s situation than what’s been reported in the news media, but he points out that this could happen only with raw peas or beans or peanuts. Cooked peas or other legumes cannot germinate or sprout. Reeves say a raw peanut could easily sprout, as could dry peas, after soaking in water. “Those are quite capable of germinating.”

Spillane says children, in particular, are known to have a peanuts go down the wrong way and get lodged in the lung, which is a very serious problem. “Kids have died from that stuff,” he says.

Spillane is a little surprised at all the attention this story had received. He says removing objects from patients’ lungs happens frequently. “A week later [after Sveden’s surgery], I pulled a tooth out [of another patient]."

Dr. Steve Georas, a pulmonologist in Rochester, New York, agrees. He says people inhale things into their lungs frequently, probably because the trachea and the esophagus are so close to each other. “We had a similar case at the University of Rochester where I practice. A patient had a pea wedged in his bronchus – it didn't turn into a plant."

Spillane says he went into surgery to help people and to "pull the thorn out of the lion's paw.” Sveden’s sprouting pea, the surgeon says, “was the ultimate thorn in a lion's paw, I guess.”

After all these I got an email from one of my friend from Australia cautioning me to be very careful while eating raw vegetables and sprouts as I eat sprouts in breakfast every day. There was an attachment of a news paper cutting which wrote a story on various deaths across the world by eating raw vegetables. Many of these belong to eating of vegetables related to gourd family. And the world knows the nutritional value of these gourds. Many nutritionists and naturalists suggest eating of gourds on daily basis.

Scientists and nutritionists conducted many researches on these products and realized that sometimes these vegetables come up with some unnatural characteristic features due to several factors like improper soil, excess use of fertilizers, shortage or excess water supply to the plants, improper sun light on plants etc. The greed of some other farmers is also responsible for such unnatural characteristics in vegetables. Of late, we have been regularly coming across the news regarding the use of some kind of drugs and chemicals to yield the crops early.

We cannot avoid any of the above mentioned reasons. Plenty of questions start running all over the mind. What can we do? Shall we stop eating raw vegetables (Which were doing wonders for so long)? Do we need to consult a doctor before eating every vegetable we buy? Can’t we eat raw peas anymore? Is it risky to follow the recommendations of Baba Ramdev and Dr. M.S. Raju?

The naturalists say that there are certainly many ways to avoid such incidents at our end. We all know the natural character of vegetables we eat. Before making raw vegetable salads and juices make sure to take a piece of it and taste it. If you find unusual in any manner just avoid that. For example, bottle gourds usually taste sweet like cucumber. If you find it bitter don’t use it. You don’t usually find bottle gourd bitter. You find it only once in a million. It is said, some kind of chemical is released in excess in such vegetables due to the reasons mentioned above making it bitter and venomous. In case of Delhi Scientist, the couples consumed bottle gourd juice combined with bitter gourd. As a result they couldn’t realize the bitterness in bottle gourd. Had they consumed them separately they would have avoided it. I have been noticing since my childhood that my mother used to cut a piece of cucumber and ridge gourd before cooking or serving us. When she came to know about the news of Mr. and Mrs. Saxena she too couldn’t believe it and exclaimed “Shiva…Shiva…! I never heard of bottle gourd tasting bitter.” After learning this, she began to taste a piece of bottle gourd before cooking. She learned what to do now. Did you? I guess you do…!

It might be Baba Ramdev or Dr. M.S. Raju, they are recommending the consumption of raw vegetable juices only to those who are suffering from metabolic disorders like diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure etc. And it is proved time and again that these raw vegetable juices are doing wonders for those patients. Therefore, people should not take one or two instances into account and stop consuming them. It is suggested to take few precautions as mentioned above and consume each vegetable juice separately in order to identify the natural flavor of those vegetables for safety.

Dr. M.S. Raju is aggressively spreading the health benefits of eating sprouted beans and peas for a long time. He is largely successful in spreading the message in most parts of Andhra Pradesh. I began eating sprouts as breakfast since last one and half years and it’s been a great feeling since then. I take every opportunity to thank Dr. M.S. Raju for the favor he has done to my life. I was never so healthy before. I thank Dr. Raju once again. As far as the news of a sprout in the lungs of Mr. Stevens is concerned, it took me by surprise too. The cause behind sprouting made me more alert. I realized very well and request all those sprout eaters through this blog to clean the sprouts very well and break the sprouts and peas by chewing them thoroughly and swallow without any hurry. Small mistakes like Steven’s would end you up in trouble like him. As a matter of fact, the hospital staff has served peas to Mr. Steven during his first meal after operation as a gesture of humor and caution. He might not make a mistake anymore and chew it thoroughly. I hope you too do the same.

Since evolution the man has been eating raw fruits and vegetables for living. The fruits and vegetables are gift to the mankind by the Mother Nature. Man has never suffered believing the nature. I don’t think we need to consult a doctor for eating vegetables provided by the Mother Nature. Baba Ramdev and Dr. M.S. Raju are doing wonderful service to the society by preaching healthy practices without any personal gains or interests. It is understandable that their preaching on healthy practices is acting as a thorn in the flesh to some doctors. Some doctors irked by the good work done by these two greats are always looking for an opportunity to blame them.

To conclude with I appeal to all the people who are consuming raw vegetables and juices take these minor precautions and stay healthy. Wish you a great health and happiness.
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