A UK-based Indian-origin doctor, who has been championing an anti-obesity drive as a means to combat the severe effects of COVID-19, on Thursday released a new book that offers a “simple, evidence-based” plan to help improve health parameters.
Dr Aseem Malhotra's ‘The 21-Day Immunity Plan: How to Rapidly Improve Your Metabolic Health and Resilience to Fight Infection' is pegged as a tried and tested method of how in just 21 days people can prevent, improve and even potentially reverse many of the underlying risk factors that exacerbate how infections, including coronavirus, affect humans and improve their ability to recover.
“Poor metabolic health equals poor immune health. The good news is that within weeks of making simple changes to what we eat, how we move and reducing stress through meditation, we can rapidly improve – both making us healthier and more resilient to infection,” said Malhotra, a National Health Service (NHS) trained cardiologist.
The medic says he wrote the book, which will hit the shelves in India in the coming weeks, in just six weeks because he and his publishers wanted it out as soon as possible to help readers build resilience to infection, given the current coronavirus pandemic. UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock had also consulted him, seeking evidence linking COVID-19 and obesity.
“I informed him, as I make the case in the book, that obesity is just the tip of the diet related disease iceberg. In other words, we're all vulnerable,” said Malhotra, who is also a visiting Professor of Evidence Based Medicine at Salvador's Bahiana School of Medicine and Public Health in Brazil. The ‘21-Day Immunity Plan', published by Hodder & Stoughton, lays out the benefits to global health of highly effective lifestyle changes, which the author himself has been following and prescribing to many of his patients.
“I follow my own advice and I prescribe this to my patients who see rapid improvements in their health. My metabolic parameters are all normal despite having a strong family history of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes and a recent body composition scan revealed my metabolic age is 29 even though my actual age is 42,” he said. Among the many followers of this health routine is British-Indian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha, who is on course to reverse her type 2 diabetes.
“When lockdown happened, I was very worried about catching COVID-19. Being a type 2 diabetic with not great glucose control I knew I was at high risk for severe infection,” said Chadha, the maker of box-office hits like ‘Bend It Like Beckham' and ‘Bride and Prejudice'. “I finally decided to do something about my obesity and T2 [diabetes]. I immediately took Aseem's lifestyle advice, specifically cutting out all sugar and refined carbs and within weeks I've come close to reversing my type 2 diabetes. The best part is I was still able to enjoy my food and felt mentally and physically better as my body became healthier. Read this book and follow the plan, it may well save your life,” says Chadha, in her endorsement for the new book.
As the co-author of ‘The Pioppi Diet', Malhotra is considered a pioneer of the lifestyle medicine movement in the UK and in 2018, was ranked by software company Onalytica as the No. 1 doctor in the world influencing obesity thinking. During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, he had issued a warning for Indians to urgently cut out ultra-processed foods from their diet to build resilience.
“India is particularly vulnerable, having a very high prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases,” he said.
“Specifically, conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease are three of the major risk factors for death from COVID-19. This is rooted in excess body fat, a cluster of conditions known as a metabolic syndrome,” he added.
Malhotra warns that the medications that are used for type 2 diabetes and many of the other conditions have “very, very marginal effects” in terms of improving lifespan or reducing risk of death and they also come with side effects. Now his new book hopes to further highlight the importance of lifestyle changes in fighting against some of these conditions.