Rekha Raheja is a passionate Culinary Medicine Consultant aka Food Choreographer. In other words, she helps people get well using Millet-based food as Medicine to lead a healthier life.
With her in-depth research and thorough efforts, she aims to bring about favourable changes in the food consumption of the people. In an interview, Raheja shed light on the importance of millets in our diet and how they can provide for the calcium needs of women.
Being a culinary consultant and a millet specialist, do you think millets should become a conscious lifestyle mantra?
From millennials to mothers, everyone should understand the power of millets and how it’s going to drive their life in the most miraculous manner. We are not realising that we all need to undo the western food and lifestyle practices that we have subtly penetrated ourselves into. Our ancient scriptures are well treasured with the knowledge of the right food and the right ways of preparing it. However, with the influence of western culture and education, all the healthy food practices and traditional cooking methods of the yore have undergone drastic change almost making us march toward the hospitals as perennial visitors.
Dr. Khadar Valli, the Millet Man of India, an ardent follower of the Siridhanya philosophy exclaims that our digestive system is designed to assimilate only food derived from the plant kingdom. All the macronutrients ( carbohydrates, fats, proteins ) and micronutrients ( such as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamins) need to be obtained only from plants and plant sources.
Siridhanya means positive millets namely Kodo, Browntop, Banyard, Little, and Foxtail. These millets with their carbohydrates to fiber ratio being in a single ratio are proven grains that can eradicate modern-day diseases from their roots. With the slow release of glucose into the blood from these positive millets, one feels contented and satisfied for 5-6 hours. Restoration and maintenance of health is the ultimate function of these millets which no other grain can provide as these help in flushing out metabolic waste on a regular basis.
Suggested Reading: 7 Indian Porridges For Babies Consuming Solids For The First Time
So can these positive millets be considered a boon to women’s calcium needs?
Women go through various stages of life; puberty, pregnancy, lactation, menopause, and post-menopausal phase. All of these phases require an extra amount of calcium along with Vitamin D. We should understand that our digestive system is designed for absorbing nutrients from plant-based foods. Therefore, milk extracted from pearl millet, finger millet, and great millet is highly essential during these phases and can thereby aid in setting the foundation of strong bones once incorporated from pregnancy days in the mother’s diet.
It is also a common misconception that through the consumption of an adequate amount of calcium, bone health can be maintained.
In fact, in the absence of vitamin D, our body cannot absorb calcium even if it is from the best plant-based source. Thus, the amalgamative approach underlining the millets, Vitamin D, and calcium provides a holistic and systematic framework which thereby guides in taking care of the women’s calcium needs.
Is the intake of these millets enough to sustain the calcium levels of women?
To maintain considerate levels of calcium in a women’s body, we cannot ignore the importance of vitamin D which helps in strengthening the health of bones. There are only two most natural ways of getting vitamin D. First, expose your body to the orange color sun during sunrise and sunset and second, fresh mushrooms comprise a chemical called ergosterol, when exposed to sunlight gets converted into vitamin D. Thus, consumption of these sun-dried mushrooms twice a week is a must for healthy bones formation and maintenance. So intake of millets in a systematic way accompanied by the above-mentioned needs to be in sync.
What all food arrangements can be made using these millets for treating calcium deficiency? If you could share a simple recipe from your millet treasures.
In order to treat calcium deficiency, the five positive millets along with pearl and finger millet are consumed as a staple food in a systematic manner. The best way to consume these millets is in the elixir form; fermented porridge called Ambali. It is a combination of prebiotic and probiotic elements.
Intake of Ambali helps in cleansing our gut with diverse microbiota which in turn boosts our immunity and eliminates nutritional deficiencies, thereby creating a healthy body environment. Consuming Ambali made with different types of Siridhanya Millets at regular intervals helps in fortifying your gut. And let me assure you your Healthy gut means a Healthy body.
Tanya Taneja is a content strategist, and founder of Sunishya Lifestyle Private Limited.