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Why India Has The Highest Rate of Heart Attacks In The World

Posted Jun 26 2010 3:07am
"Heart disease is the single largest cause of death in India with heart attacks being accountable for one third of all deaths caused by heart diseases."  Source:  http://www.india.gov.in/

Following my previous post “What Causes Heart Attacks? It’s not what you think!” one or two people have asked me why India has the biggest incidence of heart disease. The evidence suggests there are three reasons for this
1. India has the highest number of vegetarians per capita (per thousand of population). But unlike most vegetarians in other countries, the millions of poor vegetarian rural Indians do not have the resources or knowledge to eat nutritionally or take nutritional supplements. As a result they suffer to a greater extent from a lack of B6, B12 and folic acid (B9). These vitamins are vital in keeping levels of harmful homocysteine low in the body (remember that homocysteine is at the root of heart attacks). Note: I am not anti-vegetarian. Indeed, a vegetarian or vegan diet is better for you in the sense that the avoidance of meat, fish and dairy products helps prevent disease.

2. India has one of the highest rates of milk consumption in the world. A dramatic increase in milk consumption in India in recent years has gone hand-in-hand with a dramatic rise in osteoporosis. In 2002, some 18,000 million liters of milk where produced by Operation Flood's cooperative unions each day. As a result, milk consumption in India has risen from a low of 107 grams per day in 1970 to over 220 grams per day in 2002 – people in all parts of India are now able to buy and consume dairy milk without scarcity of supply. Since 2002, the increase in milk production and consumption in India has risen enormously, growing at a rate of over 4% per year according to FAO. This makes India the fastest growth market in the world in milk production and consumption - source: Sangita Shah, India leads global milk output in 2005, report compiled from Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) statistics, and published online January 30, 2006.

3. It has been reported that Indians are at greater risk of heart disease because of a genetic mutation that affects one in 25 people in India. The mutation almost guarantees the development of the disease and Indians suffer heart attacks at an earlier age, often without prior symptoms or warning. Now researchers say India, a country with more than one billion people, will likely account for 60 per cent of heart disease patients worldwide, by 2010. A study among Asian Indian men showed that half of all heart attacks in this population occur under the age of 50 years and 25 percent under the age of 40, according to the Indian organization, Medwin Heart Foundation. But although this genetic mutation increases the risk of heart disease, you don’t get a heart attack unless the arteries are clogged. Therefore, for Indians it is particularly important to avoid arterial plaque and the best way to do this is to keep levels of homocysteine low.

As explained in The Foolproof Diet , milk consumption greatly disturbs the delicate hormonal balance in the body which is vital to good health. This leads to a state of imbalance between estrogen and progesterone (known as “estrogens dominance”) which in turn leads to elevated levels of homocysteine.

Indian milk consumption in 2010 continues to rise at astonishing rates. “India is the key milk consumer, amounting to 13 percent of the world’s total and 31 percent of milk consumption in all developing countries!” Sources: (i) Delgado, C.L., 2003, A food revolution: rising consumption of meat and milk in developing countries. J. Nutr. 133, no. 11 Suppl 2, 3907S-3910S. (ii) Barry Popkin, et al, The nutrition transition in high and low-income countries: what are the policy lessons, Presentation at Int. Assoc. of Agric, Ec. Conf., Australia, Aug. 06.

So Indians get a triple whammy: 1. A lack of vitamins B6, B12 & B9 (as a result of a poor vegetarian diet). 2. A bombardment of harmful bovine hormones (as a result of high milk consumption). 3. A genetic predisposition to heart disease. These three factors combine and conspire to give Indians high levels of homocysteine which in turn greatly increases the risk of heart attacks.

By just giving up dairy milk and using easy-to-make milk substitutes you will go a long way to keeping levels of homocysteine low, thus greatly reducing the risk of a heart attack. For easy-to-make non-dairy milk recipes see The Foolproof Diet (www.the-foolproof-diet.com).   This book truly makes vital reading for every indian worldwide.

Keep well,
Russell Eaton
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