HOW MUCH IS IDEAL?
Rapid Reduction in Weight and Blood Sugar with Jackfruit
My search for the perfect plate started on the last Sunday of year 2015, it took a full circle around the world and came back to the humble jackfruit. I was back at our village in Kerala for Christmas and the following Sunday I went for the mass at our local parish. As Fr. Thomas Brahmanavelil, the parish priest, brought Holy Communion to me, I noticed he looked half the size, than I had met him in January that very year. As soon as the mass was over I rushed to him to find out what went wrong. He calmed me down and said “James, after you left in January sharing with me the glycemic comparison between rice, roti and raw jackfruit meal, I knew my problem and stopped eating rice and roti. Instead I started having cooked vegetables, legumes and whenever possible raw jackfruit as my main meal with fish curry and a small portion of millets as porridge.” He had lost 12 kilograms and had stopped taking insulin. He was quick to add “for past six years my expenditure on insulin alone was around Rs.2000 per month.” Fr. Thomas had reported the first hypoglycaemic incident with raw jackfruit meal and insulin, which led to my research on raw jackfruit and the glycemic study at Sydney University which proved, that raw jackfruit is low in Glycemic Load and Calories.
I had to immediately call advocate Siby, my senior at school. I had a panic call from him three weeks earlier saying his sugar level shot up for the first time and he was very worried of becoming diabetic. I asked Siby if there was any way he can get hold of some raw jackfruit, which was out of season. “I have some in the freezer, kept for my sister who is abroad” he responded. Since he is a good friend, I took some liberty and said he needed it more than his sister and that he should replace one rice meal with our traditional jackfruit meal. I did not hear back from him post this incident. After hearing Fr. Thomas’s recovery I wanted to reinforce my advice to Siby, just in case he didn’t try. I got a rather jubilant Siby on the phone He said, “James, this is unbelievable, I think am now a little negative on sugar and lost five kilograms!” He stopped rice and roti completely. He went to the extreme of carrying raw jackfruit meal and fish curry as lunch, when he travelled to Delhi for his cases in the Supreme Court. His lawyer friends observed that he looked ten years younger. Later on when I met him, I spotted immediately the absence of his characteristic double chin!
Search for Global Parallel – Paleo & Vegan
I started looking for global parallels for such rapid weight loss and reversal of sugar levels. I had heard about weight loss from protein diet which was popular among Malayalee Christians when I landed in US for the first time in the late nineties. Still remember going to parties where men would be all around the barbeque and praise Dr. Robert Atkins who came up with the theory that mankind was created to eat only protein. Vegetables, fruits and carbs were for the cows! Many of them lost weight and felt very energetic but I just couldn’t imagine how one can complete a week without eating any fruits. I called my friend Jimmy to see if his elder brother, then a strong proponent of the protein diet, had seen such rapid drop in weight and sugar. Jimmy had a rather sombre response “ James, my brother doesn’t like to talk about the protein diet any more after his Guru, Dr. Atkins dropped dead one day, and many reports said his brain was all messed up with protein. My brother now takes paleo and pills and sister-in-law takes vegan and pills.” Paleo is the diet of ancient hunters and gatherers, mostly meat but you are allowed to have some fruits and ancient grains. But as a precaution his brother also takes tablets for cholesterol and diabetes. Whereas his sister-in-law has gone completely vegan as a penance for the protein diet she followed earlier but takes sleeping pills to stop dreaming about her favourite fish curry! I started researching on vegan diet and finally found my global parallel and the exact opposite of Dr. Atkins!
Dr. Neal Barnard, the Washington based founder of Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) had reported several cases of rapid reversal of diabetes and excess weight when people followed his vegan power plate for three weeks. Their plate has one half fruits and vegetables and the other half whole grains and plant based protein in equal proportions. It looked all good till I had a chance to meet Dr. Zeeshan Ali from PCRM at their first session in Kerala to promote the concept of plant based diet in India. There are two sticky wickets for its wider adoption in India; it could upset not only non-vegetarians but even hard core vegetarians. For example asking fish loving people from the coastal areas to switch to seitan, a meat lookalike from wheat protein, or concentrated gluten, sounds exactly like its strange name. And asking our vegetarian friends from North and South not to have our much loved cow’s milk in their paneer and curd rice could upset a whole lot of Indians including our little Amul girl! Fr. Thomas and Siby got the same results as the power plate, except that they had more vegetables & fruits through jackfruit meal, less whole grain but same amount of protein, which was animal or fish based than plant based.
Mediterranean It Is!
My research moved to tour de France winner Chris Froome’s plate, who lost 20 pounds and won the tour, to the Healthy Eating Plate by Harvard Medical School, to the perfect plate by American Diabetes Association and finally to the Mediterranean plate promoted Dr. Aseem Malhotra, noted British Cardiologist, who claims the plate is better than medicines for cholesterol and diabetes.
All of them had one thing in common, at a nutritional level they had a lot of similarities with Kerala’s original God’s Own jackfruit plate, 50% percent vegetables, 25% carbohydrate and 25% protein. Our tradition was to first quench our appetite with raw/green jackfruit meal with a protein curry and then finish with a small portion of rice porridge. Those days, rice was expensive, hard to grow especially in the highlands of Kerala where Jackfruit thrives. By this time my friend Ayaz insisted I watch the BBC DVD, The Story of India with Michael Wood. And the early man migration theory says the hunters and gatherers from the African continent crossed over to Asian continent and one group travelled south and other north. When the first group reached Kerala side of the Western Ghats, they never ran out of food and decided to settle down with the likes of, green and ripe Jackfruits, coconuts and animal based protein. The other group ended up in the Mediterranean and settled down with green vegetables, olives and fish based protein. That’s as paleo as it gets!
Check out this short illustration video explaining the 40000 year connection between the two perfect ancient plates.
Perfect God’s Own Plate!
If there is a God’s Own Committee for Responsible Food, the first commandment would be, Thou shall eat animal, fish or plant or non plant based protein and grains as long as you fill the other half of the plate first with plant based fibre from the Eden garden near you and you may make it tastier with all the spices and coconut or olive oil. All your trespasses on one side of the plate will be forgiven through the soluble and insoluble fibre you get from the other side. Fr. Thomas, Siby and our fellow God’s Own people can definitely continue with our traditional God’s Own Plate as it really is the perfect plate. In case you have eaten too much carbohydrate in the past, leading to excess weight and diabetes, choose God’s Own Diet Plate by cutting down carbohydrate further till you bring your blood sugar and weight to normal.
The Grain2Green™ Plate
Expecting rest of India to replace their own traditional meals like Roti or Idli with Kerala’s Jackfruit meal, even if it is to reverse diabetes, is next to impossible. Changing eating habits, especially the main meal, is a tough one to achieve. Average Indian plate has 50% carbohydrate/grains and only 25% greens. The need lies in cutting grains by half and doubling up the greens. The challenge however is, how to migrate people from grains to greens in their plate, without affecting the psychological comfort of eating what they grew up eating?
The most successful example we have seen in India, is how iodine was added into salt to fight Iodine deficiency, a primary cause of preventable mental retardation and brain damage among children. Since there was no change in taste or texture to the salt, everyone embraced it without any resistance. Similarly the easiest way to migrate people from grain to green is to replace part of rice or wheat flour in a meal with green jackfruit flour and you get the perfect Grain2Green™ plate which is 50% Green, 25% Grains, and 25% Protein as recommended by the Diabetes Association and the plate continues to have the same number of Roti or Idli without any change in taste!
With best culinary regards,
Founder and Brand Ambassador
* Legal Disclaimer – There is a chance that Jackfruit365™ based meals, combined with the medication, can lower your blood sugar too much! Hence, it is imperative that you work with your doctor to ensure you are monitoring your blood sugar and adjusting the medication properly. By consuming Jackfruit365™ you may be able to reduce or eliminate your medications over a period of time. So, always keep your doctor informed.