Local food for enhanced immunity | Sunday Observer

Local food for enhanced immunity

30 August, 2020

While we are now preoccupied with Covid-19 and waiting for some foreign nation to invent and sell us a vaccine, we are sitting on a goldmine of health-based wealth in the form of our multifarious endemic vegetables, fruits, leaves and herbs.

What we are consuming today is mostly the hybrid ‘scientifically improved varieties. Because of our carelessness and apathy, most native varieties we refer to as Deshiya Beeja are now being wiped out by chemical fertiliser-dependent hybrid invaders.

Covid-19 is a phase the world is going through, but deaths due to wrong lifestyles and food have been happening everywhere. Diseases, such as cancer, kidney failure and diabetes were almost nonexistent in Sri Lanka 100 years ago.

The details below are from a conversation with Ayurveda Shastri qualified traditional medicine Doctor, Palitha Shri Gigana Arachchige, the author of Hela Weda Athpotha. He teaches at the Malavena Sri Gnhanissara Ayurveda Medical College and promotes non-chemical farming in Sri Lanka.

We begin with the use of Karawila for health. What we hail as Karawila today is often the large hybrid variety of Karawila which is grown with the use of artificial fertiliser, pesticide and weedicide.

Karawila contains the medicinal property of removing poison. Dr.Arachchige said that this inherent feature gets tampered with chemical fertiliser, pesticide and weedicide.

“When such chemical-based substances are used for its growth, it becomes dangerous for consumption as the chemicals used clash with its natural feature as a poison remover and when absorbed into the body has the opposite of the original capacity, becoming a complex poison carrier,” Dr. Arachchige said.

Karawila varieties

Among the local Karawila varieties that need no artificial fertiliser or weedicide and pesticide are Kalu Karawila, Batu Karawila and Kele Thumbakarawila. The other wild types of Karawila which are rare because of deforestation, include varieties, such as Uru Karawila which is mostly found in forest areas in the dry zone. Nutrition from these Karawila families varies, but all have health promoting properties as they are grown in natural settings and are ideal to be cultivated at home, provided only organic manure is used to nurture it.

“Every produce has a natural genetic make-up. When you meddle with it, disturb it and change it, we are messing with nature, and this can have a seriously debilitating effect on our health,” Dr. Arachchige said.

Asked whether native Karawila plants can be found for people to grow for domestic consumption, he said that it could be sourced from dry and intermediate zones.

Karawila, provided not tampered with genetically or with chemical substances, can prevent cancer, purify blood and control diabetes. It is also used as cures for several other ailments and imbalances in the body and for maintaining good reproductive health.

Jakfruit or Kos Gaha has incredible curative and illness preventive properties. The tree is also called Buth Gaha, because with one or two trees in the garden, we will not know hunger or disease.

The tree is a powerhouse of medicinal value and a magical immunity booster from leaf to seed. It also prevents cancer, Dr. Arachchige said.

Water, in which Kos has been boiled, mixed with freshly scraped coconut, when used for Dengue patients can increase their blood platelet count. Jakfruit and scraped coconut should be boiled with water, the quantity of which should not exceed more than one small cup (coconut can be added halfway when Kos is partially boiled). The water quantity when fully-boiled can be around two table spoons. It can be consumed during daytime.

Kos seeds are miraculous in raising the strength of the human body. The seeds have more strength than eggs. Kos eta can slightly raise sugar levels, but reduces some amount of gas. The best type of Jakfruit seed is Welikos eta which has the highest nutrition value compared to all other Jakfruit varieties and can even be given to diabetes patients.

Diabetes prevention

Kos Iri (the strands that we throw after taking the core for boiling) can be consumed as a snack, fried like chips and sprinkled with salt and chillie.

Kos mal (flower of the Jakfruit) is excellent for diabetes prevention and controlling sugar levels in the body. It can be consumed as a sambol with onions and burnt coconut.

Waraka Kos Gahaneti (twigs) are used for diabetes patients where it is boiled until the colour becomes yellow gold. This is medicinal, but can be used occasionally in small quantities instead of tea, but not consecutively so as not to reduce sugar levels.

Kos dalu (tender leaf) is also used for diabetes and can be used as a sambol.

Diabetes is one of the silent killers of people in the world. If we educate Sri Lankans of the thousands of plant varieties that we have been growing on this soil, that can be used in our diet for diabetes prevention and cure, we will eradicate this menace from the country. The same goes for other lifestyle related illnesses, such as kidney diseases, lung issues, cancer and obesity.