NHS doctor says one diet reduces risk of heart disease, dementia and cancer

Dr Rupy Aujla (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

An NHS doctor with a reputation for using food as medicine says one diet has been shown to cut the risk of everything from heart disease to cancer. Talking to Gregg Wallace on the latest episode of his podcast A Piece of Cake, Dr Rupy Aujla explained how you can use food to boost your mental and physical health.

Dr Aujla started The Doctor's Kitchen as a way of teaching everybody how they can cook their way to health and to showcase the beauty of food and medicinal effects of eating and living well.

Speaking to Gregg, he said: "Poor diet is responsible for a huge number of deaths, a huge amount of ill health that we see within the NHS. For example, it costs about 20% of the NHS budget, which is the equivalent of about £20 billion per annum with obesity, which is the main thing people think about with nutrition."

Dr Aujla added: "Food is is one of the most powerful medical tools that we have at preventing a plethora of different conditions. A number of different conditions have their roots in poor nutrition, and in some cases it is the management pathway that can lead to resolution of problems as well. Not all the time, and mostly it's in the preventative manner. But food has a really, really important role."

He explained the symptoms and conditions that come from a poor diet, saying: "There's a high risk of cardio metabolic disease. So that's a fancy word for saying cardiac disease Type two diabetes, which we know is hugely hugely detrimental and puts you at further risk of things like dementia, but also the quality of life as well. There's also a link between poor mental health and poor metabolic health as well.

"There are a number of different chronic diseases that may also have relationships with inflammation, so inflammation is a sort of quite vague and misunderstood concept, and it's a very important process that your immune system uses. To fight off pathogens like bacteria and viruses is the reason why me and you can have this conversation in the middle of London and thrive when inflammation becomes excessive. That's when some problems occur, and this is usually referred to as meta inflammation or long term, slow burning inflammation. And that is the foundation for blood pressure issues.

"Vague symptoms like brain fog, pain, fatigue. A lot of people might be nodding their head as I'm saying these symptoms, because they've become so normal for a lot of people and it can have its roots in inflammation. And a lot of what we eat, unfortunately, stokes the fire for that inflammatory burden."

Turning to how to fix the problem, Dr Aujla said: "There was a massive trial done 20 years ago. Now it's called the pre Med. A lot of people might have heard of it, and that showed that a Mediterranean style diet can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events by 30%."

Gregg and Dr Aujla explained the diet as 'plenty of nuts and fish, plenty of good quality fats like extra version olive oil, mostly plants with judicious amounts of meat and plenty of diversity of all those different vegetables that we have at our disposal'.

Dr Aujla said: "There was a study published in the journal Neurology, another top-tier journal that showed that adherence to a Mediterranean style diet was associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. A lot of people may not realise this, but dementia is the number one killer in the UK. It's a silent epidemic. I don't think many people are realising of just how massive an issue this is, and it can be in part related to diet crying out loud.

"Cancer, which is an umbrella term for a number of different cancers, many of which have different causes for the but in general, as part of a World Cancer Research fund study, 30 to 40% of cancers can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle."