A healthy body would lead to healthy aging and ultimately to healthy longevity, Dr Ang Poon Liat said during a lecture on ‘The Secrets Behind Healthy Longevity’ in Thimphu on August 28.

Dr Ang Poon Liat is a senior consultant and pediatrician, at Thompson medical centre, Singapore who specialises in nutrition and its impact on health, behavior and aging.

Health secretary Ugen Dophu, said nutrition has become important in Bhutan as the nationwide nutrition survey indicates that the nutrition status of women and children are still not optimum, with rising trends of non-communicable diseases. “It is only when we have good nutrition as a child that we grow up to be healthy, productive and can have a graceful aging.”

Dr Ang Poon Liat said nutrition is important before a child’s conception until the end of life. He said that Bhutan is new and young, and just crossing the path from traditional to modern food, which has lots of unhealthy ingredients. “As I practiced pediatrics for the last 45 years, I realised that the bottom line of good health is eventually food and the healing process.”

He said Bhutanese live up to 70 years but most suffer in later part of their life from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer, alzheimers and arthritis. “It is painful and costs lots of money, so the clever way is to prevent it, not through drugs but by using food as medicine.”

If people can heal their body, he said, it can prevent 90 percent of all illnesses and 70 percent of cause of death. This can be done by cutting down on glucose and getting rid of fructose and trans-fat, which causes chronic degenerative diseases for most.

Dr Ang Poon Liat said Bhutanese food can be changed a little to make it healthy such as eating little rice, which is just enough to give energy, using butter or coconut oil instead of vegetable oil which is a trans fat, and by not using sugar in tea or coffee.

If people do not have a healthy body he said, it would be difficult to go into healing the mind and spirit. “In the longevity journey, it’s the mind and spirit that makes living worthwhile.”

Karma Cheki