We found that MAK does this, very powerfully. When we compared it with vitamin C and vitamin E [the most powerful antioxidant vitamins], weight for weight it was up to 1000 times more powerful as an antioxidant. This was also the case when it was tested against an antioxidant drug. MAK is a mixture of phytochemicals, plants and herbs. When they are exposed to sunlight, they create chemicals which can fight the free radicals.
DR: So the wisdom of nature is greater than the wisdom of human chemists?
HS: All the time.
DR: Ayurveda seems to call for reexamination of certain aspects of the American health food diet. For example, Ayurveda seems to frequently recommend cooked food in preference to raw food, and utilizes butter and sugar to prepare certain herbal formulas. Do you feel that such a reexamination is necessary?
HS: Ayurveda is not really talking about butter, but about clarified butter, or ghee. You heat up the butter, and skim off the proteins from the top, and the filtrate that comes out is called clarified butter. It can be kept at room temperature. I have personally done experiments ghee, and found that [despite its fat content] it does not increase cholesterol. Ghee normally contains antioxidants, which enable it to stay at room temperature and not get spoiled like butter does.
DR: So in moderation, ghee can be health-giving?
HS: Anything in moderation. [Laughter] Too much, and it can be dangerous.
DR: What about the question of cooked food versus raw food?
HS: The human constitution has three main functioning physiological principles: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Pitta is the one which is concerned with digestion and metabolism. If somebody has a very strong Pitta constitution, he can easily digest uncooked food with no problem. But not everyone has that strong a digestive capacity. So if we eat too much uncooked raw food, we cannot digest it and we bloat with gas. Thatâs why Ayurveda says it is good to have cooked food.
The other thing is, the food should have all the different tastes. There are six tastes which have been identified [sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent], but the majority of what Americans eat is only sweet and salty. Itâs very easy to take care of if you add a certain spicy mixture [churna] to your food. You just mix in some of that and all the tastes are satisfied. If the tastes are not satisfied, you can eat a lot of food, and the stomach will be bulging, but the hunger will not be gone. The reason is that all the different tastes, the different tastebuds, have not been satisfied.
DR: Do you feel that people can benefit from Ayurveda on a self-care basis, from reading the available books, or is professional care needed?
HS: They can get some information from books, but they canât get all the information. Ayurveda is strongly prevention oriented. Many diseases are due to wrong eating habits, wrong daily routines, wrong seasonal routines. as well as eating at the wrong time, or eating the main meal at the wrong time [Ayurveda suggests eating the main meal at mid-day]. The same food is not good for everybody. The same food will be good for one person and damaging for another person.
DR: This idea of different people needing different foods is an insight that is conspicuously absent from most contemporary teachings on nutrition.
HS: You cannot have it where a particular food is good for everybody. There is nothing like that. Once you know your constitution, which is the predominately functioning principle in your physiology, then you know which foods match your body type, and you know how to balance it. So it takes a certain amount of knowledge and education, and then the majority of problems can be manipulated by daily routine and proper diet.