In a 2011 academic op/ed piece titled "Incorporation of whole, ancient grains into a modern Asian Indian diet to reduce the burden of chronic disease," Dr. Palaniappan and her co-authors concluded that a big reason for this phenomenon is that too many refined grain products have infiltrated all kinds of Indian dishes. They argue that to reclaim our healthy traditional diets, we must reclaim the whole grains of our heritage. I was gladdened when she agreed to answer a few questions by e-mail.
Without further ado, our Q&A.
Dr. Niraj "Raj" Patel: What made you interested in studying chronic disease in Asian Indian-Americans?
Dr. Latha Palaniappan: I became interested in studying chronic disease in Asian Indians because they are one of the highest-risk groups for chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. I experienced this personally, as my dad died of a heart attack, at the age of 39. In addition to research, I believe that it is also important to put research into practice by implementing culturally tailored healthcare and education to increase patient and provider awareness surrounding these health issues.
NRP: Was it surprising that Asian Indians have among the highest rates of heart disease and diabetes in California?