Saturday, October 1st, 2022 19:20:24

Spirituality In Health Care

Updated: June 19, 2010 11:07 am

Spirituality is a system of life which derives its meaning from the word “Spirit” meaning “life force”. Though it is an intangible, integral part of all living beings but is difficult to be explained as other material objects and body components. Health care is a system of planning, executing, managing and delivering various aspects of personal, institutional and social health through a three tier system of primary, secondary and tertiary health care. This conventional classification of health care delivery is based on the thrust for preventive, promotive and curative health at different professional levels and the capacity as well as objective of the resource agency.

            Planning, creating, managing, supervising and delivering health care, needs all conventional resources, community participation, support of regulatory bodies, association of professional experts and an in-depth insight, into the core issues, related to health as well as community needs. Spirituality provides this much needed insight and helps in bridging the gaps between the providers and users of health care, by adopting natural and more comprehensive (holistic) approach, in these issues.

            In last few decades, many religious leaders and social scientists, across the world, have given fresh insight and information on spiritual issues, through their efforts. It has resulted into a new hope for the social scientists and humanity, as a whole, which is greatly disappointed even with the highest material development, achieved on account of scientific inventions, over last few centuries. The highest material development has also brought more frustrations, mal-adjustments, social conflicts and mental disorders of all kinds.

            India has been considered as the hub of “spirituality”, since most ancient times. It was known as the land of seers and sages, who created a role model of spiritual life for the individuals as well as the societies. Indian culture, social structure and education had spirituality, as the integral part of the core value system, which gave birth to a very vibrant and inspiring society, in this land. It attracted the educationists, scientists, social reformers as well as tourists, from all over the world, to examine, learn and replicate this social model, in other parts of the world. Peaceful, purposeful, worldly-rich and inspiring social life of India became envious for global rulers in ancient times and so this land was invaded by many invaders, at different point of time. Despite such invasions, Indian society could maintain its identity as an embodiment of global peace and harmony. It assimilated all the races and cultures which came as invaders. It could happen only on account of spiritual value system of ancient India. However, in this process, thrust on “Spiritual Way of Life” got diluted and it became a personal belief system rather than the nucleus of human personality and social system.

           CORN ON THE COB

Bhutta (Corn) as it is popularily known in northern parts of India is seen on the road side with small vendors roasting them on coal and applying lemon and salt to it. We can see them in every nook and corner of Delhi these days. The smell is so enticing that one cannot resist the temptation and stops to choose the corn that we would like the bhuttawala to roast for us. Within five minutes roasting is done fresh lime, salt and chilli powder applied to it making the kernels hot and sour flavoured. The freshly picked corn on the cob is synonymous with the advent of summer. Though Corn is available through out the year in the market, these local grown varieties which are available in summer months are best in taste and are least expensive. At the same time they have amazing health benefits. Corn is consumed both as vegetable and as a grain in the form of corn meal seasoned and Makki ki roti eaten as an accomplishment to vegetable or meat. There are many varieties of corn available but the yellow corn is very popular.

            Now coming to the health benefits, corn contain all the essential nutrients. Vitamin B-1, folate, diatery fibre, vitamin C, phosphorus, manganese, vitamine B-5.

For Healthy Heart:

The Significant amount of Folate and fiber supplied by the corn contributes to healthy heart. It has been estimated that consumption of 100 per cent of the daily value (DV) of folate would, reduce the number of heart attacks. Folate-rich diets are also associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. So it is good to have a cup of corn to get 19 per cent of daily value for folate.

Protects Lungs:

A cup of corn significantly lowers the risk of developing lung cancer and protects lungs. An orange red carotenoid is found to be highest in corn. Even smokers who consume these health protective foods lower the risk of lung cancer.

For good memory:

Corn is a good source of Thiamin. About a cup of corn contain one quarter of the daily value of this nutrient. Thiamin is an integral participant in enzymatic reaction central to energy production and is also critical for brain cell function. Thiamin is also found to be significantly contributed to control age related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.

Provides Energy Even Under Stress:

Corn is a good source of Vitamin B is essential for carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism. When under stress it supports the function of the adrenal glands. Corn contains many powerful nutrients and health promoting activity higher than that of vegetables and fruits.

Corn Culinary:

  1. Corn is a mojor source of starch. It is a major ingredient in home cooking and industrialised food products.
  2. Eat corn on the cob either just as it is or seasoned with a little organic butter, olive oil, salt and pepper, nutritional yeast or any other herbs or spices that you may relish.
  3. Healthy saute cooked corn with green chillies and onions. Serve hot as a wonderful side dish.
  4. Salad can be prepared by combining cooked corn kernels, quioa, tomatoes, pepper and red kidney beans.
  5. Adding corn to soup enhances the soup’s hardness apart from its nutritional profile.
  6. Polenta (a type of corn meal) can be used as pizza crust.

We can roast the corn at home:

Take one table spoon salt and one table spoon chilli powder, mix well and keep aside in a plate. Take one corn on the cob, keep it above the gas burner and roast while turning all the time. The kernels turn to brownish black with a popping sound. Cut a fresh piece of lime, dip the open end of lime into the mixture of redchilli powder and salt and then massage the length of the cob with the lime and salt, chilli mix. Serve immediately.

Corn Vada

1 Cup Chana dal (Soaked in water)

1 Table Spoon Basen

2 Tea Spoons chilli powder

1 Cup Corn flour

2 Finely chopped Onions

10 Curry leaves

Salt for taste

Oil to fry


Grind soaked chana dal coarsely and add all the above ingredients to it mix well. Heat oil in the pan; make small vada’s and deep fry. Serve hot with tomato sauce or coconut chutney.

Some coriander leaves

2 cups of corn kernels

5 to 6 chillies

4 table spoons of rice flour

1 spoon of red chilli powder

Salt according to taste

Oil to fry


Grind the corn kennels along with all the ingredients coarsely and add four table spoons of rice flour to it. Heat oil in a pan and make small vada’s and fry on a medium flame till golden brown and serve with sauce or green chutney.

By N Suguna

It is in this background that spirituality is being examined today, as

a part of human personality and behaviour, which affects health and happiness. Therefore fresh attempts are being made to identify the components of spirituality, in reference to the health. Today, spirituality is not a main component of the health definition of WHO and there is a demand to describe appropriate anatomical and physiological co-relates of spirituality, for its clear understanding and education, across the world. Medical world needs to examine and review available scientific studies and works, to achieve this basic objective and to integrate the spirituality, in the health care.

            A plausible approach appears to re-examine, ancient Indian scriptures, for their scientific principles and background. One such reference-work could be Ashtaang—Yoga of Patanjali. It is one of the most authentic philosophical compositions of ancient times which explains spirituality elaborately, in reference to health, in the most scientific way. Even after 7000 years of its creation, it appears to be a reasonably authentic starting point to redefine health, in reference to modern health care system. Re-examination/ redefining spirituality in health care, needs fresh understanding of the time-tested ancient principles. It may not only help in developing well defined components of personal health and life style management but may also contribute to rebuild desired social order for a happy, healthy, productive, harmonious and vibrant society, which is the need of the day.

            Such approach may also help in developing basic conceptual clarity and orientation of health facility promoters, planners, managers and practitioners, restlessly engaged in redefining this sector. Ultimately it will help, health care professionals and institutions to identify “Right Spiritual Deliverables” in health care, which may further lead to develop spirituality based structured trainings and workshops of experts, at different levels, to equip them to integrate new deliverables, in the present day health care delivery system.

            One of the coveted goals of such programme could be to foster community participation in the delivery of spirituality based health care. This component may require search for the approaches and programmes, which bring this community participation. It may also be the basic need for developing an integrated and sustainable health care delivery system and infrastructure, which is the requirement of the day.

            Today’s health care planning needs a fresh look, in the light of the spiritual dimension of health. “Spiritual Health” appears to be a necessary tool to bridge the gap between health care providers and beneficiaries, which is widening every day. Such approach is beyond occasionally organised yoga sessions or “Intellectual Spiritual Talks” on power lunches. It is also beyond the gingerly discussed spirituality, in the corporate board rooms of upcoming health care conglomerates and also beyond “Spiritual Lecture Series” organised from, time to time, to enlighten the intelligentsia and common masses. It is a challenge and a call to modern health care promoters, planners, managers and health care professionals, of all types of health care settings. Are they listening to this call?

 By Dr Dipak Shukla


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