California-based doctor, Palaniappan Manickam, was over 100 kilos when he suffered a mild heart attack. He was in the middle of a consultation when he started having palpitations. “Ironically, at that moment, my patient was concerned about my health. That was the wake-up call I needed,” says Palaniappan who was in India last month.
Today, he is about 30 kilos lighter. He has been helping others get healthy through his YouTube channel and Instagram reels. With over 580k subscribers on YouTube and 649k followers on Instagram, Dr Pal as he is popularly known, is a pioneer of what he terms medical comedy or ‘med-com’. The funds from his social media accounts go towards Aishwaryam Trust, Madurai, which offers palliative care and looks after kids with cerebral palsy. On his visit to India, he performed a series of stand-up shows.
Talking about an amusing experience in India, he shares, “After one of my stand-up shows, I was meeting members of the audience who had queued up to chat and take selfies with me. One gentleman handed me a gift box. I was surprised and told him he didn’t have to bring me a gift. However, after I opened it, I realised it was filled with his medical reports. He wanted me to read them and give him my opinion.”
He uses comedy to address topics like intermittent fasting, losing belly fat and the best oil for cooking, in his videos. The humour comes in through cricket and film references.
The gastroenterologist tried an array of diets, from keto to paleo. With keto, he did lose 10 kg, but he put it back on in no time. That’s when he decided to give intermittent fasting a try. “Our bodies work best when they follow the circadian rhythm, which means one must eat between sunrise and sunset, sleep on time and wake up on time. Hormonal imbalances will sort themselves out if one follows this,” he explains. Insulin resistance will also improve, he adds.
How do professionals working night shifts and unusual hours adapt to this lifestyle? “It’s not natural for humans to work at night. When they make this choice, they are compromising their health. But if they really have no option, I strongly recommend 150 hours of exercise a week, good sleep and reducing carbohydrate consumption,” he shares.
“The World Health Organisation needs to come out and clarify their findings. You’d have to drink 30 cans of Diet Coke a day for an extended period of time for the artificial sweetener to cause harm. It’s okay to have some once in a while, but avoid it if you can because it causes bad gut bacteria. Having a healthy amount of good gut bacteria has a positive affect on how our brain functions.“
On weight loss
“The medical system is rigged. The solution for most diseases is weight loss. But nobody talks about it. The other day I saw an article about a new state-of-the-art machine for stents in a leading Chennai hospital. But why is no one writing about the importance of making lifestyle changes to avoid reaching a stage where you need a stent? And remember, exercise is as important as fasting.”
The revolutionary diabetes medicine has been helping people lose large amounts of weight. Celebrities, including Elon Musk,have been
using it. “Yes, Ozempic works. Its effects are similar to intermittent fasting. But what no one realises is that one will have to take it lifelong to maintain one’s weight. It is expensive and you will either run out of money or patience.”