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Home » Drink Your Food, Chew Your Water: R. Madhavan (Transcript)

Drink Your Food, Chew Your Water: R. Madhavan (Transcript)

R Madhavan at the RWC16

Full text of actor R. Madhavan’s talk titled “Drink Your Food, Chew Your Water” at RWC16 conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio here:


Introducing Speaker:

I’m going to tell you something that you may not know about our next speaker. Did you know when he was still in school he was a star NCC Cadet. And he went to UK to train with the British Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Did you know that he is a big believer in protection of animals? A few years ago, PETA ranked him as the ‘Person of the year’. We all know him as an actor, but very few of us know that he’s also a writer and a producer.

So ladies and gentlemen, bring down the roof. Let’s welcome Mr. R. Madhavan!

Madhavan – Actor

Oh! Very good afternoon. Thank you very much.

When I first came in and I saw this setup I was blown. I was talking to a doctor in the evening last night and she was saying this forum should be as big as TED. With this sort of preparation and the kind of speakers you are, I think you’ll soon be as big if not more prominent than TED in India.

And so I wish you all the very best for it.

I’m going to speak to you on my idea of wellness. I am NOT an authority on History nor on the Medical sciences that I have bravely ventured out to speak on today.

But I can tell you with complete certainty that it has worked for me. It has really changed the way my life has been proceeding, when I was made aware of these facts.

You know, being an actor, the stardom was thrust upon me and I was more than excited to be called a star and have people cheer after me.

And what happens with most successes at an age when you didn’t expect it is that complacency sets in. So after my first seven-eight years in the film industry, the kind of films that I was doing was mundane. I was getting into doing three films a year and more importantly I was becoming fat. And even more importantly deep inside I was getting unhealthy, mentally as well as physically.

Mentally because complacency is one of those stages where it starts… You start living in what I call the 30-second rule which is you must be aware when you are in stress and you get up in the morning every day, you’re brushing your teeth, you’re thinking about whether to have breakfast before you go to work, or have breakfast at work.

When you are actually having a shower, you’re thinking instead of concentrating on the shower, you are thinking: ‘As soon as I get out of the shower I have to wear these clothes, and probably take this route to the office.’

When you’re driving the car, you’re living another 30 seconds ahead. I am thinking, as soon as I reach the office, this is the first call I have to make.

And what happens is you are never actually in the moment that you’re doing a particular activity.

How many of you all really enjoyed a shower, recently? Not had a shower, enjoyed a shower? When I say enjoyed a shower, it is actually looking at every part of your body that you’re cleaning and seeing how it feels, being there in that one. And that is what meditation is all about – is being in the moment.

This 30-second rule I realized was what was happening in my life. I was thinking about what I’m going to do after the shot, while doing the shot. I was thinking about what I’m going to do after, you know, there’s backup is over when I’m in the shoot. And as a result, I was never actually present completely in what I was doing. And that was never the best formula to excel.

So when this complacency set in and I became unhealthy, I decided to go and meet a doctor. Like all of us do today, we want to do all the research in the internet before we go to meet the doctor. Because we want to seem sure of what is happening with us and help the doctor in his, you know, diagnosis of our issues.

I have a neighbor whose name is Dr. Manoj and he tells me a story about how this patient came to him after doing all the research; he was living in the ghettos in Bombay – Abdul. He came and said, ‘Doctor Saab! My wife is unwell. There is something wrong in her stomach. You have to do an operation!’

The doctor said, ‘Let me examine the patient first! Or why did you bring her to me, you could have just taken there and done the operation on your own?’

‘Nahi nahi saab! Aap dheko..! See what has to be done.’

And sure enough Dr.Manoj checked her and they found out that she did have an infected appendix. So they did appendix surgery and she was cured.

One and a half years later, Abdul calls the doctor again. Exactly one and a half years later. ‘Doctor Saab, I’m bringing my wife. She’s got appendix again. You have to do the surgery and take it off!’

So now Dr. Manoj is getting a little upset. He said, ‘Yeah, listen. Let me be the doctor. Let me do all the diagnoses. You just bring your wife with the complaint!’

He said. ‘No, no. I’m telling you the same thing. Just take out the appendix. She’ll be fine!’

And the doctor was really angry. He said, ‘Listen you’re going to teach me how to be a medical officer? One human being has only one appendix; that has already been taken out.’

And he’s yelling at Abdul. Abdul waited for him to finish and he said, ‘Sir, I understand that one human being can have only one appendix. But a man can have two wives, nah?’

Yeah! Hey I find it tough to manage with one. I don’t know how Abdul does it.

But the thing is when I went to the doctor he said, ‘high triglycerides, this problem, that problem. All the issues!’ And I said what he wanted to do. He said, ‘I’m going to give you medicines!’ It was a quick fix.

But that is the time that I came across some very interesting notions that were being floated around in the world. And more importantly, I met some very interesting people that changed the way I thought I was going to get cured.

So let’s go back to these interesting notions first, something that I believe in very strongly.

You know human beings are not designed, or were not meant to live past the age of 40. The average age expectancy of the Homo sapiens was about 40 to 45. Everything else starts closing down. If you are lucky you manage to 50. The Japanese made it a habit of reaching the 100 now. And everybody lives on what I call bonus time now.

The problem is mentally we do not prepare for the next 40-50 years of our extended life. And what happens is many people think that retirement is a retirement from life. Or when a certain sort of unhealthy situation sets in, they think that’s the end of it.

And the worst curse that my grandfather told me in the world today – be it youngsters, be it students, professors or people who are flying high. The worst curse today mentally is to be considered irrelevant. To be considered irrelevant in the society that you live in, the family that you live in, and the environment that you live in. They may say old man, it doesn’t matter. Don’t listen to him.

And everybody’s fight is to stay relevant throughout their age. And how do you do that?

How do you do that with an extended sixty years of your life?

And I was very curious about it because I see my parents. I used to see my relatives give up. They said I am fine, I am happy. They’re happy, but they were still alive mentally. And it was becoming more and more difficult to see them lose control of their lives, because mentally they were very sedated. That’s when the research set in.

You know we are supposed to be, if you went by Darwin’s theory, the descendants from apes, right. The difference in DNA between an Indian elephant and an African elephant! Yeah I mean the similarity is about 98.6%. That’s how similar the Indian elephant is to an African elephant. So there is a difference of about 1.4%.

Do you know what the difference or the similarity between human being and chimpanzee is? Anybody? DNA wise? 99.2%. Which means we are closer to the monkeys compared to the Indian elephant to the African elephant – which means our DNAs are very much similar. And there is something that happened in between which helped us evolve as human beings and then the primates stayed as them.

So the whole world believed very recently almost 50 years ago that we were descendants of the chimpanzees till they found out. And the chimpanzees, I mean for those of you don’t know, the chimpanzees almost live like a human-like society. You know, they have mates, they have murders, they have conniving, they have wars between the two factions. They are territorial. They’re omnivorous. They are, you know, they would resort to murder; they would steal each other’s mates. They would resort to infesticide. All sorts of goods and bads that we human beings share in our world today, which is very evident from the news.

And then they discovered a new subspecies of the chimpanzees which was called the Bonobos. Anybody heard about bonobos? Anybody?

I’m creating a Biology class here, okay! But it is true. What I tell you is true. In South America there was another breed of chimpanzees called the Bonobos, very similar to the original chimpanzees. Only difference is their social buildup was extremely different.

The chimpanzees were a patriarchal society; the bonobos were a matriarchal society. They were extremely peace-loving. There would hardly be wars between the communities. Everything was well shared and equally distributed amongst all and each and every member of the society.

Sex was used to compensate for violence, or any sorts of displeasure. I mean they had lesbianism, homosexuality. They in fact had all kinds of weird things. But all related to peace, nothing violent.

And then they suddenly realized that human beings or Homo sapiens were a mix of both these DNAs.

That brings us to a very interesting situation which means basically that there are some of us here in the room, if you were to meet somebody, who perpetrated a crime against you. Probably try to molest your daughter. And this guy was brought in front of you and said take revenge. Some of us however angry we get we would say ‘I hate you,’ curse but then say, ‘Let law take its course!’

And there are yet others, another part of the world in the same society who for a lesser crime will take out a knife and cut somebody’s throat, not think twice about it. Which basically means that whatever DNA you have you have it in entirety. And it is in your control physically and mentally to activate those DNAs… To live the kind of life you lead depending on your conditioning.

For me, it was mind-blowing. It was fabulous. Because the person who informed this told me that suddenly you will find yourself getting this inhuman strength to do something that you didn’t think you were capable of doing. Or you would take this spectacular stand against something in your life that you didn’t think you were capable of doing. He says those are the conditionings that help you activate those DNAs.

So, I said you know what I understood all this but I’m a man who believes in practicality. I want tangible results. I’ve told you all this, tell me how do I activate the DNAs that I want. I want to activate it going back to looking young! I want to go back to you feeling young! Tell me how to do it!

So I went to this place in Austria; spent a lot of money to go to this place which was a ‘Wellness Institute’. And they had been running that for 150 years. And the lessons I learned there were priceless. I’m going to describe this entire experience to you. And I’m going to tell you the inferences as we go along.

I went there; it was a beautiful place, outside a lake. Spectacular, cold. I walked in on a Sunday evening. They said, ‘Yeah welcome Mr. Madhavan! And we’ll see you tomorrow morning!’ and ‘Would you like to have dinner?’

I said, ‘Yes!’ They gave me a sumptuous dinner. I was a vegetarian. They gave me the food I wanted.

The next morning I went and met the doctor and he said, ‘Welcome Mr. Madhavan. Lovely to see you. You’re from India?’

I say, ‘Yeah, it is!’

‘Congratulations then. You know you’ve paid us a lot of money and come a long way to hear from us what we learnt in India!’

I said ‘Congratulations!’

He started explaining to me what’s going to happen for the next 10 days – 15 days that I planned to stay there.

The first thing I said, ‘I’m hungry. What can I have for breakfast?’

He said, ‘So in the next three days Mr. Madhavan you will be having…’ What he showed me was four slices of slightly hard bread and a bowl that looked like a little bit of urine in it but was actually vegetable broth, according to him.

I said, ‘What is this? Is it the appetizer?’

He said, ‘No. That is your breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next three days!’

I said, ‘Only that!’

He said, ‘Yeah!’

I said, ‘Give me my passport. Can I go back to India? I’m done. This is too radical for me.’

He said, ‘No, no listen!’

And he said the most interesting thing.

He said, ‘What do you want to eat for breakfast?’

So now I’m looking at him very suspiciously. I said, ‘Can I have egg white omelette? I’m trying to go healthy here. So egg white omelette? Maybe a little bit of oats!’

‘Would you like to have some pancakes?’ Now the thought of pancakes had already digested the pancakes, because he meant it.

So I said, ‘Well if you think I should…

‘Yeah, have your pancakes. No problem!’

So he said at 8 o’clock we will all go to the dining room. And at that place I saw extraordinary people who achieved extraordinary results like the Sultan of Brunei, his sister Paula Abdul, brother, whatever, all sorts of people.

And when we went for breakfast, we were all sitting in the spectacular hall facing the lake. And everybody was sitting on their individual tables. We were categorically told no phones, no newspapers, no television, no nothing. You will sit there and you will do as we ask you to, and see if it makes a difference in your life.

So they had taken orders from every one of us. People had ordered omelettes, bacon, everything. And everything was neatly placed on our table. It was actually there. Gourmets, chef had prepared. It was looking spectacular. I could smell it. I was ready to have it.

And they said ‘We all can have any part of the breakfast, if you so wish. But the only condition is, our request is…’ They put this bowl of soup and this four pieces of spelt bread And said ‘Our only request to you is finish this bowl of soup and this bread in the manner that we asked you to, and then we are more than happy for you to consume the rest of the breakfast.’

And I said, ‘Okay, great! What’s the deal?’

They said, ‘We’re going to follow a principle here called ‘Drink your food and chew your water!’

So I said, ‘What do you mean by that?’

They said, ‘Take a piece of spelt bread; chew it 40 times at least till it becomes liquid. That it becomes completely liquid. Then swallow it. It’s not going to be easy. Your mind is not going to allow you to do that. It sounds very simple. Your mind is never going to allow you to do that.

But we’d like you to focus on just four pieces of bread we’ve given you. And then every time you take a sip of the soup, don’t gulp it down. Put it in your mouth; gargle it in your mouth, feel it, chew it with your teeth and then swallow it.’

I said, ‘No problem!’

The pancake was beckoning. So I picked up my bread and I started to chew it slightly, chewy, rubberish. And I would make it into complete liquid. I would actually feel the entire flavor. It was not bad. It was pretty tasty.

But ladies and gentlemen, in 14 minutes, I couldn’t finish the bread. Forget about the rest of the breakfast. Forget about the soup. I couldn’t finish the bread. I was sated. And it happened across the board to everybody. And we’re like looking at each other and smiling. Because we tried, you know.

There was an Afro-American woman. She tried to have a little bit of the pancakes. We couldn’t finish it. We thought it was the soda, there’s a lot of soda there. That’s why you’re feeling full and everything.

But then the explanation started and he said to all of us…

He said, ‘Mr. Madhavan, the mind or your body knows exactly what it wants. Your mind gets sated after chewing for 14 to 15 minutes. If you calculate every time you’ve been to a party, every time you’ve been to a dinner you can only eat collectively for 15 minutes. What do you eat, how much you eat and that is a totally different thing. But you cannot chew for more than 14-15 minutes. Because the brain sends a signal to your body saying ‘Stop eating. You got enough food.’

I said, ‘This is very interesting!’

And so a series of classes started and the essence of which I want to share with you today.

I was asking him, ‘You know, I don’t understand. So how does this work? What in 15 minutes?’

He asked me, ‘You know you’re going to work out for this film called ‘Saala Khadoos’. You want to build up muscles. You asked me in an email how much protein you should eat!’

I said, ‘Yeah!’

He said ‘Now, why do you want to eat protein?’

I said, ‘Because sir, I want to put on excess muscles. I want the body to look fit.’

He said, ‘Well in that case why didn’t you just have eight glasses of protein shakes everyday? It’s a great amount of protein. Don’t work out. Just have eight glasses of protein shake. You should become muscular!’

I said, ‘No. Maybe that doesn’t work. Because I am supposed to be working out also!’

He says, ‘Then why do you need to work out, if protein is going to do the job for you?’

I said, ‘Yeah?’

He says, ‘The protein doesn’t do the job for you. Your conditioning of the lifestyle that you’re leading while you eat the food will determine what aspect of the food is absorbed in your body!’

He asked me, ‘What is the most muscular animal in the jungle?’ Like asking a kid question.

So everybody said ‘Elephant.’ Basically it was the ox, the most muscular animal in the forest.

And he said ‘What does the Ox eat?’ Just grass. It’s a herbivore and even in the herbivore it only eats grass.

And he says, ‘So how does he get all the muscles? No protein shake for that ox!’

And he says, ‘The brain and your body is far more spectacular and smarter than you people, and your mundane lives are giving it credit for. The brain knows that there is no pure food. Every piece of food that you put in your mouth is consisting of carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamin, mineral, but in different proportions.’

And he says, ‘The bull’s brain knows how to just take out the protein from the grass that is required and put it into the body that it eats.’

So I was extremely intrigued.

‘So you see you’re basically saying that I don’t need to take a protein shake,’

He said, ‘No! Let me explain to you what we learnt from India where we say the final point of the whole conversation is.’

People in our Shastras say that ‘You are what you eat!’ By that what he meant was… ‘Your emotions, your success, your temperament, the way you look at the world, your family relationships, your professional relationships, everything depends on what you eat.’

And that was too much for me.

I said ‘How can my acting, my popularity, my profession is dependent on what I eat sir? Please tell me what to eat. I will only eat that.’

And he said, ‘No, no, no!’

He says, ‘When we say you are what you eat, it basically means that in today’s world people are so stressed out!’

He says that ‘Mr. Madhavan, if you’re not able to give yourself 10 minutes in a day to sit quietly without your mobile phones, without your conversations, without your television, without being distracted, to eat your food! Then you’re doing a stupid profession and you’re not a successful person!’

All great people in the world who have achieved any sort of greatness were very disciplined on one thing and that was their food. Be it Alexander the Great to Mahatma to everybody, food was a very important factor. Not just the food, the way they ate it, how they ate it and when they ate it.

So I said, ‘Explain to me I’m not as evolved as what you’re trying to be.’

And he said, ‘The body, when you chew it enough, when you start drinking your food, when you chew it enough, the brain takes all the signals from your saliva, your sugar and your carbohydrates gets digested in the mouth.’ Any doctor will tell you that.

Your saliva sends a signal to your brain saying, ‘This gentleman is eating certain certain things, so prepare your guts to secrete the acids according to the food being taken. So that the right amount of absorption is done for the food!’

Most of us wolf down the food. Which means that you’re raining your intestine with one enough without information to your brain with just food. And anybody who’s in the medical profession will tell you that the food doesn’t get digested in time, it becomes toxic. So therefore the brain will leave all other activities including putting itself at risk, to just make sure that the food gets digested.’

How many of you all go to the gym? I’m sure you two ladies who, absolutely spectacular ladies, the twins, that go into the mountains, they know you all go to the gym right! Any men who go on workout? Oh, this is a very healthy environment. Great. Thank you.

And anybody who’s been to the gym and trying to put on muscles will tell you, the moment you start working out you start feeling your muscles getting pumped right. It looks larger.

Can you all tell me how the muscle looks larger when you work out? But how does the muscle become bigger for that particular moment, when you’re working out. (Lactic buildup?)

No, basically because the blood rushes into that particular part of the body. So when you’re working out your chest or you’re working out your abdomens, or you’re working out your biceps, or triceps, the blood rushes in to those parts to stop the muscle from getting damaged. And therefore it gives a definition and a size.

And then the more you do it, the more the muscle tears, the more it becomes. The fiber increases and it becomes bigger and more efficient.

Well where does the blood rush into the muscles from?

This is the question I ask people who workout in the gym every day. Where did the blood come from? And nobody knows where the blood comes from. It’s not like you’re drinking blood while you’re working out. Anybody? Other parts of the body? Which part of the body specifically? Brain, heart? Nope.

So that’s exactly the answers that I was giving. The blood constantly rests in your gut. The reason it rests in your gut is… It’s widely accepted in Chinese mythology as well as the Indian sciences that the gut, your stomach is your second brain. And if your stomach is your second brain, you must understand that it knows how to take care of the body.

When you eat the food so quickly, wolf it down, the food rushes to the first small intestines which are going round and round your stomach and it’s being pushed through it. The acids are pouring in, trying to make sure that the food, whatever little bit nourishment can be added, it gets digested and then it’s pushed into the large intestine which goes around your stomach like this and then finally gets excreted, right.

Large intestine has a layer of bacteria which is like a lawn. So that lawn is meant to be the bacteria is there and whatever food has been digested comes there. The bacteria absorbs the food, pushes into the blood. That’s why the blood is always there. And then it goes to the rest of your part of the body.

When the food is gulped down, the small intestine is not able to digest it completely. So it pushes it to the large intestine with undigested food, which is actually the food of this bacteria. Because bacteria is a plant and like all plants it absorbs this particular food and from a lawn it becomes a forest. That’s why we get our little belly because the large intestine is swollen up. It becomes hard, it becomes tough.

And most importantly the blood flow and the flow of digestive juices become very very limited and your body is not now healthy. It is unhealthy. It is actually functioning below optimum!

And he says society cannot grow. India as a society mentally cannot grow till you are unhealthy physically. Which means if it’s just normal, it’s still not enough. Your body is capable of functioning optimally. All you have to do is give it enough time when you eat food.

I was completely blown by them and I wanted to know, ‘Tell me more!’

He said the last thing. ‘What do I have to do to make sure that this gut doesn’t become unhealthier? And my second brain is actually functioning properly?’

And he said, ‘Mr. Madhavan, the first thing I will tell you is you will not eat food after six o’clock in the evening. What time do you go to sleep?’

I said, ‘Ten!’ Actually I lied. I go to sleep at 2:00. But I said ten, I wanted to sound healthy.

But he said, ‘If you’re sleeping at ten you have to make sure that you finish eating your food at least three hours before you go to sleep, because that will determine how successful you are in your career!’

‘Now you keep saying this. Explain.’

And he says, ‘The blood is in the digestive system all the time. When you lie down in the prone position, the blood is kept there. And it is meant to digest the food that we’ve eaten quickly and then rush to the brain.

The moment you eat food, just before you go to sleep the brain says ‘Forget me. All the blood, let it be in the gut, and let it just digest the food that you’ve eaten right now!’ So that if you don’t digest, it’s going to become toxic in three hours. And you will die.’

As a result, that the blood from the gut does not travel to the brain. And when it does not travel in the alpha state to the brain what happens is the entire rejuvenation of the body… And it doesn’t matter what age group you are – young, old, or anything. The entire rejuvenation that sleep is supposed to do is… the blood carries all the information about which nail is not working, why the hair is falling, why the skin is looking dry, which part is being infected, which bone is hurt, what is hollow. All the information that is going to be there has to travel to the brain.

The brain analyzes it and before you wake up, before the beta state, before the state that you wake up, all the signals are sent out to every part of your body. And once that signal is received, everybody is reset. You wake up!’

And he says, ‘That’s when the mind can clearly do the job it is meant to be!’

Why do people say don’t drink and drive? Because you’ll get in an accident. Why do you get into an accident? Or why do you get into a debate that you normally would not do, sober? Why do you get into a, you know, argument on a topic that you would not normally get into, sober? It’s because at the time that you’re drunk, the brain is telling you that is right, it’s perfect. You are good enough to drive. You’re saying all your facilities are fine. And bravado sets in and you do stupid things.

He says, ‘If alcohol is capable of giving that negative effect to your brain, then be assured that there are many substances that are capable of making your brain work in a positive manner, in a more efficient manner.’

And those 10 days that I lived over there, I made sure that:

  • I ate every day before 6 o’clock.
  • I made sure I drank my food, and
  • Chewed my water.

And I made sure I tried to follow everything that he had said, in terms of, how it is going to help reset my life.

When I came out of there, I am telling you ladies and gentlemen, I was a completely changed man in ten days.

Before I left he said one more thing. He said, ‘What I am telling you Mr. Madhavan, does not mean that it will be accepted by your body and your brain, at the right time. It’s a calling. Your mind, your mental state, you were ripe for me to tell you this and understand that!’

He spoke like a philosopher, as a doctor. He says, ‘Sometimes in your life you’re not ready to listen. Sometimes the calling is not there. Many people have come to this place and done this course, mundanely. But they were not mentally ready to accept the changes that you were trying to say. And eventually they went back to relegating themselves back to the same lifestyle.

The difference between that and you is – what is in your culture called Karma/ Vidhi. That is going to be the difference between how successful you are!’

So the reason I am trying to tell you this is. It is very possible for us to activate each one of those DNAs that we have, the same as the bonobos, as well as the chimpanzees. This particular conditioning about how you have your food and how you let your environment affect you will determine which of those DNAs get activated at any given point of time.

I am like I said a follower of simplicity and tangible answers – this gave me a serious tangible answer.

  • Sit down, eat your food without being distracted.
  • Make sure you chew 40 times,
  • Make sure you drink your solid food,
  • And chew your water.

And the day I started doing that it was spectacular. Every result that was wrong in my blood group came back, started getting normalized. My hair started growing more healthy. I was able to think more clearly. I did not have to think, make notes over things that had to be done during the day.

And from being below average health-wise, I was in my opinion functioning optimally. And it is very difficult to convince yourself to be young, when you are 46 years old and your heroine is 17 years old. And she’s on this set exhibiting totally different aspects of being an actress, I’ve ever been used – to where you know, ‘Hey! I got a tattoo here, or I have a piercing there!’ Do you want to see it?’ And I’m ‘No, I don’t want to see it!’ But you know it’s very difficult to relate to them.

But sometimes if you have enough stories in your pockets, you’re able to make yourself relevant, even to that generation. And feeling like the alpha male on the set, feeling like you’re the healthiest one over there, feeling like you were the boss is very important for a hero. And for me this experience in Austria helped me get there.

And that is the story I wanted to share.

Thank you very much for your patience.

Resources for Further Reading: 

R Madhavan’s Speech on India in 2030 at Harvard University (Full Transcript)

Transcript: Gut Bacteria and Mind Control: To Fix Your Brain, Fix Your Gut!

The Surprisingly Charming Science of Your Gut: Giulia Enders (Transcript)

Why We Can’t Stop Eating Unhealthy Foods: Laura Schmidt (Transcript)

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