A new book by Dr. Raj Patel and Dr. Rupa Marya reveals the interconnectedness of social and economic injustice, the environment, and human health.
Inflamed: Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice examines inflammation of both the body and the world. Taking readers on a tour of the human body, Patel and Marya argue that the food people eat, the environments they inhabit, and the injustices they experience impact everything from respiratory to reproductive systems.
“There is a direct link between the way our planet is inflamed and the way that our body is inflamed. And those connections are not accidental,” Patel tells Food Tank.
Marya explains that inflammation is a natural immune response, activated when damage occurs. But if the damage never subsides, the inflammation continues as well. As a physician, Marya says that many of the ailments she treats are chronic inflammatory diseases.
Patel explains that it is common to place blame on people suffering from illness, but he and Marya urge against victim blaming.
“These exposures [the body is responding to] are not a choice. These exposures have been created and recreated through colonialist architecture and capitalist architecture,” Marya tells Food Tank.
In response to these societal challenges, Inflamed offers the concept of deep medicine as a solution. “Deep medicine, for us, is the understanding that health can no longer be viewed as something we can try to get as individuals,” Marya says. “We have to understand that health must be attained in the context of our communities, of our families, where we are in our societies, and in relationship to the web of life.”
While Patel acknowledges that it is hard to shift away from an individualistic mindset, he emphasizes the necessity of this transformation. “You do it…as part of movements where you get called out and you get lifted up and where we move together toward a better society.”
The good news, Patel says, is that these movements already exist. “The joy of this moment is that while our elected officials fumble, there are social movements the world over that are precisely tackling issues of white supremacy, of patriarchy, and injustices within the food and medicine system.”
Watch the full interview with Raj Patel and Rupa Marya below: