The serious lack of nutrition in India

Topics malnutrition

Nutrition is becoming a universal topic as people today are more aware of the problems arising due to a lack of it. A well-balanced diet is a bulwark against several diseases and ensures the pink of health. The health consequences of poor diet are far-reaching and are associated with the advent of non-communicable diseases. Every country grapples with nutrition deficiencies, which is defined by the food choices and the lifestyle its average population leads. In this article, we have deep dived into main nutritional deficiencies prevailing in India.

Proteins are a key component of our diet. They are required for formation and maintenance of muscle mass. A recent survey by InBody conducted among Indian workforce showed that 6 out of 10 working professionals in India have poor muscle health. This was attributed to poor protein intake and physical inactivity. We start losing muscle mass as early as in our thirties. The loss of muscle mass can affect productivity to a great extent. Therefore, it is very important to include the right quantity and quality of protein in one's diet. A man needs around 60g of protein and a woman needs about 55g of Protein on average. Ideally, one should have about 10-15 g of protein in four different meals throughout the day. But that is not always possible. It has been observed that the people typically consume a snack in the evening and most of the time these snacks will be high in carbohydrate. It is better to replace this snack with a protein rich snack like cup of yogurt, protein bar/drink or sprouts. Rich sources of protein include eggs, meat, fish, milk, soybean, beans and pulses.

Vitamin D deficiency is also common urban Indians, since they spend most of their time inside air-conditioned offices. There is no national data, but many studies have shown that prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is anywhere between 55 to 90 per cent. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble Vitamin needed for the maintenance of normal levels of calcium and phosphate, which are required for formation and maintenance of bones, muscle contraction, nerve signalling and many cell functions. It would be ideal to leave your desk for some time every day and take a walk in the sun. In addition, one needs to include egg yolk and fish in the diet. For vegetarians, it is a good option to look at Vitamin D fortified supplements.

Anaemia remains a key public health concern in India and it is not limited to poor or rural populations. One in two urban women is anaemic. Anaemia is a result of deficiency of iron, folate and Vitamin B12. Meat, fish and poultry products are good sources of Iron. Plant foods like legumes, green leafy vegetables and dry fruits contain iron. Foods rich in Vitamin C help in absorption of iron. Roughly, 17 mg/day iron is required for men and 21 mg/day for women.

All these nutritional deficiencies have major implications on our health and well-being.  There is a need for sustained efforts that ensure people consume a balanced diet. Lack of nutrition is a problem that needs to be addressed urgently.

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