Health Talk | The National Institute of Nutrition's dietary guidelines are a recipe for a healthy life

This cannot be stressed enough – eating right and physical activity are the keys to a healthy life. And if you are among those who are not active, and whose plate is filled with foods that are calorie-dense and of limited nutritional value, this is an open invitation to develop non-communicable diseases at some point.

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ICMR guidelines recommend sourcing macronutrients and micronutrients from a minimum of eight food groups.

To meet the nutritional needs of the body, what a person eats throughout the day has to be balanced. However, there is no single food or food group that can provide all the essential nutrients; Therefore, one needs to eat a variety of foods.

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The problem and its solutions are mentioned in detailed and easy to understand in the recent dietary guidelines issued by the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition, one of the research institutes under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country's top biomedical research regulator. -Way of understanding.

Government estimates show that 56.4% of total disease in India is due to unhealthy diet. Furthermore, increased consumption of highly processed foods rich in sugars and fats, as well as low physical activity and limited access to diverse foods, increases micronutrient deficiencies and problems of overweight and obesity.

“Healthy diet and physical activity can reduce a substantial proportion of coronary heart disease and high blood pressure and prevent type 2 diabetes by up to 80%. A large proportion of premature deaths can be prevented by adopting healthy lifestyles, NIN said in the report.

ICMR-NIN's “My Plate for the Day” report recommends sourcing macronutrients and micronutrients from a minimum of eight food groups, with vegetables, fruits, roots and tubers essentially making up half the plate of recommended foods per day. The second largest share is from cereals and millets, followed by pulses, meat foods, eggs, nuts, oilseeds and milk or curd.

According to recommendations, cereals should not contribute more than 45% of total energy, while pulses, eggs and meat foods should contribute about 14–15%; Total fat intake should be less than or equal to 30% of energy, while nuts, oilseeds, milk and milk products should contribute 8%-10% of total energy per day, respectively. However, data shows that cereals contribute 50–70% of total energy per day, while pulses, meat, poultry and fish contribute 6–9% instead of the recommended 14%.

One of the big culprits is mid-meal snacking, with unhealthy options available a dime a dozen. However, experts recommend adding yogurt to top vegetable or fruit salads dressed with seeds or nuts. Additionally, roasted or boiled beans, cowpeas, chickpeas and peanuts are suggested to satisfy those mid-meal cravings that most of us experience.

The experts who prepared them said that these guidelines are for the benefit of the general population and practicing nutritionists, dietitians, health professionals and other stakeholders.

Such lessons are especially relevant nowadays as people are becoming increasingly health conscious, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, as health complications have made them opt for healthier lifestyles. The market may be filled with foods rich in sugar, salt or fat, but consumer awareness will eventually create demand for healthier food options and force companies to provide it.

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