HYDERABAD: Now a new Dos and Don’ts list would be released by National Institute of Nutrition to help urban dwellers find the perfect combination of nutritious food. In an interaction with the editorial team of Express, Director of the National Institute of Nutrition Dr. R Hemalatha revealed some details on what that list would look like.
“Do you know you are supposed to consume about 400 grams of fruits and vegetables everyday. There are so many days you go without fruits,” said Dr Hemalatha. “Fruits have vanished from the diet charts of the urban citizens who, despite having the purchasing capacity, fail to consume the stipulated amount.”
As per the ICMR recommendation, the daily consumption of 400 grams of fruits is essential for the body to get micronutrients, vitamins, bioactive compounds and antioxidants. It will also help in prevention of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
She goes on to add that the best way to know if the food on your plate is healthy is to ensure it is colourful. “Green, and other coloured fruits and veggies should be on your plate. Don’t go for hi-fi vegetables. Just locally available veggies with a small serving of rice, not like the mounds we are used to eating, will do good,” she said.
In an interesting observation, she also said that considering onions and potatoes as vegetables may not be the best option as they are purely full of carbohydrates. Vegetables like beans, cauliflower, capsicum would be better. The NIN suggest you to start your day with a fruit, and end it with plenty of vegetables and go for super energy foods in the noon.
This plan comes in great importance as Hyderabad has often been touted as the diabetic capital of India. Dr Hemalatha says diabetes is increasing in epidemic proportions. “These disease are lifestyle based and not genetic. If you see the probability, 80 per cent chance to get it from lifestyle choices and 20 per cent from genetics,” she added.
Another popular myth that she busted was to NOT throw away the yellows of the egg. “If we don’t intake good cholesterol that comes with a whole egg, our body will synthesise its own cholesterol which would be bad,” she added. As a remedy to the rapidly increasing cases of Hypertension and BP, she informed that they have communicated to FSSAI to now reduce the amount of salt added to the various processed foods. “The idea is to consume a maximum of 5 grams of salt a day. All these cookies and chips that one eats has to stop as it puts in a lot of salt in the body. Some States in India consume up to 10 grams of salt everyday,” she said.
Concluding that the mantra for a healthy plate was to ‘diversify’, Hemalatha added how Indians often make a mistake of consuming the same oil repeatedly. “If I ask people what oil do they use, they say sunflower oil. But you need to switch the types of oil you use every month. Sunflower after all is a flower and not the digestible one, we must also use oils from Sesame and Groundnut and use different kinds of oils,” she added.
The first 1,000-day challenge
Poor nutrition during pregnancy can have a life-time of negative effects on a child. Hemalatha says that the first 1,000 days, from the time of pregnancy till the child’s second birthday, is a highly crucial period during which it should be ensured the child receives adequate nutrition. “If the child does not receive adequate nutrition in these 1,000 days, then he is more likely to contract infections and as adult his learning capacity might also get affected. Moreover, these children are also more likely to acquire non-communicable diseases,” she said.