Life Goes Farther on Protein:- How to Fix India's Protein Deficiency

 
 
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Amit Lohani

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DELHI, India - Dec. 28, 2018 - PRLog -- "Ninety-three percent of Indians are unaware of their ideal protein requirement. Indians on vegetarian diets are most affected, with 84 percent being deficient in protein, compared to 65 percent of Indian non-vegetarian diets, which are also deficient in protein," claims the Indian Dietetic Association citing a study by market research firm IMRB.

Tackling this grim subject necessitates a multi-pronged tactic, including better accessibility to protein-rich food, strategic communication, and awareness campaigns, and fortification of frequently consumed food products. Due to the high dependence on a carbohydrate-based diet with low protein content, India is walking towards a protein-deficiency epidemic, which threatens the long-term health of our population. Nutritional security has a much broader connotation than food security; it includes adequate and safe intake of protein, energy, vitamin, and minerals along with proper health and an enabling social environment.

Studies show that the right amount of protein for any one individual depends on several factors, including their activity level, age, muscle mass, physique goals, and the current state of health.  Key high protein vegetarian food items suggested by medical specialist include the following:

Legumes/Pulses: Pulses includes a range of grams and peas. They are a major source of protein for a majority of Indians, particularly the vegetarian population. Pulses have been consumed for at least 10,000 years and are among the most widely used food across the globe. They are not only a rich source of protein and fiber, but are also a significant source of essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium. Pulses are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index, making them particularly beneficial to people with diabetes by assisting in maintaining healthy blood glucose and insulin levels. Including pulses in one's diet is a healthy way to meet dietary recommendations and is associated with reduced risk of several chronic diseases.

Dairy: Consumption of dairy products shows enormous variations between geographies and is largely dependent on personal choice, cultural preferences, and affordability. Dairy products provide key nutrients that are difficult to obtain in diets with limited or no dairy products. Dairy products are rich in calcium, protein, potassium, and phosphorus, contributing between 52 and 65% of the dietary reference intake of calcium and 20–28 % of the protein requirement.

Nuts and Seeds: Tree nuts have been consumed since the pre-historic era and have provided a concentrated source of energy and nutrients to consumers. The nutrient content of tree nuts varies by species, but in general, they are rich sources of energy, vegetable protein, dietary fiber, vitamins E and K, folate, magnesium, copper, and potassium. Protein-rich nuts and seeds include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds. On average, the protein content in 100g of almonds is 21g, walnuts 15g, pistachio 20g, flaxseeds 18gm, and pumpkin seed is 19g.

Certain grains and vegetables contain some protein and when combined with other vegetarian proteins like lentils, create complete proteins and provide amino acids, which our body otherwise cannot produce.

The Sports Minister's trending initiative, "Hum Fit to India Fit," cannot be achieved by simple exercise, but must also be complemented with healthy eating. To address the situation of malnutrition and lack of awareness, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) introduced the "Eat Right India" movement (http://eatrightindia.gov.in/EatRightIndia/index) and has also established a Food Fortification Resource Centre within FSSAI as a resource hub to promote fortification of food as part of its mandate to assure "safe and wholesome food" to all.

Restrictions on trade create government positions contradictory to its set of initiatives, like those mentioned above and others, like doubling farmer's income, ease of doing business, and creating a level playing field for micro, small, and medium enterprises by introducing measures, which are surely to pinch consumers' pocket and will have a long-term negative impact on the nation's health. This flip-flopping is looked upon by international trade markets as confusing market signals. The government needs to have a long-term approach towards trade policy and not in a knee-jerk fashion creating instability in both domestic and international markets, which also leads to increased cost of vegetarian source of proteins for the common man.

Mr. Amit Lohani, Founder and Director of the Forum of Indian Food Importers, upon being asked as to the availability of protein diet sources to Indian consumers and the role of his association said, "medical practitioners have invested a tremendous amount of resources in educating consumers about the benefits of protein diets by stating the importance to make these products available at affordable price points, as they provide health benefits for expectant mothers, lactating mothers, senior citizens, and children. Since proteins are the building blocks for the growth and development of children, we as a forum make a conscious effort to choose our food sources wisely and spread the knowledge of healthy eating among children as well. India needs to have a strong foundation and with high quality and quantity of proteins in a balanced diet, India can favorably enhance its chances of staying healthy".
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