As per the World Health, India is one of the highest-ranking countries in the world in terms of children suffering from malnutrition. The reasons for these are pretty apparent. Let’s deviate a bit from this and focus on an equally relevant problem, that is nutritional deficiencies in our diet.
Looking into the diversity and demography of India, one can easily concur that Indian cuisine encompasses a wide variety of regional and traditional dishes. In the very early years of our civilisation, our diet consisted of fruits, legumes, vegetables, milk and to some extent egg and meat products which were an epitome in terms of quality and goodness. And with the passage of time, the meals became more elaborate, extensive. And India being a country of rich culture and heritage each region could boost of its uniqueness and creativity that it could bring to the table. However, the current situation has deteriorated and the very idea of a healthy meal has dissipated in our daily life. With the exponential growth of our population, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with the quality of the produce to meet the demands of the market.
Let’s look into the reasons that are causing our diet to be deficient in nutrients.
- Poor produce: With an enormous gap in demand, people have restored to the usage of pesticides be it vegetables or milk or lentils. You name it and it’s been treated with chemicals and other solvents. This has largely impacted the nutritional benefits and all that is left is a glossy end product. This is by far one of the most significant attributes that has led to deficiencies in our diet. There have also been many cases of fake or artificial produce in the markets. So let alone devour the food, we might as well be chewing on cardboard. It’s difficult to tackle such situations, where things are not in our control.
What to do: The best we can do is ensure good quality, if not the best is to purchase our produce from local farmers, or stores which guarantee the quality of the product, buy from people who grow vegetables organically, purchase through friends or relatives who deal in farming or any such related activities. All this is going to cost a lot more than your normal grocery shopping, but at least your money is been spent wisely and for a better health.
- Protein Deficiency: Lot of people in our country are either inherently vegetarians or changing themselves to become vegetarians. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but certain nutrients that are significantly more in meat and its products is not present in a vegetarian diet. For instance, meat has a richer source of protein which is comparatively less in the vegetarian food. Proteins are essential for proper growth and function of human body.
What to do: The best source of protein from a vegetarian perspective are pulses, leafy green vegetables, milk, nut, seeds and on the other hand egg, fish and chicken are the favourites among the non-vegetarians. The normal or recommended intake of protein for an adult is an average 1gm/ kg of the body weight. Inadequate or deficient intake of protein could lead to fatigue and weakness. So irrespective of our choice of food, or our background, it’s mandatory to have a proper intake of protein rich diet.
- Vitamin Deficiency: vitamins play a very critical role in a human body which include growth, development of our immune system, absorption and maintenance of calcium levels. Vitamins take many forms in our body and inadequate amounts of these can lead to diminished ability to fight infections, slow bone development, fatigue, and poor work performance. These are just to name a few. Vitamin deficiency is very difficult to identify as they start off very slowly with small aches, pains, fatigue which normally goes unnoticed. Many of us take it very lightly about the importance of vitamins and try to fulfil the requirement through supplements.
What to do: Nevertheless, there are food sources that rich in vitamins and is easily available in the market. Seafood, spinach, broccoli, watermelon, mangoes, oranges are just a few items that are a rich source of Vitamin A. Milk and its products, egg, dark leafy green vegetables are a few examples of food which are rich in Vitamin D. Vitamins are abundantly found in food that are more common in the European and American food when compared to Indian food. But the good news is that these products such as salmon, celery, parsley, avocado, berries are getting more and more accessible to common man. So it’s our responsibility now to ensure proper intake of food rich in vitamins.
With hectic lifestyles and busy schedules, we have started to take our body for granted and undermining the importance of healthy food. Our food determines our physical and physiological structures. Different types of food offer different nutrient benefits, so let’s inculcate good eating habits.