Traditionally, the Indian diet uses less processed ingredients and more natural ingredients than that of Western countries. The Indian culture is more geared towards a sit-down meal with family or friends, unlike the West whose inhabitants are more likely to grab a meal on-the-go.
Diet in India
Globalization and urbanization has been believed to have an impact to the Indian lifestyle, economic growth and to some extent on the dietary pattern. There has been change in the dietary habits in few decades, as change is inevitable.
As per the FAOSTAT 33.5% of the total population of India live in urban areas. The urban population are thought to be well educated and informed to make the right food choices. Food has always carried a status symbol in India. There has been a divide between the poor man’s diet and the rich and elite man’s food. Nutrition, diet and health has been considered synonyms to each other and lot has been communicated in the media. The communication is not standard when it comes to the right choices of food. This has created a lot of confusion in the educated family to make the right and informed choice of food.
If we analyze the Indian diet, as per the National Sample Survey India, 68th Round, around 50% of the calories is contributed from cereals in the diet. They are highly refined and processed cereal which can also be termed as junk, devoid of dietary fiber and essential micronutrient. It is very interesting to know that, the consumption of sugar and honey in India is more when compared to fruits and vegetables ie, 11% vs 7% respectively. Although the average intake of protein is 60g per day, the contribution of protein is majorly from cereals which is close to 50%. This clearly indicates that, the good quality protein like milk and milk products, pulses and non-vegetarian foods take a back seat in the daily diet.
As per WHO guidelines 5% of the energy from carbohydrates should come from sugars which can roughly be 25g (6 teaspoons) per day. Studies have shown that, high consumption of sugar leads to hyperactivity, binge eating, cravings and altered mental function. Now the argument arises that, we consume less than 6 teaspoons of sugar in a day; as an average person will consume 2 cups of tea or coffee with 2 teaspoons of sugar per cup.
The modern Indian diet is exposed to hidden sugars daily. Hidden sugars contribute to sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, maltose, dextrose to name the few. They are present in various foods that we consume like breakfast cereals, cream biscuits, carbonated beverages, packaged fruit juices, salad dressings, chocolates, fruit yogurts etc. This adds up to the daily intake of sugar.
According to The National Family Survey-4, the percentage of overweight and obese men increased to 18.9% in 2015-16 compared 9% in 2005-2006. The incidence of diabetes in India has been 72 million as reported in International Diabetes Federation in 2017. The disease burden is increasing which has a correlation with the kind of diet consumed along with physical activity.
Making the right choice
Diversity in the diet is the key to provide all the nutrients in the right amount. More contribution of protein coming from pulses, legumes, milk and milk products and animal foods will improve good quality of protein in the diet. Addition of unrefined or minimally processed cereals like black rice, red rice, brown rice, variety of millets will add to the dietary fiber into the diet along with antioxidants and essential vitamins and minerals. Have the goodness of natural and locally grown produce to enjoy the benefits of the hidden phytonutrients.
Overconsumption of any nutrient can create havoc in the metabolic process leading to under or over nourishment.
- KC Raghu, Founder and MD, Pristine Organics