- September is celebrated as Poshan Month in India
- Fat gives you energy but too much fat can be unhealthy: Nutritionist
- Trans fat can cause serious heart disease: Nutritionist
New Delhi: As per the World Health Organization, nutrition is a critical part of health and development. Better nutrition is related to improved infant, child and maternal health, stronger immune systems, safer pregnancy and childbirth, lower risk of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and longevity. Healthy children learn better and people with adequate nutrition are more productive and can create opportunities to gradually break the cycles of poverty and hunger, the WHO says. While malnutrition presents significant threats to human health. India celebrates the month of September as Poshan Month, with an aim to generate maximum awareness about the importance of nutrition.
Nutrition, has many aspects, here are some of the concepts to understand and imbibe behavioural change. The meanings as per UNICEF and Nutritionist Dr Surabhi Varma.
Dr Varma explains that the amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. She says,
The body produces many amino acids and many come from food. When proteins are digested, amino acids are left. The human body uses amino acids to help the body break down food, grow, repair body tissue and perform many other body functions.
The foods that are the most common sources of essential amino acids are eggs, soy, black beans, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, meat, fish, poultry, and nuts, Dr Varma added.
Glucose, also known as blood sugar, is the main sugar found in the blood and the main source of energy for your brain and body, as per UNICEF.
However, it is important to maintain the blood glucose less than 140 mg/dL (the range in which it is measured), Dr Varma explains. She adds,
Low blood glucose leads to anxiety, hunger, and confusion, while high blood glucose can lead to increased thirst, fatigue, and blurred vision.
Fruits are considered to be a healthy source of blood glucose.
Perhaps one of the most commonly used nutrition related word, calories refer to the unit of energy in food.
Carbohydrates, fats, protein, etc in the foods and drinks we consume, provide food energy or calories, Dr Varma said.
Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients. The digestive system changes carbohydrates into blood glucose, which is used by the body for energy for the cells, tissues and organs, Dr Varma said and added,
It stores any extra sugar in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.
Carbohydrates are found in a wide array of both healthy and unhealthy foods—bread, beans, milk, popcorn, potatoes, cookies, spaghetti, soft drinks, corn, and cherry pie. They also come in a variety of forms. The most common and abundant forms are sugars, fibers, and starches.
Fatty acid is a major component of fats, that is used by the body for energy and tissue development. Dr Varma explains that the fatty acids are the building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in the food we eat.
During digestion, the body breaks down fats into fatty acids, which can then be absorbed into the blood. Fatty acids are extremely important as they are the major source of energy, said Dr Varma.
Monounsaturated fat is considered as ‘healthy fat’ Dr Varma says.
Eating food that has more monounsaturated fat instead of saturated fat may help lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. However, monounsaturated fat has the same number of calories as other types of fat and may contribute to weight gain if you eat too much of it, she says.
Foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats are avocados, canola oil, nuts, olives and olive oil.
Polyunsaturated fat is a type of fat that is liquid at room temperature, as per UNICEF’s nutrition glossary.
There are two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids – omega-6 and omega-3. These are essential fatty acids that the body needs for brain function and cell growth. Our bodies do not make essential fatty acids, so you can only get them from food, explains Dr Varma.
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in liquid vegetable oils, such as corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil. Omega-3 fatty acids come from plant sources, including canola oil, flaxseed, soybean oil, and walnuts, and from fish and shellfish, as per Dr Varma.
Saturated fat is a type of fat that is solid at room temperature, as per the UNICEF nutrition glossary. Dr Varma explains,
Eating a diet high in saturated fat raises blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease. Saturated fats have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may contribute to weight gain, if eaten in excess, she says.
Saturated fat is found in full-fat dairy products like butter, cheese, cream, regular ice cream, and whole milk; coconut oil, lard, palm oil, ready-to-eat meats, and the skin and fat of chicken and turkey, among other foods.
Fat is a type of nutrient and you need a certain amount of fat in your diet to stay healthy. But too much fat can be unhealthy for the human body, Dr Varma told NDTV.
Fats give you energy and help your body absorb vitamins, she added.
Dietary fat plays a major role in your cholesterol levels, but not all fats are the same. You should try to avoid saturated fats and trans fats, Dr Varma explains.
Dr Varma explains that trans fat is created when liquid oils are changed into solid fats, to make them last longer without going bad.
It may be found in crackers, cookies, packed chips, and snack foods. Trans fat raises your LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (good) cholesterol.
A diet loaded with trans fat increases your risk of heart disease, the leading killer of adults. Some studies also say that trans fats can damage the inner lining of your blood vessels, known as the endothelium.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.