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FACTS, REVELATIONS AND IDEAS

Humans need a wide range of nutrients to lead a healthy and active life. For providing these nutrients, good nutrition or proper intake of food in relation to the body’s dietary needs is required. An adequate, well-balanced diet combined with regular physical activity is a cornerstone of good health. Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity.

A healthy diet consumed throughout the life-course helps in preventing malnutrition in all its forms as well as wide range of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and conditions. But rapid urbanization/globalization, increased consumption of processed foods and changing lifestyles has led to a shift in dietary patterns.

People are consuming more foods high in energy, fats, free sugars or salt/sodium, and many do not eat enough fruits, vegetables and dietary fibers such as whole grains. So, these all factors are contributing to an imbalanced eating. A balanced and healthy diet will vary depending on the individual needs (e.g. age, gender, lifestyle, degree of physical activity), cultural context, locally available foods and dietary customs but the basic principles of what constitute a healthy diet remain the same.

A balanced diet is one which contains variety of foods in such quantities and proportion that the need of all nutrients is adequately met for maintaining health, vitality and general wellbeing and makes a small provision for extra nutrients to withstand short duration of leanness.

The major food issues of concern are insufficient/ imbalanced intake of foods/nutrients.  One of the most common nutritional problems of public health importance in India is low birth weight, protein-energy malnutrition in children, chronic energy deficiency in adults, micronutrient malnutrition and diet-related non-communicable diseases. Health and nutrition are the most important contributory factors for human resource development in the country.

Healthy dietary practices begin early in life. Recent evidence indicates that undernutrition in utero may set the pace for diet-related chronic diseases in later life. Breastfeeding promotes healthy growth and improves cognitive development, and may have longer-term health benefits, like reducing the risk of becoming overweight or obese and developing NCDs later in life.

Since a healthy diet consists of different kinds of foods, the emphasis has been shifted from nutrient orientation to the food-based approach. Foods can be categorized according to the function as- 

  • Energy-rich foods (Carbohydrates and fats)-whole grain cereals, millets, vegetable oils, ghee, nuts and oilseeds and sugars

  • Bodybuilding foods (Proteins)- Pulses, nuts and oilseeds, milk and milk products, meat, fish, poultry

  • Protective foods (Vitamins and minerals) - Green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk and milk products and fresh foods

For more details please visit - https://www.nhp.gov.in/healthlyliving/healthy-diet

An adequate, well-balanced diet combined with regular physical activity is a cornerstone of good health.