ICMR issues dietary recommendations for Indians, with a warning for vegetarians and protein supplements – The Economic Times

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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR-NIN) have issued dietary recommendations to address malnutrition and diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases in the nation, while advocating for healthy eating habits and lifestyles.
A group of 17 comprehensive recommendations has been created by a diverse team of specialists under the guidance of Dr. Hemalatha R, Director of ICMR-NIN.

Speaking at the release event organized at the ICMR headquarters, Dr. Rajiv Bahl said, “The dietary habits of Indians have undergone significant changes over the past few decades, leading to an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases while some of the problems of undernutrition continue to persist. These guidelines have been made very relevant to the changing food scenario in India with the addition of practicable messages and suggestions on handling food safety, choosing minimally processed foods, the importance of food labels, and physical activity.”

Dr. Hemalatha R, Director of ICMR-NIN, said, “These DGIs offer the most logical, sustainable, and long-term solution to all forms of malnutrition and help ensure the availability, accessibility, and affordability of nutrient-rich foods while promoting the consumption of diverse foods.”

The guidelines emphasize the importance of consuming a balanced diet and embracing a healthy lifestyle to prevent obesity. They also highlight the significance of regular exercise, reducing the intake of ultra-processed foods, and checking food labels for making informed and healthy choices.
According to the guidelines, for a 2000 kcal intake a day, people should eat about 250 grams of cereals, 400 grams of vegetables, 100 grams of fruits, 85 grams of pulses/eggs/flesh foods, 35 grams of nuts and seeds, and 27 grams of fat/oils, as per ICMR.

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ICMR recommended sourcing macronutrients and micronutrients from a minimum of eight groups of foods. It stated that the intake of cereals should be restricted to 45 percent of the total energy, which is currently as much as 50 to 70 percent.

ICMR mentioned that due to the high cost of pulses and meat, Indians rely heavily on cereals, resulting in poor intake of essential micronutrients. It advised eating from a variety of foods as ‘there is no single food item with all essential nutrients’.

Vegetarians, ICMR said, should eat n-3 PUFA-rich foods like flax seeds, chia seeds, etc., as there is a challenge for them to get enough B12 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

It said sugar should be less than 5 per cent of total energy intake. ICMR has also called for avoiding protein supplements for building body mass. It said that prolonged intake of large amount of protein powders or consumption of high protein concentrate has been associated with potential dangers, such as bone mineral loss and kidney damage.

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