Restrict sugar, salt, avoid protein supplements: ICMR’s new dietary guidelines – India Today

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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) released a set of dietary guidelines for Indians on Wednesday.

According to the guidelines to meet the requirements of essential nutrients and prevent noncommunicable diseases in the country, around 56.4% of the total disease burden in India is because of unhealthy diet habits.

The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) under the apex health research body, that revised the guidelines after 13 years, said that healthy diets and physical activity can reduce a substantial proportion of coronary heart disease (CHD) and hypertension (high blood pressure) and prevent up to 80% of type 2 diabetes.


“A significant proportion of premature deaths can be averted by following a healthy lifestyle,” it said.

The 148-page report, which contains 17 guidelines, recommends decreasing the use of cooking oil and instead getting fatty acids through nuts, oilseeds and seafood.

Around 56.4% of the total disease burden in India is because of unhealthy diet habits. (Photo: Getty Images)

The institute added that the high consumption of highly processed foods that contain sugars and fats, along with a lack of physical activity and limited access to diverse foods, have led to micronutrient deficiencies and overweight issues in the country.

Among the many guidelines, the body recommended restricting salt intake, consuming oils and fat in moderation, doing proper exercise and minimising sugar and ultra-processed foods. It said that Indians should consume 20-25 grams of sugar a day, since it comes from natural carbohydrates.

The Dietary Guidelines for Indians (DGIs), led by Dr Hemalatha R, Director, ICMR-NIN has undergone several scientific reviews.

Dr Rajiv Bahl, Director General, ICMR, said, “I am pleased that these guidelines have been made very relevant to the changing food scenario in India with addition of practicable messages and suggestions on handling food safety choosing minimally processed foods, importance of food labels and physical activity.”

The NIN has also urged people to “avoid protein supplements” for building body mass as well. It stated that prolonged intake of large amounts of protein powders or consumption of high protein concentrate has been associated with potential dangers such as bone mineral loss and kidney damage.

Research findings indicate dietary protein supplementation is associated with only a small increase in muscle strength and size during prolonged resistance exercise training (RET) in healthy adults.

Protein intake levels greater than 1.6g/kg body weight/day do not contribute further to RET-induced gains.

It also stated that sugar should be less than 5% of total energy intake and a balanced diet should provide not more than 45% calories from cereals, and millets and up to 15% of calories from pulses, beans and meat.

The rest of the calories should come from nuts, vegetables, fruits and milk. Total fat intake should be less than or equal to 30% energy, the guidelines said.

Published By:

Daphne Clarance

Published On:

May 9, 2024

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