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Read information on food labels, make healthy food choices: latest Dietary Guidelines for Indians

Updated - May 14, 2024 02:12 pm IST

Published - May 10, 2024 11:48 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Stay away from protein supplements, highly processed foods, alcohol, said the latest Dietary Guidelines for Indians

A file photo of assorted vegetables placed for sale at a market in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Protein supplements, highly processed foods, and items containing high sugar, salt and trans fats — have all made it to the ‘restricted’, ‘cautionary intake’ or ‘eliminate list’ of the recently released revised Dietary Guidelines for Indians (DGIs) issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad. It has also advised people to make informed and healthy food choices and read information on food labels carefully.

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DGIs have recommended cutting down consumption of sugar, salt, excess refined oil, deep fried foods and refined foods and advocated avoiding soft drinks and alcohol and increasing consumption of fruits, vegetables and pulses while preferring whole grains and millets to refined grains/ultra-processed foods.

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Reduce screen time

It also advises minimising non-essential screen time, healthy sleeping patterns (7–8 hours/day) to avoid unhealthy eating behaviours and resultant weight gain. Additionally, it said that repeated use of oils used for frying should be avoided and already used oils should not be mixed with fresh oils and reused for cooking.

The revised guidelines also state that earthen pots are the safest cookware while stating that the best way to stay healthy is to eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods, ensure regular physical activity and consume adequate water to avoid dehydration.

“The upsurge in the consumption of highly processed foods laden with sugars and fats, coupled with reduced physical activity and the limited access to diverse foods, exacerbate micronutrient deficiencies and the overweight/obesity problems,” said the report adding that a large chunk of family income is spent on buying such unhealthy foods.

This faulty dietary pattern contributes to deficiencies in iron and folic acid, resulting in anaemia and in the higher prevalence of obesity among population groups.

It noted that due to limited availability and high cost of pulses and meat, a significant proportion of the Indian population relies heavily on cereals, resulting in poor intake of essential macronutrients (essential amino acids and essential fatty acids) and micronutrients, said the report.

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