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How niwi.ai is solving India’s Food and Nutrition Problems

Author: Renu Puri

Date: 01-02-2023

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The life expectancy of Indians is dropping year by year and many experts have shared their concerns about the sudden decline despite great innovation in the healthcare sector. Indians lost over 2.6 years in their life expectancy in 2021 as an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic shows a study published in Population and Development Review, a journal of the Population Council.


With this blog, we aim to change these statistics by educating people on how to live a long, healthy life. Living a quality life is important because it brings happiness, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose. It helps individuals to achieve their goals and aspirations, maintain positive relationships, and lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. 


Introduction


According to a study by The Lancet, bad diets are responsible for more deaths than smoking worldwide. Approximately 11 million deaths per year are linked to a poor diet. Shocking, isn’t it? The reason is pretty simple - poor diets are linked to death due to their association with chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes, which are leading causes of death worldwide. A diet high in processed and junk foods, sugar, and saturated fat can contribute to the development of these diseases, while a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help prevent them.


You see, nutrition is a debatable topic, especially in a place like India. There is often conflicting scientific evidence, personal beliefs, and cultural attitudes surrounding what constitutes a healthy diet. This can lead to disagreement and differing opinions on what foods should be consumed, in what quantities, and how they impact health. 


Certain norms pertaining to health and nutrition have been passed down from generations. We have been raised to believe in a lot of myths which we also subconsciously pass down to our offsprings. Do you remember your mother forcing you to drink a glass of cow milk every morning before school to encourage strong bone health? Almost every Indian household believes that cow milk is essential for strong bones but that is only partially true. Although cow milk is one of the calcium rich foods available to us, so are other sources like green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds. 


If we don’t break this cycle and educate ourselves on what nutrition is and what exactly your body needs to be healthy, we will never be able to change these deadly statistics.


Poor Nutrition Research and Statistics : 


In an article by the Times of India


Dr. Aseem Malhotra, a British cardiologist, public health campaigner, and author elucidated the following:


  • India has the highest prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the world, which on average reduced life expectancy by up to 10 years. 
  • In India, 43 percent of people with normal BMI (Body Mass Index) are metabolically unhealthy. This means that a huge proportion of people are living in this illusion of protection thinking that they are not overweight or unhealthy. 
  • 70 percent of Indian diet calories come from consuming carbohydrates and most of them are not necessarily from the best quality of carbohydrates. These poor quality carbohydrates include a lot of sugar, flour-based products, snacks loaded with starch, loaves of bread, and white rice.
  • An average Indian consumes at least 15 teaspoons of sugar in the form of fruit juices, sweets, sugar-laden drinks, and snacks. He underlined the fact that while one does not need any amount of sugar to stay healthy, the World Health Organization has drawn the upper limit of five teaspoons of sugar per day. This essentially means Indians are probably consuming 3-4 times of sugar than they should. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Aseem explained that it is never too late to change your dietary habits as it can help you reverse type 2 diabetes within weeks. This can be done by carefully monitoring your diet and changing the needful. 
  • He underlined that a whole food-based Keto diet can be very beneficial for those battling type-2 diabetes. On the other hand low-sugar, low-refined carbohydrates, a Mediterranean-inspired diet with lots of vegetables or unprocessed meat like lamb, chicken, and fish can also be a part of a healthy diet. 
  • As per a statement by the Indian Dietetic Association, a whopping 84 percent of Indians are protein deficient.
  • He points out that quitting smoking can be more powerful than all the medications given for reducing the risk of a future heart attack combined. 
  • Dr. Aseem also simplified the whole formula of physical activities and nudged the people to take out 30 minutes every day from their daily routine and go for a brisk walk, at least five times a week.


Eat healthy day and night to keep your future looking bright



There is inspiration all around you, you just have got to look harder. In fact, just the other day, our team was discussing the incredible weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal of one of our younger clients Satyam. Satyam, a 21-year-old architecture student, came to us after the demise of his father through sudden cardiac arrest. Now Satyam, like a lot of us, has a family history of obesity, diabetes, and heart conditions. According to Satyam, many adults in his family weigh more than 100 kilograms. His father before his demise weighed 180 kilograms. When Satyam came to us he weighed 120 kilograms. He was traumatized by what had happened due to the outcome of the health negligence and just had one aim – to not let his mother experience this kind of trauma again as he was all she had. He had an unwavering aim to lose weight fast. He began his weight loss journey with a mission to reverse his type-2 diabetes. 


Our registered dietitian created a flexible weight loss diet for him. This diabetic diet plan was created considering Satyam’s body type, genetics, activity levels, busy schedule, and even his taste buds! Yes, you heard it right. We believe that a diet should never feel like a compromise, but rather a lifestyle that you can sustain, and that is why we recommended mouth-watering recipes to Satyam that would take care of any of his cravings and make him feel like he never left junk food. 


Cut to now, Satyam weighs 75 kilograms, has successfully reversed his diabetes, and has all of his bloodwork readings under control. In addition to that, he has also enrolled his mother in our weight loss program.


How is niwi.ai tackling the food problems in India?



The news of many young celebrities like Sidharth Shukla, KK, Siddhaanth Vir Surryavanshi, and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala passing away due to heart attacks have really left the nation shocked. Not just celebrities, if you dive deep into the metrics of younger people passing away, you will surely get a jolt. An average working professional today faces stress very differently than he would have if he was working the same job 20 years back. External stressors and internal stressors can really depreciate the quality of life for individuals who find it difficult to deal with stress. While the overall work culture may not change in the long haul, your outlook towards nutrition can. Better nutrition in 5-6 years can drastically improve your heart health in ways that seem very difficult to achieve today. 


Think of food as fuel for your body. A normal person today would only think of putting premium petrol in his car and would not compromise on their car’s health then why does the same person not care to nourish his body the same way? You would not put Kerosene in your car instead of Petrol and expect it to work. Similarly, if you keep on consuming junk and processed foods, how do you expect your body to nourish you and keep you protected from ailments? 


These lifestyle diseases are all interlinked with poor nutrition. Stress, sleep, movement, exercise, and diet are all contributors to a nourished or malnourished body. If nutrition is optimized then every other part of the lifestyle starts falling into place, be it healthy weight, lesser stress, better sleep, enhanced energy levels, better ability to move, or more efficiency. Simply put, if you eat better, you live better.


We encourage everyone to wake up every day and run on the treadmill of life. The essence of life can be enjoyed if your health is at the top of its game. After all, the saying – Health is the true wealth is truly spot on.


Problem #1: In India, adults aged 20 and above only have 24.9g of legumes per day (25 percent of their daily target) and 3.2g of nuts per day (13 percent of their daily target)


niwi.ai’s Solution: Assessing the nutrient needs and dietary habits of individuals and communities.


Men and women have similar dietary requirements for most nutrients, but there are some differences in the recommended intake of certain nutrients due to differences in body size and hormones. Generally, all sexes require a balanced diet chart that includes:


  • The right amounts of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats
  • A combination of fruits and vegetables
  • Limited amounts of added sugars and saturated fats
  • Optimum hydration with water


However, women may require higher amounts of certain nutrients, such as iron and calcium, due to menstrual losses and the need for bone health. Men, on the other hand, may benefit from a diet that is lower in fat and higher in fiber. It's important to consult a certified nutritionist for personalized dietary recommendations as every body is different in terms of fitness goals, busy schedules, genetics, body type, activity levels, etc. 


Problem #2: Fried foods and unhealthy beverages are major triggers for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity that are growing rapidly in India.


niwi.ai’s Solution: Developing culturally relevant nutrition programs.


Let’s be real – India is the land of differing cultures. Every state has its own values, beliefs, and norms. This also includes norms with regards to nutrition, traditional recipes, distinct flavour, and taste of the foods that they are accustomed to. Type “diet plan for weight loss” on any search engine right now and you will get thousands of free plans but the problem with those weight loss diet plans is that they are not customized to your body type, genetics, busy schedule, activity levels, and many other factors. These diets are just generalized plans that may or may not work for your body. Most of these plans are very restrictive with limited choices thereby making them not as sustainable as one would anticipate. When you try to be disciplined about any diet plan and don’t see results, you feel frustrated and write of dieting and healthy eating itself until it becomes a genuine health issue. At niwi.ai, our registered dietitians want to break the stigma of all diets being inherently the same. That is why our diet programs offer immense flexibility and customizations so that your diet does not feel like a ‘traditional diet’, rather a combination of foods that you like eating and are good for you. 


Problem #3: Indians over-consume carbohydrates and under-consume protein.


niwi.ai’s Solution: Providing personalized nutrition counselling and support so you can know all about nutrition.


Indian foods are usually high in carbs and sugar and comparatively lesser in proteins. All the pakoras, chaat, mithais, and parathas that you love and adore are filled with carbs. Research recommends consuming under 300 grams of carbs per day. While the rural population in India is said to consume a whopping 430 grams of carbs per day, the urban population is not far behind with a daily carb consumption amount of 350 grams. 


The ideal recommended value for protein intake per day is 460 grams. In rural India, the daily protein intake of people is about 194 grams and in urban India, it is 240 grams. There is a huge imbalance in those values and lack of awareness of protein rich foods, thereby contributing to nationwide malnourishment. Check out our blog on Top 15 high-protein foods to know what exactly to incorporate in your diet to fulfil your daily protein intake.

With this in mind, we want to fix the loopholes in the current nutrition landscape by providing proactive and personalized nutrition counselling and support to educate our clients about the value of taking charge of their health. But every big mission needs support from people who believe in the revolution. In our case, it is people of Indian origin who understand Indian eating customs, the culture around food, Indian flavours, and how deeply ingrained food is in our lifestyle.


Problem #4: Adulterants found in foods are highly toxic to the body and can lead to heart failure, liver disorders, and kidney disorders.


niwi.ai’s Solution: Advocate for implementing food fortification practices.


In this day and age, almost everything comes adulterated. Be it milk, pulses, oil, spices, honey, etc. Although it may not immediately affect your health, consuming adulterated foods can do a lot of harm to you in the long haul as it takes away from the nutritional value of the actual food.  


At niwi.ai, we firmly believe in food fortification practices. We believe that nutrient-rich, fortified foods can help address the growing global epidemic of micronutrient deficiencies. Fortified foods have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. For anyone who doesn’t know what food fortification means, It is a practice that involves adding nutrients to food in order to improve the nutritional quality of the diet.


Fast foods are the fastest way to your downfall…



We want all of our clients and readers to live a happy and fulfilling life but not at the expense of bad health. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to take care of yourself. We all do it. We're busy, we have a lot going on, and sometimes it can feel like there's just no time to stop and ask ourselves "what are you eating?" But what if we told you that there's a way to live life king-size without sacrificing your health? What if we told you that taking care of yourself doesn't mean sacrificing your goals or dreams? What if we told you that it's possible to have both?


That's right, it is possible!


Seeking professional guidance could really help you navigate through these obstacles. A registered dietitian can offer flexible eating plans and suggest tasty options with regards to your taste buds. If you can’t resist street food, nutritionists can include healthy chaat options in your diet, or if you love Chinese food, they can suggest some great additions. All in all, professional guidance and programs can help you reach your weight loss goal in a quick, sustainable, and efficient way.


Ready for a health revolution? Join us on our mission to transform the nutrition landscape!



At niwi.ai, we have helped thousands of clients transform their lives and feel stronger, more energetic, and definitely more confident in how they look and feel, by improving their relationship with food!

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