Author: Renu Puri
If you switch on the TV or flip the pages of your daily newspaper, you will see various news outlets talking about the adverse effects of poor diet and nutrition. Not just news outlets, but the world health organization has warned us about the increasing threat to life with regards to improper nutrition. To this day, many people are prematurely losing their lives or ending up in emergency rooms due to their lifestyle and dietary choices.
With this blog, we aim to spread awareness about the importance of health and nutrition and how you can live your best life through a few tweaks in your lifestyle.
More than 10 million deaths per year are linked to poor diet. According to a study conducted by The Lancet, one out of five people die due to lack of nutrition. The review by The Lancet also elucidated that the leading cause of diseases in India is the extremely low intake of whole grains, which is below 125 gm per day.
Due to the lack of nutritional awareness, people are replacing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds with foods filled with sugar, trans fat, and high amounts of sodium. Diets that encompass a low nutrition value, high sodium intake, and are supplemented with little to no exercise account for a huge percentage of diet-related deaths.
Improper nutrition expedites bad health that ultimately results in hundreds of deaths in India annually. The leading causes of death in India are cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
But have you ever wondered why the life expectancy of Indians is lower than other nationalities? Why is it that we are seeing news of 20-30-year-olds succumbing to heart attacks and various types of cancers? Can this be reversed or are we all set to be doomed?
We will get to that in this article. We intend to answer all your questions about health and nutrition and help guide you to a better, more fulfilling journey so you can have your nutrition in check and safeguard yourself and your loved ones from diet-inflicted diseases.
According to an article by Eastern Mirror, the countries with the lowest rates of diet-related deaths were Israel, France, Spain, Japan, and Andorra. India ranked 118th with 310 deaths per 100,000 people.
Smriti Irani, Minister for women and child development, quoted that malnutrition is not just prevalent in rural and poor areas but also is very much seen in urban areas in families that have a lot of resources but very little understanding of health and nutrition.
PM Narendra Modi announced during Nutrition month that the government will be allocating all the relevant resources towards the health and nutrition of the nation to build “Kuposhan Mukt Bharat” i.e., a healthy India emancipated from malnutrition.
In 2022, India ranked 107th out of 121 countries on the Global Hunger Index. With a score of 29.1, the level of hunger is indeed very serious. Despite the burgeoning growth of the Indian economy, improvements in health and nutrition still seem to have taken a backseat. While the food scarcity situation is improving, awareness about what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat is still lacking.
It is essential to understand that a stereotypically skinny person can be as malnourished as a morbidly obese person. One needs to understand that you don’t need to satiate your hunger or just fill yourself up with food to be healthy, you need nourishment. Although binging on empty calories may give you some energy to function throughout the day but in the long haul, this lifestyle will harbinger diseases and ailments.
Let us give you an example of how nutrition plays a pivotal role in the lives of people through one of our client’s stories.
Ayesha, a 23-year-old model, had been in a modelling career for a decade now. She started as a child actor and model and ventured into ramp shows, pageants, and the world of glitz and glam. When she came to us, she weighed 39 kilograms, her skin was sagging from her face, and you could see her ribs poking through every time she breathed. Even though we get cases like Ayesha’s all the time, we were deeply concerned for her health. She shared with us that in order to lose weight for a ramp show, she stopped eating and only ate one meal a day.
Now before Ayesha’s story progresses, let me tell you something. Never, I request never skip food to achieve any of your health goals, be it weight loss, muscle toning, or just to maintain your weight. Consult a health nutritionist and seek professional guidance to do it in a safer, sustainable way.
What made Ayesha seek professional guidance was when she started to experience muscle wasting in her arms and legs, which is usually seen in elderly people. She badly needed to fix her nutrition to get back to her normal self. If she started eating as she did before, her body will get into a state of shock and react abnormally, that is why she refrained from self-dieting and consulted a professional, which was a great decision. Our senior dietitian at niwi.ai worked closely with her, gave her a nutritious diet chart and we got her back to a healthy weight, that also was compliant with her modelling requirements. So yes, you do not have to starve yourself to lose weight, in fact, you can do it in a good, sustainable way without putting your health at stake.
When we consume any type of food, our organs respond in a very specific way. If you eat sweet food or food with a lot of sodium, then it will cause your heart to pump faster and exert more energy. This also leads your body to retain water to dilute the blood volume causing your heart to work twice as hard. An average Indian consumes around 10 grams of salt per day which is double the amount of salt recommended (5g/d).
Processed foods that are readily available on the shelves of all grocery stores nowadays are also a leading cause of nutrition-inflicted diseases. Any food that is high in saturated and trans-fat will enhance your cholesterol levels. These fats over time end up blocking the arteries which leads to strokes and heart attacks. They are also linked to a whopping 12% higher risk of cancer in general and an 11% increased risk for breast cancer. That is why one should only opt for heart-healthy foods.
Over the course of these years, there is one thing that we have learned – every body is different and everyone’s dietary requirements are unique. The reason for malnutrition for you may be very different from Ayesha's. But regardless of the reason or the cause, it is essential to consume good food for health from the get-go to avoid deadly diseases like cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, malnutrition in India leads to one in five cancer-related deaths. Can you believe it?
Everyone knows the benefits of good health, after all, we have grown up with advertisements that portray the advantages of a healthy lifestyle – be it Safola oil advertisements educating us on the importance of heart health or Horlicks Women’s Plus that tells us how mature women need to take care of their Vitamin D levels to stay active. However, despite knowing the benefits, no one actually taught us how to have a healthy lifestyle.
Most of the “healthy” products being advertised on television are marketing ploys to convince you to make a purchase when in reality, they are far from healthy. You need to understand that no processed food can have the same nutritive value as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. That is why, people who follow the Mediterranean diet (a diet of a type traditional in Mediterranean countries, characterized especially by high consumption of vegetables and olive oil and moderate consumption of protein, and thought to confer health benefits) always have a lesser chance of being prey to these deadly diseases.
Here’s a rule of thumb- the lesser number of steps involved in a food reaching you, the healthier it is. For example, a fruit reaches you from the farm directly, whereas packaged chips reach you after many steps such as processing the potato, adding preservatives, adding lots of salt, sugar, fats, packaging it and then reaching a store near you.
In fact, According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating pattern for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, increasing lifespan, and healthy aging. When used in conjunction with caloric restriction, the diet may also help you lose weight fast.
Centre’s report says, "69% deaths in children under 5 years due to malnutrition in the year 2022. Malnourished Indians go up from 19 crores to 35 crores now". Even though this is a huge number, we are not surprised. Indians consume tons of sugars, fats, and processed foods on a daily basis. With unhealthy food comes obesity and with obesity comes unsolicited ailments and diseases. A diet that lacks proper nutrients can house a lot of physical as well as mental problems. Let us have a detailed look:-
Recent studies by Harvard Medical School concluded a clear connection between a poor diet and an increased risk of depression.
All those sugary juices and crispy chips can lead to inflammation in your body, including your brain. This causes you to have mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and in some cases depression. Eating too much and eating too little – both are contributors to bad mental health. If you eat too much, you will start feeling sluggish and bloated whereas if you eat too less, you will start feeling exhausted and weak. Some people also experience insomnia along with anxiety and depression. This is a vicious cycle and needs to be fixed from the grassroot level.
If you have poor nutrition and seem to be facing these issues, make sure to incorporate loads of fruits, vegetables, and healthy foods into your diet regime and notice a difference.
Women often indulge in emotional eating during that time of the month, or when they go through a tough time like a breakup. Although it is justified to give yourself a breather at times, one cannot make it a habit to overindulge in unhealthy foods with little to no nutritional value especially to seek comfort. A lot of people who have binge eating disorders often face this issue, in hopes to fix their irritable mood, they reach for a processed snack from their pantry, gorge on it and then end up feeling twice as miserable as they did before. This oftentimes leads to self-jeopardy and low self-image issues.
We recommend following a schedule and paying close attention to what you’re eating and when you’re eating. Always check for food labels to check if what you’re buying is packed with nutrition or if it’s another marketing gimmick to encourage sales.
Brain fog or mental fatigue is characterized by confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus and mental clarity. It is not a disorder but a kind of cognitive dysfunction. Diet plays a pivotal role in brain fog. If you are malnourished, you will start experiencing symptoms that may interfere with your everyday life. From forgetting why you walked into a certain room to difficulty deciphering whether or not you took back the change from the shopkeeper, it truly has a negative effect on your life. Try incorporating Vitamin B-12 foods in your diet to recover from brain fog.
Decades back, India was a land that was known for malnutrition but now has become a hub for obesity. Obesity is characterized as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more. Contrary to that, if your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range. Being over or underweight is detrimental to your physical health in the long haul. You may not feel it now, but a couple of years down the lane, you will find it very hard to cope with daily bodily functions.
Foods that are high in cholesterol, trans fat, sodium, or sugars are a health hazard. If you consume a lot of processed food, you will end up blocking your arteries pressurizing your heart into beating harder to force enough blood in and out of your arteries. Switching to a balanced diet filled with fiber-rich foods will help you reduce hypertension and encourage good heart health.
According to a study by PLOS, Genetic risk factors and diet quality are independently associated with type 2 diabetes; a healthy diet is linked to lower diabetes risk across all levels of genetic risk. A diabetes diet should be carefully curated as the condition is often a result of Obesity. Excess fat around your organs in your abdomen is a sign of insulin resistance, a condition in which your cells do not react well to insulin. When you get insulin resistance, your blood sugar levels go off the charts, causing you to develop diabetes. Hence, it is pivotal to keep your diet in check to stay away from chronic diseases like diabetes.
Testosterone is a hormone in men that is used to regulate aspects like libido, sperm production, muscle mass, hair growth, general energy levels etc. Low testosterone has been associated with poor nutrition and obesity. Testosterone deficiency occurs when levels fall below 300 ng/dL in men. If you consume a diet filled with foods known to cause inflammation, you may have a low testosterone level. But not to worry, it is totally reversible once you get your nutrition in place. Even for women, it is necessary to maintain a healthy level of testosterone in the body for hormonal balance.
According to research by The University of Surrey,
Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may be putting their health at risk by following a harmful diet.
Since PCOS is estimated to be affecting almost 5.5% to 12.6% of women between the age groups of 17-45 years, it is imperative to understand the importance of good nutrition to reverse it. PCOS, if not treated or reversed timely, can also lead to miscarriages and infertility.
Look, the idea for this article is not to scare you, but you help you educate yourself about better life choices. This may seem challenging at first, but seeking out professional guidance is always a smarter choice than making mistakes on your own and wondering what went wrong. Getting the right guidance is of prime importance if you want to fix your nutrition. At niwi.ai, we wish to change these statistics and encourage a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Our registered dietitians create diet plans in accordance with your dietary requirements, lifestyle, body type, and your tastebuds. Yes, you heard it right! We also take care of your tastebuds and recommend mouth-watering healthy recipes that will make you feel like you never left junk food.
Ready for a health revolution? Join us on our mission to transform the nutrition landscape!
For any queries, Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +91-8800874676.
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!