With the high load of disease burden linked to unhealthy diets, the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has published 17 dietary guidelines to fulfil essential nutrient needs and prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs). 

Key Highlights of the Report

  • The estimates of the NIN, which works under the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), show that 56.4% of the total disease burden in India is due to unhealthy diets. 
  • Rising Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs): Diseases such as cardiovascular issues, cancers, and diabetes are increasing, affecting adolescents and children as well.
  • Emphasis on Healthy Eating: Guidelines stress reducing salt and highly processed food consumption to combat premature deaths, and advocates for informed food choices by reading labels. 
  • Prevention through Nutrition and Exercise: Balanced nutrition and regular exercise can prevent up to 80% of Type 2 diabetes cases, along with heart disease and high blood pressure.
  • Protein Supplement Warning: It advises against protein supplements for muscle building due to health risks like added sugars and artificial additives.
  • ICMR highlights whey protein’s high branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) content, which recent evidence links to increased risk of specific non-communicable diseases (NCDs), prompting experts to recommend moderation in its use.
  • Misconceptions About Protein Intake: Excessive protein consumption offers minimal benefits for muscle growth, challenging common beliefs about protein needs.
  • Protein intake exceeding 1.6g/kg/day does not add to muscle mass gains induced by resistance exercise training (RET). 
  • Specific Dietary Guidelines: Recommendations include extra nutrition during pregnancy and lactation, exclusive breastfeeding for six months, and nutrient-rich diets for the elderly.

ICMR’s 17 Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Eating 

  1. Eat a variety of foods. 
  2. Prioritize nutrition during pregnancy and lactation. 
  3. Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months, then continue till 2 years and beyond. 
  4. Introduce homemade foods to infants after six months. 
  5. Ensure proper diets for children and adolescents. 
  6. Consume plenty of vegetables and legumes. 
  7. Use oils/fats in moderation, preferring nuts and seeds. 
  8. Obtain protein from foods, not supplements. 
  9. Maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent obesity. 
  10. Stay physically active. 
  11. Limit salt intake. 
  12. Choose safe and clean foods. 
  13. Use appropriate cooking methods. 
  14. Drink enough water. 
  15. Limit high-fat, sugar, salt, and processed foods. 
  16. Include nutrient-rich foods for the elderly. 
  17. Read food labels for healthy choices.

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