National Nutrition Week
National nutrition week is observed in India from September 1 to 7 every year. National nutrition week is an annual program initiated by the Food and Nutrition Board under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. The goal behind celebrating this week is to create awareness among the public regarding the importance of nutrition and practicing healthy eating habits.
Theme Of The Day
The theme for national nutrition week 2023 is “healthy diet gawing affordable for all”. This theme underscores the critical need to make nutritious food accessible to everyone, regardless of their economic status or social background.
Common Nutrient Deficiencies
- Iron: Anemia is caused as a result of iron deficiency. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body tissues. In this condition, there is a lack of healthy red blood cells in the body.
Foods to improve iron deficiency: Red meat, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, chickpeas, broccoli, and fish are some great sources of iron that can be included in the diet.
- Calcium: Calcium is an important mineral required for building strong bones and teeth and proper functioning of the heart and other muscles. The deficiency of calcium can cause conditions like osteoporosis, osteopenia, and hypocalcemia (lack of calcium).
Foods to improve calcium deficiency: Chia seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cheese, beans, lentils, milk, and yogurt are some rich sources of calcium.
- Vitamin A: It is an essential nutrient for growth and development, division of cells, reproduction, immune system, and vision. Vitamin A deficiency can cause conditions like impaired immunity, night blindness, xerophthalmia, etc.
Foods to improve Vitamin A deficiency: Green leafy vegetables, milk, eggs, fish, cheese, carrots, and tomatoes are some foods rich in vitamin A.
- Vitamin D: It is essential for regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphate, keeping the muscles, bones, and teeth healthy. Lack of vitamin D can cause conditions like osteomalacia and rickets.
Foods to improve Vitamin D deficiency: Salmon, red meat, egg yolks, and cod liver oil are some good sources of vitamin D.
- Vitamin B12: It is a water-soluble vitamin also called cobalamin. Vitamin B12 is essential for the formation of blood cells and keeping them healthy and helps in the proper functioning of nerves. The deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause pernicious and megaloblastic anemia.
Foods to improve Vitamin B12 deficiency: Eggs, shellfish, meat, chicken, dairy, soy, oats, etc., are some sources of Vitamin B12.
- Magnesium deficiency: Magnesium is required for maintaining normal function of muscles and nerves, promoting strong bones and teeth structure. It is also responsible for carrying out more than 300 chemical reactions. Magnesium deficiency can cause health problems like hypomagnesemia, hypokalemia, hypocalcemia, osteoporosis, etc.
Foods to improve Magnesium deficiency: Foods like nuts, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, legumes, and seeds are rich in magnesium.
- Iodine Deficiency: Iodine is essential for the functioning of the thyroid hormone and its production, growth, brain development, regulation of metabolic rate, and maintenance of bones. Deficiency of iodine can cause conditions like hypothyroidism, goiter, cretinism, decreased fertility rate, etc.
Foods to improve Iodine deficiency: Seaweed, shellfish, table salt, dairy, chicken, and eggs are some sources of iodine.
Essential Nutrients For Women
- Vitamin D: Vital for bone health, immune function, and hormone regulation. It helps the body absorb calcium and plays a role in preventing osteoporosis.
- B-Vitamins: Including B6, B12, and folate, these vitamins are essential for energy metabolism, red blood cell production, nerve function, and supporting cognitive health.
- Iron: Crucial for preventing anemia by supporting red blood cell production. Women often need more iron due to menstrual blood loss.
- Calcium: Essential for strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and blood clotting.
- Magnesium: Aids in muscle and nerve function, bone health, and maintaining a healthy heart rhythm.
Essential Fatty Acids
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Promote heart health, and cognitive function, and reduce inflammation. They are important for brain development during pregnancy and may alleviate menstrual discomfort.
- Protein is vital for tissue repair, muscle maintenance, and hormone production. It supports a healthy metabolism and helps maintain a feeling of fullness.
- Aids in digestion, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and supports a healthy gut. Adequate fiber intake is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and helps manage weight.
These nutrients are especially important for women due to their unique physiological needs. For instance, during menstruation and pregnancy, iron needs to increase to compensate for blood loss and fetal development. Calcium is crucial for women to prevent bone loss, particularly after menopause when estrogen levels drop. Omega-3 fatty acids support heart health and brain function, which can be particularly beneficial for women's cognitive well-being.
Top Tips On Healthy Eating
- Do not skip breakfast.
- Add more vegetables and fruits to your diet.
- Take home-cooked foods.
- Include calcium and protein-rich foods in your diet.
- Limit your intake of fast and processed foods.
- Cut down on unhealthy carbs and limit your intake of sugar and salt.
- Chew food properly.
- Eat small meals throughout your day.
- Cut down on saturated fats.
- Stay hydrated.
Health Is Wealth
This national nutrition week 2023, do the right thing and spread awareness about the importance of nutrients and healthy eating. Ensure that you are eating healthy before looking out for others. Create awareness among your friends and family about how important a well-balanced diet is. Nutrition and health are incomplete without physical activity and adequate sleep. Hence, it is essential to follow all the good practices like healthy eating, exercising, and proper sleeping to ensure improved overall health and quality of life.