The value of a plant-based diet and the active nutrients it contains
Globally, obesity is a growing issue of public health that has epidemic proportions. According to the WHO, the number of people who are overweight or obese has almost quadrupled since 1975, with 1.9 billion adults worldwide.
Obesity is mostly caused by unhealthy eating habits, which are a key modifiable factor. Together with undernutrition and vitamin deficiencies, India is also struggling with this severe malnutrition epidemic that has become worse over time.
Indicators of their association with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease, and malignancies that are now afflicting the country include the rise in the incidence of overweight and obesity.
A change in lifestyle with a higher intake of calorie-dense foods, high in refined grains, sodium, sugar, saturated fat, processed meats, packaged foods, and Transfats and low intake of vegetables, fruits, fiber, nuts, and seeds along with a decline in physical activity levels are contributing factors to the increase in NCDs.
In addition to pulses, grains, millet, and other plant foods, eating the suggested 300g of vegetables and 100g of fruits per day from the ICMR is known to protect against illnesses brought on by chronic oxidative stress. This effect comes from both eating more of these plant-based meals, which contain components that are good for your health, and from eating less red meat and processed food overall.
Plant foods have a protective quality because of the fiber and phytonutrients they contain, which work together to prevent the onset and spread of illness. Phytosterols and antioxidants are a few of these advantageous plant-based nutritional ingredients.
Based on their various structural characteristics, polyphenols are a collection of useful substances obtained from plants and are divided into lignans, phenolic acids, and flavonoids. They have a significant role in avoiding NCDs, which are on the increase, and have a variety of biological activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral, and antibacterial characteristics.
Also, they have the ability to act as prebiotics, which control intestinal flora, prevent dysbiosis, and uphold both gut and overall health. All of the macro and micronutrients should be sufficiently provided in the diet to create a healthy, balanced vegetarian diet.
The primary energy source is carbohydrates (CHO), however complex carbohydrates also have several extra health advantages. It offers dietary fibers, both soluble and insoluble, which are essential for preventing illness. The nutritional value of food consumption is improved by include fruits, vegetables, and pulses as well as whole grains including wheat, oats, barley, quinoa, maize, and millet.
A class of cereals known as millets has several qualities that are good for your health. They are free of gluten, contain greater levels of proteins, minerals, and vitamins, and some even have a lower Glycaemic Index (GI) than grains like wheat and rice. Some of the significant millets are sorghum (Jowar), pearl millet (Bajra), foxtail millet (Kangni), and finger millet (ragi). In addition to their possible prebiotic and probiotic health advantages, they are a wonderful source of fiber and include vitamins, minerals, phenolic acids, and flavonoids that are beneficial for your health.
With so many health advantages, it is advisable to eat these "Nutri-cereals" with a range of other grains every day to reap the benefits of all. These nutritious millets should make up 1/3 of your daily cereal consumption, according to ICMR.
The body uses proteins for a larger variety of purposes. Consuming 0.6-0.83 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is advised, according to the ICMR. Include vegetarian protein sources such pulses, beans, soy, milk and milk products, nuts, and seeds. You may also add pulses to cereals to round out your protein consumption.
A healthy diet must include fats and oils because they provide necessary fatty acids and aid in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are fat-soluble. Depending on the amount of energy needed, a person should consume 25–40g (5–6 teaspoons) of visible fat per day in the form of oils, ghee, butter, and other foods.
It is advised to consume fewer saturated fats—less than 8–10% of the energy from animal products, coconut oil, and palm oil—while increasing the intake of monounsaturated (MUFA) and polyunsaturated (PUFA) fats—1.3:1 respectively—found in nuts, avocados, seeds, and oils of olive, safflower, sunflower, corn, and canola.
For all of the vital bodily processes, an adult should ideally maintain a 5–10:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 PUFA. As crucial components of the developing fetal brain and retina, omega-3 fatty acids are known to maintain heart health, enhance mental well-being, and lessen depression. They are also vital throughout pregnancy. To receive the necessary omega 3 fatty acids, vegetarians should consume nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, and vegetable oils like soy and canola in their daily diet.
Trans fatty acids (TFA), which are also present in processed, fried meals and are the cause of negative effects on serum lipids, are created by the partial hydrogenation of vegetable fats (such as Vanaspati ghee or margarine). They are worse for heart health than saturated fats because they are linked to higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol. TFA consumption is advised to be less than 1% of total caloric intake, or less than 2.2 g/day for a diet of 2,000 calories. According per the AHA
In order to increase the oxidative and thermal durability of oils, enhance the balance of fatty acids, and add phytonutrients to the mix, multi-source cooking oils combine the power of two or more edible oils. It is a reasonable choice to consume fats as blends in order to profit from the oils used in blends and reduce the risk of cardiovascular illnesses. According to studies, combining rice bran oil and safflower oil in a 70:30 ratio with antioxidants improved blood lipid levels and inflammatory indicators.
Changing one's way of life and being committed to it are the cornerstones of good health. The key to good health is eating a balanced diet that contains enough macronutrients, including complex carbohydrates from whole grains like oats and millets, enough plant-based proteins from pulses, beans, milk and milk products, nuts and seeds, as well as enough fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats in the right amounts.