Importance of Rural India vis-a-vis Indian Healthcare Reforms - Dietary Guidelines for Indians

Written by Dr. Sameer Sippy | Medically Reviewed by The Medindia Medical Review Team  on Apr 19, 2013
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Dietary Guidelines for Indians

Guidelines for leading a Healthy Life

► Maintain a state of positive health accompanied with optimal performance in population at large.

► Ensure adequate nutritional status for pregnant and lactating mothers.

► Improve birth weights and promote growth of infants.

► Getting rid of high mortality rates with effective and timely medical management

► Children and adolescents to achieve their full genetic potential

► To achieve adequacy in all nutrients and prevent nutritional deficiency diseases.

► To maintain the health of the elderly and increase the life expectancy.

► Boosting stamina, vigour and vitality

► Improved life with quality healthcare products and services

An advice for Indians: Importance of Diet during different stages of life

a) Senior Citizens: For being physically active and healthy, nutritious, nutrient dense and low-fat foods are recommended.

b) Pregnancy: For maintaining health productivity, prevention of diseases and for supporting pregnancy/lactation,
nutritionally adequate diet with extra food for child bearing/rearing is recommended.

c) Adolescent: For increased spurt in growth, maturation and bone development, body building, healthy protective foods and foodstuffs rich in carbohydrates and proteins is recommended.

d) Children: For growth, development and to fight infections in children, energy, bodybuilding and protective foods are recommended.

e) Infant: For growth and achieving appropriate milestones, breast milk and energy rich foods are recommended.

Dietary Guidelines for Indians

► Nutritious and adequate diet should be judiciously consumed through a wise choice from a variety of foods that are available

► Additional food, nutritious diet and extra care are required during pregnancy and lactation.

► Exclusive breast-feeding should be practiced up to 4-6 months. Breast–feeding can be continued up to two years.

► Food supplements should be introduced to infants by 4-6 months for sustainability in the growth process.

► Both healthy and sick children and adolescents should be given adequate and appropriate diet.

► Green leafy vegetables, raw vegetables and fruits should be used in plenty.

► Cooking oils, dairy products, bakery products and animal foods should be used in moderation.

► Vanaspati, ghee, oil, butter should be used only sparingly.

► Over-eating should be avoided to prevent over-weight and obesity.

► Proper physical activity is essential to maintain desirable body weight for any individual.

► Salt should be used in moderation.

► Junk foods should be avoided at all costs

► Foods consumed should be safe, clean and free from flies. Stale food-stuffs should be discarded.

► Healthy and positive food concepts and cooking practices should be adopted.

► Food should not be overcooked or under-cooked. It should be cooked appropriately so that it is easy to digest.

► Water should be taken in adequate amounts.

► Water should be boiled or filtered before consuming for drinking or cooking purposes.

► Beverages should be consumed in moderation.

► Processed and ready-to-eat foods should be used judiciously.

► Sugar should be used sparingly.

► The elderly should eat a nutrient-rich diet to keep fit and active.

Tips for leading Good Quality Life

► Exercise regularly and in moderation. Over-exertion while exercising should be avoided.

► Avoid smoking, chewing of tobacco and consumption of alcohol.

► Check regularly for blood glucose, lipids and blood pressure after the age of 30 years.

► Avoid self-medication.

► Practice stress management techniques such as Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation etc.

► Immunize children and pregnant women.

► Restrict intake of preserved and processed foods like papads, pickles, sauces, ketchup, salted biscuits, chips and preserved food stuffs.

► Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits to provide adequate potassium.

► Use always iodized salt.

► Nutritious and adequate diet should be judiciously consumed through a wise choice from a variety of foods that are available.


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The first 5 paragraphs of the article are meaningful. The suggestion - "A paradigm shift from the current 'Bio-medical model' to a 'socio-cultural model', that should bridge the gaps and improve quality of rural life, is the current need of the hour and an answer to the prevailing scenario in India" - is fine but how this is going to be implemented is the question. The answer is not to set up a new course for rural doctors.

The reason for the present state of affairs is the blind adoption of the 'biomedical model' of western medicine. The same has landed the health care scenario in the US in a state of mess by becoming unaffordably expensive, not to speak of the role played by the insurance companies.

Worldwide, mind-body-spirit medicine is being recognised as simplifying medicine and healthcare and is being talked about as Era 3 medicine. We have forgotten the philosophy of mind-body-spirit medicine, which is fundamental to our own Ayurveda and which is in consonance with our socio-cultural model.

The Medical Council of India needs to take a hard look into such basic matters, if a longlasting solution is to be found for the health care disparity.

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