It is never erroneous to say “The greatest wealth is health”. But it is disappointing to note that our country is known for its protein deficiency. Do you know why? Let us look at a few reasons.
Indians are vegetarians
By and large, majority of Indians are vegetarian hence it is stated as one of the serious reason for being called as protein-deficient state. It was recently stated in BMJ Open journal (http://bmjopen.bmj.com/) by an eminent Endocrinologist that Indians lack proper diet because they consume too much starch and fat, but insufficient amount of proteins. This is the major drawback for having poor muscle mass.
But this does not mean that vegetarian food lack proteins, but the proteins in them are not as easily bio-available for absorption as the protein in non-vegan food. Thus, it is recommended that vegetarians need to consume more protein-rich foods consciously to balance their diet. Which sadly is never a priority in our diet.
Lack of knowledge
Unsurprisingly, our country is filled with people who have very less knowledge about different sources of proteins. Which food contains how much calories of carbohydrates, proteins and fats? What is the normal range of calorie consumed for an adequate diet? All such basic information will educate and help a person in maintaining a healthy diet. Thus, we can say ignorance of health facts is leading to protein-deficiency in our country.
Prohibition and myths in religions
There are few religions which prohibit the consumption of non-vegetarian food on regular basis which is rich in proteins. Hence there is lot of imbalance in the diet because of the religious constraints.
Change in lifestyle
As we are eye-witnessing, there is a tremendous change in the eating habits and lifestyle. People are taking more to quick prepare & serve foods which are usually loaded with either fats or sugar to appeal to the taste buds. This is lowering the consumption of required amount of proteins in the regular diet. Needless to mention, it is causing protein deficiency in Indians.
Prominence given to rice and wheat
Farmers were getting high-yield with the use of intensive cultivation methods for crops such as rice and wheat. Hence this was another major blow for the country from agriculture which was cultivating only rice and wheat throughout the country. This led to exclusion of coarse grains and pulses from our diet, which are loaded with proteins.
Fallacy about intake of proteins
Majority of people fail to understand the exact importance of proteins in their day to day diet. They are under the misconception that protein supplements are only essential for weightlifters or undernourished people. So, it is high time that people start understanding that proteins are essential for all living human beings and should consume at least 50 grams of protein per day.
Surveys conducted to ascertain the veracity of these theories clearly showcase the magnitude of the problem.
A survey done by the Indian Market Research Bureau reveals that the total amount of protein intake in India is comparatively low. The amount of protein content was calculated with the help of internally developed calculator. This survey directly made contact with the consumers for their 24 hr regular diet. According to the samples collected, 41% belonged to vegetarian cluster and 59% belonged to non-vegetarian cluster. Shockingly, vegetarian samples showed approximately 91% of protein deficit when compared with non-vegetarians which showed 85% of protein deficit. It was also noticed that there was severe protein deficiency in the tribal population. With this kind of health deficit, it is estimated that in the years ahead, India will face enormous economic loss associated with a population afflicted with poor metabolic syndrome due to deficient protein diet.
According to consumption data collected by National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), stated that only few coastal states in the country reached the expected proteins in their regular diet. The rest such as northern states and rural areas were marked to portray the fall in the calories as well as proteins consumed.
In our next topic we will discuss on some of the easy to access vegetarian protein sources that we should consciously include in our diet.