Read full article by Priya Karkera@Outlook Poshanj Photo Credit: Outlook Poshan
With the pandemic era, consumption of a well-balanced diet can be the right key to good health and a better immune system. More than 70% of the Indian population is found to be at a risk of protein deficiency among different age groups, as per a study conducted by leading research agency IMRB which evaluated the protein contribution from Indian diets. These alarming statistics leads way to bring out the daily importance of proteins in the Indian diet. Indians by nature consume a carbohydrate rich diet all through the day, therefore balancing with adequate protein rich options must be emphasized.
Let’s look at what are proteins – Proteins are made up of hundreds or thousands of smaller units called amino acids, which are attached to one another in long chains. There are 20 different types of amino acids that can be combined to make a protein. There is a large connection between food produced, to available to consumed. If we consider proteins, the requirement is directly proportional to quality and digestibility.
Immune system is the first line of defence against any harmful bacteria, virus, and any foreign substances. The cells of immune system rely on proteins for repair and wear and tear. This builds the link between importance of proteins in the daily diet for better immunity.
There are mainly 2 types of proteins – Complete and Incomplete.
Complete – Consisting of all the essential amino acids
Incomplete – Missing some of the essential amino acids
The best sources of proteins come from –
Milk and Milk products – Paneer
Dals, Pulses, and sprouts.
Chicken, Fish, Meat and Seafood
Nut and seeds
Traditional practices in India mixing cereals and pulses increase the bioavailability of proteins and are excellent options to be included in daily diet. From Khichadi in the north, to Pongal in the south the cultural diversity of India allows using wide variety of pulses. This is a classic example of – Complementary proteins where two or more incomplete protein sources that, when eaten in combination (at the same meal or during the same day), compensate for each other’s lack of amino acids.
When we speak of the requirement of proteins across age groups, it is related to the weight of the individual. In children there are Recommended dietary allowances for every nutrient laid down by Indian Council of Medical Research. However, in case of underweight or obesity the requirements may need close monitoring by a Doctor or qualified Nutrition professional.
Traditional Indian Millets are some good sources of proteins which can be considered in our daily diet. They contain about 5% – 8% of proteins and considering a good availability across the country, they must be used in daily cooking.
What are Millets – Millets are cereal crops and small seeds grasses cultivated across India.
Some examples of millets grown in India are – Sorghum, Pearl millet, Finger millet, Foxtail millet, Kodo millet, Proso millet, Barnyard millet, and Little millet. The table below shows the traditional names of the millets across states in India.