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Protein supplements: do we really need them?

Every country has its own food culture which includes natural and local food items. Even in India, particularly in Kerala we have a good food culture which includes combinations of nutrients in the right proportion. It is a globally accepted fact that man-made food may not provide the same goodness as natural ones. Now FAO and other global organizations are creating more awareness on local low-cost food to support farmers as well as human wellbeing.

Does supplements provide you sufficient nutrition?

During my practice as a nutritionist and dietitian, whenever a new client joins they ask a variety of questions. Many of them say that hours of exercise with so many supplements makes no changes in their body. I noted that during lockdown more people observed how to get results with simple exercises and diet. Recently a few celebrities consulted me for diet plans. They were curious to know about the benefits of normal Kerala diets. They have been using too many protein supplements which are more than their body can utilize. They also suffer health issues related to higher uric acid levels.

I have also seen people from rural areas who are struggling with financial issues also spend so much amount for imported products and weight loss and protein supplements. A good education on this subject may help the community and others too.  Being a dietician, I am obliged to share the right information about food. Even in the 2019 FSSAI meeting, the participants discussed the public health issues associated with supplements intake and the efforts taken by the India Government to spread awareness on the local low cost food.

In the recent years as part of business and material development, India has been importing so many goods such as supplements. Many of them are even banned in other countries. But the fact is that our normal daily diet provides sufficient protein required for our body. An increased level of protein supplements cannot be tolerated by our system. Research shows that that our body weight depends 80% on our diet and 20% on our fitness efforts.

Are protein and other supplements substitute for food?

Supplements are not substitutes for food. They can’t provide the nutrients and health benefits of whole foods. A normal diet that includes fruits and vegetables provides a variety of micronutrients which your body needs in a more balanced way. It also provides dietary fibers essential to keep diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases at the bay.  Supplements offer limited nourishment to the body as you get only specific vitamins and minerals. However, in some cases supplements are needed especially when you are required to supplement your natural food intake. But it should never replace your healthy diet.

Nov 08, 2020

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Navratri Fasting: 5 Tips to Revive, Revitalize and Rejuvenate

Navratri is not just about festivities and fasting. It’s a time to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. Navratri Vrat is an organic way to cleanse your body with the right food. Many abstain themselves from consuming food prepared with onion and garlic as ingredients and non-vegetarian food items. Rather than a way of spiritual cleansing, this Indian festival has its relevance from a scientific point of view. Since the festival occurs during a change of the seasons, avoiding rich foods can help you gain more immunity.

Refresh Your Inner Self

Nine days of fasting can help to detoxify your body with a perfect diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, pulses and unsweetened beverages. It is said that avoiding alcohol, meat, fish and other food items with garlic and onion . A major benefit of fasting is that it makes you self-disciplined from consuming unwanted food items.

Fasting during Navratri is easy for a person who has been used to it for some years. They are aware of the food items they should select and their body’s response to fasting. But for a newbie, it need not be so easy. A healthy diet pattern can help them to have a good time revitalizing themselves. Here goes my easy diet tips that will help you to have a smooth sail during your Navratri Vrat journey. 

Tip#1 Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water is essential to maintain an optimum electrolyte balance and flush out the toxins from your body. You can include fresh fruit juices, coconut water, sugarcane juice and other vegetable juices. Drinking herbal tea also helps to ease your fasting experience and soothe the effects of your changed food habits. However, reducing the intake of normal tea and coffee is recommended because it can dehydrate the body.

Tip#2 Include more vegetables and fruits 

Vegetables like sweet potato, pumpkin, raw banana, papaya and bottle gourd are rich in minerals. It is ideal to have your vegetables eaten raw or steamed. Beginning your day with a fruit bowl full of nutrients keeps you energized throughout the day. As in every fasting routine, it is essential to consume fruits and vegetables packed with vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. These will help to maintain your bowel health.

Tip#3 Nuts, dry fruits and natural sweeteners

Dry nuts and fruits are sources of protein and healthy fats. They are also recommended to have a good start of your day. Dry fruits are healthy substitutes for daily snacks. Dates,  walnuts, almonds, cashews, and groundnut are instant sources of energy. Use organic jaggery or honey instead of refined sugar to sweeten your dishes. Consuming dry nuts and fruits will also keep you full during fasting.

Tip#4  Include healthy traditional Navratri Vrat food items 

Including the right ingredients in your diet is recommended. These ingredients include food prepared with traditional items like sabudhana (sago), buckwheat, and millet. These food items are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and other dietary fibers. Since gluten-free, they are ideal for your diet plan. In South India, we usually go for boiled pulses like Bengal gram and rice flakes with jaggery , coconut.

Tip#5 Have small meals at regular intervals

Having small meals at regular intervals can help to maintain the glucose level in the body. This will help you to maintain an optimal energy level throughout the day. Fasting reduces the insulin production in your body and hence, steady doses of sugar is necessary. Rather, intermittent meals will never make you feel hungry.

Rituals and wellness fuse for a better self 

However, for some people Navratri  is a time to relish on more fried and sugary food. This also needs immense attention. While breaking the fast, there are chances of overeating. Eating packaged foods and sweets, and eating out instead of home-cooked food can spoil the benefits of the nine-day fasting. But if you can stick on to the aforesaid five diet tips, it can bring you good results and a happy fasting.

The festival of Navratri is rich in traditions. It’s also a time for us to relax and revitalize ourselves with more positive energy. Fasting cleanses our body, flushing out the toxins. Once your body is clean, it cascades to your mind and makes you calm. Thus it boosts your overall well-being fairly fast. 

If you are looking forward to stay fit even after your Navratri fasting, you can reach me for a detailed diet plan. 

Oct 18, 2020

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