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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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What is a Pescatarian diet and is it a healthy choice?

Are you a pescatarian?

A pescatarian diet is a vegetarian diet that includes fish or seafood along with vegetables. Pescatarians do not eat other meats. I think most of the people who lives near the sea, river or backwaters are pescatarians. In Kerala they are more in number, especially in Kochi where I resides.

Does it bring any health benefits?

A typical pescatarian diet includes vegetables, grains and pulses with sea food items and fish. It is an accepted nutritious diet choice as it has many health benefits. A pescatarian diet provides the essential omega-3-fatty acids that improves cardio-vascular health. It also reduces the risks of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Studies show that those on a pescatarian diet have lower levels of blood cholesterol and blood pressure when compared with the non-vegetarians. It also shows that pescatarians have better emotional and psychological health compared with people on other diets. Since it is a more of plant-based diet, a pescatarian gets the benefits of consuming vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts and cereals too.

Should I be a pescatarian?

Being a pescatarian is a personal choice. A few prefer pescatarian diet to a non-vegetarian diet because of ethical concerns. They aim to avoid eating meat and save animals.

I prefer fish curry meals along with vegetarian dishes from my childhood. But after marriage, it included more of other non – vegetarian food items what others in the family loved to eat. I didn’t try to impose my knowledge in food or beliefs in them same as the way, I communicate with my clients. It’s all personal choices and beliefs. All what matters is eat a limited quantity of food that the body requires and choose from different types of food items.

Spirituality and eating habits

Many asks me if being spiritual means avoiding all non-vegetarian or practicing the new age trend of veganism. However, as a dietician, I don’t support it. You can do your own experiments – being a vegan or a pescatarian.  But always come back to a balanced diet which includes available local food items that provide all nutrients for the day.

Oct 29, 2020

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