With the current pandemic outbreak across the world, we’re living in a new normal. And as we get busy with our hectic schedules, we tend to neglect the one thing that should never be sidelined, i.e. nutrition in our daily diet – particularly consuming protein.
Protein, the ‘building block of life’, is one of the most important macronutrients, that helps build muscle, repair tissue and performs some of the most important functions in our body.
However, almost 73 percent of Indians are deficient in protein and 90 percent are unaware of their daily protein requirement. Also, conversations around protein consumption are often widespread with misinformation, myths, and preconceived notions. Additionally, much of this information, whether fully or partially incorrect, then serves as a major hurdle towards adopting, or even attempting to adopt protein-rich foods in the daily diet.
Indians today continue to struggle with achieving their nutritional goals. The 2020 Global Nutrition Report placed India among 88 countries, indicating that India has the highest rates of domestic inequalities in malnutrition and we continue to struggle with meeting our nutritional goals. In addition, more than 70% of the Indian population is protein-deficient, based on the 2017 IMRB survey.
So, what could be the real challenge?
Right To Protein, a nationwide public health awareness initiative conducted a nationwide survey of over 2000 mothers, to try and understand why protein continues to slip out of the daily Indian diet and to get to the bottom of this.
The study highlighted one of the growing misconceptions where on one hand, 80% mothers with kids believe that protein rich diet should be eaten more during breakfast while 71% of mothers feel that protein rich diet should be avoided at night during dinner. This clearly suggests that Indian mothers are misinformed when it comes to protein consumption.
Why? Because, protein is a macronutrient that should be consumed at every meal, and as a basic guideline one should ensure that one-fourths of the plate is filled with protein.
What happens when there is a protein deficiency?
If you don’t consume protein, a protein deficiency can lead to many health issues such as slow growth, muscle loss, weak immune system, cardiac and respiratory conditions. It can also lead to:
- Poor wound healing due to reduced collagen formation, resulting in slow recovery from injuries.
- Protein deficiency can show up in the form of sluggishness, slow healing, anemia and brain fog. This can further lead to serious nutritional diseases in children.
- For both children and adults, low-quality protein results in sarcopenia, a loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength.
- A life-threatening condition called hyperproteinaemia where a person has very little blood levels of protein, can occur due to poor dietary intake, inability to absorb proteins or excessive loss from the body.
- A common health and nutrition problem in India among children, Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) is one of the leading causes of malnourishment and under-5 mortality. Besides being the primary cause of childhood morbidity and mortality PEM also leads to permanent impairment of physical and possibly of mental growth in survivors. As a result of PEM, 37% of the children in India were stunted, 21% wasted and 34% were underweight in 2014- 15.
Why consume protein in your daily diet?
Consuming protein not only builds muscle, helps repair the body and enhances immunity, but also keeps one feeling fuller for longer hours, and provides energy during the day. Hence, the need of the hour is to ensure that we consume a balanced diet during every meal. This means breakfast, lunch and dinner must include protein, carbs, vegetables, and healthy fats. The easy trick to guarantee that one meets their daily protein requirements, as mentioned earlier, is to fill one-fourths of your plate with protein at every meal.
Good nutrition and a diet rich in protein will allow us to preserve muscle mass and strength and continue building our health and overall well-being even as we age.
Monitor your protein intake
You can monitor your daily protein intake through freely accessible tools like Right to Protein’s Protein-O-Meter and Protein Calculator along with guides like the Protein Index. Make it a habit. Start today!