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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Protein always gets a bad rap, it’s time to debunk the myth

New Delhi – With hectic lifestyles, meeting deadlines, erratic work hours, nutrition intake is severely impacted.

Hence, lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension etc are on the rise and it’s time to face some hard facts, says an Indian nutrition expert.

The latest survey by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) to ascertain the levels of protein deficiency and awareness about protein in India showed 73 percent of urban rich are protein deficient with 93 percent of them unaware about their daily protein requirements.

In fact, despite the urban populace eating poultry products as a source of animal protein, India’s consumption of poultry meat products remains one of the lowest in the world at less than 4kg per capita for poultry while other developed countries have a per capita consumption of as much as 40kg.

To create awareness about the need to incorporate the essential component of protein in our diets, Protein Week is celebrated from July 24-30 each year.

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Detailing the importance of including protein in one’s diet, leading nutritionist Ritika Samaddar shares, “As a building block of life, protein is present in every cell of the body. Protein is crucial for growth and development and to fight against diseases. The RDA for protein for an average Indian Adult is 0.8-1.0g perkg body weight, which is around 50-60g of protein per day for the healthy adult population.

“There is a need to create awareness on the importance of protein on our health, how much to take and the sources of protein in our diet. India is a crab loving country. We as a nation consume excess starch and fat and grossly inadequate in proteins and there are multiple reasons for this.”

Debunking the common myths around protein consumption, Samaddar said, “Firstly the common perception is that “protein is difficult to digest”, “leads to weight gain” and “protein is only for body builders”.”

So how do we make sure that we get adequate proteins in our diet? Protein is of two types – complete and incomplete, which is determined by the composition of amino acids.

Complete proteins are found in poultry, egg, milk, fish etc. Complete protein sources like chicken, turkey, duck and egg are high on quantity and quality and 100 percent digested. Eggs and poultry, besides being an excellent source of protein, are also loaded with micronutrients like vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Zinc, Iron, Selenium.

“One egg gives around 7g of protein, whereas 100g of chicken, duck or turkey is around 20-21g. So the focus should be not just on the quantity but also the quality of protein one takes.

“Eating high quality protein like egg and poultry increases metabolism, improves satiety and keeps energy levels high. Inadequate intake of protein leads to weakness and fatigue and delays wound healing and over a long period of time can precipitate into lifestyle diseases like central adiposity, diabetes and high triglyceride levels, besides malnutrition.”

Recommending a guideline on protein intake, Samaddar added, “To have adequate protein in one’s diet, include a source of protein in every meal. Start your day with a healthy breakfast and include an egg daily or milk. Meals should include some protein food like chicken or lentils. Also snack on protein rich foods like nuts, sprouts or eggs. In this pandemic too the nutrient most talked about and of utmost importance is protein.

“Protein is required to build the immunity and also fight the disease. Post recovery too, increasing intake of protein is important to rebuild muscle loss, immunity and energy levels.”

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