ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi

Recently, the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in Hyderabad released the much-anticipated Indian Dietary Guidelines 2024 that are aimed at the general population and provide practical advice for nutrition professionals however, they are not intended for individuals with existing medical conditions or those hospitalised. The guidelines highlight the critical issue of unhealthy dietary habits contributing to a 56.4% disease burden in India, according to the publication’s data.

Dietary guidelines that promote balanced diet: 8 key recommendations for healthy eating (Photo by on Pexels)

The document emphasises the need to promote healthy eating patterns and prevent chronic diseases associated with diet and this includes addressing the rise in highly processed foods, excessive sugar and unhealthy fat intake, coupled with declining physical activity. Additionally, limited access to diverse food groups and micronutrient deficiencies further exacerbate the problem, creating a situation with both overweight/obesity and undernutrition concerns.

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Key Recommendations for Healthy Eating:

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Edwina Raj, Head of Services – Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics at Aster CMI Hospital in Bangalore, highlighted –

  • Sugar Reduction: The guidelines advise limiting daily sugar intake to 20-25 grams for a healthy individual. Additionally, they discourage the consumption of High-Fat Sugar and Saturated fat (HFSS) products in daily diets.
  • Healthy Fats: While moderation of cooking oils is recommended due to their processing, the guidelines encourage increasing healthy fats from nuts and fish.
  • Safe and Sustainable Cooking Methods:
    • Earthen cookware is promoted for its safety, eco-friendly nature, ability to use less oil, and preserve nutrients.
    • Granite cookware is considered safe unless it has a Teflon coating.
    • Non-stick pans with Teflon coating pose a risk if heated above 170°C and should be discarded if the coating is worn or damaged.
  • Millets for Gut Health: The guidelines recommend incorporating 30-40% millets into daily cereal intake due to their rich fiber content and essential nutrients that benefit gut health.
  • Informed Food Choices: The guidelines provide information on food safety and labeling to empower consumers to make healthy choices when purchasing packaged food items.
  • ‘My Plate for the Day’: The concept of “My Plate for the Day” is re-emphasized to raise awareness about including ten different food groups in the diet.
  • Microgreens for Added Nutrition: The guidelines recommend incorporating microgreens into daily meals.
  • Responsible Protein Supplementation: A cautionary note discourages the routine use of protein supplements by healthy individuals and athletes. Prolonged high intake of such supplements can increase health risks, including kidney damage, due to potential additives and artificial ingredients.

Alcohol Consumption:

  • The guidelines caution against exceeding a weekly alcohol consumption of 2 measures (each containing 30 ml of ethyl alcohol). However, they acknowledge the lack of specific recommendations or safe limits for Indian males and females based on current clinical evidence.

The report emphasises that these guidelines are intended for general awareness and to prevent lifestyle diseases in the general population. They also serve as a basic reference for nutrition practitioners however, consulting a qualified dietitian for personalised guidance is crucial, especially for individuals with existing medical conditions or those hospitalised.