Nutrients for thought

Healthy diet

Nutrients for thought

Heavy workouts, hectic exercise schedules and crazy diets are an integral part of many Bengalureans’ routines now. But in a rush to get quick results, people may actually be doing themselves more harm than good.

Essential nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamins are lacking in many new-gen diets; a sedentary lifestyle may also lead to their absence. Following a healthy diet can be a tricky affair and striking the right balance to include all these nutrients is what is essentially required.

With the advent of hi-tech activity trackers and fitness mobile applications, people can keep a check on their calorie intake. Narendra K, an operations manager, punches in his daily food intake on his activity tracker application which tells him which nutrients he is running low on.

“It is not easy to track nutrients. Apart from checking for authentic information online, I also consult a nutritionist frequently so that I don’t need to resort to supplement tablets later,” he adds, observing that a balanced meal is important to deal with today’s lifestyle comprising tight deadlines and competitive work environments.

It’s not always easy to make children consume nutrition-rich food, with enticing options in the form of high-sugar or junk food available in plenty. Working around the nutrient value of food is always a Herculean task for parents. Rashmi Arun, an entrepreneur and mother of two daughters, says that she makes it a point to include minerals and essential nutrients in her preparations. “Carbohydrates are essential for energy and I always remember to include dishes like ‘paneer tikka’ or ‘spinach kebab’ to cater to the protein and iron needs,” she details.

Fruit juices (without added sugar) are a suitable addition for the mineral content and curds help cater to protein, calcium and essential fat requirements. “When my children want to have a snack, I give them almonds that are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium,” she adds.

Despite everyone wanting to become fitter by the day, they often miss out on the good nutrients. Archana Reddy, a dietician, says that people of all ages can now be seen getting patches on skin due to various deficiencies. “A balanced diet consists of proteins, carbohydrates and fat, along with fruits and vegetables which are important for essential vitamins and minerals. All these elements need to be included for the well-being of a person,” she says.

Vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables and nuts form an important part of one’s diet. “Given our lifestyle, a nutritional imbalance like a zinc deficiency can be seen these days. Zinc is a trace mineral which, though required in a minimal proportion, is important for one’s immunity. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas, dried beans and fish are great sources of zinc,” she adds.

People who opt for soup-based diets lack proper intake of Vitamin B (and others in the vitamin group). “When people cut down on carbohydrates, deficiencies occur. Vitamins are required for proper body functioning. Vitamin B12 can be easily found in cheese, eggs, spinach and soya. This is often seen as a deficiency in vegetarians and vegans,” she says.

There are many who complain of fatigue, dizziness and even headaches, which could be due to an iron deficiency. Rashes on skin, disturbed sleep and loss of taste can be attributed to a zinc level imbalance. Medical professionals observe that due to the commonly seen sedentary lifestyle, the most common deficiency among people is that of Vitamin D. Dr Chandil Gunashekar, a general physician, says, “This vitamin is essentially gained from sunlight and non-vegetarians can get it from bulky meat like liver. Even a deficiency of Vitamin B12, which plays a vital role in the production of haemoglobin, is often seen. Around 10 per cent of the women who consult me have iron deficiency. Proper intake of green leafy vegetables can easily correct the situation.”

He adds that micronutrient deficiencies like iron, copper and zinc can only be noticed through proper blood tests. “The most common symptoms are lack of interest in work and lethargy. A judicious mix of carbohydrates through cereals and rice, proteins through pulses and dairy, fat through animal products and vitamins through vegetables is a must,” says Chandil.

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