The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a halt, urging Governments to strengthen public health systems. However, the far deadlier “silent epidemic” of malnutrition remains overlooked. While on the one hand, 196 million Indians are undernourished, 135 million are overweight/obese putting them at risk for non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Further, the number of cases of foodborne illnesses is expected to rise from 100 million to 150 – 177 million in 2030 compared to 2011. This will directly impact the ability to absorb nutrients, fight infection, rendering millions vulnerable to a host of diseases.
In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to supercharge your immune system and to be proactive about your health too. Whilst eating a healthy balanced diet, working out, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep remain critical, adding tree nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts to your diet have been trending immensely and definitely the need of the hours these days. India has always been stressed with food-borne diseases, coupled with malnutrition and high level of micronutrient deficiency, and now with this pandemic, the benefit of access to safe food, healthy and sustainable diet has never been so indispensable. In light of this, FSSAI under the aegis of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has launched the ‘Eat Right India’ movement outlining a handbook and eatrightindia.gov.in website to create awareness among the people about safe, healthy, and sustainable dietary habits, with a specific focus on plant-based vitamins and nutrients in nuts and seeds. The role of FSSAI is critical in the light of this nutrition reality in India. This movement is the collective effort of all key players in the food ecosystem and is aligned with the government's focus on public health through programmes like Ayushman Bharat Yojana, POSHAN Abhiyaan, Anemia Mukt Bharat and Swachh Bharat Mission. In the wake of the current pandemic, the provision of safe and healthy food has gained greater prominence.
Recently, an e-guidebook on “Eating Right During COVID-19” was released to inform consumers on the additional health and safety precautions to follow for food. With time, this 360-degree approach is expected to usher in a culture of eating right across the country.
Besides many other global health authorities encouraging people to eat healthy, Shri Arun Singhal, CEO FSSAI, categorically quoted – “The ‘Eat Right India’ movement initiated by FSSAI has gone a long way in creating awareness amongst the people about eating safe, healthy and sustainably. The program has been designed in a manner that it can be adopted at every level combining various methods for people engagement such as Swasth Bharat Yatra: A Pan-India Cyclothon; Eat Right Melas in various parts of the country and utilizing other online mediums etc. Today, we see the clusters of street vendors across the country, campuses certified as Eat Right Campuses and food service establishments such as restaurants, catering establishments, sweet and meat shops rated under the Hygiene Rating scheme. All these efforts are leading to creation of a new ecosystem where people are taking charge of their own health wherever they go. This is also generating economic opportunities in the food ecosystem through increased demand for trained food testing and regulatory personnel, training, auditing, implementation and development partners, petty food vendors and small businesses and creating a thriving circular economy in line with the vision of “Atmanirbhar Bharat”. Eat Right India is ultimately a people’s movement. Therefore, it puts an onus on everyone to transform the way India eats and usher in a culture of right eating.”
This is a known fact that nuts can be an excellent substitute of India’s conventional dietary patterns as they are nutritional powerhouse laced with Vitamin A, B, C, and E, fiber and proteins. A lot of us are staying indoors and are also doing a lot of unhealthy snacking to, one portion of which can be replaced with a handful of raw or dry roasted nuts. Combining nuts like almonds in breakfast, dinners, snacks, and treats for its tremendous health benefits namely, but not limited to reducing cholesterol, improving brain health, lowering risks of diabetes, staying fit and slim, maintaining vital blood pressure, among others.
Some delicious ideas for going nuts all day long –
- Push a nut into a fresh date for a sweet and crunchy late-night snack
- Roast or lightly toast a mix of nuts for a crunchy snack.
- Puree a handful of nuts into your favourite soup to thicken it, in place of cream or rice.
- Toss nuts through salads or stir-fries for added texture and nutrients.
- Blend together a cup of milk, a handful of nuts, and some fruit for a protein-rich smoothie.
Mr. Amit Lohani Founder Director Forum of Indian Food Importers was quoted saying, “It’s a high time to galvanize forces and reconsider our eating habits supporting FSSAI’s Eat Right movement, not only to combat this virus but for a sustainable diet consumption forever.” He also noted that “The new landscape which has been created because of the current situation can be construed as an opportunity to promote healthy safe and wholesome eating ensuring our countries population health profile. Also, steer away from the so-called immunity boosting fads but, consume the traditional foods, which even have mention in our Vedic texts.”