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Diet February 2019

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ANEMIA MUKT BHARAT

The community of dietitians and nutritionists have just celebrated the Dietetics Day in January, the theme for which was Anemia Mukt Bharat. Anemia mukt or anemia free Bharat is an initiative launched by the Government of India to tackle one of the most silent yet deadly health issues we as a population in India are facing. According to the National Family Health Survey 4 for the years 2015-16, the prevalence of anemia across age groups is extremely high in India – about 30% - 69%. The target of this initiative is to achieve a reduction of 3 percentage points by the year 2022 across all age groups. Though this number may seem small but when delved in depth across various age categories the target is to achieve a reduction of almost 20% in each age group.

You would be surprised at the severity of the prevalence of this disease across economic strata. One would think that the economically strong strata would have better numbers due to the easier access of healthcare and guidance available to them. But there is an equally large group of anemic individuals in the economically strong strata as well.

So, what is anemia?

In the simplest of terms it’s the reduction in the size or the number of red blood cells in the blood. Lesser number of these cells means lowered ability to carry oxygen to various parts of the body and reduced elimination of carbon dioxide from the body. This can lead to the feeling of tiredness, shortness of breath, fatigue, lethargy, and pale skin - the most common symptoms of anemia amongst several others. 

There are several kinds of anemia like iron deficiency anemia, vitamin deficiency anemia, sickle cell, ones caused due to  chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, kidney diseases, HIV/AIDS etc., due to bone marrow disease, thalassemia etc. An improper diet, chronic diseases, or genetic conditions are most often the cause behind anemia. The treatment for each kind of anemia varies according to the cause. And it would be best to get yourself diagnosed and treated by a medical professional instead of self – treatment. There are also several risk factors associated with increased chances of developing anemia such as age, genetics, nutrition, menstruation, pregnancy, infections etc.

The most common type of anemia found in our country is iron deficiency anemia. Proper and right nutrition along with maintaining good hygiene can play an important role in preventing and treating anemia.

  • Include iron rich foods in your diet from both plant and animal sources.
  • Vegetables: - green leafy vegetables like methi leaves, drumstick leaves, amaranth leaves, beetroot, spinach.
  • Millets & Pulses: ragi, bajra, chana, soy bean, lentils.
  • Fruits: dates, figs, raisins, olives, prunes, mulberry.
  • Nuts &Seeds: til or sesame, garden cress seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, cashew nuts.
  • Non vegetarian food: organ meat like liver, lean chicken, oysters.
  • Include foods rich in folate and vitamin B12 as well. For e.g. kidney beans or rajma, leafy vegetables, broccoli, eggs, citrus fruits like oranges, sweet lime etc., nuts and seeds, milk and milk products etc.
  • Adding vitamin C rich sources to your meal increases the absorption of iron in the body. E.g. amla, lemon, guava, orange, sweet lime.
  • Add a dash of lemon juice to your dal or spice up your plate with green chutney made with amla.
  • Use iron pots and pans for cooking.
  • Soaking and sprouting grains and legumes improves iron absorption.
  • Avoid drinking tea and coffee with your meals.
  • Avoid clubbing calcium rich foods like milk and milk products with iron rich foods for better absorption.

This article is my contribution as a qualified dietitian and a member of the medical health community to spread information for awareness and dissemination to the public and to help further the Anemia Mukt Bharat mission. Be aware yourself and help those around you to become conscious to the possibility of this illness which may appear to just be a bout of tiredness or fatigue attributed to exertion by you. Guide your maids, drivers and others who may be economically impoverished around you to health care centers run by the government were aggressive efforts are being made for the treatment of this endemic health issue.

We at My Powai are now taking our reader’s queries related to Diet & Nutrition, which Ms. Nisha Singh will reply to in our forthcoming issues. 

You can send your questions at: dietnutrition.queries@gmail.com

(The writer is a gold medalist in Food & Nutrition with more than 12 years experience. She manages various ailments through lifestyle and dietary modifications and specializes in weight loss & management. She practices at   102, Crystal Center, Raheja Vihar, Powai or Smile Craft, 23, Annapurna Industrial estate, Opp. CCD, Ghatkopar East. For appointments: 022 2857 6537 Email: singhnisha@gmail.com)