What comes to your mind when we talk about health? We often aspire to be healthy, fit and free from illness. We strive to eat and shop healthy. Make new year resolutions to be physically active, subscribe gym memberships and take advice from anyone who is in better shape than us. Thanks to the digital lifestyle, we even try to learn from the internet on how a fad diet would solve all our health problems and last but not the least google the health benefits of the food we just ate.
Most of us would have tried at least one of the above things to keep ourselves and our families healthy. However, more often than not such attempts end in disappointment and weaken our motivation to maintain a healthier lifestyle. So, what does it take to be healthy? Or even before we get there, what exactly is health?
WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, social, mental and emotional well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity1. They recommend that the following preventable risk factors have a significant impact on health.
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco use
- Harmful use of alcohol
Among these risk factors, the latter two have been adequately addressed by the government through various public awareness campaigns. Whereas, altering unhealthy dietary habits and inactive lifestyle needs a more personalized long term approach.
There has been a major shift in our eating habits over the past few decades. Owing to the rise in disposable income, we have increased access to a wide variety of processed foods and intake of sugar-sweetened beverages. A recent survey conducted by the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB)2 states that more than 10% of the total calorie intake of the urban Indian population is from processed and ready to eat foods such as chips, biscuits, chocolates, sweets and juices. Not so surprisingly, a high prevalence of obesity (12.5%), overweight (31.4%), abdominal obesity (53.1%), hypertension (32.8%) and diabetes (25.4%) was reported among urban Indians.
Technological advances and shift to desk jobs with a minimal physical movement made us sedentary. Sedentary lifestyle poses a threat to overall health and leads to change in the body composition reflected through various biochemical parameters. The latest guidelines by NIN with recommendations based on physical activity levels are a reflection of this fact3.
Due to these risk factors urban Indians are at a growing risk of non communicable diseases. In 2015, WHO reported that in India nearly 5.8 million people die from NCDs (heart and lung diseases, stroke, cancer and diabetes) every year or in other words 1 in 4 Indians has a risk of dying from an NCD before they reach the age of seventy years4. Without any interventions the NCD burden is likely to increase at an alarming rate.
Making changes to our diet and physical activity levels without any professional help is quite challenging. There is no such thing as an average person, everyone is genetically and biologically unique. Thus, general population level nutrition recommendations may not yield significant results. We need therapies that consider the biochemical individuality of each person along with our diverse dietary habits and lifestyle. Scalable disease prevention and management strategies are necessary to serve our huge population.
Medical nutrition therapy (MNT) is one such evidence-based approach to improve diet and physical activity. It has been widely reported to be effective in prevention and management of diseases such as diabetes5, hypertension6, cardiovascular7,8, liver and kidney diseases, gastrointestinal disorders 9, and different types of cancers10. It is particularly efficacious for individuals suffering from conditions such as11-19
At Clearcals, we deliver MNT based lifestyle interventions for at-risk individuals and patients suffering from chronic conditions. Our qualified clinical dietitians design health, nutrition and activity plans keeping in view the age, gender, eating habits and lifestyle, past and present medical history. Along with these plans, timely health coaching is provided to individuals to keep them focused and motivated towards achieving their goals. It is personalized for each individual and delivered remotely using suitable digital platforms. We believe in setting achievable and realistic goals with the guidance of qualified professionals to ensure sustainable outcomes in the long run.
World Health Organisation, (2020),-Constitution of the World Health Organisation-Basic Documents, Forty-Ninth Edition,2020.
What India Eats- Report by NIN: 32-33
Nutritional Requirements of Indians-A report of the expert group, 2020:ICMR, NIN
World Health Organisation, (2015)-India: first to adapt the Global Monitoring Framework on noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)
Marion J Franz, Jackie L Boucher, Alsion B Evert Evidence-based diabetes nutrition therapy recommendations are effective: The key is individualization,Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy , Feb(2014) , 7:65-72
Marion J. Franz, Medical Nutrition Therapy for Hypertension and Albuminuria, Diabetes Spectrum, (2006), 16:1
E. Racine, J.L. Troyer, J. Warren-Findlow , W.J. Mcauley, The effect of medical Nutrition Therapy on changes in Dietary Knowledge and dash diet adherence in older adults with cardiovascular disease, Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, Nov (2015), 10:25
Medical Nutrition Therapy for Chronic Diseases, Foi Wei Chek, , Senior Dietitian, National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, Journal of Nutrition Updates, (2008)
Ruth Harvie Russell Walmsley Michael Schultz,We are what our bacteria eat”: The role of bacteria in personalizing nutrition therapy in gastrointestinal conditions, Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation, June(2016), 32:2
Paula Ravasco, Isabel Monteiro-Grillo, Maria Camilo, Individualized nutrition intervention is of major benefit to colorectal cancer patients: Long-term follow-up of a randomized controlled trial of nutritional therapy, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Nov(2012), 96:6
Alison B. Evert et al ,-Nutrition Therapy for Adults With Diabetes or Prediabetes: A Consensus Report, Diabetes Care 2019 May; 42:5; 731-754.
Diane M. Reader, Medical Nutrition Therapy and Lifestyle Interventions, Diabetes Care ,July(2007); 30:2
Rakesh Sharma, Robert Moffatt, Dyslipidemia: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Diet and Nutrition Therapy in Dyslipidemia Management, Jan(2012), 1:1, 1-40
Barry Sears, Anti inflammatory Diets, Journal of American College of Nutrition, Sep(2015); 34:1
Michael Via, The Malnutrition of Obesity: Micronutrient Deficiencies That Promote Diates, International Scholarly Research Notices, 2012
Susan F Clark, Iron Deficiency Anemia, Nutrition in Clinical Practice, April(2008), 2:2; 128-141
Tan Kar Sun, Poi Wahi Tung-Thyroid diseases and Control,Journal and Nutritional Disorders and Therapy, 2018, 8:1
Carrie C. Dennett and Judy Simon -The Role of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Reproductive and Metabolic Health: Overview and Approaches for Treatment, Diabetes Spectrum, May(2015); 28(2): 116-120.
Marion J Franz, Weight Management: Obesity to Diabetes, Diabetes Spectrum, Aug(2017), 30:3;149-153.