In any country, youth is the most crucial and dynamic segment of the population. It is a fact that when the youth flourish, their communities flourish simultaneously. However, today’s youth are getting increasingly restless, and a recently conducted survey at of the universities report that 54 percent of students skip breakfast due to a variety of reasons, including school pressure, which subsequently results in Obesity, early onset of heart disease, pre-diabetes, anaemia and PCOS in young women.
The foundation of good health is proper nutrition. Dietary habits acquired as a child or adolescent may contribute to nutrition-related issues with long-term health repercussions.
Ultra-high processed foods like chips, wafers, chocolates, cakes, pastries, snacks are sad and unfortunate choices of today’s millennials. We are in an era of mindless snacking instead of traditional meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner are rising in popularity in the today’s youths.
Image from Unsplash
Our teenagers and young adults are growing more sedentary with almost no physical activity and playtime. Many studies have shown that food preferences among youth is for takeaway and fast foods. There are some reasons behind it, such as back-to-back classes and short duration of breaks. Increased social media influence, easy availability of fast foods via food ordering apps also influence their choices.
The majority of fast food contains high amounts of refined carbohydrates such as pasta, noodles, bakery items, etc. It produces a rich amount of calories and increases the sugar level in blood. This can have a notable bad effect on youth in the long term. The low fibre content can also cause accumulation of food particles in the gut wall, risking the formation of ulcers, followed by cancer. High sodium content can cause water retention and can be the cause of feeling bloated and puffy. Too much sodium also enlarges the muscles of the heart and increases the risk of heart disease. A fast-food diet is also high in trans fats which raises the amount of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol and lowers the amount of high-density lipoprotein, or “good,” cholesterol. Hence problems such as heart disease, digestive system disorders, lowered CNS activities, respiratory disorders, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, hampered the formation of bones, and developing skin. Heart attacks and strokes have become increasingly common in young adults in India.
The body requires a combination of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids) and micro-nutrients to operate normally and preserve health.
Carbohydrates (simple and complex), proteins, and lipids are also the main sources of energy. Eating appropriately as a young person can also bring good health in older years.
Indian statistics reflect poorly indicating 40% of girls and 18% of boys in India are affected by anaemia. Anaemia harms growth, infection resistance, cognitive development, and work productivity. Simple solutions like Increasing Iron, from Natural foods like unpolished pulses like Rajma, Urad, Sabut Malka, Chole, whole grains, Flaxseeds, Green Leafy Vegetables, Meats are the most efficient ways to increase Iron. It is important to note iron is best absorbed with citrus fruits Vitamin C foods like Amla, Guava, Lime, Tomato, capsicum and Sprouted pulses.
Fast foods and other street foods can be prepared at home by using whole grains. Meals like whole wheat pasta, whole wheat pitta, Whole wheat Frankies, multigrain wraps, Pulse based Chila wraps, Pulsed flour-based cakes and muffins etc can be made yummy yet very healthy. They are generally classified into fruits, vegetables, Unpolished legumes and Pulses, whole grains atta with (brans) chokar, nuts, and seeds.
Foods of plant origin are generally rich sources of calcium, antioxidants, and important minerals.
“Eat your Rainbow” is the simple diet Mantra-which is bound to give a wide variety of nutrients rather than giving the same nutrients all the time.
The peak bone mass of Calcium is till the age of 30 years. The youth can bulk up on calcium sources from Pulses, Nuts, seeds, Diary, and lean meats to create healthy bone insurance for rest of the life. It may be noted that post 30 years there is a steady decline in Calcium in bones and if calcium is not adequate in the diet it may lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis with ageing.
For instance, go for soya Tikki, Besan veggie wrap, Moong dal chat, crispy Indian chickpea bhel. Seeds like flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds improve Chromium, magnesium, zinc and Iron, which builds immunity in youth.
Natural unsalted nuts like Almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistas are great replacements for a high-calorie snacks, which can be consumed over short breaks or even on-the-go. These nuts are abundant in good quality fats and rich in plant-based ALA omega 3 fats.
Both Nuts and seeds can be consumed in combination with dried fruits like dates, Black Manuka or added to interesting recipes like homemade granola bars, protein bars and traditional ladoos, chikkis and Mithais and can be used as pre or post-exercise or sports.
So let’s Junk the Junk food. Eat Mindfully to make a Fit India and a Fabulous You.