Like iron and calcium deficiency, protein deficiency is also common among Indians, say experts. Most Indians think that protein deficiency is not an important concern. The most common myths are that protein is only for body-builders or gym-goers, and that diet gives one enough protein and cutting down on protein is a good way to lose weight.
The latest survey by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) to ascertain the levels of protein deficiency and awareness about protein in India showed 73 per cent of urban rich is protein deficient with 93 per cent of them unaware about their daily protein requirements.
These revelations find resonance in the Inbody-IPSOS study of 2018 which illustrated that 71 per cent Indians have poor muscle health and 68 per cent have lower protein content than adequate levels.
According to the National Sample Survey Office (2011-12), rural households consumed 56.5g of protein (reduced from 60.2g in 1993-94), while urban households were taking in 55.7g (57.2g in 1993-94).
Experts say sedentary lifestyles and inadequate protein deficient diets are having a huge impact on the muscle health.
Proteins are essential at all stages of life, even after growth and development since humans constantly lose protein through normal physiological losses and it needs to be replenished.
"A sedentary lifestyle and inadequate protein diet can lead to poor muscle health which may affect productivity of adults," Nandan Joshi, Danone India's head of medical affairs, told IANS.
"The loss of muscle mass starts as early as in the 30s. We lose about 3-5 per cent muscle every decade. However, by consuming adequate protein and engaging in physical activity, we can control the muscle loss and stay active," Joshi added.
The IMRB study was conducted in seven cities with 73 per cent of people surveyed being protein deficient.
"Since protein is such an integral part of our diet, one should strive to consume an adequate amount of protein in daily diet -- one gm/kg of body weight. For example, an egg contains six gm, so either you can fulfill your requirement through diet or through supplements," Joshi said.
Good quality protein could come from meat, milk, eggs as well as legumes and pulses. The quality of protein is related to the presence of all essential amino acids as well as its digestibility.
Vegetarians can include a combination of pulses along with cereals. Besides pulses, other sources are legumes, green peas, soybean, paneer, tofu, sprouts, etc. One should also include fistful of nuts, roasted peanuts or chana along with seeds cocktail as a protein snack.
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