Fortified Rice to End Malnutrition

Even after 75 years of independence, malnutrition is still a major problem for the majority of the population of India. And the main reason for malnutrition is poverty. A large chunk of the Indian population is poor and cannot afford vitamin and mineral-rich food or supplements. Despite the availability of cheap iron-rich food sources, India has one of the largest populations reeling under iron deficiency. The Indian Government now wants to start a new scheme of fortifying rice with iron to lower the iron deficiency by some margin.

Fortified rice has been used to curb malnutrition in some countries of west Africa. Fortification of rice also has shown positive trends in reduction of anemia and other mineral-deficiency diseases. However, nowhere fortification of rice has been made mandatory. India hopes not only to start producing large-scale fortified rice but also to mandate it in the next 2 years. Iron, zinc, vitamin A, B vitamins are expected to be added to rice on fortification. Previously fortification has been allowed but not mandated in salt, wheat, edible oil, and milk.

However, fortified rice does not remain the ultimate solution to solve the malnutrition problem. Brown rice or hand-pounded rice is itself a rich source of iron, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B complex. There is no need to fortify regular rice, which is available cheaply in the markets. Fortification would most likely be a marketing strategy for marketing giants and will likely shoot up the price. Unfortunately, most premium rice varieties available in the Indian markets are white rice, mostly devoid of nutrition. It is not a bad idea to add a few vitamins and minerals to white rice. That being said, there is little evidence that artificially added vitamins and minerals are actually absorbed in our bloodstream and do not interfere with essential nutrients. Other home practices, such as hand pounding, cold pressing, and jaggery-making, can promote home industry and thus reduce poverty and hence malnutrition in our country.

It is always the best practice to process food so that most of its essential nutrients are retained in the food. For example, edible oil cold-pressed in a ghani, with traces of vitamins and minerals, works way better than refined oils, fortified with vitamins A, D, C, and what-not. Making jaggery is still practiced and honoured in rural India not just for taste and flavour, but for its immense health benefits. Jaggery contains a high amount of iron and other minerals, and thus is an excellent substitute for refined sugar. Substituting maida with atta brings a lot of micro and macro-nutrients to our diet. Exploring less used grains, like barley, jowar, bajra, ragi, cornmeal, and oils like sesame oil, mustard oil, groundnut oil can add to a variety of flavours and health at the same time, which the world cuisine is looking for.

Written by – Himadri Paul

The Power of Yoga

Yoga is an ancient practice of exercise and meditation, followed in India and her neighboring states. Since 2015, 21st June has been celebrated every year as the International Yoga Day to attract people into yoga, which has extensive health benefits. Each pose has its own advantages and also requires daily practice. The beginners should try easy postures and moves, and only after mastering them should they move to more advanced forms of yoga.

For the limitation of this article, we have listed down the following health benefits of yoga, along with three examples in each category.

1)Yoga for Mind Relaxation :

Relaxing the mind and increasing one’s mental concentration is a challenge nowadays due to the fast-paced life. Along with physical exercises, yoga also targets mental wellness and refreshment of our mind. Yoga is a quick and effective way to remove mental stress, fear, anxiousness, and distractions and focus well on the current job. While Savasana or lying back on the floor with mind rested can be chosen as one of the best ways of relaxation, some good forms of yoga in this category are Balasana (child pose) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose).

Balasana (child pose)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose)

2)Yoga for Meditation :

Meditation could have fallen under the previous category, but meditation not only relieves the mind but also promotes breathing and maintains posture. Yoga gives the importance of breathing well while in a sitting position, which may not always be relaxing. Pranayama is a good breathing exercise where air through each nostril is regulated. However, two good meditation postures are Padmasana (lotus pose) and Vajrasana (diamond pose).

Padmasana (lotus pose)
Vajrasana (diamond pose)

3)Yoga for Blood Circulation :

This is another parameter where yoga gives a lot of importance. It helps you from fatigue, dizziness, and sudden fall of blood pressure. Blood circulation can be improved by simply standing with arms stretched upwards, called mountain pose or Tadasana. However, some better poses are Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog pose) and Trikonasana (triangle pose).

Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward dog pose)
Trikonasana (triangle pose)

4)Yoga for Body Balance :

We may think how our body balance is helpful, but this is one of the most vital parameters that make us walk, prevent us from falling, and achieve a quick reaction time. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, which is raising one leg sideways and holding the toe with one hand, is a good example in this regard. Postures that primarily focus on body balance are Vrikshasana (tree pose) and Garudasana (eagle pose).

Vrikshasana (tree pose)
Garudasana (eagle pose)

5)Yoga for Core Strength :

Yoga believes in being more robust from the inside, not just showing muscles on the outside. That is why we have many core exercises that form a part of yoga. Surya Namaskar is one of the best routines to be followed that has a number of advantages including engaging the core. Individual core engaging yoga exercises are Phalakasana (plank pose) and Utkatasana (chair pose).

Phalakasana (plank pose)
Utkatasana (chair pose)

6)Yoga for Flexibility :

Increasing flexibility has many health benefits like less muscle tension, greater range of motion, a lower risk of injuries, and better posture. Yoga is one of the safest and most effective ways of getting flexible. However, yoga stresses that our body takes time to learn, and we must not hurt ourselves while performing yoga. Parsvottanasana, a simple forward bending exercise, may be an excellent choice, to begin with. Two good asanas for improving flexibility are Anjaneyasana (low lunge) and Dhanurasana (bow pose).

Anjaneyasana (low lunge)
Dhanurasana (bow pose)

7)Yoga for Back Stability :

It is always said that prevention is better than cure. These categories of exercises may help you not only to get rid of back pain but may also prevent back pain from coming back. Chakravakasana or cat-cow stretch may be a simple option to try at first, while Matsyendrasana (seated twist) or Salabhasana (locust pose) are advanced choices to stabilize the back, correct posture, and remove back pains, if any.

Matsyendrasana (seated twist)
Salabhasana (locust pose)

So which one of these is your favorite form of exercise or yoga. Did yoga change your lifestyle in some way? You may share your experience in the comment section below.

You can use our yoga mats for doing yoga. Click the link to visit our page – https://yirkart.com/category/fitness-products

Written by – Himadri Paul

RISING TREND OF AQUA FITNESS

The fitness world sees a constant stream of innovative new disciplines that promise to combine physical exercise with fun. Some immediately fade into obscurity or become only short-lived fads, while others gain more attraction and become permanent. A few old aqua fitness favourites are still going strong, like water aerobics and aqua spinning, but there are some more recent trends worth looking into as well.

 Aqua yoga– imagine burning all those calories along with all the benefits of those yoga moves without shedding a drop of sweat. Like its terrestrial counterpart, aqua yoga is excellent for building strength, flexibility and body awareness. With its specific focus on relaxation and concentration, aqua yoga wouldn’t generally be categorized as particularly fun, per se, but it can be deeply satisfying.

 Aqua Pilates-Like aqua yoga, aqua Pilates is a mindful movement discipline that provides primarily strength and flexibility benefits rather than calorie burning. Aqua Pilates has a stronger focus on the body’s core muscles.

Aqua Zumba-If you love dancing, Aqua Zumba could be for you. Fun music and a good instructor can almost make you forget that you’re in an exercise class—but you’ll still burn 500 to 600 calories per session. There are, of course, a dozen more exercises you can carry out for burning those extra pounds. Yet again, this wonderful liquid doesn’t fail to impress us with the so many versatile ways to use it. This hydro-regime sure has a long way to go as it is the perfect balance of fun and fitness.

Written by – Radhika Ahuja

Is Tea Indigenous to India?

There are not many Indians who do not like tea. Tea is the most common beverage in India. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Gujarat to Assam, tea is widely available and heavily consumed. Most households can not even function properly without one or two cups of brewed tea a day. This is why India is the world’s largest tea-drinking nation. This International Tea Day, let us look back at whether this was the case some 500 years back.

Researchers still debate whether tea originated within the present borders of India. However, tea was neither consumed widely nor was it drunk like how we are drinking it today. The earliest reference to tea drinking comes from the Dutch controlled Surat in Gujarat. Tea was consumed by indigenous Indians living in Surat as a medicine for its strong medicinal values. In those days, tea was expensive as it was imported from China. Hence small quantities of tea were consumed only on feeling unwell or having health issues. Back then, tea was only brewed in water, with no added sweetener or milk. However, lemon juice and some spices were added to it for additional health benefits.

Spiced tea with lemon and spices

The British started the first plantations in Darjeeling with Chinese tea saplings. Though the first attempt was a failure, more attempts proved successful and commercially viable. Thus was produced the world-famous Darjeeling tea, which has great flavour and taste. More plantations were made in south India in the hill-towns of Ooty, Munnar, and Sri Lanka. However, these were Chinese varieties, and such tea can not be said indigenous to India.

In the early 1820s, when the British were looking for an alternative to the Chinese monopoly of the tea trade, they found that tea was grown and consumed by Assam tribes. After a detailed study, it was concluded that the Assam tea was of a different variety and that local people consumed it as medicine. Geographically, Assam is located near Yunnan plateau in China, where tea was believed to have originated. Hence, some also thought that the Assam variety of tea was a variation of tea that originated from the Yunnan region of China. As per consumption, various tribes, most notably the Singpho tribe, used to consume tea since time unknown. However, the production and consumption technique was different from modern tea, which the Europeans disliked. Assam tea, being indigenous to Assam, thrived well throughout Assam and parts of north Bengal, and this is today the most prominent tea producing region in India.

Tree Plantation in Assam

Kashmir has another story of tea consumption. Though tea did not originate in Kashmir, its proximity to China and lying in the old silk route between Iran (Persia) and China made it a vital tea trade centre. Kahwa chai, or Kashmiri green tea, has been widely consumed in Kashmir, Pakistan and Central Asia since the Kushan empire in the 1st and 2nd century AD. The word kahwa means sweetened. Kahwa tea involved the addition of a sweetener, either sugar or honey. Spices like saffron, cardamom and cinnamon and sometimes nuts like walnut, almond were added to it. The Mughal empire later patronized it in the 16th century. So tea consumption in India is very old, at least in some parts, goes back way before the British popularized it in the rest of the country.

Kashmiri Kahwa Green Tea

Ladakh, Lahaul and Spiti, parts of Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh consumed tea much before the British arrived in India. Here, tea was consumed with yak butter, yak milk and salt, and is today called butter tea. Yak butter tea provided the much-needed warmth and energy that is required in such a cold climate. Today, however, yak butter is often substituted with butter made from cow’s milk due to its availability and low price. Consumption of butter tea started in the 7th century in Tibet and was popularized in the 13th century indicating how old the tradition of drinking butter tea is.

Ladakhi Yak Butter Tea

Lastly comes modern tea, which is popularized across every part of the country by the British. However, the Indians were reluctant to drink a product that was foreign to them. The railways played a crucial role in spreading tea consumption. Tea brewed in water, with milk and sugar added to it, was introduced in the railway stations. The locals took up the initiative as being cheap. It attracted the middle-class Indians and thus became an excellent revenue-earner. Tea became a staple of the Indian diet as it became a typical drink to have in long-distance railway journeys. Even today, lemon tea and milk tea available on the train and the stations are most travellers’ choice of beverage during journeys.

Tea Vendor also called Chaiwala in north India

There is a wide variety of “chai” consumed in India. Some of the most notable types are – 1)masala chai, where powdered spices were added to the tea to increase its flavour, 2)lemon tea, where lemon juice is added to liquor tea, 3)jasmine tea, where jasmine flowers are boiled with green tea, 4)milk tea, where the base liquid is fully or partially milk. Based on the amount of processing, tea can be 1)white tea, 2)green tea, and 3)black tea, in increasing order of processing. White tea is the healthiest of all, obtained from leaves of young saplings; green tea is a bit more processed though retaining most of the healthy ingredients; black tea undergoes many processes that make it lose most of its antioxidants. The most popular version in India is black tea for its strong flavour and rich caffeine content and also for being publicised widely by the British. Though newer versions are increasingly made available in cafes and restaurants, a street chaiwala is still preferred by most common Indians. At homes, despite the promotions of the health benefits of green tea, black tea with the home-customized version is the favourite among most Indians.

Masala Chai

Which tea do you prefer at home? Will you opt for a cafe or a chaiwala to drink tea outside? Do mention your preferences in the comment section below.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Covid-19, Lockdown and Diet

Covid-19 is a new disease in India that seems to have no medicine as of now. Though researches are going on at full speed, there is still not enough conclusive evidence to suggest that a particular drug or a natural supplement is effective for Covid-19 treatment and safe for human use. However, doctors and researchers agree that certain types of food are good for boosting immunity in the body while some are harmful. So let us find out some crucial points that may help us choose what food to eat during the lockdown period or if you are affected by asymptotic or mild Covid-19.

1)Add Immunity Boosters :

Immunity comes from within our body. But immunity in every individual is not the same for a particular disease. That is why we see some people mildly affected by Covid-19 while others are seriously affected. It is thus very essential to boost up immunity in our body in the lockdown period. With Covid-19, there are numerous food items labelled with immunity boosters. But the real immunity boosters are available in our homes. Turmeric, garlic, ginger, cumin, cloves, mustard, cardamom and cinnamon are excellent immunity boosters. Most Indian food we prepare at home contain these spices. You can make turmeric milk at home with cardamom, ginger tea with cinnamon, fragrant jeera rice with cloves, garlic, cumin and mustard. These foods make sure you are consuming a sufficient amount of immunity boosters every day.

2)Include Whole Grains :

Refined grains only contain empty calories that are not so useful in fighting disease. Unrefined/whole grains contain essential vitamins and minerals that are essential in this hour. Instead of maida or refined flour, it is best to consume whole wheat flour or atta. Brown or hand-pounded rice are the better options than white rice. Cornmeal or makai is again a better substitute for cornstarch. Millets like jowar, bajra, and ragi, widely available in western India, are also very good for health, protect us from diseases, and provide energy requirements to the body.

3)Get Natural Sources of Vitamins and Minerals :

Vitamin C, vitamin D, antioxidants, and some minerals help reduce severity of Covid-19 symptoms. So doctors usually recommend having a dose of multivitamin and mineral pills so that there is no deficiency of vitamins and minerals in the body. However, a better and a natural way of enriching vitamins and minerals in our body is eating their natural sources. Natural sources tend to absorb better within the body and are free from any side effects. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A. Amlaki is the richest natural source of vitamin C, as rich as any vitamin pills. Eggs, oily fish, and mushrooms are very rich in vitamin D. Minerals like iron are available in most lentils and legumes containing vitamin B9, magnesium and potassium. Leafy vegetables like spinach are excellent sources of vitamin K. The richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids is flaxseeds and oily fish. Antioxidants are present in almost every local fruit and vegetable. Berries, apple, banana, garlic, broccoli, dark chocolate are filled with antioxidants that protect your body cells from free radical attacks.

4)Green tea and herbal tea : 

It is believed that green tea has curative properties of many diseases, including Covid-19. Though there is not enough evidence, drinking green tea regularly is a good option for boosting immunity. Similarly effective as green tea is tulsi tea which is holy basil boiled in water. Hibiscus tea in limited quantities is good for health. Note that you should have these only if your doctor allows you as they may interfere with allopathy treatment if you are undergoing any.

5)Sweetener and salt :

In the lockdown period, you should try to cut down sugar intake as much as possible. It is best if you avoid sugar entirely. Instead, use honey for sweetening. Honey is believed to have medicinal properties other than just sweetening the food. Jaggery or unrefined sugar are also good options. However, if you have greater than regular blood sugar or diabetes, then you should avoid all of these. Instead, have stevia, which is very sweet but negligible in calories. It would help if you cut down the salt intake and that your blood pressure does not increase substantially.

6)Portion size :

It is known that Covid-19 affects obese and overweight people more. Lockdown is the ideal time to shed off extra fat from your body. So your portion size should be small, as small as you can, without feeling hungry. However, on the other hand, if you are affected by Covid-19, then you need more energy to fight off the virus, hence need a substantial amount of food. Thus, there is a need to choose the right food that will not make you fat and provide you with energy. Eat more proteins as they will repair the damaged cells. Eat less refined carbs or refined oils. Give up on junk food. Do not overeat. Just eat enough that seem to satisfy your hunger. Take small portions of food but eat frequently. Your meals should have a variety of food sources. Increase the intake of fruits and salad. Refrain from consuming alcohol or smoking.

7)Dietary Supplements :

It is not necessary to have dietary supplements unless your doctor says so. A healthy diet is enough to meet the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals. However, an increasing number of people are deficient in some nutrients or others. Hence, people above 40 years of age and others suffering from nutrition deficiency should take supplements on the nutrients they lack. It is also an excellent option to consult dieticians and eat the right choice and quantity of food at the right time.

8)The Bottomline :

Incorporate local and seasonal fruits into your diet. Have less quantity of refined carbs and unhealthy fats. Maintain portions and do not overeat. Reduce sugar and salt intake, increase spices like turmeric, cloves, garlic. Make a habit of munching on nuts, drinking herbal or green tea with honey when hungry. The more you eat healthily, stay healthy, and think positive, the fewer chance Covid-19 can infect you severely.

The above information is taken from official sites of the internet. For a daily routine diet chart, follow WHO’s prescribed diet, http://www.emro.who.int/nutrition/news/nutrition-advice-for-adults-during-the-covid-19-outbreak.html. For more tips regarding what to eat during the lockdown, you can refer here, https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/publications-and-technical-guidance/food-and-nutrition-tips-during-self-quarantine. However, if you are following a particular diet, or is under treatment, then it is better to consult your dietician or doctor before implementing any changes.

Written by – Himadri Paul