ICMR Dietary Guidelines: 17 Arogya Sutras for Better Health

ICMR has released a fresh set of dietary guidelines for Indians for 2024, packed with valuable insights to empower you on your health journey.
ICMR Dietary Guidelines: 17 Arogya Sutras for Better Health

In response to the rising health issues related to poor dietary habits in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) unveiled a comprehensive set of dietary recommendations in the second week of May, 2024. These guidelines are designed to address the alarming statistic that 56.4% of India’s disease burden is due to unhealthy eating practices.

ICMR has released a fresh set of dietary guidelines for Indians for 2024, packed with valuable insights to empower you on your health journey. The council has long been at the forefront of improving public health in India, and these updated ICMR dietary guidelines for 2024 focus on promoting a balanced and sustainable approach to eating that is tailored to the specific needs of the Indian population.

With a growing concern about non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart disease, the ICMR emphasises the importance of a wholesome diet. One key message stands out - avoid protein supplements. Instead, the guidelines advocate for obtaining protein from a variety of natural food sources like pulses, legumes, and lean meats.

Five Food Groups to be Included:

  • Cereals, grains and sugar

  • Pulses and legumes

  • Milk and meat products

  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Fats and Sugar 

Dietary Intake Requirements & Recommendations:

Dietary intake requirements refer to the specific amounts of essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and other substances that individuals need to consume daily to maintain optimal health and function. These requirements vary based on factors such as age, gender, activity level, and health status.

Main Dietary Guidelines for Happy Living:

  • Avoid excess sugar

  • Avoid too much salt or sodium intake

  • Maintain ideal body weight

  • Avoid too much fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol

  • Eat a variety of foods rich in vitamins, minerals, starch and fibre

Key Recommendations for Healthy Food:

The 148-page report produced by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), which is a part of ICMR, categorically emphasizes the reduction in intake of sugars, salts, and unhealthy fats.

  • Balanced Diet: Consume a nutritionally adequate diet by choosing foods wisely from a variety of food groups to ensure balanced nutrition.

  • Pregnancy and Lactation: Pregnant and lactating women require additional nutritious food and care to support the health of both mother and child.

  • Breastfeeding: Exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months, then continue breastfeeding along with complementary foods until two years of age or beyond.

  • Complementary Feeding: Introduce homemade, semi-solid complementary foods to infants after six months of age. These foods are economical, easy to prepare, safe, and healthy.

  • Child and Adolescent Nutrition: Ensure children above two years and adolescents consume balanced diets to support optimal growth, development, and immune function, both in health and illness.

  • Vegetables and Legumes: Eat plenty of vegetables, especially green leafy varieties, to obtain essential vitamins, minerals, and protect against micronutrient deficiencies and various diseases.

  • Healthy Fats: Use oils and fats in moderation. Choose a variety of oil seeds, nuts, and whole grains to meet daily requirements of fats and essential fatty acids. Limit use of refined or extracted oils.

  • Protein Quality: Obtain high-quality proteins and essential amino acids from a variety of sources. Avoid protein supplements for building muscle mass.

  • Obesity Prevention: Adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent abdominal obesity, overweight, and overall obesity, as excess fat is associated with increased risk of lifestyle diseases.

  • Physical Activity: Be physically active and exercise regularly to maintain physical and mental fitness and promote good health.

  • Salt Intake: Restrict salt (sodium chloride) intake, as excessive consumption may lead to hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.

  • Food Safety: Consume safe and clean foods to avoid food-borne illnesses, chronic diseases, and malnutrition.

  • Cooking Methods: Use appropriate pre-cooking and cooking methods to ensure healthy food preparation.

  • Hydration of body: Drink plenty of water to maintain good health and hydration.

  • Ultra-Processed Foods: Minimize consumption of ultra-processed foods high in fat, sugar, and salt, as regular intake increases the risk of non-communicable diseases.

  • Elderly Nutrition: Include nutrient-rich foods in the diets of elderly individuals, along with adequate physical activity, to support health and wellness.

  • Food Labels: Read food labels on packaged products to assess nutritional quality, safety, and make informed choices about ingredients, contents, and shelf life.

Physical Activity and Lifestyle Changes:

One of the pivotal areas of the new guidelines is the encouragement of physical activity alongside dietary control to combat non-communicable diseases like coronary heart disease, hypertension, and type 2-diabetes. Regular exercise in conjunction with a balanced diet is highlighted as a preventive tool to avert a significant number of premature deaths.

Safety and Quality First, Delicious Next:

ICMR guidelines further address the importance of food safety, opting for minimally processed foods, and understanding food labels. These additions aim to gear the Indian population towards making informed food choices that are beneficial in the long term.

Role of Protein in the Nutritious Diet:

Protein is a vital nutrient that plays multiple roles in supporting overall health and well-being. ICMR's 2024 dietary guidelines for Indians emphasise the importance of including adequate and nutritious protein sources in the Indian diet. By following these recommendations, people can follow a healthy diet and live a healthier, more productive life. So, let us accept ICMR's dietary guidelines and encourage ourselves to make informed choices when consuming protein- and nutrient-rich foods.

How the ICMR Find the Practical Solutions?:

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi, the apex body in India for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research, is one of the oldest medical research bodies in the world. The ICMR has always attempted to address itself to the growing demands of scientific advances in biomedical research on the one hand, and to the need of finding practical solutions to the health problems of the country, on the other. The Council has come a long way from the days when it was known as the IRFA, but the Council is conscious of the fact that it still has miles to go in pursuit of scientific achievements as well as health targets.