Have you ever wondered how nutritive is the food you eat? The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) will soon find out.
In what will be one of the country's largest studies on food nutrition, NIN is all set to start work on creating the first "Indian Food Composition" (IFC) database. The Rs 25-crore project will be completed in five years under the aegis of the Indian Council of Medical Research.
NIN director Dr B Sesikeran told TOI the database "will tell us what nutrients and bioactive substances exist and in what quantities in the food we eat".
Speaking to TOI, head of NIN's food chemistry division Dr T Longvah said the first phase of the project, expected to be completed by June 2012, will first address the 240 key food items identified, which will make up for 90% of India's rural diet.
"At the end of five years, we plan to analyse and document the nutrient values of 1,200 food items consumed in India including those by the indigenous population. This will help capture the biodiversity of food crops available in the country," Dr Longvah said.
He said, "We have already received Rs 10 crores from ICMR for the project. All the instruments required have been procured and are being installed. Around 44 additional staff have been hired and are being trained on sampling and analysis."
A special database is also being created state wise for 200 different varieties of rice and wheat.
Dr Sesikeran said that India earlier used to have a "Nutritive Value of Indian Foods" (NVIF) database. It was first published in 1937 and comprised 208 foods and 14 nutrients. This was revised in 1958 and included 299 food items with 30 nutrients. It was again revised in 1971 and comprised 664 food items with 40 nutrients. The NVIF was updated in 1989 and looked at 597 foods and 57 nutrients.
Dr Longvah said, "NVIF is the only food composition database currently available in the country but is filled with inherent problems of outdated methods of analysis or the carry over of nutrient data. Therefore, a decision was taken not to revise NVIF anymore but come up with a completely new Indian food composition database that would use the latest techniques and churn out accurate data."
Experts say IFC will help clinicians develop new meal and menu plans for patients to ensure they are meeting specific nutritional needs associated with their condition, help calculate nutrient values for food labeling purposes, ensure foods produced locally provide sufficient nutrients for survival in countries with food insecurity and help policy makers with information on foods for good health and which food should be eaten in moderation and the link between some food items and diseases.
"At the end of the study, database on glycemic index/glycemic load of major food crops will be made available in combating diabetes in India. Interest in food components is expanding rapidly, as are the varieties of foods that are available and consumed. The study will be carried out in four phases," Dr Longvah added.
Source: Times Of India
Date:15th Feb 2011
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