Plant Based Diet for Better Immunity, Elderly Health and Environment: Indian Insights
As globally shown by cohort studies, plant based diets improve health, especially of elderly population, and life span. We present the evidence that COVID-19 mortality and prevalence rates were lower in India and many less developed nations than the western countries, indicating better immunity in the former. This can be attributed to predominance of natural, home cooked, fresh and plant based diets, including spices rich in bioactive ingredients, compared to the packed foods and hoteling, more meat based diets in the later. Plant based diets can potentially reduce the intensity of the gut microbiota dysbiosis and several associated “lifestyle/ diet linked” inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and certain cancers. Plant based diets possess all micro nutrients except notably vitamin B12 as evident in India but its effects are not prominent and food supplements can provide it. Calcium, iron and zinc deficiency is not specific to vegetarian diet, especially in India. Antinutrients such as phytates in legumes reduce the absorption of micronutrients such as iron and zinc. Vegan health supplements can meet any nutrition gaps. Superfoods, millets and biofortification can be the future focus of agriculture development, being highly nutritive. Soil nutrient deficiency and climate change pose risks to diet deficiencies in future. So sustainable and precision farming is the key to nutrition. Low environmental impact, non-violence and animal rights are other principles causing recent surge in vegetarian or vegan diet globally.
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