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Bringing into sharp nation-wide focus the indispensable role nutrition plays in the development of not just a child, but communities and the nation at large, September 2020 has been announced as POSHAN Maah, or National Nutrition Month, as a key milestone for ‘Kuposhan-mukt Bharat’ (Malnutrition-free India), across the life cycle. A strong Panchayat-level focus forms a major highlight of this month, tracing the under-nutrition problem to India’s hinterland for a grassroots-up resolution, say experts.
Under the POSHAN Maah 2020, focus areas are early identification, tracking and management of children suffering Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), and plantation drives for promotion of POSHAN-Vatika or nutri-gardens.
Children with SAM are at higher risk of mortality if they develop illnesses like diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria etc. Due to Covid-19, closure of Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) had an acute impact on growth monitoring and promotion activities. The identification of probable children suffering from SAM will entail house-to-house visits by Anganwadi workers, making mothers informed and aware and via other platforms like Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Day (VHSND), health facilities and hospitals, and Poshan application.
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Organising four POSHAN Panchayats with discussion on malnutrition situation within the Panchayat – i.e. status update on detection of SAM children, measures taken for their referral and management, provision of nutrition to them, and required physical, infrastructural and social support for mothers and acknowledgment or appreciation of frontline workers – Triple A’s – Anganwadi Worker (AWW), Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA), Auxillary Nurse Midwife (ANM) — is one of the key component of the POSHAN Maah.
A unique POSHAN-Vatika initiative includes creating a micro-nutri environment in every village. The space available at AWCs, panchayat area, and vacant lands of village will be used in the cultivation of vegetables, fruits, and important herbs.
According to Rachna Sujay, Senior Technical Advisor, Alive & Thrive, “to improve the health and nutrition status of a gram panchayat, the sarpanch or mukhiya and the PRI members, are the first responders to a large grassroots population.”
She says that adoption of four steps can improve the situation of the gram panchayat and make them ‘suposhit’ (well-nourished). The first is to review the health and nutrition services being provided by all departments especially to pregnant women and infants & young children and provide necessary support and corrective action. The second is community awareness campaign by panchayat leaders on right messages on health and nutrition practices. Third, on-site visits to community based service delivery points by the leader of the Panchayat to ensure everything is in place, and to boost community’s faith into these services. The fourth is how to prioritize, plan and budget health and nutrition activities in the annual Gram Panchayat Development Plans.
Want to read more in hindi? Check out: विज्ञापनों पर पानी की तरह पैसे बहा रही केजरीवाल सरकार, कपिल मिश्रा ने लगाया आरोप
Surabhi Jain, chief nutritionist and lactation consultant, Nutriwell India, places breast milk as a boon for infants which protect them from infections and other diseases. Mother’s optimum nutrition status and exclusive breastfeeding for initial six months followed by nutritious complementary feeding helps in decreasing infant mortality and ensuring the infant’s optimal growth and development. Educated and aware mothers and elderly women of the family can play pivotal role in a child’s overall development, she says.
“With regard to complementary feeding, apart from providing nutrient-dense foods under the supplementary nutrition program through Anganwadi centres it is essential that Anganwadi workers promote use of locally available affordable and safe nutrient rich foods to prepare complementary food at home and feeding the child the same in adequate quantity the right number of times.”
Under-nutrition is both a cause as well as consequence of chronic, perpetuating poverty, eroding human capital through irreversible and inter-generational effects on cognitive and physical development. Poor birth weight, stunted development and a lifelong effect on the mind and brain and body, are only some consequences of malnutrition. As per The State of the World’s Children report submitted by UNICEF in 2019, malnutrition is the main reason behind 69 per cent deaths among children below 5 years in India. The best and smart start to life through early initiation of breastfeeding is received by only 42 percent new-borns and only 55 percent are exclusively breastfed for 6 months. Early initiation of breastfeeding is one of the lead interventions which has major impact on reducing neonatal mortality and improving survival and well-being.
For a developing country like India, fighting malnutrition in children is a major challenge, since it has multiple factors associated with it. The primary reasons may include lack of adequate nutrition among the mothers during pregnancy, delayed initiation of breastfeeding, suboptimal exclusive breastfeeding, restricted access to diverse and nutrient-rich food due to social or economic factors, lack of age appropriate complementary feeding of young infants & children, and care giving practices. Other factors which make addressing malnutrition more complex are household food security and diversity, optimum food environment, economic condition of parents, awareness and educational resources access to and availability of reach of health care.
Giving the challenge at-hand due importance, the Government of India in its flagship programme the National Nutrition Mission (‘POSHAN Abhiyaan’) – is working towards improving nutritional status for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers. The Mission was launched in 2018 to make malnutrition-free India a reality. It targets to reduce stunting, under-nutrition, anemia (among young children, women and adolescent girls), and low birth weight. Additionally, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has launched ‘Anemia Mukt Bharat’ programme to reduce the prevalence of anaemia among infants, children, adolescents, women of reproductive age, pregnant women and lactating women.
As PM Modi said in his address to the nation in the radio programme Mann Ki Baat, ‘Yatha Annam Tatha Mannam’ – our mental and intellectual development is directly related to the quality of our food intake.
Along with helping India get closer to meeting the national nutrition goals, the POSHAN Abhiyaan makes systemic attempts to break the cycle of impoverishment and help develop a well-nourished, capable citizenry for tomorrow. The POSHAN Maah, a step in this direction, will help in creating digital mobilisation across the country for improving health and nutrition indicators. (IANS)
Basil scientifically called Ocimum basilicum, and also known as great basil, is a culinary herb from the Lamiaceae (mints) family. A common aromatic herb, it is usually used to add flavor to a variety of recipes, but what may astonish one is that there are various health benefits of basil that make it well-known for its immunity-enhancing properties.
Basil seeds or basil essential oil are proven to help prevent a wide range of health conditions, which makes it one of the most essential medical herbs known today. Basil has vitamin A, C, E, K, and Omega 3 components including cooling components too. It also contains minerals like Copper, Calcium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Potassium. An ancient Ayurvedic herb, basil has various proven benefits including being anti-inflammatory, ant-oxidant, immune-booster, pain-reducer, and blood vessel-protector.
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This herb also contains cooling components thus making it really helpful for summers. It detoxifies the body and maintains one's body temperature pace. Adding to the benefits Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which are considered hydrophobic, meaning they don't dissolve in water and are light and small enough to travel through the air and the pores within our skin. Basil's volatile essential oil is something that gives the herb its distinct smell and taste, but basil contains some great healing properties.
In the long history of Ayurveda, basil seeds were also called tukmaria seeds. These seeds may support one's gut health, may complete one's fiber quota, reduce blood sugar, help in weight loss, and also reduce cholesterol.
The herb has rounded leaves.Pixabay
There are more than 60 varieties of basil, with sweet basil being one of the most widely used. The herb has rounded leaves that are often pointed. It is a bright green plant, although some varieties have hints of purple or red in their leaves, basil makes a colorful and flavorful addition to many different dishes.
It has been observed that many of the cooks use basil to thicken their dessert instead of using any artificial/ unhealthy powder to do so. Sometimes people are not able to differentiate between Chia seeds and basil seeds, to make it clear basil seeds are different in nature they are larger and a bit duller in their color. These herbs are used in various recipes as a cooling component in desserts, drinks, and fruit juices for refreshment, also beating the summer heat.
For better digestion, weight loss, and immune system, I suggest this simple recipe which can be easily made at home:
*Take 2 tsp of Basil seeds (sabja) + Add in 1/2 liter of water +10 mint leaves crushed
*1/2 tsp cinnamon powder + A little bit of sendha salt (pink Himalayan salt)
*Or to make a sweeter version one can add organic honey.
*Mix it well and drink it.
This recipe will help to flush out toxins from our body making it feel light and healthy. (IANS/SP)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)