P-O-S-H-A-N: How The Six Letters Hide Six Core Nutrition Concepts

To celebrate the Poshan Week, remember the smart acronym P-O-S-H-A-N and pep up your daily diet

Charupadma Pati | Sep 07, 2019


Did you know that Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) is a major issue in India, because our diets are low in protein? The prevalence of stunting among under-five children is 48 per cent, wasting is 19.8 per cent and underweight prevalence is 42.5 per cent. Majority of children in India, about 80 per cent, suffer from protein deficiency in mild and moderate forms—often not diagnosed on time. What contribute to the rise of PEM? Socio-cultural factors a major role, affecting the feeding pattern of children. Delay in the initiation of breast feeding, lack of colostrum (or the immune-boosting first milk) and inappropriate complementary feeding have been cited as major reasons contributing to malnutrition.

Protein is key to your diet, because it is the building block of your body. Protein plays a vital role in building and repairing tissues: bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. So, focus on diets that are loaded with protein:
—Eggs are full of pure protein
—Almonds are also endowed with fibre, vitamin E , manganese and maganesium
—Oats are considered one the healthiest among all the grains
—Peanuts have high protein content, ranging from 22–30 per cent of its total calories
—All types of fish, especially Salmon, which contains 46 per cent protein
—Pumpkin seeds

Remember, every nutrient has a certain requirement. Having ‘excess’ of anything can lead to nutrition imbalance in our body. Same is in the case with proteins.


India is hugely deficient in essential nutrients, Omega 3. While scientists now recommend a daily dose of 500 mg Omega 3 fatty acids, in India it is 50 mg even among the biggest consumers. European countries, and China, have set a required daily intake at 250 mg a day

Omega-3 has been proved to be important in preventing and managing heart disease. Findings also show that omega-3 fatty acids may help to lower blood pressure. During pregnancy, it can help in proper development of infant’s brains, which decreases the chances of autism and cerebral palsy. They help in improving vision, fighting age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's Disease, and prevent asthma in children. Omega fatty acids have an important role to play in curbing depression and anxiety.

Food items that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids are: Fish, one of the best sources to start with. Go for oily sea fish:

—Mackerel to Salmon, seabass to sardines.
—Vegetarians can get their supply of Omega-3 by mixing oatmeals, cereals, salads and even smoothies with chia seeds and flaxseeds.
—Walnuts, kidney beans and soyabean oils are also endowed with rich Omega-3.


Starch is an essential source of carbohydrate and plays an important role in ensuring an overall healthy development of our body. It provides us fibre, calcium, iron and vitamin B. Starch is an important source of energy.

Recent research focuses on a type of starch called “Resistant starch” (RS), a form of starch that cannot be digested in the small intestine, but gets fermented in the large intestine, producing short chain fatty acids (SCFA) in the colon. Foods that increase the amount of SCFAs in the colon are thought to be beneficial to health because they help to prevent the development of abnormal cells in the gut. RS is naturally present in some foods such as bananas, potatoes, grains, pulses and seeds.


Healing foods are highly essential for getting better immunity and quicker healing. These foods also provide vitamins and minerals that our body need for better development. Human body is always vulnerable to various infections lurking around in the air. Moreover, we often suffer from injuries from accidents and diseases. Certain herbs come to our aid that help us in curing fast.

India is considered to be the diabetes capital of the world, with 72.94 million cases reported in the year 2017. Arthritis is also a common health problem in India with a lot of sufferers. Arthritis is reported occurs more commonly in Indian women, compared to men. India is likely to become the Osteoarthritis capital by 2025 if the current rise in incidents. Therefore, it is very important to consume foods which rich in calcium, vitamins, and proteins.

If you are looking for a long-term relief from cold and flu, or any other health problem, you must resort to eating healthy citrus fruits, say, papaya, almonds, nuts, leafy vegetables, like broccoli and spinach. Citrus fruits are very helpful in boosting our immune system, as they contain Vitamin C, which boosts the production of white blood cells in our body. Grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, and lemons have high content of Vitamin C in them. Ginger contains ayurvedic properties that can help in curing sore throats and inflammatory illness. It is taken with sweets and deserts. Almonds are endowed with vitamins and healthy fats that can help in increasing our immune system.

Turmeric is a herb that is used to add taste to the curries cooked in every Indian household. It plays an important role in curing osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric contains a substance called ‘curcumin’. Normally turmeric contains 200 milligrams of curcumin. The experts suggest that 500 milligrams of curcumin per day is enough to keep you healthy.


Antioxidants prevent slow damage of cells in our body caused by free radicals, and unstable molecules, caused as a reaction to environmental factors. They play a major role in providing relief against “Oxidative Stress” caused by the radicals.

Oxidative stress has been linked to heart disease, cancer, arthritis, stroke, respiratory disease, and immune deficiency. These foods help in neutralising the oxidative stress. It is caused by several factors, such as smoking, excessive exercise, environment pollution, tissue trauma, etc. In a country like India, pollution is rampant. Indians breathe contaminated air, as a result of which they are prone to several health problems. Several lifestyle diseases are also common here.

To keep your body healthy and fit, we need to consume those food items, which are rich in anti-oxidants. Fruits such as blueberries, apples, spinach, lentils, dark chocolates, red grapes, pomegranates, green and black teas, etc,. are rich in anti-oxidants.

Vegetables such as broccoli contain high amount of Vitamin C, which is an incredible immunity booster. Red seeds of pomegranate contain an antioxidant called Polyphenols. They protect the cells from getting damaged, as well as reduce inflammation in the gut. Dark chocolates contain organic substance called polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, that help in reduction of damage of free radicals in the body.


Essential nutrients like iron, zinc, potassium are essential for our body, as they provide us with balanced diet for a healthy lifestyle. Nutrients are important for a person, as they help a living organism to live, survive and reproduce .

Vitamins are essential to building strong bones, and providing overall strength to us. Zinc plays a major role in cell division, cell growth and wound healing. It also plays an important role in elevating our taste and smell sense.

Sweet potatoes, carrots, and spinach are rich in Vitamin A. Legumes, whole grains, rice, rtc are rich in Vitamin B. Kiwi, lemon, guava, are highly rich in Vitamin C. Milk, eggs, cheese, sardines and canned salmons are important for increasing calcium content in out body. Calcium plays an important role in making our bones grow stronger.

Like all the other nutrients, potassium also plays an important role in making our body healthy and strong. Pumpkins, cooked broccoli, potatoes, zucchini, eggplant, leafy greens, and eggplants are important sources of potassium for our body.