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Celiac Society of India in partnership with Illness to Wellness organised A Revolutionary Seminar on the role of millets in preventing gut inflammation

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New Delhi: The Celiac Society of India and the Indian Coalition for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, in partnership with Illness to Wellness, today hosted a transformative seminar titled “Gut, Microbiome & Millets: The Inflammation Fix.” The seminar highlighted the critical role of gut health in combating prevalent nutritional deficiencies and chronic diseases, emphasizing practical dietary changes for improved public health outcomes.

Distinguished guests, including Dr. Vinod Paul, Member of NITI AAYOG; Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, Former Union Minister; and Dr. Chandrakant S. Pandav, Padma Shri awardee and Former Professor & Head of Community Medicine at AIIMS, advocated for balanced eating for improved gut health and the importance of eating Millets on a regular basis.

Emphasizing the significance of such seminars and the vital contributions of initiatives like those between Illness to Wellness and the Celiac Society of India, Mr. Anil Rajput, Chairperson of the National CSR Council at ASSOCHAM, remarked, “The collective efforts of the Celiac Society and Illness to Wellness in organizing these seminars to raise awareness about gut health are both inspiring and commendable. Gut health is fundamental to our overall well-being and as many health issues stem from the gut- a healthy gut is the cornerstone of good health. Events like these are indeed critical in reinforcing the need for a balanced diet and the resulting healthy living. I am confident that going forward we will intensify the number of programmes that address the multiple facets of gut health.”

The seminar highlighted the importance of gut health in addressing the epidemic of nutritional deficiencies and chronic degenerative diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancers, autoimmune diseases, and mental health issues. Often referred to as the second brain, the gut houses two-thirds of the immune system, underscoring its crucial role in overall health. Recent studies emphasize the profound impact of gut health on overall well-being, highlighting its role in managing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health.

The eminent speakers who enlightened the audience with their insights included Dr. Arjun Dang, MBBS, MD, CEO & Partner at Dr. Dang’s Lab; Dr. Meena Mishra, MBBS, MD, Chairperson of the Brain Behavior Research Foundation of India; Dr. Kapil Yadav, MBBS, MD, Professor at the Centre for Community Medicine, AIIMS; Ms. Ishi Khosla, Clinical Nutritionist, Columnist, Author, Entrepreneur & Researcher and Dr. Asha Chandra, Founder of Asha Chandra Welfare Consultancy among others.

Speakers highlighted pointers on the disruption of microbiome balance caused by commonly eaten grains and highlighted the benefits of ancient, anti-inflammatory, gut-friendly grains like millets. The engaging discussions provided attendees with practical dietary changes to incorporate these nutritious grains into their daily lives, dispelling myths and misconceptions along the way.

While opening the session, the Iodine Man of India, Dr. Chandrakant Pandav, Padma Shri awardee and renowned expert in community medicine with significant contributions to iodine deficiency disorders and public health said, “Wellness encompasses nine interconnected components: Physical, Emotional, Social, Creative, Spiritual, Financial, Environmental, and Occupational. Each of these elements is vital to achieving overall well-being. Development should be measured beyond economic metrics, taking inspiration from Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, which emphasizes happiness and well-being as key indicators of progress. According to the June 2024 UN report, only 17% of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are on track to be achieved by 2030. Immediate and accelerated action is required to meet these global objectives.”

Pressing on the need for behavioural change, Dr. Vinod Kumar Paul, Member of NITI Aayog said, “We must tackle the nutrition crisis through behavioural change, shifting to nutritious foods like millets instead of processed ones. Our ancestors knew diet influences behaviour, and our Prime Minister has promoted this by celebrating the International Year of Millets and the G20 Presidency. Millets benefit both health and the environment.

Celiac disease is a hidden condition that needs more awareness. The CNNS data shows alarming trends: 11% of children aged 10-19 are pre-diabetic, and obesity rates are rising by 4-5%. I urge teachers, parents, and caregivers to focus on children’s diets, obesity, and overall lifestyle. Regular health checkups, including BMI assessments, are crucial. Nutritionists and industry professionals must prioritize adolescent health.”

Calling for participation from Doctors, Scientists and Nutritionists, Dr Paul insisted, “We need evidence that changes can reduce obesity and anaemia on a large scale. Preconception care for women and proper complementary feeding between six to eight months of a child’s life are critical, yet only 46% of children receive this care. Additionally, only 12% of children aged six to eighteen months receive a minimum acceptable diet, leaving 88% lacking essential nutrition. Special attention is needed for early and low-birth-weight babies, who make up 30% of births and require intensive feeding. This is a critical public health nutrition issue that demands immediate action.”

Describing how Millets has changed her life, Meenakshi Lekhi, Former Union Minister said, “We need a millet revolution, much like the green revolution. Ancient texts from the Neolithic period and the Harappa and Indus Valley civilizations reference millets, highlighting their historical significance. Varieties like Black Millet, Barnyard Millet, Foxtail Millet, and Sorghum Millet were once staples in our diet before colonial influences changed our eating habits.

India now produces 20% of the world’s millet and 80% of Asia’s production. It’s time to reclaim millet as our best food, particularly for undernourished children, and promote it for gut health to address many health issues. Remember, ‘food itself is a medicine.’ Indian doctors, trained in both traditional and Western medicine, understand this well.

Dr. Arjun Dang, CEO of Dr. Dangs Lab, emphasized the importance of diet and highlighted the triple burden of malnutrition: undernutrition, overnutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies. Dr. Dang proposed strategies like enhancing maternal nutrition, deworming campaigns, diversifying diets with millets and pulses, and promoting health education.

Dr. Kapil Yadav, a faculty member at AIIMS New Delhi, specializes in Public Health Nutrition and Iron and Iodine Deficiency Disorders stated that anaemia is not just a medical issue but one rooted in nutrition. He highlighted the gut’s role as a critical gatekeeper, with the microbiome and millets being key in addressing anaemia. Rising anaemia cases are linked to lifestyle changes, food quality, and climate change. Dr. Yadav noted that reduced kitchen time and increased processed food consumption have led to less diverse, less nutritious diets, moving away from the “Rainbow plate” of our ancestors.

“Micronutrients play a crucial role in brain development across all stages of life—from childhood through to ageing. Special attention is essential during lactation and early pregnancy. Early childhood nutrition is pivotal for cognitive development; traditions like Ragi ceremonies in Karnataka underscore its importance. Scientifically, millet-based weaning diets enhance attention spans and cognitive performance in children.” said Dr. Meena Mishra, Consultant Radiation Oncologist and Chairperson of the Brain Behavior Research Foundation of India.

Renowned Clinical Nutritionist & Author, Ishi Khosla said, “Grain Changer is a game changer as modern science reconnects us with our gut. Millets boost haemoglobin in pregnant women carrying twins. The ‘four G’s’—Gut, Girth, Gluten, and Glucose—interconnect to transform our eating habits and lifestyle permanently.”

Dr. Ashutosh Shukla, Senior Director of Internal Medicine, Max Hospital Gurugram said, “Lifestyle diseases stem from gut health; imbalanced bacteria can lead to inflammation, metabolic disorders, and mental health issues. Bad gut bacteria contribute to the rise in these diseases, disrupting the immune system and increasing risks like diabetes.”

“Gut health impacts lifestyle diseases profoundly. Bacteria, present for over a million years, play a vital role in breaking down fiber and producing essential vitamins. Disruptions in this cycle can lead to metabolic and mental health disorders. Skin issues, from allergies to pigmentation, often originate from gut health. Treating the gut enhances treatment efficacy, linking nutrition to overall harmony in life.” concluded Dr. Mankul Goyal- Dermatology from AIIMS Delhi.

The seminar concluded with a call to action for adopting millets and prioritizing gut health as vital steps towards achieving better health outcomes and preventing chronic diseases.

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