Diet of the future will lack micronutrients like ‘Iron’, it’s time to consider nutrition of people

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Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) (a government body responsible for developing food regulations for both countries) found that many consumers have mixed views about fortified foods, viewing them as unnatural, processed and less healthy. This hesitation was particularly evident when it came to non-compulsory fortification. Consumers often see this as a marketing gimmick rather than a health promotion move.

Iron deficiency is one of the most common forms of nutritional deficiency worldwide. Severe iron deficiency is known as anemia. In regions such as South Asia, Central Africa and West Asia, anemia affects about 50 percent of women of reproductive age, compared to only 16 percent of women in high-income countries. In New Zealand, 10.6 percent of women aged 15 to 18 and 12.1 percent of women aged 31 to 50 are iron deficient. The risk increases during the third trimester of pregnancy and iron status should be carefully monitored to ensure good health for both mother and child. As more people consume a plant-based diet, the risk of iron deficiency is expected to increase.

Our ‘modelling’ of the availability of the nutrient in current and future food systems suggests that if global production and supply remain unchanged, we can expect dietary iron deficiency by the year 2040. This means that we have to address the iron deficiency in our diet, especially among women and adolescents. We contend that iron-fortified foods may provide a one-stop solution to address nutritional deficiencies. Food fortification Many foods on supermarket shelves, from breads to cereals, have already been fortified with nutrients. Unlike the mandatory addition of iodine and folic acid to bread, there is currently no government initiative to encourage or mandate fortification of foods in New Zealand.

Adopting a plant-based diet More and more consumers are adopting a diet that contains fewer ingredients from animal sources. They are doing this in the hope that the environmental impact and emissions will come down. The latest figures show that there has been a 19 per cent increase in vegetarian nutrition in New Zealand between 2018 and 2019. A conversation about nutrient availability must be included when considering plant-based diets for a sustainable food system. Plant foods often contain high amounts of fiber and ‘phytates’, which reduce the body’s ability to absorb iron. Iron in plant foods such as whole grains, seeds, legumes and leafy greens is known as ‘non-heme’ and is less readily absorbed than the heme iron available in animal-sourced foods. Eating a mixed diet (which includes vegetables, grains, and animal-source foods such as red meat, fish, or poultry) helps the body absorb non-heme iron.

‘Fortification’ of these diets can be a powerful strategy for moving people to plant-based diets that would otherwise be deficient in nutrients. Is New Zealand ready for iron-fortified foods? ‘Fortified’ foods can be beneficial in combating iron deficiency, but some consumers hesitate to include these foods in their diet. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) (a government body responsible for developing food regulations for both countries) found that many consumers have mixed views about fortified foods, viewing them as unnatural, processed and less healthy. This hesitation was particularly evident when it came to non-compulsory fortification. Consumers often see this as a marketing gimmick rather than a health promotion move.

Disclaimer: IndiaTheNews has not edited this news. This news has been published from PTI-language feed.



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