The government is exploring to add Ayush component in take-home ration of children, pregnant women and lactating women that they get from Anganwadi centres to improve their nutrition level, a senior official said. The project is being tried out on a pilot basis in Gujarat and Karnataka and both states have given good results, the official added.
The Women and Child Development ministry official said that the findings of this particular project will be then shared with ICMR to see if there can be a third party validation medically for this initiative.
“We are in active talks with secretary Ayush to ensure this happens,” the official told reporters at the sub-zonal meeting of the ministry here.
In Gujarat, addition of several Ayurvedic component like Trikatu and Vidang in Balshakti for children and Jeera and Musta Churn in Matrushakti in take home ration for pregnant and lactating women, said Avantika Darji, Joint Director in ICDS.
The pilot project in Gujarat is being carried out in Jamnagar, Devbhumi Dwarka, Dang, Narmada, Bhavnagar and Dahod.
“To improve the Health and Nutritional status of ICDS beneficiaries, government of Gujarat is providing micronutrient-rich ‘take-home ration’ with the support of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF-AMUL) and respective Dairy Unions,” Darji said.
She said it has been seen that appetite of children, absorption of nutrients, weight gain, controls intestinal worms and indigestion. In pregnant and lactating women, research has shown that Jeera or cumin improves “hypoxic conditions in the placenta”, she said. Hypoxic conditions in the placenta occurs when a fetus gets deprived of an adequate supply of oxygen.
The therapeutic effects of cumin seeds extend to experiencing anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive results as well whereas Musta helps in abdominal pain relief, indigestion, controls worms and reduce fever in pregnant and lactating women, Darji said. The country is battling alarming levels of malnutrition.
According to the NFHS-5, 35.5 per cent of children below five years were stunted and 32.1 per cent were underweight in 2019-21. To combat malnutrition and keep a check on nutrition, the government has been providing take home rations to households having children 6 months to 6 years of age and pregnant and lactating mothers.
Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy or nutrients.