Driven by science and innovation, DSM has been developing solutions that blend micronutrients with staple foods such as rice, wheat, flour, milk, oil and sugar.
With over 3 Crore Indians affected by COVID-19 to date, the long-standing need to boost immunity and maintain a healthy diet has received its due importance. People are shifting towards healthier alternatives and are taking steps to improve their immune system.
In an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online, Raj Sahetiya, Senior Business Director – HNH, South Asia at DSM shares his ideas on addressing the need for healthier diets and shaping a brighter future for all.
DSM is a global, purpose-led, science-based company active in Nutrition, Health and Sustainable Living. DSM delivers innovative solutions for human nutrition, animal nutrition, personal care and aroma, medical devices, green products and applications.
As one of the world’s largest manufacturers of Vitamin D3, DSM ensured uninterrupted supplies of immunity boosting solutions to the society at large. Furthermore, the company augmented mass fortification drives in order to cater to nutritional deficiency worsened by the pandemic in the different groups of people.
How has DSM acted on COVID-19 induced health and nutritional requirements?
Employee well-being has always been our topmost priority. Standing on the backbone of our people-centric values, we displayed agility in transitioning to a Work-from-Home set-up. Globally, we launched initiatives that supplemented our employees and their families with immunity building dietary supplements.
What is the role of Vitamin D in boosting immunity?
Many recent studies have also indicated the essential role of Vitamin D in boosting immunity and thereby, defending the body against foreign, invading organisms. Vitamin D helps activate the production of an important bacteria-fighting peptide in macrophages and barrier cells to fight against harmful organisms. In this manner, Vitamin D fortifies both innate immunity and the adaptive immune system. The explanation for this association between the two can be found in the way our bodies are designed. Most immune cells have receptors and the enzymes to activate vitamin D such that it can efficiently bind to these receptors.
It is our advice that in order to maintain a healthy amount of Vitamin D micronutrient in the body, one must ensure a daily vitamin D intake of 600 IU/day (15 µg/day) as recommended by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).
What are the nutrient gaps in Indian diets and how can they be addressed?
Indian diet surely is one of the most versatile diets as it comprises a variety of green vegetables, fruits and fibrous elements that have varied health benefits. However, with the rise in the fast-food culture coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, people have become prone to major deficits of requisite micronutrients that strengthen their immune system.
A large number of Indians have a lower intake of fibre, vitamins and other micronutrients than needed. For example, evidence has suggested that 80% of Indians have insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood. Moreover, Vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread in Indians living in tier-3 cities to those living in urban areas. Also, a typical Indian diet may not include omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are essential for leading a healthy life.
These nutritional gaps can negatively impact immunity and consequently lead to reduced resistance against infections. While important, however, consuming nutrient-dense diets does not always yield the same result for everyone. In such circumstances, consumption of dietary supplements helps complement the diet, fill any nutritional gaps and support the immune system. Other preferred formats include consumption of fortified foods and beverages, which is a well-established, trusted and proven method to facilitate easier access to nutrition and addressing micronutrient deficiencies on a large scale for those looking to support their immune system. We, at DSM, are at the forefront of enabling these nutritional innovations and supplying nutritional ingredients for industries, dietary supplement, early life nutrition, medical nutrition and nutrition improvement.
How can staple food fortification help address malnutrition in India?
According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020, India ranked 94 out of 107 countries, indicating a serious malnutrition epidemic spurred further by the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdown. Inadequate nutrition can have a major, long lasting impact on human physical health and development but also places a heavy burden on societies across the world. By leveraging public-private partnerships, we now have the opportunity to resolve the nutritional crisis by means of Food Fortification. By enhancing the nutritional value of food and beverages, fortification acts as an effective tool to combat the nutritional crisis facing India. Owing to its affordability and ease of implementation, fortification substantially brings down the healthcare costs contributing to the overall economic growth.
Driven by science and innovation, DSM has been developing solutions that blend micronutrients with staple foods such as rice, wheat, flour, milk, oil and sugar. By enabling access to proper nutrition, we are determined to support India’s fight against malnutrition.
We believe that creating synergies has the potential to solve the world’s most pressing issues and to that effect have partnered with leading organisations such as World Food Programme and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help fight malnutrition globally.