Can Good Nutrition Help Improve the Quality of Life?
The pandemic has taught us many lessons, and the big one has been that our health is our most important asset. We now know that our health matters more than everything else we hanker after.
Now there are multiple indicators, multiple formulas and tools (like our weight, body mass index, absence of disease, the blood work, X rays etc.) that can help deduce our health status.
But one indicator that trumps all of these and gives a composite picture is the QoL - your Quality of Life. This indicator gives an insight into our wellbeing, and that is what we should track closely to get the right picture. QoL is the degree to which an individual is healthy, comfortable and able to participate in/enjoy life events.
Why QoL Matters
QoL gives a multi-dimensional concept of our general well-being status in relation to the environment, cultural and social context in which we live. While the traditional clinical methods are fairly objective in nature and have dominated health care and assessment for a long time, measurement of QoL can help incorporate the subjective views of a person, and can add a lot of value by providing information that can supplement or contradict the traditional assessment methods.
Plus, higher emphasis on a better QoL helps in maintaining good health for a longer period of time. That is why leading global health organizations are now putting a lot of emphasis on measuring QoL.
How Is It Measured?
The four main dimensions mentioned in the WHO QOL are:
Physical health - measures energy and fatigue, mobility, pain and discomfort, sleep and rest, work capacity and dependence on medical aids.
Psychological - measures body image and appearance, negative feelings and positive feelings, self-esteem, spirituality, religion, personal beliefs, thinking, learning, memory and concentration.
Social relationships - involves the various roles in life a person plays that enable them to develop and harness relationships with friends and family, having an adequate support system, relations in their professional undertakings.
Environment - includes financial resources, freedom, physical safety and security, health and social care: accessibility and quality, home environment, opportunities for acquiring new information and skills, participation in and opportunities for recreation and leisure activities, and physical environment like pollution, noise, traffic etc.
The Nutrition Factor
Besides enough physical activity, right nutrition is the most important factor to score health, and both under and over nutrition impact physical health extensively. Lack of enough nutrients in the diet shows up without fail as lowered energy and stamina.
In fact, a very important component of physical fitness is muscular strength and muscle weakness can lead to functional limitations that could impact day to day activities very drastically.
Loss of muscle can begin early, often from the age of 30 itself and depends extensively on both right nutrition, and enough physical activity. If there is a deficit in either and if that is not addressed timely, it may even lead to loss of mobility and independence.
This is where the macronutrient protein comes into play. Ensuring enough protein in the diet is an important factor for preserving muscle mass and preventing functional
The Importance of Protein
A diet that lacks enough protein, over a period of time can lead to loss of muscle mass, weakness, fatigue, hair loss, slow recovery from injuries and lowered immunity.
This shows up as falling sick too often, muscle aches and body aches and poor bone health. That is why focusing on enough and good quality protein should be the mainstay of a diet that is tailored to the our QoL.
Get Enough, Good Quality Protein
We need to proactively ensure that our diet is rich in optimal amount of protein every day as this nutrient is not stored in the body so is needed on a daily basis.
Evenly spread the protein intake through the day across breakfast, lunch and dinner as this stimulates muscle protein synthesis (MPS) more effectively than eating the majority of daily protein at any one meal or say during just the evening meal (like many people do)
Focus on quality of the protein. Apart from the consuming the right quantity of protein, it is important to consume the right quality of protein. Choose animal protein which delivers complete protein (all essential amino acids) or compensate by eating larger amount of plant protein. Or you can include a good quality protein supplement with 8-10 grams of protein per serve that you can trust.
(Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico), Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa) and Fix it with foods.)
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