According to MS. MD. Ngo Thi Ha Phuong, National Institute of Nutrition, today’s unreasonable diet includes a high in energy, high in fat, high in sugar, high in salt, but low in fruits and vegetables. Therefore, implementing the “3 reductions” regimens: reduce (sodium) salt, reduce free sugar, reduce fat (food containing harmful fats), and “1 increase” increase vegetables and fruits help prevent and fight non-communicable diseases. Along with that is maintaining a reasonable weight, an active and healthy lifestyle such as regular physical activity, not smoking, limiting alcohol.
- Sodium is the main component of table salt NaCl. The minimum amount of sodium required for the body’s normal functioning is estimated to be only about 200 – 500 mg/day (equivalent to 0.5 – 1.25 g of salt, less than a small spoon of yogurt). According to a study by the National Institute of Nutrition in 2011, up to 81% of daily sodium consumption in Vietnam is mainly from salt and salty spices added during processing, cooking, and eating (dotted with salt)
- Therefore, according to Mr. Phuong, each individual and family can reduce the amount of salt eaten by very simple measures such as not leaving salty seasonings such as fish sauce, soy sauce, and salt on the table. Limit the number of salty spices such as salt, soup powder, fish sauce, etc., put in food when cooking. Limit frequent use of products with high salt content such as French fries, pizza, canned food, salted steamed food, some traditional processed foods such as melons, salted eggplants, sausages, spring rolls, fried rice, etc. It is recommended to give children natural foods and no added salt. Children under 1-year-old should not add salt and salty spices to their complimentary meals.
- Free sugar includes double sugars and single sugars added to foods and beverages or natural sugars found in honey, syrups, fruit juices. Fruit juice concentrate in each person’s diet should account for no more than 10% and should be reduced to less than 5%/year. Amount in a day to have additional benefits increases health(WHO, 2015), equivalent to less than 25 – 50 g of free sugar per day for adults and less than 12 – 25 g of sugar per day for children. Accordingly, nutrition experts recommend, limit the use of all soft drinks, foods containing a lot of sugar-free as natural sugars (brown sugar, refined sugar, rock sugar) and sugary drinks, sweet confectionery, jams, syrups. No sugar is added to tea, coffee, or any other beverage.
- Use filtered water, bottled water, and unsweetened tea instead of soft drinks. Eat fresh, low-sweet fruit instead of sugary snacks. Read food labels, choose products with less sugar.
- To reduce the amount of free sugar used in daily meals, it is necessary to use rice, less processed grains, use whole grains to retain the number of B vitamins, fiber, and several minerals and proteins that are abundant in the bran layer of nuts (unmilled rice, brown rice, flours, cereals and other products made from whole grains); Limit starchy substances, sweet sugar, foods with a high glycemic index, increase the consumption of foods rich in fiber.
A good diet with reduced salt, sugar, and fat combined with exercise is essential for chronic diseases.
- MS. MD. Phuong also said that the current eating habit is to eat fewer fruits and vegetables, although fruits and vegetables provide fewer calories and are a source of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. Therefore, it can help control weight, replace foods with high energy density (rich in fat) to help reduce energy, reduce fat, and reduce the aging process.
- An essential nutrient in vegetables and fruits, beans, and peas is fiber. Fiber contributes to the prevention of several diseases such as constipation, colon inflammation, cancer prevention, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Fiber also absorbs harmful substances in the digestive tract such as cholesterol, oxidizing agents, carcinogens. It would be best to drink a lot of water because fiber absorbs a lot of water in the intestines.
- People with hypertension and high blood cholesterol: You should eat a lot of vegetables (about 500g/day) to add more potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. On the other hand, people with high blood pressure are often accompanied by hypercholesterolemia. Eating a lot of vegetables will help remove cholesterol in the intestinal lumen, contributing to lowering blood cholesterol.
- MS. MD. Phuong also recommends that the daily diet should have less than 30% of total energy from fat. Unsaturated fats (found in fish, avocados and nuts, and sunflower, soybean, and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (found in fatty meats, butter, palm, and coconut oils), cream, cheese, and lard) and transfats – all kinds. Note that you should cook food in the form of steaming, boiling, if you want to eat fried, you should boil it, remove the water, and then pan-fry until golden on both sides.
- With foods rich in fat, it is necessary to limit animal fat (swine, cow) and use seed oils (sesame oil, rapeseed oil, soybean oil, etc., and not use coconut oil). Do not eat visceral foods such as liver, oval, brain, heart, intestines, colon, animal bone marrow.
With foods high in protein, eat lean meats (lean pork, skinless chicken); fish (if it is a fatty fish, remove the skin). Do not eat fatty meats: Lamb, duck, geese, pork sausage, smoked meat, kidney, lung.
- With butter and lard with oils rich in unsaturated fats such as soybean oil, canola oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, etc.
Limit your consumption of baked and fried foods, and snacks, and prepackaged foods.
- Increase eating fish, beans, sesame, peanuts. A healthy diet throughout life helps prevent poor nutrition in all its forms from causing a wide range of non-communicable diseases. However, increasing production of processed foods, rapid urbanization, and changing lifestyles have led to a diet shift. However, individual diets will vary depending on age, sex, lifestyle and physical activity levels, cultural context, locally available foods, and dietary habits.