Feature: Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos: a prescription to good nutrition
By Celina Ann Z. Javier
The Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF) is a set of dietary guidelines based on the eating pattern, lifestyle, and health status of Filipinos.
The NGF contains all the nutrition messages to healthy living for all age groups from infants to adults, pregnant and lactating women, and the elderly.
The first NGF released in 1990 was composed of five messages called “Dietary Guidelines for Filipinos."
In 2000, a revised nutritional guidelines composed of ten messages was released and it was called the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos.
In 2012, the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the revision of the NGF, led by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) developed a new set of the NGF, based on the 2000 edition.
The 2012 NGF now includes the basis and justification for each of the ten nutritional and health message.
Below are the new messages of the 2012 NGF:
1. Eat a variety of foods everyday to get the nutrients needed by the body.
2. Breastfeed infants exclusively from birth up to six months and then give appropriate complementary foods while continuing breastfeeding for two years and beyond for optimum growth and development.
3. Eat more vegetables and fruits to get the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber for regulation of body processes.
4. Consume fish, lean meat, poultry, egg, dried beans or nuts daily for growth and repair of body tissues.
5. Consume milk, milk products, and other calcium-rich food such as small fish and shellfish, everyday for healthy bones and teeth.
6. Consume safe foods and water to prevent diarrhea and other food-and water-borne diseases.
7. Use iodized salt to prevent Iodine Deficiency Disorders.
8. Limit intake of salty, fried, fatty, and sugar-rich foods to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
9. Attain normal body weight through proper diet and moderate physical activity to maintain good health and help prevent obesity.
10. Be physically active, make healthy food choices, manage stress, avoid alcoholic beverage, and do not smoke to help prevent lifestyle-related non-communicable disease.
The revisions were made based on the results of the 2008 National Nutrition Survey (NNS) conducted by FNRI-DOST.
Based on the said survey, the Filipino household diet fell below the recommended levels except for niacin, which is above the recommended.
Furthermore, all nutrients and energy were below the 100 percent adequacy levels. This was the basis of NGF messages no. 1, 3, and 4.
There is no single food that contains all the nutrients that our body needs so eating a variety of food ensures that daily nutritional needs are met.
There was also a decrease in consumption of fruits from 77 grams in 205 to 54 grams in 2008 and also a decrease in milk consumption from 44 grams to 42 grams. These results were the basis of message no. 3 and 5, respectively.
Vegetables and fruits are the main sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while milk is a good source of calcium.
Low urinary iodine excretion is still a prevalent problem among pregnant and lactating mothers, indicating to low iodine intake. Iodine is important during pregnancy because it is needed for the brain development of the infant while lactating mothers must have adequate supply of iodine in their breastmilk. This is the message of NGF no. 7.
The total cholesterol level among Filipino adults increased from 8.5 (mg/dL) in 2003 to 10.2 (mg/dL) in 2008.
High cholesterol level may be attributed to the high consumption of sodium rich foods by Filipinos.
Salt and soy sauce were among the top 10 widely used miscellaneous food items used by Filipinos.
In addition, heart diseases ranked first among the causes of death based on the 2005 Department of Health survey. This is the reason behind no. 8 of NGF.
Excessive intake of salt and soy sauce can result to high blood pressure especially to salt-sensitive individuals. Persistent high blood pressure can result to cardiovascular diseases.
There is also a decreasing trend of physical inactivity among Filipinos and also a large percentage of Filipino smokers at 31.0% and drinkers at 26.9%. These situations were the basis of messages no. 9 and 10 of the NGF.
People are always encouraged to exercise at least thirty minutes a day, three to five times a week.
Limit alcohol drinking to one drink per day for women and two drinks for men is also advised.
One alcoholic drink is equivalent to one and half ounce distilled beverage such as gin or 12 ounces or a bottle of beer or four ounces wine or half glass wine or an ounce of 100 proof whiskey.
For more information on food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City; Tel/Fax Num: 8372934 and 8373164; email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; FNRI-DOST website: http://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph.; FNRI Facebook page: facebook.com/FNRI-DOST; FNRI Twitter account: twitter.com/FNRI-DOST. (FNRI-DOST S & T Media Service/PIA-Caraga)