Paper of Dr K John Vijay Sagar, Professor and Head, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NIMHANS, Bengaluru – No scientific basis

Date 25.07.2022

Dear Sir,                                                                       

Greetings…..

Sub:  Paper of Dr K John Vijay Sagar, Professor and Head, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, NIMHANS, Bengaluru – No scientific basis

The panel on National Education Policy (NEP) from Karnataka has made few recommendations to the Government regarding the ‘ill-effects’ of eating eggs which can lead to ‘lifestyle disorder’ including diabetes, early menarche, primary infertility among others in its position paper on ‘health and wellbeing’ as published in Hindustan Times July 13th 2022.

First and foremost, we at Institution of Veterinarians of Poultry Industry (IVPI) would like to place on record that your paper or (if sending the letter to the government) the paper by Dr. John Vijay Sagar is not based on any scientific evidence. As we all know, humans have been consuming eggs and poultry meat since the dawn of human time.

IVPI categorically states that consumption of eggs has many benefits. Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse that contribute to health and well-being at every age and life stage, providing critical nutrients including protein, choline, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12, biotin (B7), pantothenic acid (B5), iodine and selenium, which are valuable for supporting muscle and bone health, brain development and more.

NITI Aayog recommendations

It is for this reason that the apex government think tank of the country, NITI Aayog, is working on a proposal aimed at improving India’s low nutrition ranking and centered on the idea that the government subsidizes protein-rich food, including eggs, fish, chicken and meat, possibly through its system. This is likely to be part of Niti Aayog’s 15-year Vision Document.

We at IVPI, many of whom have done pioneering research work in the field of poultry and added to the country’s nutritional health, oppose these recommendations and urge the government to ignore such motivated statements which may lead to unfound misconceptions. Dr. Sagar’s paper aims at removing protein from one’s diet; spreading false information in young minds, and upsetting the poultry economy, per se. (if sending  to government)

Coming specifically to the points raised in the paper, IVPI states the following:

With regard to early menarche:  The write up is highly unscientific and misleading the consumers with respect to consumption of chicken and eggs. It is totally unfounded to attribute consumption of chicken and eggs leads to health issues such as early puberty among girls/male impotence.

The truth is that no hormones or steroids are injected or fed to chickens to increase the egg number/ body weight.

1. Hormones / Steroids are not fed or injected in any egg layer or broiler farms.

2. Hormones are never used in chickens for any reason.

Poultry farmers associations have announced a reward of Rs. 20 lakhs if anyone shows the usage of hormones in any farm in India.

This, I am assuring you as the Current President of Institution of Veterinarians of Poultry Industry (IVPI). The Institute has over 200 members who are highly qualified Poultry Veterinarians specialized in all aspects of Poultry production.   I have been in the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) teaching and guiding Research in Poultry Science for over 40 years and I have been in many Government Advisory Boards & Committees.

Plant phytoestrogens are found in a number of foods especially legumes though the levels may differ with soybean being particularly high.

Regarding Cholesterol Egg contains 185 mg of cholesterol and it is found mainly in animal products such as milk, butter, ghee, meat, shrimp and so on. Breast milk (mother’s milk) is also a rich source of cholesterol. 

Cholesterol Limit was removed from 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. The US government has accepted that *cholesterol* is not a nutrient of concern. *doing a U-turn* on their warnings to stay away from high-cholesterol foods since the 1970s to avoid heart disease and clogged arteries. The main causes of heart diseases are stress, sugar, trans-fats, obesity, and inflammation.

Why the cholesterol limit was removed?  Only 20% comes from food.  When we eat more foods rich in cholesterol, our bodies make less. The majority of the cholesterol is produced by liver. Our brain is primarily made up from cholesterol. It is essential for nerve cells to function. Cholesterol is the basis for the production of all the steroid hormones, including oestrogen, testosterone, and corticosteroids and also required for vitamin D synthesis and fat digestion through production of bile salts.

With regard to the ‘ill-effects’ of eating eggs leading to ‘lifestyle disorder’ including diabetes – This again is far from the truth. Eggs in fact are good for diabetic people, because it contains very low level of carbohydrate less than 1%.

An egg a day may keep diabetes away, the study, published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that men who ate approximately four eggs per week had a 37 percent lower risk of Type-2 diabetes than men who ate only one egg a week.

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland assessed dietary habits of 2,332 men aged between 42 and 60 years during 1984-1989. The study found that egg consumption was associated with a lower risk of Type-2 diabetes as well as with lower blood glucose levels.

High carbohydrate diet (cereals, sugar) is also one of the reasons related to the onset of diabetes.

Chicken, eggs and fish are the most preferred in India.

They are excellent low-calorie and low-fat source of high-quality protein that provides important nutrients throughout our lives – from pregnancy through our later years. It is cheaper, easily digestible, and good for diabetic patients too. Chicken is the most consumed meat worldwide. Eggs produced in our country are exported too.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee issued recommendations to use eggs for birth to 24 months old and specifically recommended eggs as an important first food for infants and toddlers, as well as for pregnant and lactating women. Eggs are one of the best sources of choline, an essential nutrient critical for foetal brain development. The Advisory Committee classified choline as an important nutrient that is under-consumed. Importantly, pregnant women fail to meet the daily adequate intake recommendations for choline.

Most Indians are non-vegetarian: An analysis of the national health data revealed that 80% of Indian men and 70% of Indian women have non-vegetarian food, BusinessToday.In   New Delhi, May 22, 2018  

Considering the current scenario in the country, one would easily be misled to believe that India is dominated by vegetarians. However, that is not the case. Only a portion of the country – the Northern states – make up for most of the vegetarians of the country, while the Southern and North-eastern states are predominantly non-vegetarian, with people consuming different types of meat, fish, and eggs.

Chicken and eggs to boost the immunity,

To be fit and healthy, a good immunity is very essential. As the age advances, the immune cell production decreases, that is why the elderly people are more susceptible to infections. Therefore the Intake of balanced food is very essential to boost the immunity.

Foods rich in protein: The protein rich foods of animal origin are chicken, fish, eggs, milk and milk products. They contain all the essential amino acids that is why they are called as complete proteins. Further the vitamin B12 is present only in the foods of animal origin such as chicken, eggs, and fish, milk and milk products.  It is absent in foods of Plant origin.

The American Nutrition Advisory Committee also noted eggs are a source of vitamin D, a nutrient of public health concern. Doctors recommend providing eggs, chicken and fish to Corona patients to boost the immunity.

Protein malnutrition in India: Using eggs in fight against hunger and malnutrition

In India today, reports indicate that 68% of the population are protein deficient. Protein deficiency starts at a very young age and is seen at alarming rate in school going children. As per Govt of India statistics:   36% children below 5 years are underweight and 38% are stunted. Children and adults with protein deficiency succumb more easily to infections. Every meal should have adequate amount of protein, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Eggs are good for all age groups, especially for children and nourishing mother. According to the Indian Dietician Association eating only vegetarian diet will not meet our daily protein requirements.

Promotes heart health:

Chicken being rich in vitamin B6 plays an important role in preventing cardiac arrest. Vitamin B6 helps by lowering the levels of homocysteine, one of the key components linked to an increased risk of cardiac arrest. The American Heart Association also recommends consumption of chicken over red meat since it contains fewer amounts of saturated fats and is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that exhibit beneficial cardiovascular effects.

Chicken and eggs enhance mood and relieves stress:

Chicken has two nutrients that are great for reducing stress and enhance mood.  It contains an amino acid tryptophan and Vitamin B5. Both of them have a calming effect on our body and this makes chicken an excellent option after a stressful day.  Tryptophan is responsible for raising serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is the “feel-good” hormone linked with mood.

Finally Sir, we are happy to meet you in this regard and give further clarifications on the above topic at your convenient time.

Through this letter, we would like to request you to stop spreading unscientific facts about eggs and chicken.

With regards

Prof. G. Devegowda

President, Institution of Veterinarians of Poultry Industry (IVPI)

Emeritus Professor and Head, Dept. of Poultry Science, UAS, GKVK, Bengaluru

Mob 9845324750, email devegowgag@gmail.com .

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