In what could be good news for lakhs of fluoride-affected people in the country, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) here has found that consumption of 10 grams of boiled tamarind a day can help prevent skeletal fluorosis and dental fluorosis. There are about 230 fluoride-affected districts in 22 states where lakhs of people suffer from the crippling diseases.
Lab experiments at the NIN on eight groups of mice have showed positive results of the consumption of tamarind. The exact results with details will soon be published in a reputed journal. The experiments were conducted on eight groups of Vistar rats.
“Consumption of the 10 gms of boiled tamarind per day results in excretion of fluorosis from the body. In South India, tamarind is a key ingredient of sambar or dal. However, lately people are substituting expensive tamarind with tomatoes. People should not give up intake of tamarind in one form or another to fight fluorosis,” NIN’s senior deputy director Arjun Khandare of the Food and Drug Toxicology Centre told TOI.
In fluoride-hit villages in the country, skeletal fluorosis is cause of extreme physical deformity. The fluoride which enters the body system when ground water is consumed, or used for cooking, results in dental fluorosis as well. Though the only solution would be to provide clean drinking water, there is a mechanism to to remove fluoride content from water. However, over the years scientists at the NIN have been working on how consumption of tamarind prevents fluorosis. In the latest experiments on rats, scientists tried to completely understand how exactly tamarind works in flushing out the fluoride content from the body.
A few years ago, students of a hostel were served boiled tamarind as part of their meals after the scientists were certain of the positive effects of tamarind. The government had also decided to supply tamarind to all the hostels in the fluoride-affected villages in Andhra Pradesh.
A ‘national programme for prevention and control of fluorosis’ (NPPCF) has been taken up by the Union ministry of health and family welfare. Initially 100 districts were identified to take up surveillance, diagnostic services and health management there. This was extended to a total of 230 districts across the country because it was realized that the problem was huge.