Wahine Charitable Trust creates a new benchmark for wellness

The power of women enhanced: India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Neeta Bhushan with Mallika Janakiraman (to her right) the Advisory Team and Volunteers of Wahine Charitable Trust at the Iron Awareness Week Finale held at Sacred Heart College Auditorium on September 3, 2023 (Photo Supplied)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, September 9, 2023

Programmes to promote greater awareness of nutrition among South Asians in general and women in particular, the need to herald a new era of wellness among women and the importance of rising above polarising thoughts and actions were among the highlights of an evening of education and culture in Auckland on September 3, 2023.

India’s High Commissioner to New Zealand Neeta Bhushan was the Chief Guest at the event held at Sacred Heart College Auditorium in Glendowie, located in the Northeastern extent of the Auckland Isthmus. The programme was the culmination of an eventful week which began on August 28, 2023 in Dunedin under the theme, ‘Iron Shakti Plus: Be Informed! Be Inspired.’

A curtain raiser in Dunedin

Organised under the Wahine Charitable Trust banner by Dr Carthika Luxmanan in collaboration with the Dunedin Tamil Society (of which she is the Vice-President) and Arasan Trust New Zealand, it was a fitting curtain raiser to seven days of various activities undertaken by the members, volunteers, partners and supporters of the Trust.

“We are happy that our Programme commemorated the 10th Annual World Iron Awareness Week. It helped our communities in the far South Island to understand the effects of iron deficiency and the significance of a healthy diet that satisfies the norms of good nutrition,” Dr Luxmanan said.

Connected to the Iron Awareness Programme was the Millets and Micronutrient Iron Rich Magic Recipe Contest held on August 19, 2023 at the Yates Room of the Onehunga Community Centre in  Auckland.

Wahine Charitable Trust Chairman Mallika Janakiraman said that 2023 is being observed as the International Year of Millets following a proposal from India to the Food and Agricultural Organisation.

“The International Year of Millets 2023 is an opportunity to raise awareness of the multiple benefits of millets, from nutrition and health to environmental sustainability and economic development.

Millets are good sources of minerals, dietary fibre, antioxidants and protein. With a low glycaemic index, they are a good option for people with high blood sugar. Millets are also gluten-free and an excellent and cost-effective source of iron for iron-deficient diets. As whole grains, each variety of millet provides different amounts and types of fibre. Dietary fibre has a role in regulating bowel function, blood sugar and lipids, and satiation,” she said.

An applause to Wahine: India’s Ambassador to New Zealand speaking at the Wahine Charitable Trust Awareness Week Finale held at Sacred Heart College Auditorium on September 3, 2023 (Photo Supplied)

Culinary Experience with Peter Gordon

New Zealand’s Celebrity Chef Peter Gordon was at hand at a culinary event held on August 30, 2023 as a part of the Iron Awareness Programme.

He showcased a salad using Lamb shreds and an interesting vegetarian option, leading to a delectable dish. The cooking school brought together around 20 women and their families to experience the art of cooking healthy food while understanding more about iron deficiency and nutritional anaemia.

Ms Janakiraman acknowledged the expertise and support of the Wahine Charitable Trust Advisory Team and Balachander, a Fusion Chef at Sahana South Indian Restaurant.

High Commissioner Neeta Bhushan

High Commissioner Bhushan underscored the importance of nutrition for healthy living and said that such programmes organised by Wahine Charitable Trust are useful to all communities.

“Our High Commission will always support such activities as they raise awareness on a number of issues and encourage our communities to lead healthy lives,” she said.

Ms Bhushan also utilised the opportunity to provide an update on the moves to strengthen the bilateral relations between India and New Zealand.

Member of Parliament (National List) Melissa Lee spoke of the importance of iron in the human system and the impact of its deficiency, citing herself as an example. She later introduced her Party’s Auckland Central candidate Mahesh Muralidhar.

Expert Advice on Iron

Massey University Senior Lecturer (Exercise and Sports Science) Dr Claire Badenhorst, who was a Special Guest at the September 3 event, outlined the crucial role played by iron in health and development.

“Iron is an important ingredient in making haemoglobin in the blood, which carries oxygen around the body. The immune system also requires iron to function well. Too little iron in the blood can lead to paleness, tiredness and lethargy, making it harder to concentrate, and affecting our performance at work. In severe cases it can lead to other serious health issues including heart problems in adults and delayed growth or development and increased susceptibility to infections in children,” she said.

The Ambassadors of Good Health: Mallika Janakiraman (Back Row fourth from left) with her Advisory Team at the Iron Awareness Week Finale held at Sacred Heart College Auditorium on September 3, 2023 (Photo Supplied)

Dr Badenhorst’s research has included an analysis of the causal mechanisms of iron deficiency in athletes through the inflammatory-driven increase in the iron-regulatory hormone, known as hepcidin, in the post-exercise period and nutritional strategies to reduce the impact of this hormone. Nutritional strategies investigated included the role of carbohydrate or fat ingestion pre- and post-exercise.

Her current research is investigating the nutrient-nutrient interactions of Iron and Vitamin D status in females and the role of hepcidin in the development of these two prominent and related nutrient deficiencies.
She said that her future research is directed towards the implications of nutrient deficiencies in females.

“I have a keen interest in Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) and the effect on all athletes (males and females) and the extent to which this is present in the active general population. I am keen to extend my research to understand the health implications of an energy imbalance to help diagnose and understand RED-S,” she said.

The source of inspiration

Ms Janakiraman said that while Iron Deficiency is a common problem, many people are not aware of its occurrence and the way to overcome the problem.

She said that Wahine Charitable Trust was inspired by the Indian government’s ‘Anaemia Mukt Bharat Strategy’ (Eradication of Anaemia) to combat iron deficiency and nutritional anaemia.

“As a part of our efforts, we have launched the ‘Be Informed! Be Inspired!’ initiative, which is a United Call to Action. We have an ongoing campaign to engage women in promoting the good health of babies during the first 1000 days of their life. The campaign also aims to empower women of reproductive age in New Zealand. Iron Deficiency anaemia is a global public health priority as a critical driver of good health in women and children,” she said.

Ms Janakiraman said that about 30% of the world’s population suffers from iron deficiency.

“In New Zealand, one in 14 women are iron deficient. In India, nearly 52% or one in two women aged 15–49 years are anaemic. The loss of economic productivity due to anaemia is estimated at nearly 1.5% of the GDP, equal to about US$ 45 billion a year. The human body needs iron for mental and physical health, to keep energy levels up and build immunity to fight infections,” she said.

Promoting the importance of Iron and Good Health: The Volunteers of Wahine Charitable Trust at the Iron Awareness Week Finale held at Sacred Heart College Auditorium on September 3, 2023 (Photo Supplied)

The Wahine Ambassadors

Among the Advisors who were effectively Ambassadors of the Whine Charitable Trust taking part in the Iron Awareness Programme were Atrayee Roy, Dr Carthika Luxmanan, Stutie (Junoo) Sharma, Kavitha Raj, Kumuda Setty, Manjusha Mane, Praveena Karunaharan, Ramya Krishnan Damodaran, Ranjna Patel, Shazneen Irani and Sheethal Alam.

They were ably supported by Anita Vohra, Arunima Sharma, Hima Bindu Garikipati, Sharada Paladugu and Sujatha Gomathinayagam.

Ms Janakiraman said that the Trust has engaged with them as advisors and invaluable partners in its mission to deliver optimal nutrition and health, embracing a diverse range of expertise and creating maximum impact.

“By combining resources and knowledge, we forge a path towards co-created, personalised programmes that cater to unique needs. Through community-driven initiatives, we are dedicated to nurturing stronger, more resilient families. Together, we strive towards shared aspirations, fostering a future where wellness thrives,” she said.

Ms Janakiraman is a Registered Nutritionist with more than 30 years of intrapreneur and entrepreneur experience across academia, FMCG (Kellogg, Nestle and PepsiCo) and private consultancy. She has to her credit several thought leadership roles in various Food, Nutrition and Regulatory committees such as the Ministry of Woman & Child Development, Food Safety and Standard Authority India and others.

Wahine Charitable Trust Advisory Team and Balachander, a Fusion Chef at Sahana South Indian Restaurant.

Among the Sponsors of the Iron Awareness Programme of Wahine Charitable Trust were Beef + Lamb, New Zealand Nutrition Foundation, Vegetables New Zealand, Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Aotearoa, Tasty Nutrition, Fables (Design and Communications) and Indian Newslink.

Share this story

Related Stories

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Indian Newslink

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement

Previous slide
Next slide

Advertisement