Let's Talk About Malnutrition

August 31, 2012

When we hear the word malnutrition, we immediately think about not getting enough food. However, that issue has another name: it’s called undernutrition.
Undernutrition happens when the human body doesn’t get enough calories in order to function properly.

For millennia mankind has struggled with undernutrition. Only during the last century or so, in the most affluent societies, this issue has been almost eradicated. Unfortunately, it still afflicts the poorest parts of the earth where, people still struggles to get food on their plates daily.
Malnutrition, is broader category, that includes undernutrition but is not limited to it.
In fact, malnutrition has been defined as the condition resulting from an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, are in excess or are in wrong proportion.
In other words, malnutrition includes undernutrition, overeating and nutrients deficiency.
The latter being the insufficient and/or unbalanced supply of nutrients that the body needs.
So, even in affluent societies, where undernutrition is no longer an issue, and where we have the luxury of throwing away more food than we actually consume, malnutrition is still an issue.
How come? Because the modern unhealthy diet makes us overfed and overweight, but may fail to provide for all the micronutrients that the body needs to maintain optimum health.
And it’s this latter issue that I would to focus on today.

Are you getting all the nutrients you need?
Micronutrient deficiencies

Micronutrients deficiency happens every time your body lacks one vitamin or one mineral that is essential for your health. This causes an unbalance in the body that in the long term, and if repeated overtime, can lead to major health issues.
Researches are talking about this particular category of malnutrition as a ‘disease of civilization’ that is among the principal cause of deaths in developing, and affluent societies.
The issue with malnutrition is that the effects of it may become serious in the future, while they might not be evident in the present. Thus, one can think that he/she is doing fine but instead is setting the base for a future health ‘disaster’.
The so-called chronic diseases that trouble our modern societies (i.e., cardiovascular diseases and cancer) can all be linked, to a certain degree, to malnutrition as they are the consequence of a diet poor in essential nutrients.
What happens is that we’re getting plenty of calories but not all vitamins, minerals and antioxidants essential for wellbeing.  
As mentioned before, the danger with malnutrition lies in that it doesn’t strike instantly, but, instead, it creeps slowly and silently.
Over the years it gradually affects your body’s ability to fight disease and repair damages, and this can compromise your health.
As brilliantly stated “[the body] becomes compromised in its ability to protect you from disease, to repair and replace your damaged and dying cells and to heal you when you become sick.

How to avoid it?

In affluent countries, even though we have more than enough food to eat, too many of us end up overfed but malnourished; as the typical Western diet is way too high in so-called empty calories and too low in the nutrients necessary for optimal health.
In order avoid malnutrition it is sufficient to adopt an eating lifestyle aimed to achieve ideal nutrition.
The recipe is always the same: a clean, healthy diet. That is to say, eating lots of fruits and vegetables (preferably organic), unrefined grains and lean sources of proteins, and limiting the consumption of bad foods!


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