Malnutrition is a term covering the broad condition of insufficient nutrient consumption or absorption. The insufficiency can be only an inadequacy of a single nutrient or as severe as starvation. In both instances, your body is in a malnourished condition.
Many factors can come into play to cause or result in malnutrition. Your condition may be due to:
- celiac disease
- cystic fibrosis
- Crohn’s disease
- inadequate diet
- unbalanced diet
- ulcerative colitis
- weight loss diets
- lactose intolerance
- inflammatory bowel disease
- cancers of gastrointestinal tract
Special group of concern are older adults, who often have other health issues that can lead to becoming malnourished, including:
- side effect of drugs
- Alzheimer’s disease
- diminished taste and smell
- appetite suppressing ailments
- trouble chewing and swallowing
- illnesses that affect mental functioning
- Parkinson’s ~ interferes with swallowing
- some overweight seniors are malnourished
- dental issues ~ gum disease, cavities and poorly fitting dentures
- trouble absorbing nutrients (malabsorption) due to physiological changes
- chronic illness which interfere with ability to shop, prepare meals, feed themselves
- digestive enzymes & acids diminish ~ interfering with protein breakdown, reducing absorption of vitamin B12, folate, calcium, iron
In many mild cases of malnutrition, the poorly nourished may not experience accompanying symptoms. However, the more you are missing, the more likely you’ll receive some sign related to the lacking nutrient.
There are some very broad general indications, signs or signals that may help heads you up to a nutrient deficiency, like:
- low energy
- weight loss
- tooth decay
- poor growth
- bruise easily
- dry, scaly skin
- muscle twitches
- bloated stomach
- slowed reactions
- attention difficulty
- muscle weakness
- poor wound healing
- swollen/bleeding gums
- organ function problems
- decreased/poor immune response/function
- osteoporosis/fragile bones that break easily
I know, I know. Kinda vague, and many apply to a boat load of other medical conditions.
If you haven’t guess it, treatment usually consists of replacing missing nutrients. And, of course, treating any underlying medical condition as well.
Fortunately, many of the harmful effects of malnutrition can be reversed. Unless your case is so severe that irreversible brain or nerve damage is experienced.
Keep in mind that the most common form of malnutrition in the world is iron deficiency. Another nutrient concern is vitamin B12 for those following a non-meat diet.
Get your diet balanced, feet moving and weight under control toward a health filled existence.