Malnutrition is the condition where there is excess or deficiency of some nutrients in the diet. A number of health related problems can arise depending on whether there is under or over nutrition and to what degree it is present.
Malnutrition not only deprives people of the necessary vitality and energy needed on a daily basis, it also lowers the body resistance. Malnourished individuals succumb to infections easily.
Under nutrition is a prominent cause for infections and death in children and adults in developing countries. In contrast over nutrition and imbalanced diet is a cause for many non communicable diseases in developed countries.
Scarcity of food, and spiralling food prices are the two main reasons for prevalence and aggravation of malnutrition, i.e. under nutrition not only in poor countries but also in developed western countries.
The poor and underprivileged remain malnourished for want of food. But many others also suffer from malnutrition due to several other reasons.
Food fads, i.e. having strong likes and dislikes for certain type of foods is a situation, where in spite of abundance of food, a person suffers from under nutrition. Eating junk food is yet another cause for malnutrition, because one satiates his hunger by eating some instant junk food.
Taking alcohol is yet another reason for malnutrition in individuals. Alcohol supplies no nutrient to the body and usually one does not have much appetite for food, after taking alcohol.
People having chronic illness like T.B. or cancer, lose their appetite and become malnourished. But after suitable treatment, they tend to regain their previous physical state.
Deficiency of proteins leads to reduced physical stamina of the body. In advanced cases, one can develop swelling over feet and body. Deficiency of iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 in the diet leads to anemia.
Severe anemia can result in cardiac failure.
Abnormal sensations in the limbs are result of deficiency of, Thiamine (vitamin B1),pyridoxine(vitamin B6) and cobalamin(vitamin B12). Whereas deficiency of niacin (vitamin B3), can cause dermatitis and even impair the intellect of a person in severe cases.
Night blindness, i.e. difficulty to see in the dark occurs due to lack of vitamin A. Swelling of gums and impaired resistance is due to deficiency of vitamin C.
Paucity of vitamin E, can cause sterility and aggravate cardiac problems as it also has a cardiac protective function.
Vitamin D deficiency coupled with that of Calcium leads to softening of bones.
On the other hand, overdose of vitamins can result in toxicity manifesting as body ache, vomiting, e.t.c
Excess consumption of calories results in obesity which is a precursor of many diseases like hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, e.t.c. This occurs due to taking food with high calorie content like fried foods, ice creams, cakes, e.t.c. and not doing any physical work which is necessary to burn the calories consumed.
Therefore it can be seen that how important it is for a person to take a,”correct”, diet to remain healthy.
Diet of a person varies according to the culture, local availability of food items, and his likes and dislikes. But one has to be cautious to see that he takes all essential nutrients in the diet.
This includes necessary vitamins, minerals, proteins and calories along with trace elements.
A diet containing fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and cereals,, milk and milk products, fish and poultry products will supply all the necessary nutrition.
It is not good to depend on artificial food supplements to fulfill this requirement. Because artificial supplements like syrups and tablets containing cocktail of vitamins and minerals lacks the essential micro nutrients which can be found in fresh food only.
People need to be counseled about the nutritional value of locally available fruits and vegetables, so that they can use them properly.
This will ensure that they will get a balanced diet with all nutrients in their available resources.
Junk food and addicting substances like alcohol should be avoided totally. One should try to do good amount of exercise or physical work to avoid obesity.
Being well nourished is need of every human being. With a correct diet and adequate exercise, this can be accomplished.