Malnutrition doesn’t just happen to those in deprived circumstances.
The term “malnutrition” tends to conjure up images of people who live in less economically developed countries and suffer from food shortages. We rarely consider the possibility that those living in affluent countries could also be malnourished, but due to our modern dietary patterns, it is important to be alert to the signs and symptoms of nutritional deprivation.
But, how can a rich person become malnourished?
Just because a person ingests a sufficient number of calories on a regular basis does not mean that they are meeting all of their nutritional requirements. It is possible to maintain a normal or even high body mass yet fail to eat the kinds of food the body needs, which can result in malnutrition.
The Consequences of Malnutrition
A malnourished individual will not be able to live up to their full physical and mental potential. This is particularly important in the case of young children, who will not make the appropriate mental, physical and educational gains that they need to succeed in life if they do not receive a balanced diet. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, 85% of Americans do not consume adequate quantities of common vitamins and other nutrients needed to support all-round health. Malnourished individuals are more likely to suffer physical and mental illness. This has a knock-on effect for the economy, with work-based productivity impacted as a result.
Which nutrients do American people miss out on?
Fiber, vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3 are among the most important nutrients missing from the typical American diet. Weakness, tiredness, and a susceptibility to increased infections are among the key signs to watch for. If you experience these symptoms on a regular basis, it is time to review your diet and take a trip to your physician for a checkup.
A deficiency in fiber can lead to constipation and digestive sluggishness, which in turn can increase risk of hemorrhoids and colon cancer. Improve your fiber intake by eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Try some delicious smoothie recipes to make increasing your fruit intake simple.
Vitamins D, E, and A are required for healthy brain, skeletal, and immune functioning and are commonly underrepresented in the typical American diet. Along with regular exposure to sunlight, eating fortified cereal and dairy products a couple of times per day is the best way to ensure that you get enough Vitamin D. Vitamin E is important in supporting the immune system, skin, and eyes. Almonds, avocado, and spinach are great sources of this nutrient. Finally, Vitamin A is necessary for healthy vision. It is found in many vegetables including carrots and butternut squash. Learn how to cook some tasty vegetable-based dishes to boost your intake.
Minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium are key in the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. Nuts, seeds, dairy, and lean meats are great sources of magnesium and calcium whereas potassium is found in bananas, avocado, spinach, and coconut water.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important in managing blood pressure and safeguarding heart health. Key sources include cod liver oil, soybean oil, and flaxseed oil. Sardines and salmon are other great sources. Check out some salmon-based recipes here.
How can you track your nutrition?
Fortunately, there are easy ways to check your nutritional intake. For example, using an app such as Myfitness Pal can help you gain an overview of your daily consumption of key nutrients and help you make changes as required. It may seem daunting at first, but making a few adjustments to your daily diet and trying a few new recipes can help you become much healthier.
Featured photo credit: meta-chart via meta-chart.com
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