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What Is Malnourishment?

Malnourishment can be very harmful. You should be informed of the possible signs of malnourishment.

What is malnourishment?

The World Health Organization refers to malnourishment as deficiency in nutrition and/or energy in the form of calories. Malnourishment can take place in two forms. One of the two forms of malnourishment is "undernutrition" and the other form is "overnutrition" or also known as "overweight." A simpler way to explain undernutrition is that your body uses more energy than it takes in, causing starvation.

Who is at risk?

Malnourishment can be and will be a dangerous thing to to happen to people of all age and size. There are currently over 1.8 billion adults who are overweight and almost 500 million underweight, or undernutriented. As for kids under the age of 5, 40 million of them will either be under or over, malnourished. Studies also show that one of every three people who enter a hospital may be malnourished and during their stay will become even more malnourished. Another study also shows that 45 percent of people who had a fall in hospitals are malnourished and don’t have enough energy to stay up and walking. 

Why are people malnourished?

The number one reason why so many people are malnourished is because of an economy problem. Many of the malnourished kids are in Africa where they’re economy system is unstable. The World Health Organization also stated that starvation and malnourishment is responsible for 50 percent of child death in Africa. That also means over 3.1 million kids in Africa under 5 dies each year due to malnourishment. Even if people aren't in Africa they still might be malnourished due to a personal financial problem.

Other reasons why people are malnourished or starving will include war, drought, famine, poor animal population, and poor crop yield.

How to Identify Malnourishment

If you think you might be malnourished you should check these early symptoms: impulsivity, irritability, and hyperactivity. As your stomach gets more empty, you will feel more hungry. To prevent this your body will take up a lot of stored solid fat and muscles and break them down and will "eat" the cell tissues. Catabolism is the term used when your body breaks and eats fat and muscle tissue. Fatigue will occur when your body has consumed a lot of energy. In more extreme situations you will be too tired to even move due to lack of energy and low muscles and too tired to even eat to gain more energy. Other things malnourished people often do is forget to drink water. Malnourished people often don’t sense the need for water and become dehydrated and if left untreated will become extremely dehydrated. Other things that could happen is with a weakened immune system, you could develop fungi under your esophagus that could range in painfulness. With malnourishment, you will also be low in vitamins and will start to gain more sickness like anemia.

How to Treat Malnourishment

While feeding, you should be careful of overfeeding due to risks of causing the refeeding syndrome. Refeeding is a serious condition and has a chance to lead to death if not taken seriously. The Refeeding Syndrome is a condition where you begin to feed someone who has not eaten for a long time. The reason why this is deadly is because the person suddenly gets a whole lot of energy and electrolytes when exposed to little or no energy for a long time. Food should be given in very small amounts and should be increased by small portions. You could also feed (or take) liquid food either by blending it or giving juices with high nutritional value. The reason for this is because they probably don’t have enough energy stored up to chew and digest the food. Many organizations were formed in order to combat starvations in continents and countries like Africa by reducing famine and providing medical aid.

What nutrients are needed to survive?

There are five main nutrients that are needed to survive. These nutrients are Carbohydrates (Carbs), Protein, Fats, Vitamins/Minerals, and Water.

Carbohydrates are the only fuel that the brain needs. Carbs are used to fuel up body parts but mainly the brain. Carbs include glucose and your cells absorbs them and them uses them as energy. You can get Carbs from whole wheat and rice.

Protein is a nutrient mainly to build and repair muscles. If you work out you probably have a high intake of Protein to get bigger muscles. Protein has amino acids and can build hair, nails, muscles, and bones. Protein can also make good hormones.

Fats may first to be thought as a bad thing but may actually be a good thing. For malnourished people fats are to provide additional energy when not eaten for some time, or uses more energy than consumed, meaning it can "feed" the body without physically eating though the mouth. If Carbs aren’t available to provide necessary energy than Fats will kick in to replace the energy needed. Fats can also be a protective barrier and protect vital organs from exterior damage.

Vitamins and minerals are very important to maintain optimal health. It is made to boost and function multiple organs and different body parts. In kids and teens it is also good for maximum growth and development. Each different vitamin and mineral can and will help a specific part of the body. An example of this is Calcium helps bones grow and develop. Vitamins and minerals can mainly come from vegetable and fruits.

Water is a very important thing for your body. Without it, you will die in a few days. Water starts and makes vital organs work and makes them work more successfully. Water can also distribute vitamins and minerals across your body. Another thing that water can do is that it can wash out all your waste from your system, preventing infections and sickness.

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