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11 Triggering Causes Of Malnutrition – Also Know Its Symptoms, Effects & Treatment

“Mal” meaning negative or bad! Mal-nutrition? Sounds disheartening. Doesn’t it? To know that people who cannot afford to buy food suffer from this condition where their body does not acquire required nutrients! But, do you perhaps know that there are other causes of malnutrition too! Like people who are obese also suffer from malnutrition? Read on to know.

11 Causes Of Malnutrition
Tables of Contents
What Is Malnutrition?
Malnutrition In India
Causes Of Malnutrition
Effects Of Malnutrition
Treatment Of Malnutrition
Malnutrition Symptoms
Prevention Of Malnutrition In Rural Areas
Prevention Of Malnutrition In Urban Areas

What Is Malnutrition?

You will be surprised to know that malnutrition can also be seen in people who are overweight. To put everything in simple terms, relying on a diet that does not contain “required” nutrients (lack of nutrients or excess nutrients) causes malnutrition.

So when a person consumes foods that are high in calories and less in nutrients, he may also be susceptible to malnutrition(1). It is basically the lack of nutrients or excess nutrients in foods which you consume that causes malnutrition.

This is what sums up to the meaning of malnutrition! Mal meaning bad (whether it is less or more) and you can therefore see two categories of malnutrition.

  1. Undernutrition
  2. Overnutrition

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Malnutrition In India

Colorful people, busy roads, rich traditions, and at the top of these unity that still withstands in the diversity is what makes India versatile. But, India is also one such country where the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.

Economic growth however happens, and this helps the rich but what about the slums? They remain the same, only to be utilized as shooting spots for some blockbuster movies.

So, when we talk about the causes of malnutrition, the rich gain excess nutrients and the poor suffer from lack of nutrients! But are these the only two causes of malnutrition? You will be surprised to know that improper nutrition can occur due to some unfortunate health problems like difficult in swallowing too.

Here are some other surprising causes of malnutrition.

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Causes Of Malnutrition

Lack of nutrients can occur because of any possible means that does not let your body receive them. Here are the different possible ways in which a person may stop receiving the required amount of nutrients.

1. Poverty

Poverty - cause of malnutrition

I had to start with this because this is the most happening thing and a vast majority of people living in India live below the poverty line. Forget about a proper nutrition! They do not even get to fill their stomachs and they starve and die of hunger and this is because they are deprived of wealth.

Can we tackle this problem? One strategy that seemed the best and thoughtful to me was the provision of meals at an affordable cost so that no single person dies of hunger.

Supplying fortified food is another best option wherein the food is added and packed with several nutrients so that people who consume such foods get largely benefitted by procuring the required amounts of nutrients.

What else could be the best option other than supplying cheaper foods with fortified nutrients?

2. Difficulty In Swallowing

Difficulty In Swallowing

If you can happily eat your foods by properly chewing them and swallowing them without any difficulty, you can consider yourself lucky because there are many people out there who suffer from a condition called dysphagia(2), in which they cannot directly swallow the foods

It is a condition wherein a person feels that the food is stuck in his throat or his chest and he does not have the capability to swallow it directly because of the pain that is associated with the difficulty. The major cause for this is the damage to the oesophagal lining.

Since there is a decreased intake of the foods that are brought about by the condition, it may become one of the major causes of malnutrition.

3. Negligence

Are you habituated of consuming all the varieties of junk foods? I agree that some foods might tempt you and you may be inclined towards them because of the delicious taste but you need to understand that simply gratifying your hunger with some foods is nowhere beneficial to your health.

By relying on tasty foods, you may gratify your taste buds, but you will be deprived of all the essential nutrients and this is an indirect way of landing yourself in a trouble zone.

If you are really addicted to eating junk foods, you can schedule your diet plan in such a way that you get to eat your favourite foods once in a while and plan to include the rest of your food with all the nutritious and healthy ones.

4. Dental Problems

Dental Problems

If you have ever put on new braces or dentures to solve your dental issues, you must have endured an unbearable pain that is caused due to these and an extreme difficulty to savour the foods of your own choice.

Some people face a lifetime problem with dental issues which does not let them consume foods, and this may gradually decrease the food intake and cause malnutrition.

You can consult your doctor to take some suggestions on some best ways to consume foods so that your teeth, gums or the area of problem does not hurt. A dental issue should not in any way hamper your nutrition.

5. Imbalanced Diet And Lack Of Knowledge

Imbalanced Diet And Lack Of Knowledge

A regular and timely food intake does not necessarily mean that your body and health are being benefited with the required nutrients. You must ensure that your diet includes all the essential vitamins and nutrients.

If your daily food intake exceeds the required amounts, it may lead to overweight or obesity. Designing a diet plan that involves all the required nutrients is the only way to ensure that your body is acquiring proper nutrients.

6. Certain Mental Disorders

Certain Mental Disorders

Loss of appetite is one of the major symptoms of health-related disorders and one such particular mental health condition that leads to this symptom is depression. The cases of malnutrition that are seen due to depression are more common in elderly people who feel lonely and isolated.

Other mental health causes of malnutrition other than depression include

  • Bulimia – An eating disorder
  • Schizophrenia – A mental disorder characterized by hallucinations and delusions
  • Dementia – Loss of memory

Read More: Dementia Symptoms

7. Heavy Drinking

Heavy Drinking

One major effect of alcohol on nutrition is that alcohol is high in calories which is why excessive consumption of alcohol results in loss of appetite.

A habit of continuous alcohol ingestion may decrease the intake of foods and this does not let the nutrients reach your body in the first place. Apart from this, excessive drinking can also decrease your body’s capacity to absorb the minerals and vitamins.

A continuous intake of alcohol slows down the body’s metabolic functions and damages the organs that play a vital role in the absorption of the nutrients.

8. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa

If you know someone who is on a strict diet and refuses to take any kind of food, you may have to very particularly attentive about their behaviour because they could be suffering from an eating disorder called Anorexia Nervosa(3) which can be one of the causes of malnutrition.

This type of eating disorder is most commonly seen in teenagers and young people who are obsessed with their weight and go on a strict diet in an attempt to look slim and curvy.

Being on a diet is beneficial only when the diet plan that you follow is healthy (enriched with nutrients) Otherwise, being on a diet would really serve no purpose and you will only end up harming your own body

9. Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric Surgery

Can you successfully lose weight if you follow a strict diet plan and work hard to follow a vigorous work out regime? Losing weight by following some simple tips and remedies and making a perfect plan to shed calories is the best way to lose weight in just a few months.

Unfortunately, most people go for surgical methods in which a part of their stomach is removed (stomach size gets reduced) which they feel is the easiest way to lose weight.

The worst part of these kinds of surgeries is that the efficiency and working capacity of the stomach may get reduced due to which the proteins do not get absorbed properly. Bariatric surgery is one such type of obesity surgery that may lead to malnutrition.

10. Improper Care During Pregnancy

Effects Of Alcohol On Pregnancy

Pregnancy or motherhood is so special but the health and wellbeing of the child are as important as that of the mothers. Any minor negligence can lead to birth deformities.

The adverse effect is not only seen in the child’s health, but the abnormal dietary habit can also show a huge negative impact on the mother’s health in the following way.

Effect Of Improper Nutrition On Mother’s Health

1)    Anemia and general weakness

2)    The poor resistance which that leads to infections

3)    May damage the neurological system of the person

4)    May cause bleeding or miscarriage

Effect Of Malnutrition In Children

1)    Improper skeletal development

2)    Rickets

3)    Obesity

4)    Diabetes

5)    Osteoporosis

6)    Abnormalities related to heart, brain, intestines or liver.

11. Crohn’s Disease

Crohns Disease

A sudden weight loss and a loss of appetite are the two major symptoms of Crohn’s disease which affects a person’s nutrition when he is suffering from Crohn’s disease.

The exact cause for this disease is unknown, but the disease is hereditary. Sometimes, a bacteria or a virus may invade a person’s body which results in an abnormal immune response that in turn damages the digestive cells of that person.

The result is the inflammation of the digestive tract which causes a severe abdominal pain and discomfort with severe nausea and headache which makes the disease one of the causes of malnutrition.

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Effects Of Malnutrition

If malnutrition is not treated properly, you may witness the following effects of malnutrition on your health.

    Inability to perform the daily chores

    Loss of muscle fat, weak and fragile bones

    Respiratory diseases (cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)

    Inability to concentrate

    Loss of interest in physical activities

    Low libido

    Slow wound healing

    Irregular menstrual cycles

    Kidney failure

    Nervous disorders (mainly affects the central nervous system)

    Anaemia

    Low immunity

    Loss of vision

    Hair fall

    Weak immunity

    Overweight

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Treatment Of Malnutrition

Since there are many factors and bodily changes that occur due to malnutrition, the mode of treatment varies according to the condition of the affected person.

1. Feeding Tubes

Feeding Tubes

For those who find it extremely difficult to swallow the food, feeding tubes are arranged such that food is directly passed from the nose into their stomach. There is also certain equipment that is used to pass the food materials through the skin.

The person need not be bedridden in the hospital to get the treatment done. The treatment is shown how to perform in the initial stages after which the patient can carry the equipment to his home to perform the treatment at home.

2. The Dietician Who Prescribes A Particular Diet Plan

The Dietician Who Prescribes A Particular Diet Plan

If the patient is at the initial stages of malnutrition, the only treatment that he needs is a proper nutrient-rich diet plan.

Therefore, a dietician lists out all the nutrients that are required for the person to gather all the nutrients that are required for the person to cope up with his health condition and become healthy and normal which is the best treatment of malnutrition(4).

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Malnutrition Symptoms

Malnutrition symptoms do not essentially mean that the person externally shows the symptoms of fragile bones and a weak personality. Following are the other signs of malnutrition.

  • Intolerance to cold
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty to concentrate
  • Extremely dry skin
  • Depression
  • Inability to conceive
  • Loss of muscular fat
  • A sudden weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and general weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Hair fall
  • Constipation
  • Irregular periods or no periods
  • A bloated stomach

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Prevention Of Malnutrition In Rural Areas

A low income and poverty are of course the major causes of malnutrition in children as well as adults who live below the poverty line. If you really want the country to get rid of malnutrition, you can take an initiative and step for a good cause. You can educate the people about the importance of nutrition and encourage the supply of fortified foods in those areas.

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Prevention Of Malnutrition In Urban Areas

It is hard to believe that people who have the capability to buy food for their basic survival, still chose to eat those foods that are devoid of all the nutrients.

There are not too many ways to prevent malnutrition, because when the only cause is inadequate supply of nutrients, you need to follow a balanced diet that is enriched with all the essential nutrients so that you do not fall prey to all kinds of dreadful health disorders that are brought about due to malnutrition.

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