You’ve probably experienced it before—a busy schedule consumes your entire day as you work straight through lunch and late into the evening, rarely leaving your desk to take a break. Maybe you drink coffee and sodas instead of water; eat fast foods that are quick and convenient; or perhaps you simply forget to eat anything. Malnutrition, which occurs when you’re not eating enough food or the right types of food, is harmful for even healthy adults but especially young children who are still growing.
Let’s take a closer look at what can happen when you’re malnourished. But first, here are some facts that you need to know about hunger.
According to the U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an agency that fights hunger issues around the globe, roughly 805 million people don’t get enough nutrients to live a healthy life—that’s roughly one in nine people worldwide. Developing countries have the highest number of undernourished people (13.5 percent), which can lead to abnormal body function or, in severe cases, premature death. In fact, hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined!
The Health Risks of Malnutrition
Did you catch that office cold or flu after you skipped out on lunch and dinner to finish your monthly reports? When you don’t eat enough of the right vitamins and minerals, your immune system is weakened and your body is unable to adequately fight off disease and infection. This is perhaps the biggest reason why malnutrition is so dangerous in places where cholera, malaria, and other illnesses are still prevalent. Above all, malnutrition poses the greatest health risks early in life, as young infants who lack sufficient nutrients are more susceptible to growth stunts, learning disabilities, and even mental retardation.
Many other complications can result when you’re not getting enough nutrients, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Swollen or bloody gums
- Tooth decay
- Stomach bloating
- Inability to process minerals and nutrients (called secondary malnutrition)
- Deficiencies in iron, iodine, and vitamin A
If you or a small child has any of the above symptoms, make sure you seek medical attention immediately. Elite Care is open 24 hours a day with several convenient locations throughout Dallas, including The Colony, Coppell, Mansfield, and Plano.
Tips to Help You Stay Nourished
- Eat at least three or four times a day—plan on having vegetables and fruit with every meal
- Be mindful of when you eat (don’t wait too long as this can lead to overeating)
- Drink plenty of liquids and stay hydrated
- Vary the types of foods you eat—For example, you can get protein from meat, beans, peas, soy products, and eggs
- Pack snacks that you can eat on-the-go, such as granola bars, apples, and bananas
- Avoid consuming excessive amounts of sugar
- Get plenty of sleep
Join the Cause
If you’d like to get involved in the fight against hunger, there are several agencies that need your support. Action Against Hunger, Feeding America, and the World Food Programme are just a few of the organizations that you can sponsor to help starving people in impoverished regions. Additionally, ChildFund International helps hungry children get the support they need for a healthy and sufficient diet. Whether your donation is a few dollars or hundreds of dollars, your contribution could save a life.