Malnutrition: what hinders nutrient ingestion and utilization?



What exactly is malnutrition?

Most know malnutrition as nutrient deficiency. One should know that it's also excessive nutrient intake or nutrient toxicity. Nutrient deficit and toxicity occur when an individual consumes less nourishing substances or excessive amounts as opposed to the reference intake. (consuming less than your body needs).


How is malnutrition a challenge to young developing kids?

The challenge arises when the best feeding habits and nutrition are not applicable together with proper guidance on which meals to take.


Malnutrition poses a challenge for young developing children because they rely on and require guidance on how to take their meals to avoid deficits or toxicity. A special diet is suggested to build their foundation in the early stages of life.


How does good nutrition shape a child's foundation and development?

Do you know that the food you offer to a young developing child has an impact? Just before the child reaches six months, exclusive breastfeeding is essential. Then, afterwards, complementary foods are introduced after six months.


The introduced complementary foods work effectively and shape the child's foundation only if planned well. If proper care is not taken, the child's health deteriorates.


Henceforth, good nutrition prevents children from acquiring protein-energy malnutrition. Their guardians should know that their vigorously developing children require enough calories and protein in their diets, and their nutrient requirements can be met when snacks are provided in between meals and finger foods in preschools.


Malnutrition is seen to affect households with food insecurity. The most vulnerable people tend to be affected most; women of childbearing age are at risk of malnutrition in cases of food shortages and inaccessibility to health care to acquire nutritional counselling to direct and give interventions concerning malnutrition. Women of childbearing age with poor nutrition tend to have complications when they enter vital stages such as pregnancy, and even their health affects the developing fetus.


Causes of malnutrition:


These factors can put one at risk of contracting malnutrition.


Poor dietary practises Individuals with poor feeding habits like skipping meals or restricting themselves from having meals and excessive nutrient intake compared to what their body uses are at risk of being malnourished.

Skipping meals lowers someone's metabolism, thereby affecting the number of meals consumed per day, resulting in inadequate nutrient intake.


Food insecurity: the unavailability of adequate foods in the household influences nutrient intake. Food insecurity leads one to poor dietary patterns, such as skipping meals. Most are unable to afford a balanced diet, which leads to poor feeding habits.


One's body is unable to absorb nutrients from their diet. The cause of this might be gastrointestinal disorders or medications that have led to drug-nutrient interactions, thus affecting nutrient absorption. Individuals with these problems should check it out with their doctors and dietitians.

Poor feeding habits include consuming food with some substances like caffeine and alcohol, which hinders nutrients like calcium and iron absorption.


Obesity is excessive nutrient intake.


It's determined by a body mass index of more than 24.5 kg/m2, which is above the ideal BMI. Overweight individuals who haven't received interventions to correct the condition are at risk of being obese. They develop an unhealthy nutritional status. They are unable to perform simple physical activities and house chores.


What can lead to obesity?


Being overweight and having a body mass index greater than ideal will put one at risk of being obese if not corrected.


Sedentary life-being inactive will influence one to accumulate fat in the body.

high-calorie intake is more than the individual's daily requirement. An individual consumes more than they burn. Excess calorie intake will cause excess glucose to be stored and converted by liver cells into fat.


Being obese contributes to hyperglycemia. or


elevated glucose levels in the blood. Blood sugars go above normal, which is more than 8.5 mmol/litre.



Hypercholesterolemia: elevated serum cholesterol levels. Bad cholesterol or fatty plaques accumulate in the walls of the blood vessels. Excess stored fat concentrates in the blood and blood vessels, putting one at risk of atherosclerosis. The accumulation of fat



The arteries narrow, thus slowing blood flow and giving the heart a hard time pumping blood. The heart, therefore, increases the pumping rate and the blood exerts pressure against narrow artery walls.


Obesity control and management


Exercising the body will aid in breaking down excess fat and burning some calories.


Avoid saturated fats—when obese, limit fat intake or opt for healthy fats which are unsaturated from plant products.


Fibre consumption-opt for complex carbohydrates because they contain fibre rather than refined foods without fibre (high glycemic index foods). Complex carbohydrates have fibre that regulates glucose absorption and binds fat, preventing its absorption.


Consume fewer dense calories from vegetables and fruits—vegetables and fruits are dense in micronutrients and low in calories.



Obesity is not only the cause of chronic diseases, whereas being underweight is also a risk factor for disorders like dental problems that are teeth not strong, osteoporosis, described as low bone density due to calcium deficiency, infertility, failure of certain organs, and death risk.


Is being underweight good?

Individuals prefer to be less overweight than be overweight, which is a risk of excessive fat in the body and obesity. Humans need an ideal body weight for a normal body mass index to stay healthy. Having a lean body with strong bones and tissues is better than possessing a heavy body full of fat or weak bones. Being underweight also contributes to some health problems, including less bone density associated with calcium deficit for calcification as described above (osteoporosis and dental problems).




Protein should be speared to allow the nutrient to regenerate worn-out structures.

Choose healthy eating habits such as eating small meals frequently rather than eating large meals at a time when digestion and absorption are difficult.


Consume whole grains and nuts. Nuts will help regenerate fatty tissues.

Consume protein-rich foods from both animal and plant products.


Underweight management entails increasing calorie intake to meet energy expenditure and focusing on protein utilisation to generate new cells, tissues and energy; following that, small-frequent meals are prescribed; thereafter, one should consume the calories required.


Individuals in this group have worn out subcutaneous tissue because they have a specific nutrient deficit(fats, carbohydrates, or proteins sometime) and a body mass index of less than 18.5 kg/m2.


High-calorie foods: carbohydrates, fats and proteins rebuilds worn-out subcutaneous tissues.




Underweight people with osteoporosis could have a calcium deficit due to their body not assimilating or themselves not properly getting from the diet.


What hinders nutrient ingestion and utilization?

Is there a problem that impacts your nutrient ingestion or utilization? Is this the main reason your nutritional status is declining or poor? Here are the related reasons for not gaining weight due to nutrient intake and utilisation issues:


Metabolic disorders—conditions like hyperthyroidism, which increase energy needs and metabolism. The release of excess thyroid hormone in the body does not hinder nutrient ingestion or utilisation but increases the metabolism rate, which mostly results in weight loss.



Food insecurity: household food unavailability can make you unable to afford a balanced diet to keep you healthy. Some worry that if they eat all their meals, they will be exhausted, and for this reason, they skip meals to conserve energy for future use.


Malabsorption refers to the inability to absorb nutrients from your diet. This occurs due to medications and gastrointestinal disorders such as chronic pancreatitis or surgery of the intestine.


The reason you might be undernourished is that the drugs you take interact with nutrients, lowering nourishing material absorption and bioavailability. If you detect this problem and such changes in your body, check with your doctor and dietitian.



Poor feeding habits and high physical activity whilst skipping meals—restraining yourself from eating right while you are vigorously engaged in activities that burn a lot of calories. As a result, your body fails to meet your energy needs, leading to weight loss.



Dysphagia: When one experiences swallowing difficulties—one may suffer from macro-nutrient deficiency because the nourishing material in the system required to build and rebuild the body is declining. When nourishing substances are required to form body structures, catabolism will take over to break the body's complex molecules into energy.


 Catabolism is dangerous since body mass will be worn out, leading to being underweight, which is a sign of malnutrition. If you're

 experiencing swallowing difficulties, it's best to get in touch with your doctor for treatment.





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