Undernutrition, can be caused by a lack of calories, protein or other nutrients. It also can be the result of an eating disorder, chronic illnesses, or severe physical injury. Overnutrition comes from eating too many calories. Someone can be obese and malnourished at the same time. They may be consuming enough or too many, calories but not eating enough nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, beans, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds. This can result in vitamin, mineral or protein deficiencies.
Also to be aware that not every calorie is created equal, as each food has a specific effect in digestion, absorption, and distribution in human body. For example, with 100 calories from protein and from carbohydrate, body reacts differently. Eating foods that are nutrient dense and contain more protein, fat and slow-acting carbs helps us feel satisfied for longer. However, foods with high fibers are more difficult to digest and may cause bloating.
Even foods that have the same quantity of calories can be of different nutritional quality and can have very different effects on your health. Your body will use part of the calories you consume to help you digest and metabolize the foods you eat. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF) and varies based on the foods you eat. For instance, protein requires slightly more energy to be digested, whereas fat requires the least. About 10–15% of the calories you get from a meal will be used to support the TEF. The remainders of the calories you get from foods fuel your physical activity. When your body cannot use up all calories from intake, the unused calories will then be turned into fat for storage, commonly as belly fat.
Fact 2 Recognize multi-dimensional factors causing malnutrition in older adults and cultivating healthy eating is essential for well-being
Malnutrition in older adults can be caused by a variety of factors, including loss of appetite, lack of ability to chew and swallow, and increased use of prescription medications. Other risk factors include dementia, chronic diseases, and lack of access to optimally nutritious food, whether due to food insecurity or lack of ability to prepare and/or shop for food. In addition, psycho-social factors, such as loneliness and depression, also affect eating behavior.
As decreased appetite is associated with aging, focus on eating high-quality foods in appropriately sized portions becomes more important for older adults. Yet, many older adults have chronic conditions, such as high blood sugar/diabetes, high cholesterol/obesity, high blood pressure/heart disease, or dealing with treatments. You may have heard “food is medicine”. Nourish your body with real foods. Managing chronic conditions through nutrition is an effective approach and health coaching can provides nourishment support to serve your unique personal nutritional needs.
Healthy eating is essential for healthy aging. Since more research findings suggested added sugar linked with diabetes, heart disease, cognitive declines, cancer, and many other conditions, watch sugar intake and glycemic index is important. There is a difference of food in spiking up blood sugar, which is measured by glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index rates the effect of a specific amount of a food on blood sugar compared with the same amount of pure glucose. An apple with a glycemic index of 28 (i.e., apple) boosts blood sugar 28%, while pretzels have a glycemic index of 83. A food with GI of 95% and above acts as pure glucose.
Low glycemic index (GI of 55 or less): Most fruits and vegetables, beans, minimally processed grains, pasta, low-fat dairy foods, and nuts.
Moderate glycemic index (GI 56 to 69): White and sweet potatoes, corn, white rice, couscous, breakfast cereals such as Cream of Wheat and Mini wheat.
High glycemic index (GI of 70 or higher): White bread, rice cakes, most crackers, bagels, cakes, doughnuts, croissants, most packaged breakfast cereals.
High-quality foods include unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy sources of protein; these real foods nourish heart health, cognitive function, immunity, strong muscles and bones, and overall well-being.
Lower-quality foods include highly processed snack foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined (white) grains, refined sugar, fried foods, foods high in saturated and trans fats, and high-glycemic foods such as potatoes.
Trans fats are the worst fats for your health. These fats are made when hydrogen is added to healthy unsaturated fats to solidify them and make them less likely to spoil. Trans fats raise harmful LDL cholesterol, lower beneficial HDL cholesterol, increase inflammation, and make blood more likely to clot. The FDA has ruled that "partially hydrogenated" oils, the main source of trans fats in the American food supply, are no longer "generally recognized as safe."
Fact 3 Eating more will not prevent or correct malnutrition
There isn’t one “perfect” diet for everyone, food choice and eating behavior varies greatly based on individual differences in genetics, cultural, and lifestyle. Even the family is eating at the same table and sharing family meals, not everyone getting the same quality and quantity.
Malnutrition is an imbalance of nutrients—meaning your diet may be high in calories but is low in nutrients that your body needs. Rather than just eat more, malnourished individuals need to carefully adjust their diet to make sure they’re getting everything they need. Physical activity paired with good nutrition can help combat malnutrition by increasing muscle strength and overall well-being.
Another aspect is self-awareness for cravings and self-control for emotional or pleasure eating. If over-weight is your health concern, create and maintain a simple calorie deficit eating plan over a meaningful period. Eat each meal at about 80% full. Eat slowly and chew more will give you more full satisfaction and help with digestion. Don’t try any pills or diet that sound too good to be true, something like “no diet or exercise and still lose weight of 106 lbs”. Weight loss is a long game; take small steps toward your goal safely. Understand why and when you eat or not to eat, practice healthy eating and portion control, consciously make healthy food choices, paying attention to hunger and fullness cues, and promotes a positive relationship with food.
Plain and simple nutritional health rules
Do not put any toxics (such as cigarettes, abusive alcohol and drugs, disease-promoting junk fords, etc) into your body and cut back on processed, packaged foods. Eat mindfully for your nutritional needs.
Food is better than medicine. Make quality food choices in for daily meals and not rely on supplements. Prioritize plant based foods (i.e., fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds/nuts, whole grain) over processed food (i.e, packaged meats, baked goodies, chips/crackers).
Be aware of any nutritional deficiencies, even you appear to be well nourished. Your clinical laboratory test is a good tool for reveal signs of malnutrition. Discuss with your Doctor and taking corrective actions; follow medical guidance when taking supplements.
Engage in an activity routine and be active as much as possible. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week is a good start. Physical activities are not only for weight loss, but contributes important significance in your health and wellbeing. Keep in mind for safety first and work out at your comfort level. No need to push over your physical limit.
There is no magic diet; healthy eating is part of the lifestyle changes and you need to stick with it. It is a marathon, not a dash. Since each individual is unique, nutrition cannot be “one size fits all”. Health coaching offers personalized program for therapeutic life style changes. Quality Life Forum Health Coaching will provide guidance and support for your wellness. To learn more, Click coaching programs for details.
Malnutrition is a physical state of unbalanced nutrition. It can mean undernutrition or overnutrition. Malnourished individuals can be underweight or overweight, because you may eat enough food in calories but lack essential nutrients to be healthy. Malnutrition in older adults can be caused by a variety of factors. Eating more will not prevent or correct malnutrition. Malnutrition is an imbalance of nutrients—meaning your diet may be high in calories but is low in nutrients that your body needs. It's worth to note that not every calorie is created equal, as each food has a specific effect in digestion, absorption, and distribution in human body. Keep in mind for the plain and simple nutritional health concepts. Managing chronic conditions through nutrition is an effective therapeutic approach. Cultivating healthy eating is essential and you need to stick with it for healthy living.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional for personal conditions.
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