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Freedom from Malnutrition (Kuposhan Mukt Bharat)

Freedom from Malnutrition (Kuposhan Mukt Bharat)

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Freedom from Malnutrition (Kuposhan Mukt Bharat)

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi motivated people from different walks of life to support the commendable nutrition campaign which commenced on the 01st of September 2019. He has announced that September will be celebrated as the month of nutrition (Poshan maah). His objective is to provide a healthier life to women and children.

Let us now shed some light on what exactly is Kuposhan (Malnutrition)

Malnutrition

Malnutrition is related to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances in an individual intake of nutrients. It results when there is lack of food or no proper diet, that is, the intake of nutrients is too high, too low, and or poorly balanced. The malnutrition refers to three broad groups of conditions:

  • Under nutrition - It comprises of wasting, stunting and underweight.
  • Micronutrient - Related Malnutrition - It comprises of micronutrient deficiencies (lack of important vitamins and minerals) or micronutrient excess; and
  • Overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable disease condition (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers).

Causes of Malnutrition

Malnutrition is common condition in developing countries. Women (especially the pregnant or breastfeeding), children (especially under five years of age) and elderly are at particular risk of malnutrition.

Malnutrition can happen due to many environmental and medical conditions. The conditions that can lead to malnutrition are:

  • Low Intake of Food - This may be due to an underlying medical condition, for example, dysphasia (difficulty in swallowing). Badly fitting dentures may be the reason.
  • Mental Health Problems - Conditions such as depression, dementia, schizophrenia, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia can cause malnutrition.
  • Problems Related to Social and Mobility Issues - People cannot leave the house to buy food or find it physically difficult to prepare meals. Those who live alone and are isolated. People who do not have sufficient money to spend on food, and others have limited cooking skills.
  • Digestive Disorders and Stomach Conditions - Conditions where the body is not able to absorb nutrients efficiently. Continuous diarrhea, vomiting, or both can lead to a loss of vital nutrients.
  • Alcoholism - Alcohol addiction can lead to gastritis or damage to the pancreas. This makes it difficult to digest food, absorb vitamins, and secrete hormones that regulate metabolism. Alcohol has calories, so the person may not feel hungry.
  • Lack of Breastfeeding - Not breastfeeding can lead to malnutrition in infants and children.

Signs and Symptoms of Malnutrition are:

  • Lack of appetite

  • Tiredness and irritability

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Persistent feeling of coldness

  • Loss of fat, muscle mass, and body tissue

  • Depression

In case of severe condition, there can be:

  • Breathing difficulty

  • Skin may appear thin, dry, inelastic, pale, and cold

  • Cheeks become hollow and the eyes sunken, due to disappearance of fat from face

  • Hair becomes dry and easily falls out

Eventually, there will be failure of respiratory system and heart, and the person may become unresponsive. Total starvation can cause death within 8 to 12 weeks.

Diet in Malnutrition Condition

Diet plays an important role in the condition of malnutrition. A proper healthy, balanced diet is the appropriate and best way to ensure that the body gets the right amount of nutrients.

A healthy, balanced diet includes foods from all the major food groups. The four important food groups are:

  • Fruits and vegetables – at least five in a day
  • Foods containing starch - bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, and cereals
  • Milk and dairy foods – such as cheese and yoghurt
  • Non-dairy sources of protein and meat, eggs, fish, beans and nuts

Here, having a dietitian plays an important role and can be very helpful in choosing healthful food choices and dietary patterns for the individual, encourage them to consume a healthy, nutritious diet with the right number of calories.

Conclusion

With the PM backing the POSHAN (Holistic Nourishment) Abhiyan, launched in March from Jhunjhunu, the usually elusive convergence of effort by relevant ministries becomes somewhat easier.

Malnutrition has been a major cause of death in many countries. One of the main reasons behind malnutrition is poverty, the proper economic development. But with proper and targeted measures the problem of malnutrition can be dealt with.

Malnutrition can be managed by proper intake of healthy, balanced and nutritious diet. A dietician can be very helpful in maintaining a healthy and prosperous life.

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