Nutritional status is defined as the state of your current
health as related to your diet. For instance, if you are a
staving person, you would not be getting the calories and
nutrients that you need for optimum health. You would be
referred to as malnourished; basically meaning your
nutritional status is bad.
Malnutrition can occur from a diet which doesn’t provide
enough food. This situation happens during times of famine or
times of voluntary starvation. This can also occur if a
person has an eating disorder or because something disturbs a
person’s appetite like a life changing event. For instance,
older folks could be in risk of malnutrition because of tooth
decay or loss of appetite due to living alone and sometimes
just plain forgetting to eat.
Malnutrition can also occur from a diet which is lacking in a
specific nutrient. This type of nutritional inadequacy can
lead to a deficiency disease. One example of this disease is
beriberi. This is a deficiency disease where a person lacks
Vitamin B1 (thiamine).
Finally, malnutrition can occur from a disorder or a medical
condition which prevents the body from absorbing nutrients,
like protein or carbohydrates. A very common example of this
is diabetes. Diabetes is the body’s inability to produce
enough insulin. Insulin is the hormone which your body needs
to digest carbohydrates. Another deficiency disease is
celiac. Celiac disease is a condition where your body will
not digest gluten, which is a protein in wheat.
Nurses and doctors have many tools available to rate your
nutrition status if you are curious. For instance, they can
examine your family’s medical history and see if there are
any conditions that may interfere with your ability to
metabolize (digest) nutrients. They can also perform a
physical examination on you to look for signs of
malnutrition. Laboratory testing is also available on your
blood and urine and may identify early signs of malnutrition
as well. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you are in,
your aim should be to maintain a healthy and good diet.
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