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Malnutrition In America- Are We Getting Enough Nutrients From Food Alone?



Soil Erosion and Nutrient Content in Produce

Since the dawn of agricultural development, crops have become hybridized in color, texture, flavor, smell, and appearance to be more appealing but, sadly, less nutritious than they were 100 years ago. Farming is now mass-produced and distributed on vast scales accounting for over 800,000 acres of American Soil in 2020. This mass-scale production of farming and soil cultivation is throwing the earth's natural soil/nutrient cycle out of balance, depleting the nutrient content, leading to soil erosion. An example would be wheat's nutrient content today compared to wheat 50 years ago. According to the American Society For Horticultural Science, a study conducted on wheat examined six mineral nutrient levels and when compared to wheat from 50 and even 100 years ago, the nutritional levels had receded by 22-39%. This is a significant loss of minerals.

What Are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are vital to the body and are required in smaller amounts than macronutrients but contribute just as much to maintain the body's many health parameters.

Examples of micronutrients are vitamins and minerals as well as trace minerals.

Micronutrient Deficiencies

Micronutrient and nutritional deficiencies can manifest in either underweight or obese populations as malnutrition. Malnutrition refers to deficiencies, excesses, or imbalances of nutrients that contribute to a person's energy intake.

What causes malnutrition?

1. Restrictive diets can result in nutrient deficiencies. If a diet is restricting a macronutrient, generally, this can lead to nutritional deficiencies and possibly malnutrition.

2. Impaired GI tract and diseases of the gut such as Chron's Disease, IBD, IBS, or malabsorption issues

3. Drug use, both recreational as well as prescription medications; including alcohol

4. Genetic factors

5. Stress lowers the body of its magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, and niacin levels.

6. Diet and Lifestyle

7. Impaired gut microbiome

8. Food Scarcity (not enough access to fresh food)

9. Other diseases


Malnutrition Facts In America

1. 94% of Americans do not meet their vitamin D levels

2. 1.9 billion adults globally are both obese and malnourished

3. 80% of Americans do not consume the daily recommendations

4. 75% do not consume the recommendations for fruit

5. 1 in 3 people suffer from malnutrition

6. 2 billion people globally do not eat enough vitamins and minerals per day

7. It can lead to cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus

Who Is At Risk of Malnutrition and Nutritional Deficiencies?

The populations most at risk are individuals who suffer from disease or absorption issues or individuals living in areas lacking in food availability. Women, infants, children, and adolescents are also at an increased risk of malnutrition, especially under the poverty line. Older adults are at an increased risk because of natural processes from aging and their lowered self-efficacy. Malnutrition is also correlated with diseases of the bowel, alcoholism, and inadequate diet.

Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiencies and Malnutrition

1. Pale, peaked skin

2. Fatigue

3. Trouble breathing

4. General weakness

5. Hair loss

6. Abnormal cravings

7. Lightheadedness

8. Depression

9. Poor concentration

10. Fainting

11. Sleepiness

12. Constipation

13. Delayed wound healing

14. Compromised immunity



Conclusion

Nutritional deficiencies and malnutrition are not only a national problem, but a global one as well. It can be difficult to know if you may have a nutritional deficiency. If you suspect a deficiency or malnutrition may be causing symptoms, talk with your medical doctor to have a blood panel done.


If you would like to learn ways to increase nutrition and apply practices to lower stress, systemic inflammation, and improve mood and well being, please schedule a free 15-minute consultation call by clicking on the Schedule An Appointment section.


*For a full view of the slides that accompany this post, please visit my instagram page at https://www.instagram.com/alpha.immune.nutrition/


References

WHO. (2020). Malnutrition. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/malnutrition

Nursing Times. (2009). Malnutrition. Retrieved from https://www.nursingtimes.net/archive/malnutrition-20-05-2009/#:~:text=Malnutrition%20is%20caused%20by%20a,number%20of%20circumstances%20and%20conditions.

Statista. (n.d.). Total area of land in United States farms from 2000 to 2020 (in 1,000 acres). Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/196104/total-area-of-land-in-farms-in-the-us-since-2000/

NCBI. (2010). Malnutrition: causes and consequences. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4951875/

Oregon State University. (2010). Micronutrient Inadequacies in the US Population: an Overview. Retrieved from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/overview

American Society For Horticultural Science. (2009). Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is the Evidence? Retrieved from https://journals.ashs.org/hortsci/view/journals/hortsci/44/1/article-p15.xml#:~:text=Three%20kinds%20of%20evidence%20point,2)%20three%20recent%20studies%20of

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