When food intake fails to meet the body's
nutritional requirements, we may suffer from malnutrition. Our body
cannot function normally because it does not have enough energy and
essential nutrients such as amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and
minerals to maintain its activities. We may experience weakness,
dizziness, weight loss and become susceptible to infections.
The effects of vitamin and mineral
deficiencies can also arise. In certain cases, this can lead to mental
or physical disability, illness and possible, death. The effects of
malnutrition are more noticeable in hospitalized patients. Malnutrition
can in fact aggravate the underlying disease conditions and increase the
risk of complications such as infections and impaired wound healing.
Malnutrition can also affect muscle function and strength. On the whole,
malnourished patients suffer from more complications and have a greater
risks of death.
However, all is not lost. People with
special dietary needs or restrictions can still stay strong. Nutritional
support can help them fulfill their nutrient requirements and hence
prevent malnutrition. Besides hospitalized patients, generally, people
with special dietary needs are also at risk. For example, infants and
children run higher risks because of their higher nutritional
requirements. Injury and illness also increase the demand for energy and
The elderly and people with chronic diseases
such as diabetes and high cholesterol, have dietary restrictions.
Feeding can also be a big problem as they may be choosy with food and
refuse to eat or have poor appetites as a result of their diminished
sense of taste and smell. Consequently, they do not get enough nutrients
from their food and thus suffer from malnutrition.
Another group concerns people who lead a
very stressful lives. They tend to skip meals because of their busy
schedules. Patients who have gastrointestinal problems, especially
surgical cases and those who suffer from liver or kidney ailments, may
have symptoms of malabsorption and are prone to developing vitamin and