What is Hidden Hunger?
Did you know that almost every third person on earth suffers from an inadequate provision of vitamins and minerals? It’s not just people in developing nations, either. In fact, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, micronutrient malnutrition is common in the United States, with about 31 percent of the population at risk of micronutrient deficiencies. Deficiencies in nutrients like iodine, iron, folate, vitamin A, and zinc fall under the term “hidden hunger,” and the impact on a person’s health isn’t always acutely visible. Hidden hunger symptoms can be unspecific and include things like fatigue, exhaustion, loss of appetite, and vulnerability to infections or skin diseases. However, hidden hunger can lead to serious consequences, including a weakened immune system, physical disabilities, limited mental development, and even infant and maternal mortality. Being deficient in some nutrients can lead to chronic diseases; for instance, low magnesium intake is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, and impaired cognition.
Who is Most Vulnerable to Hidden Hunger?
The Western-type diet, high in calories and low in nutrients, is a common cause of micronutrient malnutrition. Older people and people of low socioeconomic status, those experiencing food insecurity, and those on low-nutrient or restrictive diets are particularly vulnerable. Hidden hunger in children and women of child-bearing age can be dangerous, and black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) are at higher risk of malnutrition. So are people with certain medical conditions, and long-term use of medication can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
What Can Be Done About Micronutrient Deficiencies?
To combat hidden hunger, vitamins and minerals should be consumed through a diet high in phytonutrients. These plant-based chemicals come from whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables spices, and herbs, and can have beneficial health effects. Only about one in 10 adults eat the recommended fruit and vegetable amounts in their daily diet, but consumption of these foods can reduce the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Ultimately, to overcome hidden hunger, certain causative problems must be resolved. Governments and development organizations must improve food security measures, and the diversity of nutrition must be supported, along with access to adequate food and sufficient quantity. The World Health Organization has made recommendations about the marketing of breast milk substitutes, as well as marketing foods with high fat, salt, and sugar to children, and governments must adopt international codes of conduct that embrace these recommendations. Those organizations working to combat malnutrition should focus on food security and the use of locally-available food crops, so that people can rediscover their regions’ natural resources.
Good Nutrition Leads to Better Health
At Advanced Functional Medicine, an integrated medical clinic, we exclusively practice functional medicine. A full functional medicine approach to healing uses a comprehensive diagnostic screening to get to the root of a patient’s issues. Our whole body approach to medicine utilizes all-natural, researched-based nutritional approaches to optimize the body’s natural healing abilities, rather than just using medication to treat symptoms. Each individual receives unique and customized care, formulated based on the latest scientific resource, and we have a 96 percent success rate in patient outcomes. As a medically driven, patient-focused health clinic, we support our patients’ individual health goals, providing natural relief for symptoms of chronic factors and expert guidance about the decisions affecting a patient’s long-term health. It is our goal to help reverse chronic disease without resorting to dangerous or unnecessary drugs or surgical interventions, promoting healing from the inside out, in its truest, healthiest form. To schedule an appointment or learn more about how we can help restore your health and strengthen your body’s unique physiological functions, call 858-500-5572 or contact us through our website.