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Diseases of Malnutrition
Malnutrition is a state where the body does not receive all the nutrients it needs to function
properly. This could be nutrients such as vitamin C or protein.
Deficiencies of certain foods are common in the less developed world because it is
harder to procure vitamin enriched foods. If you live in a well developed country such as the
UK, it is possible to purchase vitamins to supplement a diet if it is felt that you aren't getting
enough of a nutrient in fact there are entire shops dedicated to the provision of them.
About one in every three people in the world suffers from malnutrition, and half of all
child deaths in developing countries result from it.
Malnutrition has a lot of costs it can severely jeopardise the development of a country
due to the amount of people who have to become economically inactive due to ill health,
which does nothing to help the country out of poverty.
Malnutrition is not a disease in itself it causes many different diseases, depending on
what nutrient is missing from ones diet.
There are many diseases that can occur as a result of malnutrition.
Beriberi (deficiency of thiamine)
Beriberi is caused by a deficiency of thiamine, or vitamin B1 as it is more commonly known.
It has always been prevalent in Asian countries, and the cause of the disease was identified
in 1934. Beriberi is a result of rice being milled or polished, when the outer layer of the rice
gets polished away.
To make the lack of thiamine even worse, many foods eaten in this part of the world
actually have an antithiamine factor which means that any thiamine that enters the diet is
effectively "deactivated" so the body cannot use it. This is foods such as raw fish and tea.
There are two types of beriberi wet beriberi which affects the cardiovascular system,
and dry beriberi which can affect the nervous system. There is a genetic disease seen in
Europeans known as WernickeKorsakoff, where patients cannot bind thiamine and absorb it
effectively. This also affects the nervous system.
Wet beriberi Dry beriberi WernickeKorsakoff disease
Swelling of lower legs Tingling in limbs Irritability
Increased heart rate Loss of feeling in Confabulation
Congestive heart hands and feet (making up stories to
failure Vomiting cover memory loss)
Enlarged heart Strange eye Amnesia
Shortness of breath movements Confusion
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In the more developed world, beriberi is more commonly seen in alcoholics due to
their poor diets and that alcohol makes it harder to absorb thiamine, and some breastfed
However, the disease is prevalent in East Asia, where milled rice is a major part of the
diet, and where foods with an antithiamine factor are consumed too.…read more
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Proteinenergy malnutrition (PEM) can sometimes be a secondary condition of a disease
such as AIDS or trauma, where the energy needs of a person is increased, but mainly it is
found in areas of the world where people do not have access to an adequate food supply due
to factors such as famine, drought and political unrest.
One in every four children in the world is afflicted with PEM.…read more
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does not get enough vitamin D, then the body cannot absorb calcium and phosphorous
Skeletal deformities such as bowed legs, curved spine, pelvis deformities
Pain in bones
The skeletal deformities will usually show up in children who are still growing adults with a
vitamin D deficiency tend to develop osteoporosis.…read more