Malnutrition—it does not always look familiar

Malnutrition is pandemic in America.  So is obesity.  Normally, when we think of malnutrition, we think of emaciated children in third world countries.  The World Health Organization says that over 600 million people are malnourished while over two billion are overweight or obese.

There are two types of malnutrition.  Undernutrition and Overnutrition.  Undernutrition occurs when a person is not consuming enough protein, calories, or micronutrients.  Some symptoms could be low weight, wasting, stunted growth, hair loss, and wrinkles.  We have some older people who come into the clinic who have no appetite.  Usually they live by themselves, and do not want to go through the effort of preparing meals.  Sometimes we have people who live with a spouse who criticizes them, or controls their food intake in other ways.  We see them being very emaciated, and we see that their nails and hair show the effects of poor diet.  Studies show that over 45% of older adults are at risk of malnutrition.  ( October 18-24, 2018)

Overnutrition is the overconsumption of certain nutrients such as protein, calories, or fat, which can also lead to malnutrition.  This normally results in obesity.  Most people think that they are overweight because they eat too much.  This can be true.  However, many times, people are overweight because they cannot shed the toxic load locked in their cells.  Many are distressed and feel ‘fat shamed’ when they feel that they have a good diet, but are walking around with a body that is larger than is should be.  They are frustrated, overwhelmed and despair of ever finding a plan that will work for them.

What they may not know is that a diet deficient in micronutrients could be the root of the problem.  A comprehensive contingent of vitamins and minerals are needed to provide the body with what it needs to repair and rejuvenate.  Comfort foods are full of fats and sugars, but may be sorely lacking in necessary nutrients.  Because we eat food is not nutritionally dense, the body is not satisfied, which causes us to feel hungry and eat more, trying to find that spot of satiety.

Fortunately, there are varieties of tests that can help assess nutrient deficiencies.  We are most familiar with blood tests.   We love looking at blood work.  We also employ a DNA hair analysis test developed by  This test provides the client with a personalized nutrition plan to address nutrient deficiencies.  The results come in the form of a 34 page document which address several nutrient deficiencies (amino acids, minerals, anti-oxidants, vitamins, EFA), as well as environmental stressors and food additives to avoid.  With tools such as these, knowledge of nutrition is within reach of everyone.

Until next time,

Dr. Polly