Avoiding malnutrition: the key for a healthy lifestyle

October 9, 2019

Writing a diet plan on the table full of healthy food

Women, infants, children, and adolescents are at a particular risk of malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization. Malnutrition includes undernutrition, inadequate vitamins or minerals; overnutrition, obesity and diet-related noncommunicable diseases.

Undernutrition results from not getting enough protein, calories or micronutrients. On the other hand, overnutrition means overconsumption of certain nutrients, such as calories or fat.

Some signs of malnutrition are:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Lack of interest in food and drinks
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling weaker
  • Getting ill often and taking a long time to recover
  • Wounds taking a long time to heal
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling cold most of the time
  • Low mood or depression

The good news is that registered dietitian nutritionists have the opportunity and responsibility to fight against all forms of malnutrition. They can help assess, document, diagnosis and treat malnutrition in a variety of practice settings.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are the food and nutrition experts, so they promote healthy lifestyle choices and create personalized nutrition plans for individuals of all ages using a whole health approach. Their nutrition programs are designed to protect health, prevent allergic reactions and alleviate the symptoms of many types of disease. Also, clinical dietitians provide medical nutrition therapy for patients in institutions such as hospitals and nursing care facilities.

Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, but only a registered dietitian nutritionist has been educated and trained in an accredited nutrition program.

In order to work as a registered dietitian, a bachelor’s degree must be completed at a school accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND), complete six to 12 months of work in an accredited program, and pass a test. Like other health professionals, continuing professional educational requirements must be completed throughout their careers to stay current in the nutrition field.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionists use medical nutrition therapy to:

  • Review personal eating habits and nutrition health
  • Explain how food and lifestyle choices impact health
  • Develop a personalized nutrition plan

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provide five overarching recommendations:

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern with an appropriate calorie level
  • Focus on variety, nutrient density and amount
  • Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats. 
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices
  • Support healthy eating patterns at home, work, school, or wherever food is available.

A healthy eating pattern includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, a variety of protein foods and oils. If you’d like more advice on food and nutrition or registered dietitian services, contact Vanguard Resources.