A Natural Approach To Health
Living With Underweight
I had a question the other day about underweight.
Some people are thinner than average all their lives and are perfectly healthy.
But for others, underweight may be associated with health problems.
This is particularly true if the condition results from unintended, maybe sudden, weight loss.
Unintended weight loss can result from a malabsorption problem; intestinal parasites; certain types of cancer; a colon disorder like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or diverticulitis; or a chronic illness like diabetes, chronic diarrhea, or hyperthyroidism.
Surgery, stress, or trauma, like the loss of a loved one, can also contribute to loss of appetite and weight loss.
Underweight can also be caused by treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, whose side effects include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
If you’re underweight but believe you weigh too much, you may be suffering from an eating disorder.
Some people with AIDS may suffer from “wasting syndrome,” where they become more and more emaciated as the disease progresses.
Weight loss may also cause nutritional deficiencies that further impair health and complicate recovery.
The very young and the very old are 2 age groups for whom poor nutrition is a special problem.
Malnutrition in childhood, especially in infancy, can have permanent effects because it interferes with normal growth and development.
Children also have less in the way of nutritional reserves in their bodies to draw on if they’re not getting enough nutrients.
At the other end of the life span, many elderly people find themselves less and less interested in eating as time goes by, and reduced financial resources may add to the incentive to skip meals.
As a result, older people have an increased risk of becoming malnourished.
The suggestions below are intended for older people who need nutritional rehabilitation.
They may also be useful if you have higher than normal nutritional requirements, like people with hepatitis, those undergoing cancer treatment, or those recovering from burns or trauma.
A child who’s undernourished or stops gaining weight should be seen by a physician.
To deal with underweight, it’s beneficial to:
*Drink 10 cups of purified water daily to cleanse and flush your system.
*Alfalfa, blessed thistle, caraway, cayenne, celery, dill, fennel, hyssop, and lady’s mantle all work to stimulate your appetite.
*Astragalus protects your immune system, helps with digestion, and fights fatigue (don’t use if you have a fever.)
*Fenugreek and ginseng have long been used as appetite stimulants and digestive aids, especially for older adults (don’t use ginseng if you have high blood pressure, or are pregnant or nursing).
*If you think you may be underweight, and especially if you’re experiencing unintended weight loss, have a complete medical exam to check for an underlying physical disorder. You may have a health problem needing treatment. An unintentional weight loss of 5 pounds in an adult should be a trigger to get help. Be concerned about an infant or young child who suddenly seems to stop gaining weight normally.
*Eat a diet consisting of at least 300 grams of complex carbohydrates, 100 grams of protein, and 2,500-3,000 calories a day. Include starchy vegetables, like potatoes and beans, as well as grains, turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, avocados, olive oil, safflower oil, raw cheeses, nuts, and seeds. Eat only whole-grain breads, pasta, crackers, and hot and cold cereals.
*Eat nondairy soy-based cream soups. Soymilk can be used in the same ways as cow’s milk. Cream soups are usually higher in protein and calories than broth soups.
*Drink herbal teas, fruit and vegetable juices, and mineral water. When drinking non-caloric beverages like water and tea, add some honey to increase calorie intake.
*Eat frequent but small meals and snacks, and eat them slowly. If you’re undernourished, you may lose your appetite with large amounts of food at one sitting. You can always have additional servings if you’re still hungry after the first.
*Don’t eat fried or junk foods for extra calories. Instead, eat high-calorie snacks like the following between meals or before bedtime: raw cheese; banana soy pudding; turkey, chicken, or tuna sandwiches with cheese; raw nuts; rice crackers with nut butter; yogurt; yogurt fruit shakes; carob soymilk; almond milk; buttermilk; custard; nuts; and avocados.
*Eliminate from your diet coffee, tea, and anything else (like soft drinks) containing caffeine.
*If possible, get regular moderate exercise. Walking and similar activities are good. Moderate exercise helps you absorb nutrients and increases your appetite. Avoid strenuous exercise.
*Eat in relaxed surroundings. Don’t try to eat when you’re upset or nervous.
*If you smoke, stop.
*Investigate the possibility of food allergies. Avoid any foods you think you may be allergic to.
*Consult your physician about any medications you take. Some medications can cause a decrease in appetite which can result in weight loss.
*If other people comment on your thinness but you feel you could stand to lose weight, consider professional evaluation for an eating disorder.
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