Essay on Kwashiorkor: Nutrition and Balanced Diet

Submitted By Jekai1976
Words: 1587
Pages: 7

Deficiency Disease;


A balanced diet provides the body with all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals required to maintain cells, tissues and organs as well as to function correctly. It also provides the energy and nutrients required to survive and stay healthy. A balanced diet contains six key nutrient groups that are required in right amounts for health. These groups are; Proteins from meat, fish etc. Proteins are involved in growth, repair and maintenance of the body. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the body; they are foods such as bread, potatoes and rice. Lipids or fats are a rich source of energy; they give shape to the body, and act as an insulation that reduces heat loss. Vitamins are important in a range of biochemical reactions. Minerals are important in maintaining ionic balances and many biochemical reactions. Water is important to life. Metabolic reactions occur in an aqueous environment and water acts as a solvent for other molecules to dissolve in. (Ray, G. A. 2004). A deficiency of any one type of nutrient can lead to poor health and diseases. Diseases that are caused by the lack of some particular nutrient in a person's diet are called deficiency diseases. In this essay, the writer will be explaining about Kwashiorkor as a deficiency disease.
There are many different types of deficiency diseases such as Beriberi, Scurvy, Rickets, and Kwashiorkor just to mention a few. Kwashiorkor is a form of protein-energy malnutrition caused by severe protein deficiency. Kwashiorkor is mostly found in children, between the ages of 1 and 4 years, but can occur in infancy; it is seen with equal frequency in both sexes. It may also occur in adult life, when it is almost invariably a complication of some parasitic or other infection (e.g., strongyloidiasis). Strongyloidiasis is an intestinal infection caused by the nematode (roundworm) Strongyloides stercoralis. (Palmer and Reeder 1998).
Kwashiorkor is caused by not eating enough proteins. Every cell in the body contains proteins. Proteins are needed in one’s diet for the body to repair cells and make new cells. (Cafasso, J. 2012). A healthy body regenerates cells in this manner constantly. Proteins are also important for growth during childhood and pregnancy. Kwashiorkor is mostly common in developing counties where there is drought and famine and where food is scarce. Areas characterized by a lack or reduced levels of education are also prone to this illness, due to a non-understanding of its causes. (Klasco, R. 2011). The word Kwashiorkor is derived from the Ghanaian term meaning the sickness the baby gets when the new baby comes. (Johnson, D. (2012). This deficiency disease is rarely found in developed countries. Infants and children growing up in tropical or subtropical areas (such as Africa, Asia, and South America), where there is much poverty are at risk for kwashiorkor. In such poor countries protein-rich foods are difficult to acquire. Kwashiorkor usually happens when a baby is weaned off from the protein-rich breast milk (for any reason) and switched to protein-poor foods. Infants get the necessary supply of protein rich nutrients from the mother’s milk, but once the nursing period ends, the food that they begin to eat contains only carbohydrates and starch. Protein is, completely lacking and this results in kwashiorkor. Kwashiorkor is also referred to protein malnutrition or protein-calorie malnutrition and malignant malnutrition.
Kwashiorkor causes fatigue, irritability and drowsiness as first symptoms. But if the individuals continue to be deprived of protein, they will typically fail to put on weight and fail to grow in height. They lose their muscle mass and have oedema (excess water retention in body tissues), which makes them look puffy and bloated. They will also have a pot belly and will develop an enlarged fatty liver, if left untreated. These individuals will be vulnerable to infections because of the weakened…