There are a large number of factors, which are responsible of nutrients of our body. Some of those factors are due to our poor knowledge about the diets that contain them and our wrong methods of cooking and some of these factors are geographical. For example, persons living in hills mostly suffer from deficiency of iodine, as food and water available on mountains lacks iodine. Now let us discuss these factors in detail.
Unequal distribution of food caused by poverty is one of the major causes of malnutrition in our country. The reason of poverty is, large families with low income. Most of the people do not have enough money to buy sufficient food. This leads to nutrient deficiencies in them.
However, this can be partly overcome by eating cheap but wholesome food such as groundnut, sattu, jaggery and soyabean.
2. Ignorance about the Nutrients of Food Items
Production use of foods of low nutritive value, the unavailability of nutritious foods such as milk, the lack of understanding about the relation of food to health also lead to deficient of many health nutrients. New and strange foods are sold in the market. The housewife may receive misleading information from advertisements and shopkeepers. Most of the people think that foods like grapes and apples are more nutritious than cheaper foods like banana or spinach. But it is not true. Banana and spinach contain more nutrients than an equal amount of grapes or apples. Raw vegetables like carrots, turnip and tomatoes are good for health and are also cheap. Similarly, groundnut, bhutta, soyabean, sprouted cereals provide all the essential nutrients in relatively less money spent on them. Sprouting and fermentation increase the nutritional value of food.
3. Modern Methods of Refining and Processing of Food
Modern methods of refining of foods, such as rice and wheat, remove the outer covering of these foodstuffs. The germ and the bran of wheat are separated from the flour in modern refining process. The white flour from which germ is separated can be stored for any length of time and is preferred for prestige. The white flour may have plenty of starch or carbohydrates in it but lacks the elements needed for normal growth. Germ of the wheat, which is removed and thrown, is one of the richest sources of vitamin B1 which is so important for functioning of nervous system and digestive system organs.
Similarly, polished rice look attractive, can be stored for longer periods of time but lack the vital elements so essential for normal growth. Results of living on polished rice diet alone can be tragic. Polished rice is deficient in vitamin B2 and protein. However, parboiled rice (sela rice) is better for health because during the process of parboiling, nutrients present on the skin of the rice penetrate into the grain and thereafter-dehusking process does not reduce the nutrients from the rice grain.
4. Wrong Methods of Cooking and Processing of Food Items
On washing the pulses and vegetables repeatedly with water of soaking in water for long time, the vegetables and pulses lose their water soluble vitamins like vitamin B complex and vitamin C. Vegetables should be washed first and then cut because if cut vegetables are washed then water soluble vitamins are lost.
When cut fruits and vegetables are kept in the open for a long time then vitamin C present in them is oxidized by air. So fruits and vegetables should be cut just before use.
Deep-frying and heating for a long time also leads to loss of nutrients from the vegetables and fruits.
5. Lack of Time
A secondary reason for malnutrition may be lack of time. Proper nutrition requires time for the preparation of meals and their consumption. A wrong wife who is doing a full day’s work outside may lack time for shopping and for cooking meals. The increasing number of working women in large towns is an important cause of malnutrition in young children.
6. Endemic Nutritional Deficiency
Sometimes the malnutrition may be the result of both biological and geographical factors. Deficiency of certain nutrient in food because of specific environmental facto or food habit may result in a disease in whole of the population living under those conditions. In mountains regions, where the iodine content of the soil and water is low, goitre (a disease resulting from iodine deficiency) is very common. Similarly, at those places where polished rice is the main food, deficiency of vitamin B1 leads to a disease known as Beri-beri.