Sound nutrition for healthy living

Fast food makes for a quick meal when you’re on the run. Eating out saves time in the kitchen and lets you enjoy friends and family in a social setting. But malnutrition still is an issue in this country and around the world.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that people in all countries are affected by malnutrition. There are two broad groups or conditions. The first group is under-nutrition that stunts growth (low height for a child’s age), wasting (low weight for a child’s age), or lack of important vitamins and minerals. The second group is overweight, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.)

Many families can’t afford the fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, meat and milk that are healthy foods that build stronger bodies. Instead they resort to foods and drinks that are high in fat, sugar and salt, which are much cheaper and more readily available. WHO relates this to the rapid rise of obesity around the world.

The United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition went into play in 2016 and continues to 2025. The aim is “to ensure all people have access to healthier and more sustainable diets to eradicate all forms of malnutrition worldwide.”

Malnutrition “is the lack of proper nutrition caused by not having enough to eat, or not eating enough of the right things, or being unable to use the food that one does eat.” To be healthy, the human body needs enough nutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals – to function properly. The lack of just one vitamin can lead to malnutrition, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine (Medline Plus).

Causes of malnutrition in older adults includes health problems and medications that decrease appetite, low income, disability, social issues like eating alone, alcoholism and depression. It’s not easy to tell when they are malnourished. But visiting at mealtimes, checking out their fridge and pantry to see how much and what kinds of food they have there is a place to start. Are they easily bruised and are wounds slow to heal? Are their clothes fitting them more loosely?

Everyone should make healthier food choices and snack on healthy foods. And when you need help ask for it. Malnutrition in older adults can lead to health problems. The list from the familydoctor.org, a resource of the U.S. Library of Medicine, includes unintentional weight loss, tiredness and fatigue (feeling out of energy), muscle weakness or loss of strength which could cause broken bones or fractures, depression, problems with memory, weak immune system that makes it hard for your body to fight off infections, and anemia. These things mean there will likely be more doctor, hospital or emergency room visits. Malnourished individuals may not recover as quickly as adults who are well-nourished.

In Columbiana County, if you need assistance to help with healthy nutrition, there are food pantries and resources to help you. Contact Direct Home of Eastern Ohio (formerly known as the Area Agency on Aging) for information at 330-505-2300. Catholic Charities of East Liverpool, 330-385-7829, provides meals and will deliver meals to shut-ins in the community. The Salvation Army in East Liverpool operates a food pantry between noon and 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. on Fridays. No one is turned away. All you need is a photo ID, advised Salvation Army office administrator and social worker, Christina Wolfe. The last week of every month this Salvation Army site serves hot meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Elsa’s Kitchen. This month they will serve hot meals the week of Sept. 23-27. For more information, contact the Salvation Army at 330-385-2086.

Laurie Anderson, Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, advises that the United Way of Northern Columbiana County provides Help Network that serves all of Northeast Ohio, and also includes a senior line. The phone number is 211. Also providing assistance is the Salem Community Food Pantry, 794 Third Street, 330-332-5166 and AID (Action, Information and Direction), 330-332-1373. The Banquet is served on Mondays at the Memorial Building, 234-575-7170 for information. The Banquet also is served at Lisbon’s Presbyterian Church. These are but a few of the services that are available to assist with healthy nutrition, meeting that goal of the Decade of Action on Nutrition.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.