On this week’s episode of Sisters Without Shame, registered dietitian Anne-Marie De Beer unpacks “hidden hunger”.
According to De Beer, hidden hunger is often overlooked and difficult to detect. It is a micronutrient deficiency that weakens the immune system, stunts physical and intellectual growth, and can even lead to death.
“Hidden hunger is called hidden hunger because we do not see it,” says De Beer. “It really is a micronutrient deficiency that affects so many in our population.”
De Beer is a nutrition, health, and wellness manager at Nestlé South Africa.
What are micro/macronutrients?
The nutrients your body needs to promote growth and development and regulate bodily processes can be divided into two groups, namely macronutrients and micronutrients.
De Beer explains that macronutrients are the elements in food that you need to grow and function normally.
Micronutrients, on the other hand, are crucial for nearly every process in your body, and can also act as antioxidants.
“Micronutrients are the nutrients we need in very small quantities, but they are critical. [What is] important in these foods are the minerals and vitamins that the body gets from them,” De Beer explains.
Micronutrient deficiency is hidden hunger
There are multiple food items that fulfil both macro and micronutrient functions. Micronutrient deficiency is hidden hunger, she further explains.
“We only need them in very small quantities, but if we do not have those micronutrients, we have what we call ‘hidden hunger. Short term, it is the immunity that gets affected because our immune systems need all those nutrients that we need in our bodies for the normal functioning of cells. The immune system consists of cells and if they do not get those micronutrients, they cannot function appropriately and properly.’”
On this episode De Beer also uncovers:
- How to keep your plates colourful with fruit and vegetables.
- The symptoms and dangers of hidden hunger.
- How communities can respond to the crisis of hidden hunger.
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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