Eat a healthy, balanced diet
As a lack of essential nutrients is one of the main causes of malnutrition, the best way to prevent the condition is to eat a healthy, balanced diet that contains foods from all the major food groups. The five main food groups are:
- fruit and vegetables,
- dairy, and
As well as eating healthily, you should aim to drink at least 1.2 litres of fluid a day (between 6-8 glasses). See the 'useful links' section for more information and advice about eating a healthy diet.
Stomach conditions and digestive disorders
Malnutrition can occur if you have a problem digesting your food, which leads to your body being unable to absorb the nutrients that it needs in order to function effectively.
Conditions that cause digestion problems, and advice about how to prevent them, are discussed briefly below.
If you have ulcerative colitis - a condition that causes inflammation of the large intestine (colon) - it is likely that you will lose weight due to an inability to absorb nutrients.
Drinking plenty of fluids, eating five or six small meals a day, and taking food supplements can all help to prevent ulcerative colitis.
See the 'useful links' section for more information about how to prevent ulcerative colitis.
Crohn's disease is a condition that causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract (gut).
There is evidence to suggest that Crohn's disease is a genetic condition that runs in families. Although it may not be possible to prevent it occurring, a number of treatments are available, including following a strict diet and taking medication.
See the 'useful links' section for more information about treatments for Crohn's disease.
Coeliac disease (also known as celiac disease) is a common bowel condition that is caused by intolerance to a protein called gluten. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley, which are often used to make foods such as bread, pasta, and biscuits.
The cause of gluten intolerance is not fully understood but, as with Crohn's disease, it is thought the condition may be inherited from your parents. Following a gluten-free diet is the most effective form of treatment for coeliac disease.
See the 'useful links' section for more information about treatments for coeliac disease.
Alcohol misuse can sometimes cause malnutrition. Although alcohol contains enough calories to stop you feeling hungry, it does not contain the necessary nutrients that are required to stay healthy.
If you, or someone you know, is dependent on alcohol, there are a number of different treatment options available to help you (or them) to give up drinking.
Possible treatments include self-help techniques, counselling, and treating other underlying health conditions that may be contributing to drinking, such as stress, anxiety, or depression.
See the 'useful links' section for more information and advice about alcohol misuse.