Malnutrition & The Immune System

According to the World Health Organization, 144 million children under the age of 5 suffered from stunted growth and other 47 million were suffering from wasting (low-weight-for-height). But the effect of malnutrition is much more widespread, effect nearly every body system. One of its effects happens to be on the immune system. Research shows that malnourished children actually predominantly die from common infections which their weaker immune systems are unable to fight off rather than starvation.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, stunting is one of the most common form of malnutrition as young children are unable to grow up to their maximum heigh potential. These stunted individuals’ height is not the only thing limited, as the growth and development of their immune system is also restricted. While the exact correlation between the immune system and malnutrition is not fully understood, the immune problems that malnutrition contributes to are known Some of these problems include a decrease in the number of WBC’s, less protective skin, and inflamed lymph nodes. This problem becomes even worse since individuals suffering from immune dysfunction have modified immune systems which can cause malnutrition even if the children have an adequate diet, leading to their health and nutritious intake constantly spiraling downwards.

Malnutrition doesn’t only affect the immune system; it affects metabolism, neurological function, and growth as well, but it is the weakening of the immune system which is most dangerous to young children. While the exact correlation between malnutrition and immunity is yet to be discovered, this research provides us with an insight into the connection between our health and diet.