An underweight person is a person whose body weight is considered too low to be healthy. The same concept applies to animals. Let us know in detail how to assess underweight, the symptoms, causes, treatments, right weight chart, health effects, risk factors, and how to gain healthy weight. Siddha Spirituality of Swami Hardas Life System appeals to all our valuable readers to know about underweight for well-being.
How to Assess Underweight
The body mass index (BMI), a ratio of a person’s weight to their height, has traditionally been used to assess the health of a person as it pertains to weight.
The calculation is either weight in kilograms divided by height in meters, squared, or weight in pounds times 703, divided by height in inches, squared. Another measure of underweight is through comparison to the average weight of a cohort of people of a similar age and height: people who are at least 15% to 20% below the average weight for the group are considered underweight.
What is considered the right weight for my Height?
The table below has been updated to show both Metric and imperial measurements i.e. inches/centimeters – pounds/kilograms:
Adults Weight to Height Ratio Chart
What are Underweight Symptoms
Not all people who are underweight experience adverse side effects or symptoms from being underweight. However, some people, experience the following symptoms related to being underweight:
According to a 2016 study, being underweight increases a woman’s risk of osteoporosis, which is where the bones are brittle and more prone to breaking.
Skin, hair, or teeth problems
Getting sick frequently
If a person does not get enough energy from their diet to maintain healthy body weight, they may also not be getting enough nutrients to fight off infections. As a result, a person may get sick more frequently, and common illnesses, such as a cold, can last longer than they usually would.
Feeling tired all the time
Calories are a measurement of the energy a particular food can give a person. Not getting enough calories to maintain a healthy weight can make a person feel fatigued.
Women who are underweight may not have regular periods, they may find menstruation stops or an adolescent’s first period may be delayed or absent. Irregular or absent menstruation can cause infertility.
According to a study published in An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, a woman who is pregnant and underweight is at a higher risk for pre-term labor, which means having a baby before 37 weeks.
Slow or impaired growth
Young people need nutrients to grow and develop healthy bones. Being underweight and not getting enough calories could mean a person may not develop as expected. Doctors call this a ‘failure to thrive.’
According to a study published in the journal BMC Public Health, being underweight is associated with an increased risk for mortality when compared to people with an average BMI. The researchers suggested that being underweight may impair a person’s healing processes following an accident or trauma compared to a person with an average BMI.
What are the Causes of Underweight
A person may be underweight due to genetics, improper metabolism of nutrients, lack of food (frequently due to poverty), drugs that affect appetite, illness (physical or mental), or the eating disorder, anorexia Nervosa.
Being underweight is associated with certain medical conditions, including:
People with gastrointestinal or liver problems may be unable to absorb nutrients adequately. People with certain eating disorders can also be underweight due to one or more nutrient deficiencies or excessive exercise, which exacerbates nutrient deficiencies.
What are Underweight Health effects?
Being underweight can be a symptom of an underlying condition, in which case it is secondary. Unexplained weight loss may require a professional medical diagnosis.
Weak immune system
Being underweight can also cause other conditions, in which case it is primary. Severely underweight individuals may have poor physical stamina and a weak immune system, leaving them open to infection.
According to Robert E. Black of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (JHSPH), “Underweight status and micronutrient deficiencies also cause decreases in immune and non-immune host defenses, and should be classified as underlying causes of death if followed by infectious diseases that are the terminal associated causes.”
People who are malnourished raise special concerns, as not only gross caloric intake may be inadequate, but also intake and absorption of other vital nutrients, especially essential amino acids and micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals.
Absence of menstruation
In women, being severely underweight, as a result of an eating disorder or due to excessive strenuous exercise, can result in amenorrhea i.e. absence of menstruation, infertility, or complications during pregnancy if gestational weight gain is too low.
What are Underweight Risk factors?
Being underweight is an established risk factor for osteoporosis, even for young people. This is seen in individuals suffering from relative energy deficiency in sport, formerly known as female athlete triad: when disordered eating or excessive exercise cause amenorrhea, hormone changes during ovulation leads to loss of bone mineral density. After this low bone mineral density causes the first spontaneous fractures, the damage is often irreversible.
Although being underweight has been reported to increase mortality at rates comparable to that seen in morbidly obese people, the effect is much less drastic when restricted to non-smokers with no history of the disease, suggesting that smoking and disease-related weight loss are the leading causes of the observed effect.
What is the Best Treatment for Underweight?
Diet for Underweight
Underweight individuals may be advised to gain weight by increasing calorie intake. This can be done by eating a sufficient volume of sufficiently calorie-dense foods. Bodyweight may also be increased through the consumption of liquid nutritional supplements.
Exercise for Underweight
Another way for underweight people to gain weight is by exercising since muscle hypertrophy increases body mass. Weight lifting exercises are effective in helping to improve muscle tone as well as helping with weight gain. Weight lifting has also been shown to improve bone mineral density, which underweight people are more likely to lack.
Exercise is catabolic, which results in a brief reduction in mass. However, during recovery, anabolic overcompensation causes muscle hypertrophy, which results in an overall increase in mass. This can happen through an increase in muscle proteins, or through enhanced storage of glycogen in muscles. Exercise can also help stimulate the appetite of a person who is not inclined to eat.
Appetite stimulants for Underweight
Certain drugs may increase appetite either as their primary effect or as a side effect. Antidepressants, such as mirtazapine or amitriptyline, and antipsychotics, particularly chlorpromazine and haloperidol, as well as tetrahydrocannabinol, all present an increase in appetite as a side effect.
In states where it is approved, medicinal cannabis may be prescribed for severe appetite loss, such as that caused by cancer, AIDS, or severe levels of persistent anxiety. Other drugs or supplements which may increase appetite include antihistamines such as diphenhydramine, promethazine, or cyproheptadine.
How to gain healthy weight by Underweight people
Your doctor may put you on a weight gain program if you are underweight. However, this is not permission to go crazy with junk food. Healthy weight gain requires a balanced approach, just like a weight loss program.
Eating junk food may result in weight gain. However, it will not satisfy the nutrition your body needs. Even if the fat, sugar, and salt in junk food don’t result in extra weight, it can still harm your body. For a healthy weight gain, the following tips can help:
Add healthy calories
You don’t need to drastically change your diet. You can increase calories by adding nut or seed toppings, cheese, and healthy side dishes. Try almonds, sunflower seeds, fruit, or whole-grain, wheat toast.
Instead of eating empty calories and junk food, eat foods that are rich in nutrients. Consider high-protein meats, which can help you to build muscle. Also, choose nutritious carbohydrates, such as brown rice and other whole grains. This helps ensure your body is receiving as much nourishment as possible, even if you’re dealing with a reduced appetite.
Enjoy snacks that contain plenty of protein and healthy carbohydrates. Consider options like trail mix, protein bars or drinks, and crackers with hummus or peanut butter. Also, enjoy snacks that contain “good fats,” which are important for a healthy heart. Examples include nuts and avocados.
If you’re struggling with a poor appetite, due to medical or emotional issues, eating large amounts of food may not seem appealing. Consider eating smaller meals throughout the day to increase your calorie intake.
While too much aerobic exercise will burn calories and work against your weight goal, strength training can help. This includes weightlifting or yoga. You gain weight by building muscle.
Before beginning a weight gain program, talk to your doctor. Being underweight may be due to an underlying health problem. It won’t be corrected by diet changes. Your doctor will be able to help you track your progress. He or she will make sure that healthy changes are taking place.
How effective is Ayurveda for Underweight
There’s a limit to how much weight you can gain, despite the supplements and remedies we’re including. That said, you will be reaching your ideal weight and getting stronger and healthier in the process. And isn’t that what you want – to be your very best self?
Ashwagandha churna is a tonic herb that is used for various medicinal purposes. It’s called the ‘Indian Ginseng’ and is adaptogenic, which means it lowers your stress and leaves you feeling emotionally healthy. 100mg a day is a good starting point but you can up the dosage if needed. We recommend taking it in powder form and consuming it with milk for the best results.
Shatavari is a herb that is used to balance hormones in women. It’s known to increase your weight, hydrate your entire physiology, and give a boost to your digestive system.
If you’re experiencing a lack of appetite, you’ll be happy to know that any Ayurvedic chawanprash will help. It’s known to increase your bone density, strengthen your muscles, and has a nice blend of nutrients that boost your digestive system too. The result? You feel hungrier and crave more food, thus taking in more calories and leading to weight gain.
You may be thinking – but that’s a fruit! Yes, and it’s an Ayurvedic herbal remedy too. If you eat the fruit for a whole month, you’ll notice the gain in your body weight plus your muscles will be stronger and more responsive. The seeds can be powdered and taken with milk too.
Yashtimadhu (Licorice Root)
Licorice Root is one of the best Ayurvedic remedies for weight gain. Low immunity is one of the biggest reasons behind weight loss and you’ll find yourself gaining weight when you fix it. It also improves your stamina, endurance, and repairs your stomach lining, thus improving your nutrient absorption capacity and digestion.
Vasant Kusumkar Ras
If there’s a capsule product you want to go for – it’s the Vasant Kusumakar Ras. Any brand works but the dosage needs to be prescribed by an Ayurvedic practitioner. You’ll notice an improvement in your skin tone improve, weight gain, good mood, and sharp memory too.