How to get better: a guide for those who want to gain weight and improve health

How to get better: a guide for those who want to gain weight and improve health

How to get better: a guide for those who want to gain weight and improve health

June 9, 2020


Being too thin is more dangerous than being too fat.
Photo by Ekaterina Komissarova

Ekaterina Komissarova

Lifehacker medical journalist

How to get better: a guide for those who want to gain weight and improve health


Why is being underweight dangerous?

Let’s leave aside the aesthetic and psychological aspects, although the arms and legs-sticks are unlikely to please anyone other than anorexics. Let’s focus exclusively on physiology.

Clinically underweight means that your body is not getting enough nutrients for some reason. Here is what follows.

1. Increased risk of premature death

If you are an underweight man, your risk of dying early from any health problems (diseases of the heart and blood vessels, musculoskeletal system, internal organs, and so on) increases about 2.4 times compared to those who have a normal body weight. If you are a woman – “only” 2 times.

Even fat people risk less than you: early death threatens them only one and a half times more often than people with normal weight.

2. Immune problems

To fight all kinds of infections, the body needs energy. With a nutritional deficiency, this energy is not enough. Therefore, underweight people are more likely to get sickand common diseases – the same cold – last longer.

3. Bone fragility

In underweight people declining bone density. As a result, bones become more brittle, which increases the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.

4. Poor condition of the skin, hair and teeth

All this beauty also needs nutrients. If there are not enough of them, the skin becomes more porous, acquires an earthy color and ages rapidly, hair slows down growth, or even falls out altogether, the risk of tooth loss is also significantly rises.

5. Constant fatigue

Here we are also talking about the lack of energy derived from nutrients.

6. Difficulties with conceiving a child

It is more difficult for both women and men with a lack of weight to become parentsthan those who have this indicator in the norm. The reasons for this are complex and often gender related.

So, scientists suggest that it is more difficult for men who are too thin to find partners. Overly slender women have other problems. For example, associated with the same lack of weight, an irregular menstrual cycle, which can become cause infertility.

7. Increased risk of developing dementia in old age

34% risk of dementia in underweight people higherthan those of normal body weight.

How to understand that you are underweight

Not all thinness is dangerous. If your body mass index (BMI) is equal to or greater than 18.5, you are fine. But if the BMI is below this value, welcome to the underweight club.

To calculate BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters.

For example, with a height of 1.8 m, you weigh 60 kg. Your BMI: 60/(1.8 × 1.8) = 18.5. You are walking on the edge, but still not underweight. But if your height is 1.7 m, and your weight is 45 kg, then with a BMI of 15.57 you have an obvious underweight.

If you are too lazy to fiddle with a calculator, find out your BMI on the page of the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Where does underweight come from?

There are basically three reasons:

  1. You are not getting enough calories and nutrients from food. This happens in those who are on a strict diet or suffer from eating disorders – anorexia and bulimia.
  2. The body cannot absorb the necessary nutrients. This happens with various digestive disorders. For example, with a lack of enzymes, gluten intolerance or diabetes (usually type I).
  3. Your body receives and absorbs nutrients, but something eats these resources before they reach the organs and tissues. This can be a relatively harmless factor – for example, you lead a very active lifestyle or exercise a lot and the calories from food go to physical activity. But there are also dangerous energy wasters:
    • worms;
    • disorders in the thyroid gland: with hyperthyroidism the metabolism is significantly accelerated, and therefore the body needs more energy than usual;
    • cancer: tumors need a lot of energy to grow, they draw it out of the body, and the person begins to lose weight;
    • infections, in particular tuberculosis and HIV: the body spends a lot of energy fighting them, so body weight decreases.

If you started to lose weight without making an effort, be sure to consult a therapist. Even if nothing bothers you. Weight loss can be the first symptom of a deadly disease. It is important not to miss them.

How to gain weight quickly and safely

First, find out what exactly caused the loss of kilograms. If it is anorexia, digestive disorders, or, for example, the same hyperthyroidism, simple methods will not work: body weight will not return to normal until you get rid of the underlying disease.

In order not to be mistaken, visit a therapist: he will conduct an examination, offer you to take tests and help solve the problem or refer you to a specialist.

But let’s say you’re healthy and just want to gain weight. Then heed the advice of experts from the reputable Mayo Research Center Clinic.

Each of these methods can be used either alone or in combination with any of the others. Choose the one that suits you…






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