By Bob Arnot M.D. and Chief Medical Officer at Goode Health
What is Hidden Hunger?
How many times have you had a filling breakfast, lunch and dinner but still
felt hungry? There’s a fascinating reason why and it’s captured the
imagination of nutritionists worldwide. These professionals term it “Hidden
Hunger”. What is Hidden Hunger? A great definition is this: “Hidden hunger
refers to individuals who suffer from multiple micronutrient deficiencies
(particularly iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin A), which can occur without a deficit in
energy intake as a result of consuming an energy-dense, but nutrient-poor diet.” In short, that’s many of us. We may get the macronutrients we need (protein, fats,
carbs) and the calories. BUT consuming too many lower quality foods (e.g. cookies, donuts, bagels) don’t give us the micronutrients we need - the minerals, vitamins and polyphenols that could make us immensely healthier. Without them, we’re continuously hungry between meals and prone to snacking. Worst of all, in the evening, we snack right up until bedtime trying to satiate this gnawing hunger that just never seems to go away. These extra calories wreak havoc with our
metabolism, lead to weight gain and ruins the quality of our sleep. Our bodies know they crave something they’re not consuming but can’t find any other way to tell us but by giving us a nearly constant hunger signal. In the US, these deviancies often don’t have immediate health consequences beyond hunger and overeating but do over time. In much of the developing world, the deficiencies are far more acute and can lead to disastrous consequences. So much so that it’s called the third wave of malnutrition. It is estimated that it affects more than two billion people worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where there is a reliance on low-cost food staples and where the diversity of the diet is limited.
Hidden Hunger Vitamin Deficiencies
The World Health Association reports: “In its more severe forms, vitamin A
deficiency contributes to blindness by making the cornea very dry, thus damaging
the retina and cornea. An estimated 250,000–500,000 children who are vitamin A-
deficient become blind every year, and half of them die within 12 months of losing
So how do you know if you have hidden hunger? Several ways. First, it’s always
important to have baseline lab tests, including those for Vitamin D and Iron, plus a
complete blood count to see if you’re anemic. Ask your doctor if you have special
needs, such as pregnancy or the risk of poor bone density. Second, take a
nutritional questionnaire, which you can find online or take the convenient Goode
Health Nutritional Assessment to see which vitamin, mineral
and polyphenol foods you may be deficient in.
What can you do about it?
The best advice is to eat 2 cups of fruit a day and up to 3 cups of vegetables a day as the USDA recommends. You can also take our Goode Health Nutritional Shake,
which contains all of these missing ingredients. Goode Health is the ideal hidden
hunger supplement as it also includes these nutrients in the proper amounts,
especially important if you are like most Americans and don’t eat the recommended amounts. Finally, retest after several months to be sure you are up to par. We’ll have continuing series on hunger and craving, including foods that make you hungry, the effect of glucose load and more. If you are interested in helping those 2 billion children who really suffer from Hidden Hunger, you can donate to several great organizations like Feed My Starving Children, the World Food Program and Save The Children In the meantime, cheers to Goode health!