We’ve all likely experienced hunger whether it’s caused by being physically hungry or stressed. But there are also times when we know we’ve eaten much more food than usual (perhaps you’re even conscious of the amount of calories you’ve consumed) and yet somehow you still find yourself wanting more food. If the majority of food you consume is ultra-processed food, the likely cause is hidden hunger which is due to consuming foods which are lacking in micronutrients.

What Is Hidden Hunger?

Hidden hunger is caused by consuming a diet which is lacking in micronutrients such as B vitamins and other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iodine, selenium, iron, phosphorus and more. The end result is feeling hungry despite having consumed lots of food. A lack of micronutrients in the diet can contribute to one of the causes of obesity since there is a desire to continue to eat more food as the body has not had its micronutrient requirements fulfilled. 2 billion people worldwide are affected by hidden hunger with others people affected to a greater extent than others.

Hidden Hunger And The Modern Diet

Hidden hunger is a global epidemic caused by a lack of consumption of micronutrients to maintain proper body function. People can go to sleep having consumed the ‘right’ number of calories feeling full yet the cells of the body are still hungry craving the right nutrition.

A lot of people have the mindset that calorie content is how you solve hunger. Consume enough calories and you shouldn’t be hungry. This is why crops have become so abundant in the modern diet. In fact, more than 50% of the world’s daily caloric intake is from grain consumption from crops. The main ones are wheat, rice and maize although oats, sorghum and millets are other widely consumed crops. The problem with this is that these crops are actually lacking in the micronutrients needed to maintain proper body function. Overtime, without adequate nutrition, the body will start to function less and less efficiently, effectively becoming ill.

Foods To Fight Hidden Hunger

If consuming foods lacking in micronutrients causes hidden hunger, the answer to fight hidden hunger is to consume foods rich in micronutrients. This means eating a diverse range of foods, nuts, seeds, meat, plants and fruit. Animal products in particularly provide one of the best sources of the most bioavailable nutrients which means your body can absorb and utilise them most efficiently.

Whilst plants such as fruits and vegetables are often touted as being the best sources of micronutrients, some micronutrients are harder to absorb from plants such as iron. Furthermore, vegetables have become less nutritious in terms of micronutrients in the last few decades due to absorbing less micronutrients from the soil so they may actually not provide as much nutrition as we once thought.

Consequences Of Hidden Hunger

In poor countries in families with low-income, many women and children suffer from hidden hunger. The main micronutrients they lack tend to be vitamin A, iodine and iron along with some other essential nutrients. This can have a number of consequences adversely affecting:

  • Growth
  • Development
  • Health
  • Working capacity

Dealing With Hidden Hunger

The key to dealing with hidden hunger is quite simple really. Remove as much ultra-processed foods from your diet as possible and replace them with whole foods. Swap the chicken nuggets for a couple of roast chicken thighs or the fish fingers was a salmon fillet. Try to eat real food.


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