A healthy appetite leads to a healthy life; it prevents malnutrition which is a leading cause of death and diseases worldwide. The body is constantly in need of healthy nutrients to function optimally and prevent diseases and this can only be possible when the appetite is healthy.
Loss of appetite or poor appetite medically known as Anorexia is characterized by a decrease in the desire to eat and it can be caused by a variety diseases and medical conditions.
This condition can come suddenly and it can be gradual but if the root cause is addressed and treated, anorexia can be reversed; although if it persists, a doctor should be contacted.
In this article, we will be looking at causes of poor appetite and natural ways to rectify it. Note that loss of appetite is a symptom and not a disease; so it cannot be treated or reversed without knowing the root cause and treating it.
Causes of poor appetite
Women in the first trimester of their pregnancy usually experience poor appetite or loss of appetite along with nausea and vomiting. PMS and Menstrual pain can also cause loss of appetite.
Loss of appetite is common as one ages; it is a common symptom of advanced age.
A number of infections can lead to loss of appetite and they include pneumonia, hepatitis, HIV and AIDS, influenza and pyelonephritis.
Various diseases can trigger sudden loss of appetite; diseases like digestive problems and disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, crohn’s disease and colon cancer can cause loss of appetite by creating inflammation in the digestive tract. Kidney, liver and heart diseases also reduce appetite.
Psychological diseases like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia can cause sudden loss of appetite especially if the symptoms of the underlying diseases come on suddenly and also increase suddenly.
Some medications can cause sudden loss of appetite as a side effect; weight loss medication and those used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can cause this. Chemotherapy drug, radiation therapy and some antibiotics can also lead to loss of appetite.
Illicit drugs can reduce appetite or can trigger complete loss of appetite; such drugs include amphetamines, hallucinogenics, inhalants, cocaine, heroin, morphine, codeine, and LSD.
Heightened emotional stress can trigger sudden loss of appetite; loss of a loved one, losing a job, divorce, and breakup, falling in love, planning a wedding or event and other positive stressors can cause sudden loss of appetite.
In this case, loss of appetite is temporal and it only lasts while the stress level remains consistent or increases but when the stress is gone, the appetite is restored. The duration and severity of appetite loss depends on the situation and the ability of the individual concerned to manage stress.
This can cause loss of appetite; lack of water in the body can cause the brain to shrink and this can affect its functions including the control of eating and the urge to eat; water is even needed in the body to make hormones and chemical messengers that help in signaling hunger and other feelings. If not treated, it can lead to electrolyte imbalance, shock and coma.
Metabolic problems like decrease in the production of hormones and chemical messengers; a decrease in thyroid hormone can cause this.
Extreme intake of alcohol can disconnect one from the desire to eat; it also changes certain biochemical processes associated with the regulation of appetite, it suppresses hunger and this is why alcoholic are malnourished.
Symptoms of poor appetite
Signs and symptoms can vary depending on the underlying cause or disease; poor appetite shows main symptoms like abdominal pain or cramping, chronic or persistent diarrhea, changes in taste and smell, jaundice, difficulty swallowing, feeling of fullness, sores on the lips, tongue or mouth, gas or bloating, headache, depressed mood, indigestion, heartburn, constipation, nausea with vomiting and in some cases it come without vomiting.
Other symptoms that may come along with poor appetite are partial or complete loss of smell, cough that gets more serious or severe over time, unexplained weight loss, severe fatigue, rapid heartbeat, ongoing low grade fever, lethargy or malaise, mood changes, irritability, general feeling of being ill, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing.
If left untreated; serious symptoms that are life threatening can develop and they include: changes in levels of consciousness or alertness, passing out or unresponsiveness, decreased output of urine, severe abdominal pain, high fever, severe dizziness or sudden loss of balance. Immediate medical attention is needed in this case.
Health complications that can result from poor appetite
Failure to treat poor appetite caused by certain diseases can lead to serious complications and permanent damage; potential damage that can result from poor appetite includes wasting syndrome, nutritional deficiencies or malnutrition, weakened immune system, spread of cancer, spread of infection, loss of strength, chronic fatigue and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
How is loss of appetite treated?
The main goal in treating loss of appetite is to treat the underlying cause; without treating the cause the symptom will still persist and this will make treatment and recovery difficult.
Medications, surgeries, acupuncture, physical therapies, relaxations, counseling and psychological treatment, naturopathic treatments and other alternative treatment methods are used to treat the causes of poor appetite.
Those who are critically ill or can’t absorb food properly and get enough nutrients for their bodies; they are intravenously provided with electrolytes and vitamins and other foods through tube feeding.
If the case is caused by medications; stopping the medication will increase appetite. Psychological counseling and techniques are needed if the loss of appetite is caused by mental problems, low self-esteem and body shaming.
This will boost self-esteem and help them recover over the obsession of physical appearance and body weight. Relieving stress will help in the treatment of appetite loss; it will also enhance mood and boost mental wellness.
Can loss of appetite be prevented?
A healthy lifestyle, healthy nutrition, regular exercise, good stress management, ability to cope with grief and the negative aspect of life can help reduce the risk of having a poor appetite but there is no sure way to prevent loss of appetite.
Healthy nutrition and quality hydration maintains the production of hormones that triggers hunger signals; it gives a feeling of fullness and prevents unnecessary hunger pangs.
Exercise boosts normal metabolism and deep sleep every night relieves stress and the damages caused and it heals the body in general.
Remember that there is no ideal body or ideal way a person should like; these are all media lies just to promote an individual or to sell harmful products for money.
Love your body and let it be your own ideal body, love your physical appearance and don’t let anybody shame you.
Natural remedies for loss of appetite
Ginger is a powerful herb that increases appetite and fights digestive problems at the same time; it can alleviate upset stomach and stomach aches, when combined with black pepper, it destroys infected cells and stimulates appetite.
You can take ginger tea; you can add it generously to your meals during preparation with black pepper also.
To make it effective, grind fresh ginger root into a paste, extract the juice and add black pepper powder; add few drops of lemon juice and take it to boost appetite and improve digestion but pregnant women should avoid this recipe.
This root is well known for improving appetite; it boosts appetite and digestion, it is even used to cure liver disease and gall bladder disease, it even works as a mild diuretic.
Boil the root powder in one cup of water for 5 minutes; you can add cinnamon for flavor. Let it cool, then you strain the tea and add honey for taste.
Take lots of water
Hydration helps in maintaining a healthy appetite; take lots of clean water, homemade fruit juices, smoothies and herbal teas.
Eats lots of fruits and vegetables that have high water content and avoid alcohol, soft drinks and sugary drinks; coconut water should also be taken because it I;8s a good booster of appetite for both kids and adults.
This spice improves digestion, increase appetite and treats gastrointestinal issues; it also relieves stomach and intestinal gas, it stimulates the taste buds, improves the secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach and this enhance digestion.
It is used to boost appetite in both children and adults; it is also rich in piperine which helps in the absorption of nutrients. Add the powder to anything you take but those with stomach ulcer and those with bad abdominal surgery should avoid this.
This is a rich source of fiber; vitamins A, C and E, Iron and antioxidants which help in stimulating hunger and rejuvenating the body.
You can mix apple juice, lemon juice and mint leaves in this juice to make it more effective and you can also add honey for taste.
Inhaling essential oils can help restore appetite in both kids and adults; they stimulate hunger, ginger essential oil and peppermint essential oil is good for poor appetite.
You can diffuse them in your room, or add them to your bathing water or you can use them to massage your body.
Cumin seeds and mustard seeds
Cumin seeds are powerful in fighting digestive problems; in conjunction with mustard seeds, they enhance appetite, improve immunity and protect the digestive system form the activities and effects of free radicals.
Mint is a great tonic that can improve appetite in adults; it also soothes indigestion and boosts the activities of the digestive system. Drink mint tea several times a day.
These seeds can treat digestive problems; they cure constipation and boost appetite. You can add the powder to meals, smoothies and grind it into a paste and consume it with rice to boost appetite.
Oranges and sour grapes
Oranges are natural medicines for loss of appetite; they increase appetite and stimulate the flow of digestive juices while sour grapes acts as natural tonics to boost appetite; take these fruits daily to boost your appetite.
Warm lemon water
Taking warm lemon water on an empty stomach in the morning boosts appetite. It also cleanses the body and prevents digestive problems.
They stimulate the flow of pepsin which is a protein digesting enzyme in the stomach; this boosts appetite and quickens recovery from sicknesses.
Amla also known as gooseberry boosts the functions of the digestive system and it also helps in detoxifying the liver. You can mix amla juice and lemon juice, add honey to it and take it on an empty stomach in the morning to boost appetite.
Sunbathing in mild sunlight like sunrise and sunset; spend at least 15 to 20 minutes in the morning sun, it will boost your appetite, provide you with vitamin D3, it will alleviate depression and uplift moods and do many wonders in the body.
This is a secret metabolic booster; it improves appetite due to its rich content of hydoxychalcone and it also stabilizes the levels of insulin in the body. You can take cinnamon tea and it can also be added to you drinks and meals.
The pulp of tamarind is a well-known laxative and taste enhancer; it improves appetite and promotes digestion. Soak tamarind in water for few hours, strain the water and add black pepper for taste and drink this infusion for a great appetite.
Regular consumption of tomatoes boosts appetite; it colour red increases hunger and it also helps digestion. Take tomato juice and you can also include it in your meals.
This is an effective home remedy for loss of appetite; it also stimulates the digestive system and prevents digestive problems.
Boil 4 cloves of garlic in a cup of water; let the solution cool, then strain it and add the juice of half lemon to it; drink it twice daily till you see an improvement in your condition.