BlogNCERTNutritional and Digestive Disorders

Nutritional and Digestive Disorders

Table of Contents


In the human body, some essential nutrients are required to maintain good health. Those nutrients that are responsible for energy are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Besides these, there are micronutrients such as copper, chromium, iodine, zinc, fluoride, manganese, molybdenum, sulfur, selenium and so on. These nutrients will keep the body in good shape, keep immunity in balance and maintain good health. Dietary fibers, minerals and vitamins such as iron, potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus and chloride are other much needed essential supplements. The lack of certain nutrients will cause disorders which are scurvy, rickets, anemia, beriberi, goiter, xerophthalmia and so on.

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    A brief outline of the topic:

    Digestive Disorders

    The human digestive system consists of the alimentary canals and other glands which are the gastrointestinal tract(GI Tract), liver, pancreas and gallbladder. When we consume contaminated food and water or it could be infected by other people, there will be diseases in the digestive system. The disorders of the digestive system are chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation, gastroesophageal reflux disorders(GERD), gastroenteritis, ulcers, hemorrhoids, and so on.

    Nutritional Disorders

    Nutritional disorders or diseases are caused due to nutrient deficiencies, which means lack of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, and so on. There are also other causes like excess in the diet like obesity or eating disorders. Some of the chronic diseases are cardiovascular disease, cancer, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and so on. Sometimes, it can also be hereditary.

    In this chapter, we look at gastrointestinal disorders from two perspectives: first, the impact of diseases and disorders on digestion and absorption, and second, the impact of diet and nutrition on diseases and disorders themselves. In the context of bariatric surgery, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and functional gastrointestinal disorders, nutritional considerations and risks for specific deficiencies are discussed in depth. The effects of diet and nutrition on disease processes as well as therapeutic aspects are discussed for conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux, eosinophilic esophagitis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and functional gastrointestinal disorders.

    A brief note:

    The following diseases are because of lack of nutrients:

    • Scurvy: The lack of vitamin C or Ascorbic acid causes Scurvy. The deficiency leads to the common symptoms of anemia, gum disease, weakness and skin problems. Since we humans cannot synthesize vitamin C, we need to obtain it from external sources like fruits and vegetables.


    • Xerophthalmia: Xerophthalmia is a condition that occurs in the eye, which causes night blindness and does serious damage to the cornea, the outer layer of the eye. The inability to see in dim light is called night blindness. This condition will occur due to the lack of vitamin A. Vitamin A is also known as retinol, since we cannot produce it on our own, we need to make sure that it is present in our diet. The foods which are rich in vitamin A are fish liver, meat, eggs and dairy products.

    • Rickets: The lack of vitamin D causes rickets. Rickets is the softening and weakening of bones in children because of vitamin D deficiency. Some symptoms of rickets are delayed growth, bowed legs, muscle weakness, and delayed motor skills. One can obtain vitamin D from sunlight and foods such as fish, milk and egg yolks.

    • Anemia: Anemia is a condition that occurs because of a lack of red blood cells or the hemoglobin count is lower than normal. If you have less red blood cells, there will be a decreased amount of blood to carry oxygen to the body. The most common cause of anemia is iron deficiency, vitamin B12 and vitamin A.

    • Beriberi: Beriberi caused by the deficiency of thiamin also known as vitamin B. The main symptoms of this disorder are mental confusion, fatigue, cardiovascular problems, and nausea or vomiting. The foods which are rich in vitamin B are pork, grains, dried beans and sunflower seeds.

    Digestive Disorders:

    The digestive system is made up of the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and gastrointestinal tract, which helps the body to digest food. Digestion is the process of breakdown of large food molecules into small water-soluble molecules and nutrients which are important for the body to gain energy.

    The digestive disorders are listed below:

    • Jaundice: It is a condition where the skin, white part of the eyes called sclera and mucous membranes turn yellow. This yellow color change is caused by high levels of bilirubin, A bile pigment. The common symptoms are abdominal pains, chills, fever and change in skin color.
    • Vomiting: Vomiting occurs when there is too much food involved and drinking alcohol will cause vomiting and can make a person throw up. Some of these conditions include headaches, food poisoning, indigestion, motion sickness and so on.
    • Diarrhea: It is caused by a virus that infects our bowel movements. It has loose and watery stools. The most common causes of Diarrhea are contaminated food or water, parasites which are present in contaminated food or water. The symptoms of this condition are loss of bowel control and pain in the abdomen. It can be cured by drinking enough water, fruit juices and eating fruits and vegetables.


    • Hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids is a condition, also called as Piles, which are swollen veins in the rectum region. It can form inside the rectum called as internal hemorrhoids and outside of the rectum called as external hemorrhoids. The symptoms of this condition are bleeding and swelling around the anus region or inside of it.
    • GERD: Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or in short GERD, it is a digestive disorder that affects the region between the esophagus and stomach. The region between them is the ring of the muscles and is called the Lower Esophageal Sphincter(LES). The symptoms are chest pain, heartburn.
    • Indigestion: It is a condition which brings discomfort in our upper abdomen. It is also known as dyspepsia or upset stomach. In this condition, we normally get a feeling of fullness after we eat. The symptoms are abdominal pain, bloating.
    • Constipation: Constipation is a condition where we might have fewer than two or three bowel movements in a week. Due to constipation, stools become hard, lumpy or will get dry and difficult to pass. It will cause great pain to the anal region. By getting enough fibers in our diet, it is possible to prevent constipation.
    • Gastroenteritis: This condition is also called stomach flu. It can occur through contact with the infected person or by having contaminated food and water. It is a normal disorder for adults which can be cured with the right medication but it will be deadly for infants and children. The symptoms that mainly occur in this condition are abdominal pain, nausea, muscle pain, fever and so on.


    The lack of nutritional energy causes many disorders, some are short and some of them are chronic and long lasting disorders. These disorders can be prevented at the earliest by receiving and having a proper diet and essential nutrient supplements. In the same way, digestive disorders also occur due to bacterial or viral infections. The infections are also caused by hookworm, tapeworm and so on.


    Frequently Asked Question FAQ’s:

    Question:How does food move through your digestive tract?


    The digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract or GI tract, liver, and pancreas. Each part of our digestive system helps to move food and liquid through the GI tract, breaking down the food into small particles. Once foods are small enough it will absorb nutrients and move to the various parts of the body.

    Question:How does nutrition affect physical development?


    Malnutrition or lack of nutrition includes under-nutrition and overnutrition, both will cause disorders which can be short term and also deadly for certain ages like infants, children and old people.


    Question:What are common digestive and nutritional disorders?


    The common digestive disorders are:

    • GERD
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Constipation
    • Vomiting
    • Indigestion

    The common nutritional disorders are:

    • Iron deficiency
    • Scurvy
    • Anemia
    • Night Blindness
    • Vitamin D deficiency


    Question: What is the connection between nutrition and digestion?


    Nutrition and digestion are both very important to maintain a healthy body. Minerals, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and water are all nutrients which are important to stay healthy. Digestion is very important because that is how our body gets various nutrients that are essential to one’s body.

    When large molecules of food particles break down into nutrients that are small soluble molecules, those nutrients will move to the various parts of the body which will help absorb and use it for energy, repairing cells and also be used for growth of the body.

    • Proteins will break into amino acids.
    • Carbohydrates break into sugar.
    • Fats will break into fatty acids and glycerol
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