Being thin or underweight, like being overweight, is a relative term, being based on the ideal weight for a given height, built, and sex. A person can be regarded as moderately underweight if he or she weighs ten per cent below the ideal body weight and markedly so if the weight is twenty per cent below the ideal.
Causes and Symptoms
Thinness due to an inadequate caloric intake is a serious condition, especially in young people. They often feel easily fatigued, have poor physical stamina and low resistance to infection. Diseases like tuberculosis, respiratory disorders, pneumonia, circulatory diseases like heart disorders, cerebral haemorrhage, nephritis, typhoid fever, and cancer are quite common among them.
Thinness may be due to inadequate nutrition or excessive bodily activity, or both. Emotional factors or bad eating habits such as skipping meals, small meals, habitual fasting, and inadequate exercise can also cause it. Other factors include inadequate digestion and absorption of food due to a wrong dietary pattern for a particular metabolism, metabolic disturbances such as an overactive thyroid, and hereditary tendencies. Disorders such as chronic dyspepsia, chronic diarrhoea, presence of intestinal worms, liver disorders, diabetes mellitus, insomnia, constipation, and sexual disorders can also lead to thinness.
Musk Melon: Musk melon is one of the most effective home remedies for thinness. If the melon cure is properly carried out, a rapid gain in weight can usually be achieved. In this mode of treatment, only musk melons are taken three times during the day for forty days or more. In the beginning, only three kilograms of melons are taken daily for three days. Then the quantity is increased by one kilogram daily till it is sufficient to appease the hunger. Only the sweet and fresh fruits of the best variety are used in the treatment.
Mango-Milk Cure: The mango-milk cure is also an ideal treatment for thinness. For this mode of treatment, ripe and sweet mangoes should always be selected. They should be taken thrice a day—morning, afternoon, and evening. Two medium sized mangoes should be taken first and then followed by a glass of milk. Mango is rich in sugar but deficient in protein. On the other hand, milk is rich in protein but deficient in sugar. The deficiency of one is made up by the other. Mango thus combines very well with milk and an exclusive mango-milk diet taken for at least one month, will lead to improvement in health and vigour and gain in weight.
Milk Cure: An exclusive milk diet for rapid gain of weight has been advocated by some nature cure practitioners. At the beginning of this mode of treatment, the patient should fast for three days on warm water and lime juice so as to cleanse the system. Thereafter, he should have a glass of milk every two hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the first day, a glass every hour and half the next day, and a glass every hour the third day. Then the quantity of milk should be gradually increased so as to take a glass every half an hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., if such a quantity can be tolerated fairly comfortably.
Figs: Figs are an excellent remedy for increasing weight in case of thinness. The high percentage of the rapidly assimilable sugar in this fruit make it a strengthening and fattening food. Three dried figs soaked in water should be taken twice daily.
Raisins: Raisins are a good food for those who wish to gain weight. Thirty grams a day may be taken for this purpose.
Nutrients: Nutrients which help to keep the nerves relaxed are of utmost importance as nervousness causes all the muscles to become tense, and the energy which goes into the tensing wastefully uses up a great deal of food. Although all vitamins and minerals are required for relaxation, the most important once are vitamin D and B6, calcium, and magnesium. The richest sources of vitamin D are milk, cod-liver oil, and rays of the sun. Calcium is supplied by milk and yoghurt. Magnesium can be obtained from green leafy vegetables such as spinach, parsley, turnip, radish, and beet tops. These vegetables should, preferably, be taken in salad form or should be lightly cooked.
Diet plays an important role in building up health for gaining weight Underweight persons should eat frequent small meals as they tend to feel full quickly. The weight-building quality of a food is measured by the number of calories it contains. To gain weight the diet should include more calories than are used in daily activities so as to allow the excess to be stored as body fat. The allowance of 500 calories in excess of the daily average needs is ; estimated to provide for a weight gain of half a kilogram weekly, r All refined foods such as products containing white flour and sugar should be avoided, as they destroy health.
Regular exercises like walking, dancing, yoga, meditation, and massage are also important as they serve as relaxants, reduce stress, and induce good sleep. Yogasanas which are especially helpful are sarvangasana, halasana, and matsyasana.