The 4 Things You Must Eat To Avoid Malnutrition

While those of us living comfortably in the United States do not see malnutrition on a regular basis, it can and will pose a problem if an  unprepared population finds itself dealing with a long-term disaster.

During the turbulent times of the Great Depression, malnutrition was at the forefront of health issues and as a result, many suffered short and long-term effects of this health problem. Equipping yourself with the knowledge of why we should store certain types of food, knowing the health benefits these foods possess, how they affect our bodies, and how our bodies respond when these types of foods become scarce will help you make better choices when investing in your food storage.

Vitamin deficiency, stunted growth, skin infections, hair loss, increased illness and even death are  all contributing factors to being malnourished. Malnutrition can also occur from improper water treatment. Globally, untreated water is one of the leading causes of malnutrition and one of the four most likely ways you can die in a SHTF scenario. As a result, an individual who is malnourished can have severe, or prolonged diarrhea, renal failure, infection, or diseases that cause the malabsorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Children, particularly infants and those under five years of age are also at an increased risk for malnutrition due to a greater need for energy and nutrients during periods of rapid growth and development.  Elderly adults are also prone to malnutrition as a result of a decrease in both the appetite and intestinal function. Therefore, preventative measure should be put in place for these vulnerable age groups to ward off this health issue.

4 Food Types to Avoid Malnutrition

Concentrating on storing foods that have carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals can assist in maintaining healthy bodies and decrease the likelihood of malnutrition in a long-term emergency. To find out how much food your family needs for a long-term emergency, click here. Those that are preparedness-minded may want to take a more in-depth look at the question of why it is important to store these types of food.

Carbohydrates – Simply put, carbohydrates provide the body with energy. They also have a symbiotic relationship with proteins by protecting the protein stores in the body. The brain optimally uses carbohydrates for energy, but when their is insufficient carbohydrate consumption for several weeks, the body does not metabolize fatty acids completely and as result body protein will also be lost, and the body will generally become weakened.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, half your daily calories should come from carbohydrates, so you can determine how many grams of carbohydrates you need based on your calorie intake. At a minimum, an intake of 50 to 100 grams (1.8 to 3.5 oz.) of carbohydrates is required to prevent the development of ketones that the brain can use somewhat inefficiently for energy

Preps to buy: white rice, pasta, wheat, oats, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, sugars, honey, fruits, roots and tubers (cook these well) and cereals. For those with wheat allergies, click here.

Protein – Protein is a part of every cell in the human body. Also, equally as important, proteins provide the body with a special form of nitrogen that the body cannot get from carbohydrates or lipids. Proteins also help regulate the pH, or acid-base balance, in the blood, are necessary for the synthesis of many hormones and enzymes, and participate in important cell formation for cells vital for the immune system. In the case of starvation, excessive muscle tissue is wasted and results in diminished health.

Protein, like carbohydrates, provides approximately 4 kilocalories per gram of protein consumed, but requires much more metabolizing and processing by the liver and kidneys to put the energy from protein to use.  In general, it’s recommended that 10–35% of your daily calories come from protein.

Preps to buy: legumes, eggs, nuts, peanut butter, canned meats and fish, oatmeal, grains, wheat, quinoa, MREs, popcorn

Fats  – As much as we would like to eliminate fats from our regular diets, this food source actually plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock, maintaining body temperature, and promoting healthy cell function. They also serve as energy stores for the body. In addition, Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning they can only be digested, absorbed, and transported in conjunction with fats. Fats are also sources of essential fatty acids, an important dietary requirement and also serves as a useful buffer towards a host of diseases. (Source) The USDA suggests that about 30-35% of your daily calorie intake should come from fat.

Preps to buy: whole milk, ensure, peanut butter, oil (preferably plant based oils), nuts and seeds

Vitamins and Minerals – Did you know that a staggering thirteen vitamins are considered necessary to perform crucial functions in the body? Vitamins and minerals are needed for overall health and provide protection against infection and diseases, help the body grow, help the body’s metabolism and assist in the removal of waste products. It is recommended to obtain your vitamin intake through fresh fruits and vegetables with a regular diet. However, when dietary sources are limited, taking vitamin supplements is an excellent alternative. Amounts vary for children, seniors, lactating or pregnant women, smokers, heavy alcohol drinkers, stressed, those with chronic diseases or those who consume less than 2,000 calories per day.

Because vitamin deficiencies tend to exacerbate over time, we are typically unaware of being deficient until secondary issues manifest themselves. Eating a balanced diet and taking a multi vitamin is one way to curb this issue and the physiological consequences that go with it. Some physiological consequences of deficiency include: dental problems, inflammation of the mouth and tongue (riboflavin deficiency); diarrhea, dermatitis (niacin deficiency); edema, weakness (thiamin deficiency); tongue soreness, anemia (biotin deficiency); fatigue, tingling in hands (pantothenic acid deficiency); poor growth, inflammation of the tongue (folate deficiency); poor nerve function, macrocytic anemia (vitamin B12 deficiency); and poor wound healing, bleeding gums (vitamin C deficiency).

Preps to Buy: Multi vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, vitamin powders, dehydrated fruits and vegetables, seeds to grow vegetables and for sprouting, survival bars

In summation, as our standard of living continues to diminish, malnutrition will be a more present health problem within our population. Investing in healthy and nutritious foods and learning how to properly store it for long-term use can assist you in maintaining your health and prevent the short and long-term affects of malnourishment discussed in this article.


Parts of this article were adapted from E notes

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published October 20th, 2011
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25 Responses to The 4 Things You Must Eat To Avoid Malnutrition

  1. GoneWithTheWind says:

    Good advice.  I can only say that if you eat a  balanced diet you have no need of a multi-vitamin pill.  The normal Western diet is a balanced diet  (at least in terms of essential nutrients), it provides all of your essential nutrients.  However, it is unlikely that in a true SHTF event you will have such a diet available to you and balancing your diet will be difficult.

    • Bhabindra says:

      is the latest vesiorn. Note that the Disaster Preparedness Handbook: A Guide for Families (Second Edition) is a reprint of the first edition.The new vesiorn contains everything the first edition does but also adds discussions of food cache options (MREs, freeze-dried, etc.); preparing for a nationwide financial crisis; it also adds quite a bit on personal protection (firearms, concealed carry, weapon considerations); and has some useful information regarding radiation emergencies. Also, there’s a new chapter (about 30 pages) at the back of the book that gives checklists of preparations for major natural disasters (tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis).The author offers a free RADSticker (as well as a discount) from his website (disasterpreparer dot com). Even though I received my book as a gift, he was generous enough to send me a free RADSticker anyway. RADStickers are postage-stamp-sized dosimeters that you can stick anywhere. They measure the radiation that you’ve been exposed to, indicated with a color strip. Knowing how much radiation that you were exposed to could be critically important if you were ever faced with a nuclear disaster. I found them on another site (ki 4 u dot com), but they were $7 each, so getting one for free was nice.Bottom line is that the handbook is the best one-stop resource for getting yourself or your family better prepared. It will easily save you much more than the $25 it costs by keeping you on track to implementing a practical disaster preparedness plan no more buying stuff you don’t need.Update 2/26/2012I just read the author’s new book Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms and found it to be an excellent supplement to this handbook. If you’re interested in these topics, check it out.

  2. tim says:

    Wheat allergic people might want to explore using spelt. 60% more protein than wheat and a very nutritious grain overall. Check around for recipes and do some experimenting. 

  3. Maria says:

    Good and quite solid advice here. Thanks for the research 🙂
    Eating your vegies, fruits (try to vary), meat (red and white), milk (calcium is quite important), honey, would keep you healthy. And the best part is you can store ou produce everything mentioned.

  4. Jordana says:

    Spelt is a relative of wheat. There are a few people who have problems with wheat and can eat it, but many others cannot. Wheat, rye, spelt, they are all no-no’s. Quinoa is good, as is sorghum and millet, buckwheat groats (not a wheat, actually a fruit/seed), stuff like that.

  5. Adam says:

    Funny, I have heard of essential fatty acids and essential amino acids, but I have never heard of any essential carb acids, why do you think there is any reason that you have to eat carbs?  Fruits and vegetables will provide some while providing much more important vitamins.  Grains are the worst form of food available and the primary cause of most of todays health problems.  I suggest getting started with Wheat Belly and the Paleo Solution to understand how badly misinformed we have all been.

  6. Sandy says:

    We don’t need carbos at all …as the body can convert protein to carbohydrates if need be…punch into the net…carbos are pathogenic…and please read… grains …not just wheat…as well as sugar.. degenerate our bodies….we were never meant to have cavities in our teeth …or the dissolving away of our bones…diabetes or heart disease…we are what we eat…grains and sugars are poisonous….  Grains take up 80% of the grocery store…none of it health giving or nourishing… contrary to what we’ve been taught…grains and sugars are not health giving…grains give legs to  HUGE industries that bring the naive masses much sickness.. and via ingesting…candy…pasta…cookies, crackers, breakfast cereals…on and on and on…we become ill… and suffering comes…..Mark Sissson has wonderful information as does Dr. Mercola and Doug Kaufmann.of know the cause fame…if you want to be slim…want to better your odds for good health… please pursue this information. Also near all, if not all comercially prepared canned goods are now full of bisphenol…you can’t even find canning lids without this on it….bisphenol is estrogenic…and causes breast cancer, prostate cancer…likely all kinds of problems including gender confusion.  To be free of sickness/ degeneration we much eat what our bodies are meant to eat…proteins and fats…fats are another problem… has wonderful information on all of this. Get some chickens so that you’ll have a steady supply of protein…eggs…and learn to forage if you don’t have a garden and DO store grains for starvation times…but know that they are not health robbing. 

  7. Sandy says:


    I goofed and typo’d in my last sentence in the previous “comment/reply” that carbos are not health robbing…  I meant to write………………….


    If all we have to eat are rocks and twigs then grains would have to do…but hopefully not for very long.  Beware of vaccines as well.   

    • Ian MacLeod says:

      People should also be aware that industry has discovered that SOAKING grains just cut down with glyphosate (Roundup) also dries it much faster – and of course it goes into the food you buy and, God help you, eat!

      You should also know that in almost ALL vitamins except “whole food vitamins”, ascorbate/ascorbic acid is listed as vitamin “C”, and somewhere else on the label you’ll find something like, “*As ascorbic acid”. Ascorbic acid (made with sulfuric acid and cornstarch) is the outer, protective coating of vitamin “C”. It IS a powerful anti-oxidant, but there are several other substances in the full, true vitamin including one that can stop a lot of pneumonia cases cold! Read up on it! Whole food vitamins or just plain whole foods carry the WHOLE vitamin complex which, especially compared to Western “medicines” (especially if they could patent it!) is “a miracle drug” – except it isn’t a drug – it’s FOOD.

  8. Jimmy says:

    Very good information people. hehe

  9. Jimmy says:

    Eat dougnuts

  10. Jimmy says:

    just kidding, better to eat mcdonalds

  11. linda14 says:

    carbohydrates,proteins,fats and minerals are important to avoid malnutrition but their intake should be in proportion.
    <a href=”“>raspberry ketones fat loss</a>

    • Ian MacLeod says:

      A good variety in a diet that avoids processed sugars, food coloring, preservatives, antibiotics, GMOs or meat that was fed on them or and/or raised on hormones, etc. should keep you healthy – especially with enough exercise. In America and increasingly elsewhere, fresh air and sunlight are hard to come by. The sunlight, since the destruction of much or most of the ozone layer, is NOT good for you! The UV light we now get is mostly the wrong frequency. That plus the addition of heavy metals to the atmosphere has made cell phones MUCH more useful (the atmosphere is FAR more conductive than it was) and has assured that we’re ALL being massively poisoned and infiltrated with nano-devices and nano-particles.

  12. dawb says:

    this whole website is #1. thank you tess.  when tshtf, those who are prepared, will be greatful.  most everyone knows what they need to do to be healthy now,  but when there is a collapse in the economy, (due to the political issues we have), or an emp burst hits,(thanks to the rest of the world) or a solar flare—????????????? what will you do then, are you ready??

  13. rockman says:

    The British farmed out their industries to empire countries and left left the people of Britain to live on the dole in slums. Poor diet and lack of medical care resulted. During WWII the average British soldier was physically inferior to the German or American soldier as a result. The British govt didnt care about its people You have to take care of yourself. That being on the dole is mentally disabling is proved by the fact that during the Easter Rebellion in Ireland the rebels held the post office and machine gun fire swept the street and artillary shells and grenades were exploding. The post office was on fire. Yet it was dole day so people lined up like sheep at the post office to get their dole. They ignored the very obvious and reacted by conditioned reflex. So what if the building is on fire and shells are exploding against the walls we want our dole

  14. YonLittleSwine says:

    I would add an Iodine supplement to that list of necessities.

  15. Com3755 says:

    An interesting thing I’ve read, is that during WW2, American POWs were malnourished in Japanese camps and not malnourished in German camps, for one key reason. The Japanese gave only rice to the American prisoners. This was normal, as a staple of their own. But the Germans gave the Americans the German staple: The potatoe. It turns out that potatoes provide much more nutrients than rice, so a simple difference between potatoes in watery soup and rice in watery soup, meant life and death.

  16. vocalpatriot says:

    When I was young, (long about the time they invented color)
    “they” advocated the four food groups and a short list of the foods that
    occupy each of those categories.
    Then when I was making my own family,
    they complicated the issue and really just confused things.
    This article is reminiscent of those early days of simple truth and basic facts.
    I appreciate that, thanks.

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