Undernutrition early in life results in impaired growth but also in lower
IQ, cognitive deficits, behavioral problems, and impaired motor skills. It has
been proven that deficits continue until school age, adolescence, and even
Childhood malnutrition is currently diagnosed by comparing children’s
anthropometric measurements to the median of international references
(NCHS ) for their age and sex, and expressing the results in standard deviation
scores (SDs) .
During the last decades, the quantity of malnourished infants in the developing
world has tended to decrease. Iron deficiency continues to be the
single most common nutritional deficiency and the main cause of anemia
(IDA) in infancy, childhood and pregnancy affecting more than 2,000 million
persons worldwide .
Multiple studies over the past five decades have addressed the evaluation
of the effects of malnutrition on central nervous system (CNS) development
in experimental animals and humans.
Any physiological mechanism that controls appetite must influence the size
and/or frequency of individual meals through positive or negative feedback.
Positive feedback initiates and maintains eating; it is mainly provided by the
sensory properties of food and their hedonic evaluation, which changes based
on experience and physiological state.
We live in an era of unprecedented advancement in our knowledge of
the biological controls over eating and the regulation of body adiposity.
This has been accomplished in part by technological innovations that enable
probing the workings of individual cells and even molecules, as well as by an
enormous investment of funds for basic research by government and industry.
Appetite and the acquisition of appropriate foods represent an important
aspect of the overall process of growth and development in animals, and of
body weight maintenance in adults.
Depressive disorders are among the most common diseases in humans with
approximately 11% of all adults afflicted by these disorders during any one
Anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN) are disorders characterized
by aberrant patterns of feeding behavior and weight regulation, and
disturbances in attitudes toward weight and shape and the perception of body
Although ?9(–)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is not naturally found in the
body, receptors for this compound have been described in brain since
Sleep is an extremely complex phenomenon involving all levels of the
neuraxis and multiple levels of regulation. Today it is universally accepted
that mammals and primates present at least two basic stages of sleep.
No other organ system of the body depends more minutely on its nutrient
supply than the central nervous system (CNS). In turn, that system has
a profound effect on dietary intake.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the leading cause of senile dementia. This
disease, which is characterized by progressive loss of memory and cognitive
function, affects 15 million people worldwide.
The importance of nutrition in the pathogenesis and prevention of stroke
was first experimentally proven by our works on stroke-prone spontaneously
hypertensive rats (SHIRSP) [1–3].
Adequate supply of metals by the diet is essential for proper functioning
of all cells and tissues. This is true, in particular, for trace elements, mostly
transition metal ions, which act as cofactors of many essential enzymes.
Neurocognitive function is a major determinant of life quality for elderly
persons. As such, neurocognitive impairment is one of the most feared problems
associated with aging.
Disorders of brain function not induced by primary lesions of brain structure
may become apparent as acute, chronic, or acute-on-chronic encephalopathies.
Almost all of these conditions are in principle reversible upon treatment.
Epilepsy often starts during childhood and has a substantial impact on
the quality of life of affected individuals and on their family . A schematic
diagram of the course of seizures and epilepsy and of the role of the ketogenic
diet are shown in Figure 1.