Nutrients are the source of nourishment and Compounds in foods which are essential for life. Nutrients include:
- Macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates)
- Micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc)
- Phytonutrients (Found in plants)
How and why should we take these nutrient in our daily diet?
“Macro” means big, so the macronutrients are the big nutrients, better known as protein, fats and carbohydrates. Except for zero-calorie foods, everything you eat contains varying amounts of these nutrients. All of them are important for your health and you need them everyday.
Proteins are necessary for building the tissues in your body including all of the muscles, organs, skin and the parts of the immune system. Your body can use extra protein for energy or can convert it to fat.
Carbohydrates include sugar, starch and fiber. Sugars and starches are needed for the energy that your body needs to function. Extra carbohydrates are converted to fat.
Fats are needed for the membranes that surround all the cells in your body, for normal brain and nerve function and for signaling hormones. Just like protein, the extra fat can be used as fuel for the body or can be stored as fat.
“Micro” means small so the micronutrients are the nutrients that we need in small amounts. These include the 12 vitamins and 13 minerals that we need every day.
Vitamins are grouped as water-soluble or fat-soluble depending on whether they can dissolve in fat or water. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C and the seven B-complex vitamins. They have a variety of functions and you need all of them to be healthy. Chronic deficiencies of these vitamins can result in poor health. Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. Vitamins A and E come strictly from the foods you eat. However your body can make both vitamin D and vitamin K. Your body can store these vitamins in fat tissue.
Minerals are divided into two groups, the major minerals and the trace minerals.
Major minerals include calcium, phosphorus, chloride, magnesium, potassium and sodium. These minerals are particularly important for healthy bones, teeth, muscles and fluid balance in the body.
Trace minerals are chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc. Your body needs all of these minerals for a variety of processes to keep it working.
“Phyto” refers to plants. Many different phytonutrients are found only in plants. Many of these natural chemicals are found in the colorful skins and flesh of fruits and vegetables… Phytonutrients have a variety of functions in the body. Some of them may function as antioxidants that protect the cells in our bodies from free radical damage. We don’t know exactly how many of these different phytonutrients we need, however a healthy diet including at least five servings of fruits and colorful vegetables every day will supply your body with lots of phytonutrients.
Eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole-grains, lean meats, poultry, fish and dairy products should provide you with all of the micronutrients you need. There are people who may need to take additional dietary supplements may be helpful, such as women at risk of osteoporosis or people with age-related eye diseases. Always follow label directions if you take any dietary supplements.
Not sure if you have a healthful diet or not? Keep track of everything you eat and drink for one week in a food diary. Make sure to list portion sizes and the times of day that you eat. Look at your food diary to see if you are getting a variety of whole grains, healthful protein sources, fresh fruits and vegetables every day, while avoiding junk food. Not sure if your diet looks good or bad? Take your food diary to a nutritionist or dietitian for help.
According to”La Rochefoucauld
To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.”