Nutrients are the molecules that are present in food required by organisms for their survival. Nutrients are required for the generation of energy, growth and development and also for reproduction. The nutrients present in our food are broken down by the body into simpler components so that the organism can make use of them. Nutrients can be classified into two main categories and these are the macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients include three main subcategories and these are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Micronutrients comprise of vitamins and minerals, the body requires these for generating energy.
Apart from this another component that is of great importance for the nourishment of the human body is water. Nutrients are essential because they are the source of energy. During digestion carbohydrates are converted to glucose that is picked up by the cells using insulin. And in the absence of carbohydrates proteins or fats are used for the generation of energy and this energy is used for the functioning of all the body organs. Some nutrients are essential for the growth and repair of tissues and also for providing skeletal strength, calcium and phosphorus are essential for maintaining a healthy bone structure and Vitamin D helps in absorbing calcium. Not jus this but nutrients also help in the digestion of various foods we consume. Zinc, a mineral is an essential component of more than 200 digestive enzymes that help in breaking down and absorption of food.
Carbohydrates are generally considered to be bad and are associated with weight gain. But in reality, Carbs aren’t all that bad. They have various health benefits and need to be a part of our daily diet. Human body requires carbohydrates to function well, but there are some carbohydrates that are better than others. Most of the foods and beverages consist of Carbohydrates and these are a type of macronutrients. Carbohydrates are naturally present in plant added foods and are added to processed foods in the form of sugar and starch. A natural source of carbohydrates includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, seeds, legumes and milk as well.
Carbohydrates are of three main types and these are sugar (these are the most common form of carbs and they are present naturally in fruits, milk and milk products and some vegetables as well. Fructose, lactose and sucrose are included in sugars), starch (also referred to as complex sugars and is present in vegetables, grains, peas and cooked beans) and fiber (this is a complex carbohydrate as well ad is present in fruits, vegetables, cooked dry beans and whole grains).
Carbohydrates have a bad reputation, but they are beneficial for you and here are some of the reasons. Sugars and starch are broken down into simple sugars during the process of digestion and this is absorbed into the bloodstream and is known as blood sugar or blood glucose. Glucose enters the cells by making use of insulin. Glucose is a source of fuel for the functioning of organs and provides extra energy for performing all your activities including breathing! Carbs also help in controlling weight gain; you will be able to maintain your weight when you consume plenty of fruits, vegetables and even whole grains. There is research that shows that fiber from wholesome foods helps in reducing the risk of various cardiovascular diseases.
But you need to opt for good carbohydrates. You should opt for fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber content. Don’t consume foods that have added sugars or are canned. Always consume whole grains whenever you have an option and stick to dairy products that have a low fat content. Consuming more of beans and legumes while reducing the added sugar intake is good for a nutritious diet.
Protein is a macronutrient and most of the foods contain protein. Some sources of protein are beef, meats like pork, poultry including chicken and eggs, fish, dairy products, nuts and even some legumes. Proteins help with the maintenance and replacement of tissues in your body. Protein is the building block for your muscles, organs and even your immune system. Hemoglobin in blood is produced by making use of protein. Whenever you consume foods that contain protein, the digestive juices present in your stomach and even intestines get going. The food you consume is broken down into simpler units referred to as amino acids.
Amino acids are made use of for maintaining muscles, bones, blood and organs as well. Proteins can be thought of as long chains consisting of differently shaped beads and each of these beads is made of amino acids. The simple functions that you perform, like walking, running or anything that needs energy makes use of the energy that is generated by proteins. The dietary requirement of protein is about 0.8 grams per kilogram of an individual’s body weight or about 0.36 grams for every pound. So according to your weight, the intake of proteins can differ. But generally 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women per day are thought of to be the ideal protein intake per day.
Fats are referred to as lipids and these are also a type of macronutrients that are made use of storing energy in the body. Fats are thought of as long chains that consist of carbon and hydrogen and these have the ability to store huge amounts of energy in the form of chemical bonds. Fats help in cushioning our cells, their protection and also for sending signals around the body in the form of hormones. This is also a source of energy and is present in either solid or liquid form. Fats can be thought of as a combination of both saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Fats are also referred to as saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, dietary fats, polyunsaturated fats and even lipids.
Fats along with carbohydrates and proteins are the primary source of calories to the entire body. Fat has the ability to provide around 9 grams of calories per gram that is almost double of what carbohydrates and proteins provide. Fat is quintessential for the proper functioning of the body. Fatty acids are not generated by the body on its own and are important for keeping inflammation under control, clotting of blood and help in blood development. Fat provides insulation for the body and once the body has burnt through the energy that was generated by the carbohydrates only then will the body move on to the calories from fat. Healthy skin, hair and absorption of vitamins are all possible only because of the presence of fat. So, fat isn’t really that bad for you, in fact consuming dietary fat is good for the better functioning of the human body.
Saturated fats consist of what is referred to as bad cholesterol (LDL) and the consumption of such products shouldn’t be more than 10% of the daily-recommended calorie intake. They are mainly present in butter, cheese, whole milk, cream and even fatty meats. Unsaturated fats help in reducing the level of cholesterol. And these should be substituted for the usage of saturated fats. Consumption of olive, canola, fish and even sunflower oil are good for health. Trans fat is something that you should watch out for. This reduces the level of the desirable cholesterol and it blocks the arteries and clogs the flow of blood. Foods that contain hydrogenated oils should be avoided at any cost. Whenever you are buying food products you should opt for foods rich in protein, lean meat instead of fatty meats and dairy products that are low in fat.
A restricted fat diet should not be followed for children under the age of 2 years and fats are essential for the development of the brain. Too much fat wouldn’t do your body any good whatsoever and you should remember that the calories generated by fat are twice as that generated from protein and carbohydrates. It is suggested that the calories that you burn from fat on a daily basis should amount to only one third of your diet. Suppose, the daily requirement of calories is said to be 2000 then the fat intake should be only 70 grams per day. Not more than that. And also the fat consumed shouldn’t be saturated fats or trans fat. And if the daily intake of calories should be only 1500 then the fat intake should be limited to 55 grams.
When you probably think of minerals, food isn’t the first thing that you would have thought of. Minerals are definitely found under the surface of the Earth, but we surely need to consume some minerals in our daily diet as well. Red meat like beef is rich in the content of minerals. Our body requires minerals to grow, develop and even for staying healthy. Not just this but minerals also help in performing various other bodily functions such as the transmission of nerve impulses, maintaining the heart beat and building strong bones.
Minerals are generally of two kinds and these are macrominerals and trace minerals. Macro means big and this includes calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, sulfur, potassium and chloride. Trace minerals are those that are required by the body in only small amounts and include zinc, iodine, copper, iron and even cobalt. Calcium assists in building and keeping the bones strong and even your teeth healthy. Sources of calcium are dairy products, salmon, leafy vegetables and even certain fruits. Iron is necessary for the transportation of oxygen in the body and helps your body stay alive by helping in the formation of hemoglobin and its sources are red meats, salmon, tuna and leafy vegetables. Potassium and zinc help in the maintenance of muscles, nervous system and improvement of the immune system respectively.
Vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of your body and it helps in growth and development of the human body. Each vitamin that you consume has got a different importance, for instance Vitamin D helps for making your bones stronger, Vitamin A improves your vision, Vitamin C helps in improving your immune system and Vitamin B helps for generating energy from the food that you consume. Vitamins are of two types, the ones that are fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are those that stay within the body for a certain duration of time like Vitamins A, D, E and K. Water soluble vitamins are the ones that travel through your blood stream and don’t stay in your body for long.
Think of your body as a machine performing all its activities, just like a machine even it needs some fuel. Vitamins provide support for this. Vitamin A is essential for maintaining a good vision and it also helps you in seeing color. Not just this but it improves your immunity as well. Foods that are rich in Vitamin A include milk, liver, fruits and vegetables that are orange in color like oranges, cantaloupe, pumpkin, sweet potatoes as well as dark leafy vegetables like kale and spinach. Vitamin B includes B1, B6, B12and B2, niacin, biotin and pantothenic acid. These are essential for the metabolic activity like running. This vitamin group is also responsible for the generation of red blood cells. Sources of foods rich in vitamins include whole grains, fish, eggs, poultry, meats, beans, peas, dairy products, all the berries, oranges, tomatoes, broccoli and even citrus fruits, fish, cereals and nuts. Vitamin C helps in maintaining healthy gums and improves immunity and also the healing capacity of the body. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium and provides stronger bones. Vitamin E helps in repairing damaged tissues and Vitamin K helps in clotting.
Water is essential for survival. It is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. This is the basis of all the fluids in the body. It makes up for about two thirds of the body weight and a human being would die within a few days if deprived of water. It helps in the production of saliva and also in lubrication also while regulating perspiration. Also help sin relieving constipation and facilitates a free bowel movement. Some of the foods do act as a source of water. You need to have plenty of fluids in the form of water, juices and also beverages that you consume like tea and coffee. If you deprive your body of fluids you are sure to be dehydrated and it can be life threatening. According to research a minimum of six eight-ounce glasses of water per day should be sufficient.