What You Need To Know About Nutrients
The foods that you eat can directly affect the way that you feel. This important to know when choosing foods to eat. Good decisions will help you feel good and keep your body operating optimally. Poor decisions may make you feel good in the short term, however, in the long run you will feel badly because of them.
There are some nutrients your body needs that it cannot produce, these are called essential nutrients. Essential nutrients provide energy to the body, are used to build and repair tissues and regulate body functions. Essential nutrients are divided into six classes. These classes are water, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
The amount of energy contained in a food is measured in calories. A calorie is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. Calories do not measure fat content of foods.
The energy used to fuel our bodies is derived from proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Of these sources, fat provides the highest calorie density at nine calories per gram. Proteins and carbohydrates provide four calories per gram. Other nutrients serve other purposes. For example, the body is made primarily of water and is essential for well being and survival. Vitamins and minerals are needed in much smaller quantities, however, are just as necessary for optimum health.
Because water has no caloric value and contains no vitamins and minerals, many people overlook water as a nutrient. Due to the fact that the body is sixty percent water, and the various roles water plays in the body such as nutrient transportation, regulating body temperature, joint lubrication, aiding digestion and the removal of waste from the body to name just a few. Studies have shown that drinking plenty of water lowers the risk of kidney stones, colon cancer and bladder cancer. Furthermore, you may live several weeks without food, however, you will die after a few days without water.
The average person loses between sixty-four and eighty ounces of water daily. People that exercise lose water more rapidly than those that do not.. Also, people that live in dry climates or at a high altitude, drink large amounts of caffeine or alcohol, skip meals or are ill.
Each individual has differing water needs, however, it is advised by nutritionists to drink enough water such that your urine is not darkly colored. If you live in a hot and humid climate, you may become dehydrated more easily than those who do not. Nevertheless, it is a wise idea for everyone to recognize the signs of dehydration. The early symptoms are fatigue, weakness, dizziness, lethargy and headache.
Protein is essential for growth as it forms the fundamental framework of our, bones, blood, hair,fingernails and, of course, muscles. Proteins are made of twenty different amino acids; every protein has each of these amino acids. Nine of the amino acids are called essential amino acids as they are synthesized by the body. These essential amino acids contain oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen; which also cannot be produced by the body.
Proteins that come from animal sources, meat, fish and dairy products, are considered complete proteins as they provide all of the nine essential amino acids. Grains, dry beans and nuts are considered incomplete proteins as they have relatively low levels of some essential amino acids while having high levels of others. By including two incomplete proteins in your meal, beans and rice for example, you will ensure the body gets adequate amounts of protein.
Carbohydrates provide our bodies with glucose, the body’s basic fuel source. The main sources of carbohydrates are grains, vegetables, fruits, beans and milk These sources are divided into three categories which are simple (sugars), complex (starches) and fiber.
Simple carbohydrates do little more than provide quick bursts of energy. Despite this, simple
carbohydrates comprise nearly sixteen percent of the average American’s daily diet. Foods like cakes, cookies and candy are rich in added sugar and are believed to be contributors to obesity and associated health risks. Simple carbohydrates are also quickly converted to fat if not needed for immediate energy needs.
Healthy diets have complex carbohydrates as their basis. Nevertheless, most Americans get the majority of their complex carbohydrates from refined grains which have had the fiber and majority of nutrients stripped. Whole grains are more nourishing as they have all the components of the grain: bran (fiber rich outer layer), endosperm (middle layer), and the germ (nutrient rich inner layer). People that regularly eat whole-grain have a 15%-25% reduction of death from heart disease and cancer.
Dietary fiber is the indigestible matter found in certain foods that can help lower blood cholesterol and aid in digestion and elimination. Insoluble fibers, cellulose, lignin and some hemicellulose, increase bulk in feces, prevents constipation and diverticulosis, and is thought to lower the risks of stroke and heart disease. Good sources of insoluble fiber are wheat and corn bran, leafy greens, skins of fruit and root vegetables.
Soluble fibers, most notably pectin and gums, lower blood cholesterol and are thought to help regulate blood sugar levels. Good sources are oats, beans, barley and the pulp of many fruits and vegetables.
Information on the remaining nutrients will be covered in upcoming posts. Good health to you!