Do you want to have more energy? Do you want to spend less on healthcare? Do you want to live longer?
All those questions are linked to the huge role nutrition plays. The main nutrients that are used for energy are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, as well as vitamins, minerals and water. An essential nutrient is one that must be provided by diet and is essential for the body to survive and function properly. There are dozens and dozens of essential nutrients, as many as 90. The body obtains its energy from foods and liquids a person consumes.
The Proper Nutrition
Having the proper nutrition means eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, a source of protein and dietary fiber, dairy, along with vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet may lengthen your life and help you be more active. It can also help you lose weight and benefit you with wellness and energy, impacting your mood and improve your focus.
Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted into energy to support bodily functions and physical activity. Ironically, carbohydrates can be linked to healthy and unhealthy foods and there are important differences between the two. While whole-grain bread, rye, barley, beans, fruits, and vegetables can be for prolonged energy, others with milk, pastries, cookies, refined white bread or French fries are easily digested and contribute to weight gain. Too many carbohydrates can lead to erratic rise and fall in blood sugar.
Fat is a major source of energy and helps absorbs some vitamins and minerals and build cell membranes, but too much fat can result in weight gain and undermine cardiovascular health. That’s why fat sometimes has gotten a bad reputation. So it’s important to examine the difference between good fats and bad fats. Good fats are monounsaturated, such as oil, avocados, most nuts, and also polyunsaturated fats like vegetable oils or high-fiber carbohydrates. The monounsaturated, or simply unsaturated fats, can help protect the heart. Then there are the bad fats, known as trans fats, which include processed foods, baked goods, whole milk, butter and cheese, solid margarine or fast-food French fries. Those fats can increase harmful LDL cholesterol and reduce beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Protein is found throughout the body – in muscle, bone, skin, hear and virtually every other body part, or tissue. While proteins are made up of amino acids, and smaller units called peptides, they are available to humans in different ways. Studies show that animal proteins provide adequate amounts of essential amino acids, but proteins derived from plants may lack a few, suggesting that there should be a variety of protein in your diet. About 10 to 35 percent of daily calories should come from lean protein such as low fat mat, dairy, bean, soy or eggs. Some high protein foods are healthier than others because of what comes along with the protein: healthy fats or harmful ones, beneficial fiber or hidden salt. Salmon and other fatty fish are also excellent sources omega-3 fats, a type of fat that’s especially good for the heart, and other sources, including nuts, avocados and olive oil.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients because they help strengthen bones, heal wounds and bolster your immune system also convert food to energy while repairing cell tissue. Eating a healthy diet is the best way to get sufficient amounts of the vitamins and minerals you need. Vitamin C helps to repair and regenerate cell tissues, prevents scurvy and aids in the absorption of iron and protects against heart disease. Citrus fruits are great sources of Vitamin C. Vitamin D adds in the absorption of calcium and builds bone health. Exposure to plenty of sunshine provides Vitamin D. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is also an antioxidant and plays a key role in maintaining healthy vision and neurological functions. Milk, eggs, leafy green vegetables, liver and fish oils are great sources of Vitamin A. Vitamin K builds strong bones and is linked to blood clotting. Green leafy vegetables are major sources of Vitamin K.
Minerals are also important for helping your body function properly and stay healthy. Calcium, in milk, is great for bone health, Iron is key to blood production, phosphorous, found in organic and protein rich foods strengthens the bones and teeth and magnesium, as in beans and dark chocolate, is a crucial component of more than 300 reactions to the body. Potassium, in bananas, is an essential electrolyte that helps maintain balance and blood pressure, and sodium regulates fluid balance.
Drink Your Water
How do those nutrients get transported through your body? Water, that’s the ticket. Staying hydrated is important to maintain good health. Water makes up 55 percent to 75 percent of the body mass. It plays an essential role in waste removal, digestion and temperature regulation, while making up the core of every cell in the body. Dehydration can lead to symptoms like dry skin, dizziness, fatigue, a rapid heartbeat and even death if left untreated. You can also take in water through the foods you eat, including fruits and vegetables.
Problems of Poor Nutrition
Our immune system is the defense against disease, but poor nutrition is the most common cause of immune-deficiencies worldwide. Maintaining the immune system requires having the proper amount of vitamins and minerals.
Nearly two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Overeating creates more stress on the body and could lead to a shorter lifespan. Obesity also poses risk factors for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, which has been increased in younger people. Among adults ages 20 to 73, diabetes remains the leading cause of kidney failure, blindness, and non-traumatic lower-extremity amputation.
Positive Impacts of Good Nutrition
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables have positive impacts on people’s mental health and well-being. The Mental Health Foundation reported that nearly two-thirds of people who do not report daily mental health problems eat fresh fruit or fruit juice every day, compared with less than half of those who do report such problems. The pattern is similar for those who eat fresh vegetables and salad. Harvard researchers also found that people who eat more than five servings of fruit and vegetables had roughly a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease or stroke, compared to those who ate less than three servings per day.
A healthier diet could save at least $114 billion per year in medical costs and increased productivity in the U.S. Seventy-five percent of health care dollars are spent on treating preventable diseases.
When Is there too much of a good thing?
There is a fine line between getting enough of these nutrients, which is healthy, and getting too much, which can harm you.
No Quick Fixes
People who expect to lose weight simply can’t eat anything they want. No diet, pill or surgery can change that in ways that would improve their health.