What Are the Essential Nutrients?
Protein, Carbs, and Fats
Proteins consist of chain-linked amino acids. To perform their function, they must enter the body with food, be degraded, and then synthesized inside it. Amino acids are organic compounds. There are more than 20 kinds in the body, 8 of which are essential: Valine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Threonine, Methionine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, and Tryptophan.
Fats are organic substances that create the structure of the cell. They are part of hormones, good and bad cholesterol. Fat cells contain a reserve to replenish energy when someone is hungry. Fat does not produce energy.
Carbohydrates are simple and complex. Cells use simple carbohydrates to produce energy. Complex carbohydrates take longer to be metabolized in the body, so they are more valuable.
Complex biochemical processes in the body allow proteins, fats, and carbohydrates to be synthesized from one substance to another. Proteins and fats can turn into glucose, preserving their structure. Protein is more challenging to synthesize; it requires eight essential amino acids, which we wrote about above. The absence of one of them leads to the synthesis of defective proteins and further leads to problems in the body.
Healthy foods can include foods that contain fats and proteins. As we can see, glucose can be synthesized by eating only these. At the same time, any diet with a complete or extremely restricted intake of fats and proteins is dangerous in terms of metabolic disorders.
Vitamins, Minerals, and Water
In addition to essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals must also enter the body. Although they are not specific nutrients, their presence is necessary for proper functioning because they participate in metabolism and synthesis.
Essential vitamins include vitamins A, C, E, D, and B. Essential minerals include iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and lithium. Their body deficiency leads to consequences such as allergies, anxiety disorders, agitation, aggressiveness, depression, and fatigue.
Enough water helps our body to dissolve nutrients and eliminate toxins.
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics and prebiotics help digest food and fight pathogenic bacteria. The critical difference is that probiotics are “living” microorganisms and all prebiotics are organic chemical compounds. The first ones help to “populate” the intestines with favorable microflora, and the second ones help to “feed” the already existing beneficial bacteria.
Why Are Nutrients Important?
Humans need the energy to live. Humans get their energy from the nutrients: proteins, fats, and carbohydrates found in food. Nutrients provide power and ensure that the body grows and repairs its damage.
Nutrients brought in by the blood constantly renew every cell in the body. Dietary proteins, fats, and carbohydrates cannot enter the bloodstream directly because they are foreign to the human body. For nutrients to be absorbed, they must be broken down into their constituent parts.
Proteins split up into amino acids, fats into glycerol and fatty acids, and carbohydrates into glucose and simple sugars. Quality digestion and effective assimilation of nutrients depend on adequately functioning the digestive glands of the stomach, intestines, gallbladder, and pancreas. To maintain these processes, stick to a sensible and balanced diet at least four times daily.
How to Calculate Nutrients Easy?
Today, more than ever before, calculating nutrients is easy. You can use a calorie diary to do so. Keeping such a diary does not call for constantly weighing and counting food calories but allows one to see how many essential nutrients and calories it contains. This method will enable one to be conscious of their diet and work on a healthy lifestyle.
A person can write down absolutely everything he or she eats in a calorie diary so that, for example, in a week to analyze and conclude whether the diet is balanced enough. Perhaps the person, continuing to eat, consumes too much protein and too little fat, exceeds the carbohydrate norm, etc. Thanks to the diary and calorie calculator, one can change the diet to balance it out and simultaneously not experience psychological and physiological stress.
In addition to knowing how to calculate portions and balance the menu most efficiently, it is helpful to consider the psychological aspect and ensure a proper approach to changing eating habits.
How to Get Essential Nutrients from Your Diet?
For those who have already faced a lack of energy and physical strength, are overweight, have poor sleep, have skin and hair deterioration, or have any other disorders provoked by an improper lifestyle, it is worth adopting a balanced diet.
To ensure that the body receives everything it needs, it is necessary to plan a balanced diet, considering the quality, quantity, and timing of food intake. The food should be fresh, and the diet varied and correctly rationed throughout the day.
The diet for the day should follow a pattern in which the first meal is denser than all subsequent meals. In addition, the first ingestion should be plain, not cold water (if the acidity of the stomach environment permits, with the addition of natural fresh lemon juice). Ir will help to invigorate and prepare the digestive system for further functioning. It is also beneficial for a quicker withdrawal of breakdown products from the body, weight loss, and improvement of the skin’s condition.
The balance of nutrients implies a ratio of proteins 20-25%, fats 30-35%, and carbohydrates 50-60%. Adequate amounts of these nutrients can be obtained from natural foods without using pharmaceutical supplements.
Foods Containing Protein
Full-value proteins (those that contain the eight essential amino acids) are found in meat, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, and cottage cheese. Incomplete proteins (those without the complete set of 8 essential amino acids) are found in legumes, grain bread, cereals, soy, and nuts.
It is worth bearing in mind that legumes, considered the main protein foods, also contain a lot of carbohydrates. And if we count their energetic value, it would be wrong to call them purely protein. As such, there are fewer proteins than carbohydrates.
The foods with the highest protein content are red caviar, soy, Parmesan cheese, chicken breast, pumpkin seeds, tuna, lean beef, pork, and shrimp.
Foods Containing Carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates are found in sugar, honey, watermelon, corn, white bread, pastries, white rice, and bananas. Healthier complex carbohydrates are found in foods such as oatmeal, apples, pasta, apricots, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, and citrus fruits.
The foods with the highest carbohydrate content are sugar, cornflakes, honey, chocolate, raisins, figs, pastries and cakes, granola, and bananas.
Foods Containing Fats
Nutritionists agree that fatty acids themselves are perfect for the body. Therefore, it is only necessary to choose suitable sources of fats. Valuable fats are found in solid cheese, bitter chocolate, eggs, avocados, oily fish, and nuts.
Foods Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Nutritionists name superfoods containing more vitamins and minerals than others. Among these superfoods is spinach. It is high in protein, iodine, iron, fiber, calcium, and magnesium, as well as vitamins A, C, and E.
Salmon is one of the leaders in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium.
Sweet peppers surpass lemons and oranges in the amount of vitamin C. Moreover, most ascorbic acid is found near the stalk of the fruit.
Walnuts contain vitamins C, B1, B2, PP, carotene, fiber, iron, and cobalt salts.
Broccoli contains the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene, ascorbic acids, and vitamin K, which are essential for bones. It is also rich in calcium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus.
Products Containing Probiotics and Prebiotics
Natural yogurt is one of the record-breakers in probiotic content. Blueberries are known for their high antioxidant value. All fermented foods from different countries, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented beans, etc., can also be included in this group of healthy foods.
About the author:
Amber Campbell is a graduate of National Institutes of Health. She is an unspoken expert in the study of health and nutrition. Amber is also a blogger, author of articles and she works as nutrition specialist.