On occasion, a patient will come into the office expressing frustration that trying to eat healthy is like trying to figure out rocket science. I completely understand. There are so many ways of “tweaking” your eating habits that it can easily become confusing. So for today’s post, we’re getting back to the basics of nutrition.
Nutrition is things that nourish. To nourish means to supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth. (As an aside: please note that more than food can accomplish this!) In regard to what we ingest, there are the 4 basic nutrients and also the micro-nutrients (micro because we need them in micro amounts).
Water, Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats: The Basic 4
Did you know that the human body is two-thirds water? Water is needed for every function of the body! Therefore, it is certainly considered one of the four basic nutrients. You lose up to 1 quart of water a day between your kidneys and skin. You lose approximately a half cup from feces and around a cup from your lungs. At a minimum, replenish this loss by drinking around 10 cups of clean, clear, delicious water daily.
Carbohydrates are the gas that make the body go. Both simple and complex carbs are needed on a daily basis for good health.
Did you know that proteins help maintain the correct acid/alkali balance of the body? They are also needed to make the body’s tissues, enzymes and hormones. Proteins are formed from amino acids. (Think freight train: the number and arrangement of the variety of box cars, aka amino acids, determines the type of protein). There are both non-essential amino acids (meaning it is NOT essential that they come directly from the food you eat but can be put together by the body from the foods you eat) and essential amino acids (it IS essential that you get those exact amino acids in the food you eat).
Fats are also nutrients needed for good health. Fats are made from fatty acids. There are also essential fatty acids: omega 3s, 6s and 9s. Understanding fats completely is a blog entry in itself but for now, make sure to always get your essential fatty acids and the proper amounts of good fats in your diet.
The Micro- Nutrients: Vitamins and Minerals
Needed vitamins include:
Vitamin A (retinol)
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol)
Essential fatty acids
Needed minerals include:
Do you get your daily nutrients? it’s a good place to start when you are getting back to basics!