Nutrition is defined as “the act or process of nourishing or being nourished” (Webster). “Good nutrition means getting the right amount of nutrients from healthy foods in the right combinations. Having nutrition knowledge and making smart choices about the foods you eat can and will help you achieve optimum health over your lifetime, and be a key to avoiding obesity, illness, and many of today’s most prevalent chronic diseases” (What is Nutrition?). The six essential nutrients required for good health include: Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat, Vitamins, Minerals, and Water. If you look at most of the items you purchase from the grocery store, almost every item has a nutritional facts label on the back or side of the product. More likely than not, there is usually 4 out of the 6 basic nutrients on every label.
Carbohydrates are grouped into two categories: simple and complex. “Simple carbohydrates are sugars whereas complex carbohydrates consist of starch and dietary fibre” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health). Carbohydrates are essential to one’s body because they are used first to fuel muscles and the brain. Items such as fruits, nuts, seeds, oats, and brown rice (Soluble fibres) lower your blood cholesterol and helps control blood sugar levels. Your insoluble fibres (wheat and corn barn, whole-grain breads, cereals, and vegetables), helps alleviate digestive disorder like constipation and in the process, may help prevent colon cancer. It is said that 55-60% of your calorie intake should come from carbohydrates.
Protein comes from food being broken down into amino acids by the digestive system. These amino acids are then “used for building and repairing muscles, red blood cells, hair and other tissues, and for making hormones” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health). To help have a healthy immune system protein is a significant intake. Protein will be used as an energy source if your body doesn’t receive enough carbohydrates due to skipped meals or heavy exercise. Your main sources of protein include “animal products like meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese and eggs and vegetable sources like legumes (beans, lentils, dried peas, nuts) and seeds” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health).
Like carbohydrates, fats are grouped into two categories: saturated and unsaturated fats. Your animal-based products “are high in saturated fats whereas most vegetable oils are higher in unsaturated fat” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health). Fats provide twice the amount of calories then carbohydrates and protein do. However, the importance of fats is still necessary for a healthy diet. “Fat maintains skin and hair, cushions vital organs, provides insulation, and is necessary for the production and absorption of certain vitamins and hormones” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health). According to nutrition guidelines, Canadians should include 30% or less of energy (calories) as fat and less than 10% of energy as saturated fat.
Vitamins are one of the most important nutritional intakes because most vitamins can’t be made in the body. Vitamins help regulate the chemical reactions in our bodies. Therefore, we must obtain these vitamins through our diet. “There are 13 vitamins, including vitamins A, B complex, C, D, E, and K” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health). The best way to consume vitamins is through a varied diet rather than supplements because this increases your chances of not taking too high of a dose.
“Minerals are components of foods that are involved in many body functions” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health). Minerals such as calcium and magnesium are important for bone structure, while iron is needed for our red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout bodies. If you go to this link http://divinehealthfromtheinsideout.com/2012/05/the-role-of-minerals-in-the-body/ it will provide the information on the two types of minerals (Macro-minerals and Micro-minerals) and inform you of their significance they have on our bodies.
Last but not least, “water is a vital nutrient for good health” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health). A majority of our body (60-70%) is made up of water. “Water helps to control our body temperature, carries nutrients and waste products from our cells, and is needed for our cells to function” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health). Adults are recommended to drink 8 glasses of fluid daily. Depending on the weather that day or physical activity, your fluid intake will need to increase to replenish your body. The positive about having to drink so much fluid daily is that the fluids you consume do not have to be just water. You can drink other fluids like milk or juice, or consume food that are in water like fruits and vegetables. On the negative side, any caffeinated beverage does not count because “caffeine is a diuretic, making us lose water” (Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health).
To sum this all up, if you eat a combination of healthy foods containing nutrients, you are on the right track for a long and healthy life.
Nutrients are key to the success of our health and if taken correctly will help you live longer. I encourage you to answer the following three questions below, to provide feedback on this subject.
- How often do you consume all six (Carbohydrates, Protein, Fats, Vitamins, Minerals, & Water) nutrients in a day?
- What do you feel is the most important essential nutrient, and why?
- Do you feel it is necessary to drink 8 glasses of fluid a day?
Nutrition. Retrieved February 25, 2017, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nutrition
Six Basic Nutrients Required for Good Health. Retrieved February 25, 2017, from http://www.successfulaging.ca/programs/nutrition/04.html
What is Nutrition? (2010, October 10). Retrieved February 25, 2017, from http://whatisnutritiontips.com/