Nutrition is essential for growth, maintenance of life, and waste disposal. It is also necessary for temperature regulation and is an integral part of every cell. Carbohydrates, or carbs, have been given a bad reputation due to the emergence of many carbohydrate-free diets. However, consuming carbohydrates in moderation is key to a balanced diet.
Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, are healthier options that keep you full for longer and reduce unhealthy snacking. Dietary fat has also been demonized due to its association with body fat. However, fat is an essential nutrient that increases vitamin absorption and helps protect organs. Trans fats, found in processed and baked foods, should be avoided as they increase the risk of heart disease.
No single food provides all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health. A diverse and healthy diet is necessary to get all the nutrients your body needs. If your diet is restrictive, taking a multivitamin supplement can help fill in the gaps. Minerals are another essential micronutrient that each serve a different function.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health and may support heart function. The body cannot create omega-3 fatty acids so it is important to get them from dietary sources such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, chia seeds, flax, and walnuts. If you have a restrictive diet, fish oil or algae supplements can help. Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps build and maintain muscle tissues and satisfies hunger pangs. Up to 30% of daily calorie intake should come from lean plant or animal proteins such as soy, fish, eggs, and poultry.
Carbohydrates are another macronutrient that provide fuel for the body and should make up 40% of your daily calorie intake. Whole carbs such as vegetables, beans, and fruits are the best sources of carbohydrates. Phytonutrients are plant foods that produce natural compounds that benefit our body in many ways such as preventing diseases and repairing DNA damage. Fiber supports the digestive process and helps fill you up while promoting the growth of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. Beans, vegetables, whole fruits, and whole grains are great sources of dietary fiber. Micronutrients are nutrients that a person needs in small doses but are still essential for carrying out bodily functions.
Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals which can be obtained from a diet rich in vegetables and fruits. People who eat fewer fruits and vegetables or have digestive problems may need to take a vitamin supplement to reduce or avoid a deficiency. In conclusion, nutrition is essential for optimal health and wellbeing. A balanced diet rich in lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients is necessary to get all the nutrients your body needs.