6 Vital Nutrients

The human body requires six nutrients for producing energy, tissue growth and development, regulate body processes, and preventing deficiency and degenerative diseases. These nutrients are carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water and are all what are called essential nutrients. Our bodies require these nutrients for basic body functions. These nutrients are put into two categories, macronutrients and micronutrients. The macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, and fats because the body requires these in large quantities and they have caloric values. That gives us the micronutrients, vitamins and mineral. They are micronutrients since the body needs smaller amounts of them. Water is a class by itself and is needed in varying amounts depending on individual needs.

Carbohydrates are used in the body as energy by converting them into glucose. This nutrient is the primary fuel source for activity. Carbohydrates are stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen and converted to glucose when it is needed for energy production. With the proper intake of carbohydrates the body store enough energy for approximately 90 minutes of aerobic exercise. Foods that carbohydrates can be found in are fruits, vegetables, and grains as well as in milk, soy, rice, nuts, and others.

Protein, in the form of amino acids, are the building blocks of the body. Protein is used in the body for development, growth, and repair of body tissue and muscle. It is critical to maintain and adequate intake of protein to recover from exercise or in the case of sickness or disease. Protein can be found in meat, beans, dairy, grains, and vegetables.

Fats, or lipids, can come from both plant and animal sources. Fats are needed for a nice list of body processes. For general discussion just think of fats as needed for fuel when at rest or during low to moderately-intense exercise. The list of sources of fats are meat, dairy, nuts and seeds, cooking oils, avocados, and some grains.

Vitamins are used by the body in a variety of body processes. Vitamins do not produce energy, but some of them are necessary for macronutrients to be used in the production of energy for the body. They are classified as being water or fat soluble since they require either water or fat for transport, absorption,and storage by the body. Water soluble vitamins are B and C. Fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K. Vitamins can be found in nearly all foods that we eat.

Minerals are unique since they are used in the regulation of body processes as well as structural development of tissue. Minerals are divided into two categories, major minerals and trace minerals. The major minerals are calcium, sodium, potassium, chloride, phosphorus, magnesium, and sulfur. Trace minerals are iron, zinc, copper, selenium, iodine, fluoride, molybdenum, and manganese. They are split into the two categories based on the daily quantities needed by the body. Minerals, like vitamins, are found in a wide variety of foods.

Water is in a category of its own since it plays a major role in the body. Water is found in tissues and fluid throughout the body and represents 55-60% of the body. Water is needed for temperature regulation, lubrication of joints, and the transportation of nutrients and waste throughout the body. Water can be obtained in the water we drink, juices, milk, coffee, tea and other beverages. We can also get water from fruits and vegetables.

These nutrients are why I believe we should eat whole foods and try to stay away from the processed food created by the food industry. I think the use of the term calories in, calories out is the wrong use to think of weight loss or maintenance. Sometime certain nutrients are needed by the body for a variety of reason. Protein is a good example. When they body is broken, diseased, or stressed protein is required to rebuild body tissue. If the body is denied the required amounts of protein to correct what is wrong then the problem will not get fixed. Carbohydrates can be thought of in the same way. The body uses carbohydrates for energy production. If the body is denied the necessary carbohydrates for energy needs we will start to feel light headed and weak. More carbohydrates will be needed by the body to fill the energy stores of the body. I prefer to use energy in, energy out.

I think the average diet should consist of 50% carbohydrates, 25% protein, and 25% fats. These percentages will need to change as we exercise, get sick, or when there is damage to body tissue. The average water intake for men should be 3.5 liters and 2.5 liters for women. As we exercise this will need to be increased to account for sweat and use by the body. Some vitamins and minerals can be toxic in the body if taken in excess amounts. A good vitamin and mineral supplement can be used if we do not get a good variety of the macronutrients in our diet and will contain the proper amounts to round out the recommended daily amounts required by the body.

Resources

Fink, H., & Mikesky, A. (2015). Nutrients: Ingestion to Energy Metabolism. In Practical applications in sports nutrition (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

Grosvenor, M., & Smolin, L. (2010). Visualizing nutrition: Everyday choices. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley ;.

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Some thoughts on basic nutrition.

Food guidelines have been around since 1894 in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) came up with the suggested guidelines for protein, carbohydrates, fat, and mineral matter to keep Americans healthy. In 1980 the USDA and Health and Human Services department issued the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans that would eventually become the Food Pyramid in 1992.

USDA Food Pyramid Healthy Eating Politics

The man who was the main advocate of what is known as the Lipid Hypothesis is Ancel Keys. He came up with a study that was called the 7 Countries Study that examined the diets of people in seven countries. The result of the study was that the countries that consumed the most fat in their diet had the highest numbers of heart disease. Where the study was a failure was where it left out countries such as Holland and Norway that consumed a lot of fat and had very little heart disease. There was also the country of Chile that consumed low amounts of fat and had a high rate of heart disease (Kris Gunnars, Authority Nutrition). This is known as cherry picking the data. Ancel Keys only used the data from countries that supported his theory. This study is what eventually lead Americans to eat the low fat/cholesterol diet. Personally, I think this is what lead America down the road to processed food.

What kind of diet do I recommend? A whole food diet that contains lean meat, chicken, fish, fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, oils, and dairy. There is a simple way to shop in the grocery store. When looking at the layout of a store all of the meat, dairy, and fruits and vegetables are stocked around the outside edges of the store. The isles in the middle of the store contain all of the processed food that we currently eat in the Standard American Diet (SAD). My suggestion, shop in these isles sparingly.

Look at a label of ingredients on the box of one of your favorite foods the next time you go shopping. The list is usually long and starts out with Enriched Wheat Flour. Because of the processing of the wheat most of the nutrition has been stripped out and has to be enriched to make the flour nutritious again. If you want to eat grains try whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, spelt, and oats. If it is made with whole wheat be careful. There could be other added ingredients that are not healthy. Shop wisely and read the list of ingredients.

In regards to dairy I do not suggest low or non-fat dairy be used in the diet. There has been no real data that suggests consuming low-fat or non-fat diary is healthier and leads to lower body weight (Alexandra Sifferlin, Time). Scientists actually found that children who drank lower fat milk had a higher body weight. If you are going to use dairy in your diet just go ahead and make it whole fat dairy.

How many carbohydrates, fats, and protein should we be consuming daily? That will be the subject of my next post. Until then, eat whole foods and be healthy.

Attaining Your Nutrition Goals

Before I really start talking about nutrition I think I need to talk about goals. Goals are important milestones for anything. Nutrition does benefit from having goals set in mind. Do you need to lose weight? Do you want to use nutrition to properly fuel for your workout? Having a goal in mind will help out tremendously.

I think the simplest way to set goals is to use the S.M.A.R.T. method.

S – Specific goals are clearly defined and makes it easy to attain. An example is (I want to lose 10 pounds) instead of (I want to lose weight). 10 pounds is an reachable goal to set. Another could be (This week I will substitute water for drinking a soda during lunch).

M – Measurable involves using numbers in your goal. Think of using time, weight, dollars, or days. When the goal is measurable you can countdown to your goal and see that it is getting close.

A – Achievable means action. This is an action that you can control the outcome. Using a goal you can control (In 6 months from today I will run my first 5k) is an achievable goal.

R – Relevant is a goal that you want to accomplish. If the goal is not important you are less likely to attain that goal.

T – Time specific needs to have a deadline. Today being April 30 you know that your 6 month goal to running your first 5k is October 31. This kind of goal is not vague. You can see the date coming and can work towards making your goal.

Nutrition goals can be attainable. We just need to be S.M.A.R.T. about setting them. Making a change in our habits can be hard, Setting a goal that you know you can achieve increases the chances that you will attain that goal.

It All Begins With Whole Food For Health

Why am I writing a nutrition blog? I am in my senior year in my endeavor to earn my Bachelor of Nutrition Science degree from Kaplan University. In my studies I have learned about various types of diets that are on the market and how they affect our lives. Just a few of them are the Mediterranean diet, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, holistic nutrition, and whole food. There are of course diets that are advised for diabetics, cardiac patients, and for renal support. There are benefits to these diets as well as negatives. I believe that whole food nutrition is the best diet we can choose.

Staying fit and healthy by running and lifting weights is important to me. It is possible to eat a whole food diet and get the energy needed for exercise or even serious training. It all comes down to getting a good variety of food during the day.

In this blog I want to share studies I read that are important for our health. Recipes that I or others have created that involve the use of whole food. How to eat to lose weight or maintain your current weight. If you are an athlete how can you eat to get the most out of your training and competitions. I will even share with you some farms that believe in a natural approach to growing plants and raising livestock.

Just a thought on the use of the word diet. I do not believe in using the word diet to mean a weight loss program. To me, a diet is the way a person eats to maintain life. I think that using the word to mean weight loss has people confused. If you want to lose weight just say, I am eating to lose weight and the diet I am eating to maintain a healthy life is vegan.

So, join me on a journey of food and living a long, healthy life.

Heidi and Me