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Nutrition 101: You Are What You Eat

Nutrition is far more than just the food you put in your body. In order to function properly, the human body relies on nutrients from food to live and breathe. In fact, the old adage “you are what you eat” holds more truth than you might think. A healthy diet has a major impact on how your body fights disease and builds a healthy immune system.

The Seven Types of Nutrients

The types of nutrients your body needs are split up into two categories: macronutrients (nourishment needed in large quantities) and micronutrients (needed in smaller quantities).

Water and fiber are two macronutrients essential to our health. In addition, the human body needs three other macronutrients to provide energy:

Carbohydrates (also known as saccharides or carbs) are sugars or starches that store and release energy. They support the reproductive and immune systems and play a key role in development. Simple carbs like white bread, sugar and candy provide a quick boost of energy but leave you feeling hungry. Instead, focus on complex carbs like whole grains, beans, potatoes and rice which take longer to break down and leave you feeling full longer.

Fats are a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to keeping our bodies healthy. Not only do they store energy, but they also provide insulation and protect vital organs. Fats are needed to help lubricate joints, absorb vitamins, reduce inflammation and preserve brain health. Healthy fats to focus on include omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon, walnuts and flaxseed) and monounsaturated fats (found in olive oil, avocados and peanut butter).

Proteins are made up of amino acids and help build muscle mass. Complete proteins are commonly found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, quinoa, and soybeans. These proteins contain nine essential amino acids that must be consumed, since our bodies don’t produce them naturally. High protein foods help you feel full and also help metabolism.

Micronutrients are compounds that your body needs, but in much smaller doses. They’re separated into two groups: vitamins and minerals.

Vitamins pass through the body quickly and need water or fat to help them be absorbed. There are four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and nine water-soluble vitamins (eight B vitamins and vitamin C).

Minerals are elements found from the earth that can’t be produced by living organisms. A well-balanced diet should provide all the minerals you need, but sometimes minerals are added to foods to prevent shortages. The most common example is iodine, which is added to salt to prevent deficiencies that lead to intellectual disabilities and thyroid gland problems.

Are you getting all the nutrients you need? Complete the Blue Health Assessment to determine if eating healthier is the right wellness goal for you. 

Published on: March 16, 2018