Decoding Food: the 7 Main Types of Nutrients ...

All food contains nutrients which means a healthy diet doesn’t just mean the consumption of lots of fruit and vegetables – you can’t get all the nutrients you need just from fruit and veggies. When nutritionists talk about a balanced diet, they are referring to one where the equilibrium of the body is maintained through the consumption of all the nutrients it needs. We all hear words like vitamins, carbs, fiber etc on a regular basis but do you know that these words mean, and more importantly why your body needs them?

Let’s understand more about the main nutrients. First, let me state that nutrients are classified as either macro or micro. Macro indicates they are vital to the body and micro which means lesser quantities are required.

1. Minerals

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These macronutrients include iron, phosphorus, calcium, fluorine, iodine, and sodium – they are exactly the same inorganic elements referred to in chemistry. These essential minerals perform different roles in your body. Sodium helps regulate fluid in your body and keeps your nervous system in top working condition. Without calcium, you cannot have stronger bones and teeth – it also helps in blood clotting, and works with phosphorus to keep your nervous system healthy. Similarly, your body needs iron to produce hemoglobin in the blood. Other essentials include potassium and magnesium.

2. Vitamins

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While it is true that vitamins don't energize your body like carbohydrates, fat, and protein, they really help your body to grow and function properly. Your body cannot produce vitamins on its own – you have to select specific foods to provide your body with these macronutrients. Vitamins are vital for the proper working of your body and play a role in keeping your hair, skin, and mucous membranes healthy.

3. Proteins

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Found in all sorts of foods, your body needs protein to repair your nerve cells and accelerate the healing process. These macronutrients are also important for stronger nails and hair. To keep you healthy, it is important that you take at least two servings of protein every day.

4. Carbohydrates

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You need these macronutrients because they release energy slowly to ensure you have enough gas in store to perform your day-to-day tasks. You can find carbs in simple sugars such as fructose, sucrose, and glucose. You will benefit most from whole grain carbohydrates. It is important to ensure that a third of every meal you eat contains carbohydrates.

5. Fats

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These macronutrients are known as the "storehouses of your body". Your body can get energy from stored fats whenever you're not providing it with enough through food. Fat is also important because it helps with the transportation of vitamins A, E, D, and K. You should however, ensure that you're opting for unsaturated fats, such as corn oil and olive oil, and not eating too much of saturated fats obtained from butter, meat, lard, etc. Remember, too much saturated fat may lead to heart disease and even cancer. Be sure to consume in moderation.

6. Fiber

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Fiber is also among the essential types of nutrients your body needs for proper functioning. This micronutrient helps prevent constipation and plays a role in lowering cholesterol, controlling diabetes, and improving bowel movements. To stay healthy, it is important that men consume at least 38g of dietary fiber a day and women should have at least 25g of dietary fiber daily.

7. Water

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Water is a mineral and plays a big role in the proper functioning of your body. Like other minerals, it may not produce energy on its own, but it really helps regulate your body temperature by dissipating heat. Moreover, all biochemical reactions take place in water and it also helps form molecules such as glycogen and protein. Your body continuously uses water and is therefore important that you keep drinking plenty of it to stay healthy.

I hope you feel better informed now. Will you be amending you diet in any way in light of the above?

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