Supplements Basic Body Needs

While many of us know that eating properly is key to maintaining our overall health, fewer of us are aware of what it means to “eat healthy.” Between counting calories, limiting carbohydrates and minimizing your sugar intake, balancing your diet can be complicated and, at times, frustrating.

However, by understanding the basics of good nutrition, you can examine your current diet and take steps towards improving it. As you learn more about proper nutrition, eating healthy and getting the necessary nutrients will be easy and delicious!

The Role of Nutrients

Nutrients are any type of consumable substance that helps our bodies to grow and maintain normal function to sustain life. While nutrients can come in the form of vitamins and minerals, they also reside in carbohydrates, fats and water. By ingesting the proper amounts of various types of nutrients, our bodies are able to:

  • build and repair cells, tissues and organs
  • generate energy to keep us active
  • maintain vital functioning (i.e. breathing, circulation, etc.).

Types of Nutrients

Because our bodies are such complicated units, they require a variety of different types of nutrients to grow, repair themselves and sustain basic functioning. Once you understand that getting the proper nutrition is essential to your health, you will be ready to learn about each type of vital nutrient. Knowing the role that particular types of nutrients play in our general health will help you practice healthy eating habits and maintain a balanced diet.

Here is a breakdown of each type of nutrient, the function it carries out in our overall health and where you find it so you can easily include it in your diet:

Type of Nutrient

Nutrient’s Role

Where to Find This Nutrient

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide the body with energy and help regulate our metabolism. This type of nutrient is the best source of energy for our bodies.

Breads, grains, pastas, cereals, fruits, vegetables

Fats

Fats are a secondary source of energy that our bodies need when we don’t ingest or produce enough energy from other sources. Likewise, if we take in too many carbohydrates or other sources of energy, our bodies store the excess nutrients in the form of fat to be used as backup during periods of starvation.

Dairy products, fish, meats, avocados, oils, nuts

Minerals

Minerals (natural compounds derived from non-plant and non-animal sources) are essential to our metabolism, hormone production and overall hydration.

Different types of minerals are found in particular foods. For example, while broccoli is a good source of iron, milk and other dairy products are high in calcium.

Proteins

Proteins are nutrients that are vital to building and repairing various cells, tissues and organs of the body. For example, our muscles, hair, skin and blood all rely on proteins to stay healthy and regenerate properly.

Fish, meats, legumes

Vitamins

Vitamins (natural compounds derived from plant or animal sources) are necessary to maintaining metabolism, producing hormones and sustaining basic bodily functions (i.e. heartbeat).

Like minerals, vitamins come from a variety of different sources, depending on the specific vitamin. For example, while citrus fruit is a good source of vitamin C, dairy products are rich in vitamin D.

Water

Water is a nutrient that regulates body temperature, nourishes our cells and promotes healthy cell regeneration.

While drinking water in the recommended daily intake is the best way to stay hydrated, certain foods (such as fruits and vegetables) are also excellent sources of water.

Taking care to ensure that you regularly get the proper amounts of the each of the above nutrients is the best way to eat well and promote your overall health.

However, keep in mind that your nutritional needs will depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • age
  • current state of health
  • gender.

If you are unsure about what constitutes “proper nutrition” for you, consult your doctor or a nutritionist. These medical experts can map out how much of each nutrient you need to stay healthy and live well!

Resource

Health Goods (n.d.). Nutrition Basics. Retrieved November 26, 2007, from the Health Goods Web site: http://www.healthgoods.com/education/Nutrition_Information/Nutrition_Short_Course/nutrition_basics.htm.