We all know that a balanced diet is vital for our health, but did you know there are 7 essential nutrients that our bodies need to function correctly? These components are crucial for keeping our bodies healthy and functioning well.
These 7 nutrients are protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water.
Macronutrients are nutrients that the body needs in large amounts: carbohydrates, protein, fat, and water.
Carbohydrates are one of the body’s main sources of energy for tissues, cells, and organs. There are simple carbohydrates, which are made up of small chains of simple sugars. The body rapidly digests simple carbs, resulting in a possible spike in blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates comprise long chains of sugars that take longer to break down and provide the body with a steadier energy supply.
Fiber is also a carbohydrate and is either soluble or insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps to regulate blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and helps aid digestion, adds bulk to the stool, and prevents constipation.
Protein is essential for cell growth, repair, and maintenance. Proteins are composed of amino acids, which are the fundamental components of proteins, and they are responsible for cell creation and repair, enzyme and hormone production, and immune system support. The body cannot produce all amino acids, so it is essential to consume protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, beans, and nuts.
Fats are another important source of energy for the body and help to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fats also help to insulate the body and protect vital organs. There are two types of fats: saturated and unsaturated.
Saturated fats are found mainly in animal products and are the most unhealthy fat because they can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Unsaturated fats are healthier fat that can help lower cholesterol levels and
reduce the risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, fish, nuts, and seeds.
Water makes up about 60% of the human body and is necessary for many processes, such as digestion, absorption, transportation of nutrients, and regulating body temperature.
Micronutrients are nutrients that the body needs in smaller amounts: vitamins and minerals.
Minerals help the body to perform different functions like building strong bones and teeth, providing electrolytes to the body, and carrying oxygen in the blood to every part of the body. Minerals that your body needs larger amounts of include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. In smaller amounts, trace minerals that your body needs are iron, manganese, copper, zinc, and selenium.
A varied diet typically covers an individual’s mineral needs.
Vitamins are organic, carbon-based nutrients present in natural, unprocessed food. There are 13 essential vitamins for good health.
Fat-soluble vitamins, which are stored in the body’s fatty tissue, include vitamins A, D, E, and K. Water-soluble vitamins that are not stored in the body include vitamin C and the B vitamins: biotin, B6, B12, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamine.
The body uses and flushes out water-soluble vitamins quickly, so they need to be replenished regularly.
Supplements can help to make up for vitamins you’re not getting from your diet, but it’s best to get them naturally if possible.