Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism. Food is an essential source of energy for our body. It is categorised as animal or plant-based.
It is through food that our body is supplied with essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, cholesterols, vitamins, and minerals, etc.
These nutrients are required in varied amounts by our bodies for healthy functioning.
Today, in this article, I will share some of the basic information about 5 essential nutrients that everyone should know about.
What are Nutrients?
Nutrients are substances required by the body to perform its basic functions. Since we cannot get the nutrients directly in our body, they must be obtained by the food we eat.
Eating an inadequate amount of food can cause poor health.
Nutrients are used to produce energy, move, excrete waste, repair, grow, and reproduce.
5 essential nutrients required by the body:
The 5 essential nutrients are Carbohydrates, Lipids, Proteins, Water, and Vitamins. Food also contains certain nutrients that may be harmful to us.
Macronutrients are nutrients that are required in large quantities by our bodies. Some of the macronutrients are Carbs, Lipids, Proteins, Water, etc.
Micronutrients are nutrients that are required in less quantity by our bodies. Some of the Micronutrients are Vitamins and minerals.
Some of the items that fall under carbohydrates are Sugar, Starches, and Fibers found in Fruits, Grains, Vegetables, and Milk products.
The American Diabetes Association Notes that Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Carbohydrates are called Carbohydrates because at the chemical level they are made up of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen.
Carbohydrates provide fuel to the central nervous system. They provide energy for working muscles. According to Iowa State University, Carbohydrates prevent protein from being used as an energy source and enable fat metabolism.
Carbohydrates are classified into Simple, and Complex Carbohydrates. Simple Carbohydrates are digested and absorbed more quickly than Complex Carbohydrates.
Simple Carbs can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, and Sugar highs, while complex Carbs provide more sustainable energy.
It’s best to focus on getting primarily complex carbs in your diet, including whole grains, and vegetables.
Classification of simple and complex carbs has generated an idea of good carbs and bad carbs.
Good carbs are low or moderate in calories, high in nutrients, and very low in cholesterol, and trans-fats. Examples of good carbs food are Whole grains, Beans, Fruits, and Vegetables.
Bad carbs are high in calories, low in nutrients and high in cholesterol, and trans-fats. Examples of bad carbs foods are Pastries, White rice, Soda, white bread, and highly processed food.
Benefits of Carbohydrates:
- Mental health
- Weight loss
- Heart health
The deficiency of carbs leads to low blood Sugar, Kidney problem, etc.
Lipids are molecules that contain hydrocarbons and make up the building blocks of the structure and function of living cells. Lipids are important fats, oils that serve different roles in the human body.
There are 3 types of Lipids:
Triglycerides are found in fried foods, vegetable oil, buttermilk, whole milk, and some meats, etc. We commonly called triglycerides as fat and oil. Triglycerides are insoluble in water.
Phospholipids make up only 2% of dietary Lipids. They are soluble in water and found in animals and plants. Phospholipids are crucial for building the protective barrier, or membrane, around your body cells.
Sterols are the least common type of Lipids, and cholesterol is the sterols. Cholesterol is an important part of the cell membrane and is required for the synthesis of sex hormones and Vitamin D.
Benefits of Lipids:
- They provide energy for living organisms.
- They serve as the structural building material of all membranes of cells and organelles.
- They function as molecular messengers and signalling molecules in the body.
- It is a convenient source of energy for people with high energy requirements.
- Fat provides double the energy per gram than protein or Carbohydrates.
Proteins are large, complex molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in cells and are required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs.
Proteins are made up of thousands of smaller units called Amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks for proteins. There are around 20 Amino acids.
Amino acids are organic molecules that consist of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and sometimes sulphur.
Complete proteins: These foods contain all the essential Amino acids. They mostly occur in animal foods such as meat, dairy, and eggs.
Incomplete proteins: These foods contain at least one essential Amino acid. So there is a lack of balance in the proteins. Plants food such as peas, beans, grains mostly contains incomplete protein.
Complementary proteins: These refer to 2 or more foods containing incomplete proteins that contain people that can combine to supply complete proteins. Examples include rice, beans, and bread with peanut butter.
The main functions of protein in the body are to build, strengthen, repair, or replace things such as tissue.
Most of your fluid needs are met through the water. Water is defined as a nutrient because it is required in amounts that exceed the body’s ability to produce it.
Water accounts for 50-80% of the body’s weight, depending on lean body mass. Body water content is higher in men than in women and falls in both with the age.
- Water is needed for almost all functions of the body
- Keep the bloodstream liquid enough to flow through a liquid.
- Aid digestion, and prevent Constipation.
- Regulate body temperature through sweating.
- Lubricate and cushion joints.
The body can get about 20% of its total water requirement from solid foods alone.
The amount of water your body needs each day depends on several factors, such as your age, gender, weight, and the condition you are living in.
Vitamins are organic compounds that are needed in small quantities to sustain life. We fulfil most of our vitamin needs from food. Each organism has different vitamin requirements.
There are 13 known Vitamins. Food is the best source of vitamins, but some people may be advised by physicians to use supplements. The deficiency of each vitamin has different effects on our bodies.
You should pay attention to these nutrients if you want a healthy life. Here In India, child malnutrition is highest in the world.
One in three children on average is born underweight or his growth is stunted or underweight. India is also facing the increasing prevalence of overnutrition resulting in overweight, Obesity, and non-communicable diseases.
Today it has become important that everyone must have basic knowledge about the nutrients to live a healthy life.
Some people skip their lunch, and breakfast in the name of weight loss. That is not the right way to lose weight. A body should get adequate nutrients, exercise, and rest to achieve the goal of a healthy life.
Thank you for reading. I will be back with another informative article next time. Until then Bye bye.
Stay fit and healthy.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”- Jim Rohn.