Nutrition is broadly defined as ‘the science that deals with nutrients and the relationship between diet, health, and disease.’
 

A Nutrient is ‘a substance that provides nourishment essential for the growth and maintenance of life.’ 

 

WHY DOES IT MATTER?
 

CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) reports claim 

  • Less than 1 in 10 children and adults eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables. 
  • Only 4 in 10 children and 1 in 7 adults eat enough fruit. 

 

POOR NUTRITION IS MAKING AMERICA SICK 

Proper nutrition is crucial in keeping you and the future generations of Americans healthy. People who eat a healthy, nutritious diet tend to live longer and are at a lower risk for diseases such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. 

 

Macronutrients vs Micronutrients 

‘Macro’ means ‘large,’ so, macronutrients are those nutrients that your body needs in massive amounts. These include- carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water. 

Micronutrients are required only in tiny amounts for essential functions of your body. These include vitamins and minerals. 

 

Let’s talk about the 6 Vital Nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. 

CARBOHYDRATES 

What are they? 

Carbohydrates include sugars, starch, and fiber.
 

  • Sugars or saccharides (monosaccharides, and disaccharides) are simple carbs. The body uses sugars to produce energy (by the breakdown of sugars into glucose). 
  • Fiber and unprocessed starch are complex carbs. They do not hold much nutritive value but are necessary for the digestion of food.
     

Complex carbs are a healthier option than sugars and refined carbs.
 

Where can you find them? 

Foods consisting of grain-based products-rice, noodles, bread, millets, bran, fruits, and some vegetables like potatoes, etc. 

PROTEINS 

What are they? 

Proteins are a group of macronutrients that are the building blocks of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids; 9 of these are called ‘essential’ (which means you need them from food), and the body makes the other 11 ‘non-essential’ amino acids. They build, repair, and maintain healthy body tissues like muscles, bones, skin, hair, and nails. 

 

Where can you find them? 

Proteins can be found mostly in food from animal sources like chicken, fish, turkey, red meat, milk, and eggs and a few plant sources like lentils, beans, and nuts. 

FATS 

What are they? 

Fats are waxy substances found in the human body. They are a source of energy, act as a protective layer over joints and vital organs and are a critical component in many hormones. They are classified as unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans fats. 

  • “Good” unsaturated fats (Mono- and poly-unsaturated fats) – They are healthy for the body and must be included in your diet.  
  • “Bad” trans fats – They increase your risks for many diseases (obesity, cholesterol, heart diseases), even when eaten in insignificant amounts.  
  • Saturated fats – They are not as dangerous as trans fats, but they also have a negative impact on your health.  

 

Where can you find them? 

  • Foods high in unsaturated fats include vegetable oils (like olive, canola, sunflower, rice bran, and soy), nuts, avocados, and fish. 
  • Trans fats are found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.  
  • Foods containing saturated fat include red meat, butter, and cheese. Some plant-based oils like coconut oil, palm kernel oil and palm oil are also rich in saturated fat. 

WATER 

What is it? 

Water (H2O) is the most abundant and essential nutrient in your body (An adult human has up to 60% water). Water is the base for all your body fluids and acts as a medium for the transport of nutrients and waste in and out of the body. 

  • Water has no calories (so it does not provide energy). 
  • Your body can’t store water, so you need to replenish it daily to make up for losses from sweat, urine, and feces (poo).
     

Adequate hydration is essential for health. Your body requires approx. half a gallon (or 8 glasses) of water a day. Requirements also vary based on your age, activity levels, health status, environment, and so on. 

 

Where can you find it? 

  • The body gets 70% of the water from liquids (water, juices, soup, milk, tea, and coffee). 
  • Around 20% of water comes from solid foods (like fruits and vegetables) in your diet. 
  • Your body also produces 10% water from the digestion of food. 


 

MINERALS 

What are they? 

Minerals are the micro-nutrients responsible for muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmissions, healthy bones and teeth, and fluid balance in the body. 

There are two kinds of minerals: macro-minerals (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, chloride, and sulfur) and trace minerals (iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium).  

 

Where can you find them? 

Green leafy vegetables like spinach, banana, fish, tofu, legumes, lentils, table salt, milk, egg yolk, nuts and seeds, fortified cereals, etc. 


 

VITAMINS 

What are they? 

Vitamins are essential micro-nutrients that can’t be produced by the body. Hence, you need to have foods that are rich in vitamins. Vitamins are responsible for the health of your heart, eyes, skin, hair, and lungs and regulate the metabolism of hormones and enzymes. 

 They are grouped as: 

  • Fat-soluble vitamins-Vitamins A, D, E, and K. 
  • Water-soluble vitamins-The 8 B-vitamins (including folate, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin, and thiamin) and vitamin C. 

 

Where can you find them? 

Green leafy vegetables, red meat, yogurt, citrus fruits, cereals, milk, poultry, eggs, fish, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds are great sources of vitamins. 

 

THE TAKEAWAY 

Although each nutrient has a unique function in your body, all of them form a vital partnership to keep you healthy. Nutrition focuses on how you can use food choices to reduce the risk of disease, what happens if you have too much or too little of a nutrient, and how food allergies work.  

Your Doral dietitian nutritionist will work closely with you, your doctors and your medical team to recommend a diet that helps support your health goals. Your nutritionist will help you choose foods and make guide you with your lifestyle change to improve their health.

Make your appointment today with a Doral dietitian nutritionist to learn how you can change your diet and lifestyle, from the best dietitian nutritionist in Brooklyn, N.Y. Call us today at 718-DORAL-55.