What is Nutrition?

Nutrition is a critical factor in an individual’s growth and development and their health and well-being. It’s both a study and process that has to do with the nutrients contained in foods, how the body utilizes them, and how they are connected to health, diet, and disease. A person’s nutritional status is largely dependent on the foods consumed, which impacts both their quality and length of life. Dietary choices are important when fueling the body with the right balance of necessary nutrients. For more nutrition information, call AFC Urgent Care North Bergen. Our health professionals can provide all patients with the resources they need to make their health a priority.

Macronutrients

You may have heard the term macronutrients before and how it’s an important part of nutrition. But, what exactly are macronutrients? These are nutrients that your body needs in larger quantities to function at an optimal level. Macronutrients provide your body with energy and fall into three categories: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are a source of glucose, which provides the bulk of the energy that the body needs. The brain, for example, needs glucose to function properly. However, not all carbohydrates produce energy. The carbohydrate fiber is essential in the process of synthesizing specific amino acids and allowing for consistent bowel movements, and as such, it helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy. Carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple carbs, like syrup and table sugar, are easily broken down in the body for energy, while complex carbs, like starches and grains(rice, potatoes), take more time to break down into energy the body can use.

Proteins

Proteins are building blocks of amino acids that help the body grow, build and repair tissues, and protect the body’s muscle mass. Protein-rich foods include meat, fish, poultry, egg, milk, cheese, or plant proteins like nuts, lentils, beans, seeds, and soy. Low amounts of protein are found in fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Fats

Fats serve several functions in the body, mainly allowing the body to store energy; however, fat also helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, the production of hormones, joint lubrication, minimizing inflammation, and keep the skin and heart-healthy. Fat can be categorized into saturated fat, trans fat, and unsaturated fat. Essential fats, which we need, are not produced by the body and can only be had from certain foods that we eat. Fat-rich healthy foods include avocados, eggs, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil.

Micronutrients

Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. According to Healthline, minerals are needed for producing energy, immune function, and blood clotting, among other bodily functions. In contrast, minerals are crucial to growth, bone health, fluid balance, and other processes in the body. Vitamins differ from minerals in that they are organic compounds, while minerals are inorganic compounds. Only a small amount of these nutrients are needed by the body.

Vitamins

Vitamins can be water-soluble or fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and include the B vitamins and vitamin C. They primarily aid in producing energy but are vital in preventing cell damage caused by metabolic stress and producing red blood cells. Foods rich in water-soluble vitamins include eggs, whole grains, leafy greens, bell pepper fish, citrus fruits, and lean meat.

Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat only, and both the liver and fatty tissue can store these for later use. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins and supports vision protection, boost the immune system, helps with blood clotting, and are a source of inflammation-protecting antioxidants. Foods rich in these vitamins include almonds, milk, leafy greens, almonds, sweet potatoes, and soybeans.

Minerals

Minerals fall into two categories, microminerals and trace minerals. Microminerals include magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and sodium, which are vital for muscle and bone strength and blood pressure regulation. Some foods rich in trace minerals include milk products, black beans, leafy greens, bananas, and lentils. Trace minerals are copper, iron, manganese, selenium, and zinc, which help to send oxygen to the muscles, support nervous system function, cell defense against stress, and healing wounds. Cashews, oysters, peanuts, pecans, and spinach are good sources of trace minerals.

Macronutrients and micronutrients are both vital aspects of nutrition. The foods you fuel your body with will impact your overall health and well-being. What you put in is what you will get out. It’s essential to have the right balance of carbs, proteins, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals in your diet.