nutrition basics - nutrients



This is an overview of what a nutrient actually is. Although to some it may seem elementary, it is important to have a good foundation that you can build upon. Nutrition concepts and definitions can be explained in more detail but it is always good to just start off with some definitions.



When I use the term nutrients, I am referring to macronutrients and micronutrients

Macronutrients

Macronutrients are nutrients measured in larger (macro) amounts. The macronutrients are

Carbohydrates (CHO)
Fats
Protein


These macronutrients are usually measured in grams (g). If your brain doesn't work in grams, (and in the US ours usually doesn't) 28 grams = 1 ounce. So this is still a relatively small amount. However, it is much larger than micronutrients.


Micronutrients

Micronutrients are nutrients measured in smaller (micro) amounts. The micronutrients include

Vitamins
Minerals

Phytochemicals
These micronutrients are usually measured in milligrams (mg). 1000 milligrams = 1 gram.







Nutrients are components that our bodies need to stay alive. We all know we need to eat food so that we will not starve. But it is more than that.

Our bodies are made up of millions of chemical reactions. In order for these chemical reactions to take place, we need these nutrients. In order for our heart to beat it needs sodium, calcium and potassium (among other things), all minerals. Without those minerals, the muscle could not function - our heart could not beat.

When our bodies are short of some of these nutrients, maybe from a poor diet of processed foods that do not have enough nutrients we need, our body will then steal those nutrients, if it can. If our heart cannot get enough calcium from the diet to function, it will take it from another source in order to keep beating. Maybe your bones. Now your bones are weaker and may break more often.


That is just one example of how not getting enough nutrients from a healthy diet could be detrimental to our health. You might not notice in one day or one week, but over the years your health may suffer. Some things might seem minor, like less energy. Others could be more serious, like osteoporosis.

We need to consume a healthy, balanced diet daily so that the nutrients our body receives are also balanced. Eating a healthy diet cannot guarantee to ward off any and all diseases, conditions, and problems that may arise, but it may help.


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