Macro and Micronutrients (carbs,fats,proteins,vitamins and more)
We do have plenty of nutritional needs to function and survive. Our diet should consist of all the necessary nutrients in order to meet those needs. And, to eat more healthy, you need to understand some basics when it comes to nutrients. In today’s article we’ll discuss the two main types of nutrients – macro and micronutrients. Maybe you’ve heard of them but do you know what do they mean? Let’s delve into this topic.
There are three types of macronutrients and each has its own specific function and role in our bodies. Thus, the body needs each type in order to grow and develop, to repair itself and to feel well.
Each macronutrient can almost always be found in any food, whether it’s a raw vegetable or a healthy snack. The difference between the foods is how are the macronutrients balanced. For example, bananas are carbohydrate-based foods for they contain 95% of carbs.
You need to understand how the macronutrients in your body work and what are their roles in the body.
Fats aren’t scary. They are an essential part of your diet and should be about 15-20% of your daily consumption. They improve the overall cell function, the development of the brain, protect the organs of your body and help you absorb some water-soluble vitamins. They also supply you with the essential fatty acids which the body cannot produce by yourself. But it’s best to cut down the trans fat and most of the saturated fat and to replace it with plant-based unsaturated fats which are healthier. Fats provide the most energy when they are burnt by the body – about 9 calories per a gram. Healthy fats can be found in seeds, almonds, avocados,olives and walnuts.
Carbs have quite a bad reputation but it’s not deserved. Healthy carbohydrates are vital for your body. They supply the muscles and the brain with the energy they need to work at an optimal level. Complex carbs provide the energy for your daily life. They should be about 45-65% of your daily consumption. They actually are small chains of sugars. Your body breaks those chains down to form glucose which is then used as the primary source of energy for your body. Don’t forget that your brain relies only on glucose so it cannot function properly if you don’t consume carbs. If glucose is in excess amounts, it’s stored as glycogen in your liver. Carbs also play part in the oxidation of fat and can get converted into proteins. Some examples of carb sources are bananas, apples, carrots, brown rice, cauliflower, oats, millet,chickpeas, quinoa and kidney beans.
Fiber is also a carbohydrate. But it cannot easily be digested and the body doesn’t absorb it.
Thus, it’s different from the other types of carbohydrates. Fiber can be further divided into soluble and insoluble. The soluble fiber draws water in the gut and increases the satiety. It also promotes the health of the heart. The insoluble fiber promotes digestion and regularity.
Fiber can be found in whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, fruits, vegetables, etc.
This macronutrient is vital for the repair and regeneration of the tissues and cells of your body. They also promote the healthy function of the immune system and are essential for hormone production. Proteins are broken down into amino acids which are vital for all those bodily functions and many more. Amino acids are 20 types with 9 of them being essential which means they cannot be produced by the body but have to be consumed with food. When one’s extremely starving, one’s body (once depleted the carbs and fats stores) turns to proteins for energy and the person loses its muscle mass. Sources of protein are beans, seeds,nuts, legumes and pulses, avocado, quinoa, raw greens, beets, etc.
They haven’t gotten their name because they are small but because they are necessary in ‘micro’ (small) amounts. They don’t supply our bodies with energy. Instead, they allow us to produce hormones, enzymes and other substances which are essential for our development, for the prevention of diseases and for our well-being.
Micronutrients are often called vitamins and minerals. If you provide yourself with the necessary amount of them, you can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve your overall well-being.
The essential vitamins and minerals are 26. They contribute to plenty of bodily functions. Because of this even a minor micronutrients deficiency may lead to a huge problem and correcting it – to a huge improvement.
Vitamins are vital for the growth, development, normal metabolism and the cell function regulation. They work together with some other substances (like enzymes) to maintain your bodily functions in order. They can be water-soluble or fat-soluble. Some water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin B and Vitamin C. The first one can be found in green leafy vegetables which citrus fruits contain lots of Vitamin C. Water-soluble vitamins aren’t stored
in the body if in excess but are excreted with the urine and, therefore, they have to be consumed on a daily basis. Fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. They can be provided by milk, dairy products, green leafy vegetables, plant oils, etc.
Minerals in your body are in their ionized forms. They can be further divided into macrominerals and microminerals (with the latter being also called trace minerals). The macrominerals which are present in human’s body include Potassium, Sodium, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium and other. Iron constitutes the hemoglobin – a substance found in the blood. You need more macrominerals than microminerals. Some examples of the trace minerals are Zinc, Copper, Chromium, Cobalt, Fluoride, etc. They are primarily co-factors and they are vital for the enzyme function in your body. Still, your body needs them in very minor quantities. Minerals constitute about 4% of the mass of your body.
And, lastly, we should say a few words about water. It’s the main component of the fluids of the body and makes up a huge part of your body weight. Water is much more vital for you than any other nutrient. It carries and distributes nutrients to the cells and it also removes the wastes through urine. It also regulates the temperature of the body and the ionic balance. It’s essential for the metabolism and it also acts as a shock absorber and lubricant.