The human body is designed to keep working around the clock. It needs energy and support to repair and renew tissue growth and to regulate metabolism. This is derived from six essential nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water. Unfortunately, the body cannot synthesize these nutrients in the desired amount. These nutrients have to be regularly supplied to the body by an external source.
The following, is a closer look at the six basic nutrients:
One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is to stay away from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy for the human body because they power the brain and thus, the involuntary functions of the body like regulated breathing, heartbeat, and proper digestion of food.
Carbohydrates are split into two categories; simple and complex. Sugars come under simple carbohydrates while dietary fibers and starch fall under the complex category. For the human body to function properly almost 55-60% of the required calorie intake should comprise of carbohydrates. Fruits, whole grains, starchy vegetables, breads, cereals, pasta, and brown rice are commonly found sources of carbohydrates which can be included as a part of the daily diet.
Proteins are broken down into amino acids, which are responsible for repair and building of tissues. Out of the 20 essential amino acids required by the human digestive system, in order to break down proteins, 9 amino acids cannot be synthesized and must be provided to the body through a protein-rich diet. Sufficient proteins in the body ensure that there are enough amino acids to build muscles, hair tissue, red blood cells, and to make hormones, which ensure the proper functioning of organs.
Proteins are also essential to boost the immune system and maintain good health. Fish, poultry, meat, milk, cheese, eggs, and vegetables are primary sources of proteins. Including lentils and beans in your diet can also ensure that you meet the daily protein requirements of the body. Ideally, 10-35% of the required amount of calories should comprise of proteins
It is detrimental to avoid necessary fats and not include them as a part of your regular diet. Other than carbohydrates, the human body needs fats, as a secondary source of energy. Fats increase the absorption of essential fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E &K which help to maintain the immune system and support cell membrane.
Avoid saturated fats and choose healthy unsaturated fats rich in Omega-3. Omega-3s are needed by the body for development and growth. Nuts, seeds, fruits like avocado, fish, vegetable-based oils, olive oils and nut oils are good sources of unsaturated fat.
There are 13 vitamins in all, required by the human body. These include vitamin B complex, vitamin C and fat-soluble vitamins like A D, E and K. The body is incapable of making these vitamins and hence, relies on an external diet to fulfill this requirement. Every vitamin has a defined role in the body. For example, vitamin C is responsible for the synthesis of collagen which in turn, gives structure to the blood vessels. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are rich anti-oxidants, which help boost the immune system. The most common and popular vitamin D, which is present and ample in natural sunlight, helps to maintain calcium homeostasis.
The body needs vitamins in small quantities. Citrus fruits are rich sources of vitamins. They help in the biochemical processes and regulate metabolism. One of the most important functions of vitamins are to protects the cells from oxidative stress and improve their overall health.
The body requires various minerals for multiple purposes. Calcium and potassium help strengthen bone structure, while iron supports the function of the red blood cells which transport oxygen to the rest of the body. Sodium maintains the level of fluids cushioning the vital organs and helps them to function normally.
Quite like vitamins, the body cannot make minerals by itself. It relies on an external diet to receive the required amount of minerals. Milk, low-fat cheese and yogurt are rich sources of calcium. Bananas, tomatoes and potatoes ensure that your body receives regular intake of sodium and potassium.
It is common knowledge that almost 60-70% of our body weight is comprised of water. Water helps regulate body temperature and plays a vital role in detoxifying the body and cleansing the cells, while supporting their various functions. The easiest way to ensure that your body receives its daily dose of water is to drink at least 8 glasses of water. The reduction of water level in the body leads to dehydration and dry skin.
A lot of fruits are also rich sources of water. Watermelons and cucumbers have ample water content, making them ideal summer fruits. Avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, which essentially means that it makes the body lose a lot of water. Consume adequate quantities of water to hydrate the body. Since water does not have any calories, but makes you 'feel’ full, consuming sufficient water is also reported to have supported weight loss.
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