In order to get the nutrients your body needs, you have to discover the health benefits of foods.
Understanding the Link Between What We Eat and Our Health
Too many people avoid putting in the effort to understand what they eat every single day. They think there is no link between their body and the food they put into it.
Indeed, health is not a linear process. Your body’s ability to stay healthy, fit, and functional in old age depends on many different lifestyle factors. What you eat is just one. However, the quality of your diet does have a significant impact on your body’s ability to fight off diseases. Especially degenerative ones like cancer and heart disease.
Our focus is on helping you get the nutrients your body needs in the most efficient way possible. By providing you with easy-to-follow information about the foods that can truly help our bodies, you can eat a well balanced diet and start living a healthier, happier life.
What are nutrients?
Nutrients are the things that are required to sustain and support life processes. From building blocks in the soil to the nourishment your body needs to function correctly, nutrients are the stuff that keeps the wheels of metabolism turning. In essence, nutrients are the building blocks to our well-being, and we need them to survive. The body uses nutrients stored within tissues, organs, and muscles to support normal physiological functions. Without proper nutrition, we become stressed, tired, sluggish, and may experience a wide range of symptoms, including lethargy, mood swings, headaches, brain fog, and brain activity changes.
Found in many foods, nutrients broadly define the stuff our bodies need to function at their peak. Everything from our overall physical health and personality to our cognitive abilities, spiritual development, and our sense of humor depends on having the proper nutrients in the right quantity and the right form.
What are essential nutrients?
Essential nutrients are those that your body needs to stay healthy and effective. These include proteins, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, lipids, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12. Certain nutrients can be found either in foods like meat and poultry or supplements. Specifically formulated for use in an individual’s diet.
Essential nutrients come from various sources such as food, water, air, soil, etc. In contrast, non-essential ones – particularly those derived from fossil fuels – may be required for energy production but can cause disease if consumed in excess.
Why it’s essential to eat more nutrient-dense foods
Eating more nutrient-dense foods can help you achieve better health and give you more energy. Nutrient-dense foods have more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which means they’re more filling and can help prevent degenerative diseases. Also, eating more nutrient-dense foods can help you lose weight.
A 2015 analysis looked at 40 nutrient-dense plant-based diets. It found that adults consuming a plant-based diet had lower fasting blood glucose levels. Specifically postprandial glucose excursions, and a more significant reduction in triglyceride levels than did people consuming mixed diets rich in animal products. The study also found that replacing animal products with these diets led to improvements in glucose tolerance. If you’re trying to lose weight or improve your health, plant-based diets are a great option. The carbohydrates you eat affect the blood sugar response (glucose spike) and lead to weight gain. The fiber in fruits and vegetables slows down digestion and helps with healthy gut bacteria. Fiber also promotes satiety which can increase caloric intake.
- Fiber-rich plant-based diets reduce daytime sleepiness because fiber keeps you awake and reduces the amount of short-term, high-frequency brain activity that contributes to poor sleep-eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains at least once a day is a key to keeping me alert and aware during the day.
- Quitting or cutting out animal products can help reduce your risk of many common chronic diseases and diseases associated with aging, like diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Building attention to the dangers of a plant-based diet and more information may be key to finding alternatives to more animal-based foods.
How to incorporate more nutrient-dense foods into your diet
Nutrient-dense foods are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals. These foods are also high in fiber and water. Besides they have a low energy density, meaning that they’re filling and packed with nutrition per bite. Filling foods are what keep you full, and filling is what your body needs to stay healthy. This is another essential skill to hold dear. According to Harvard Medical School, 59% of Americans are “unequivocal” that they are trying to lose weight or prevent it from appearing. The last thing you want is a negative association with your food and eating the right kinds of foods.
You also want to make sure you choose nutrient-dense whole foods. They are minimally processed, contain no artificial ingredients, and are high in fiber. You do not wish to anything high in saturated fats, added sugars, or hydrogenated oils.
Successful long-term weight-loss diets
The most successful long-term weight-loss diets contain a variety of whole foods. They are high in fiber and essential fats and often include complex carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, and fruits. These dietary approaches appear to increase satiety and promote successful long-term weight loss.
There’s more to nutrition than the food that you put into your body. On the other hand, one common misconception is that if something is tasty, it should be healthy. This is far from true. There are certain times when you need to eat certain foods to get the full benefits of them.
More sleep will help you consume higher amounts of vital nutrients, including proteins and certain vitamins and minerals. It turns out study after study has shown that sleep results in more nutrient-dense foods being digested and absorbed by the body, and this can therefore help you become much more healthy. On the other hand, there could be times when you need to sleep more.
What nutrients your body needs, and how to get them
The most important thing to remember about nutrition is that your body has specific requirements that vary depending on your age, gender, and activity level. Make sure you’re getting enough of the following nutrients every day:
Vitamin D is essential for bone health, neurological function, psychological well-being, immune function, hormone balance, weight loss, mental clarity, facial and skin health, and energy levels. Don’t get this confused with Vitamin D insufficiency, which is limited to those who live in areas with less sunlight. Therefore, the best way to increase Vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight.
There are two ways to do this:
- One way to get Vitamin D is through fatty fish, oily fish, and eggs.
- Another common way is from supplements. Look for a brand that has a very high level of Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids. Opt for ones with Vitamin D at least 1200IU/mL and Omega 3 fatty acids at least 5g/dose.
In case you live in an area with sunlight, apply sunscreen before you step outside. I always apply an SPF of 15 before I go out for anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes.
Nearly every cell in your body needs amino acids to make proteins and build other essential proteins. Amino acids come from food sources like meat and eggs, as well as supplements. Most protein comes from plants, but not all are created equal.
When we eat food, our body breaks it down into amino acids inside our digestive tract. These amino acids are what our body needs to build proteins. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle and connective tissues. Our body breaks down proteins if our muscles do not need them – say if we’re exercising and our muscles are sore. That means if you eat protein after exercise, it doesn’t help repair the damage your muscles might have incurred.
Essential amino acids are an important component in protein synthesis (somatic muscle growth, muscle repair/strengthening, etc.). Still, it’s also a building block for making neurotransmitters, hormones, antioxidants, and other necessary chemical messengers in the brain.
B12 is an essential element that’s crucial to life. Babies and children are dependent on it for energy, and it’s also vital to those who want to live beyond their 70s. B12 is an essential element for the production of red blood cells. This necessary vitamin is crucial for normal metabolism, but too much can cause various problems, including brain fog, memory loss, depression, and even cardiovascular issues.
The most important nutrient your body can’t produce itself is B12. It is the basis for red blood cell production, and without it, your body won’t be able to function properly. The best way to get it is to consume liver in sufficient quantities, especially through fortified foods and supplements that contain it.
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Many people tend to focus on getting enough B12 as they cannot absorb adequate amounts from food. Eating enough fruits and vegetables is the best way to get plenty of B12. Some experts have suggested taking a multi-vitamin supplement containing 10 micrograms of reduced-level vitamin B12 daily. The dosage for adults should be between 400mg and 4,000mg.”
B12 deficiency is one reason people develop brain fog or Alzheimer’s disease. Quitting smoking, eating correctly, and getting enough fresh air are some things that can help you get your B12 levels in peak working order, according to Dr. Prabhat Jena from the University of Florida.
Vitamin B1 is a powerhouse of a nutrient that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It promotes healthy cellular energy. It enhances the production of cytochrome P450 enzymes that generate energy from carbohydrates, fats, and protein, making it a powerful fat-burning agent.
B1 (thiamine) is essential for life in all living things, especially humans. It is a folic acid derivative created by the body’s stored carbohydrates. Since our diet comprises carbohydrates, and carbohydrates are made up almost entirely of sugar, we can’t live without vitamin B1. It also improves the integrity of lymphatic structures, which helps prevent white blood cells from becoming defective in combatting cancer and other infections.
Research has shown that deficiency of vitamin b1 has the potential to disrupt the working of our brain. This can occur by disrupting the production of brain-altering substances such as brain-derived nerve oil (BDO), which plays a role in forming memories and learning.
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Fat soluble vitamin
Your body needs fat soluble vitamins A and D3 to carry out its normal functions. Getting sufficient amounts of each is essential as the body can’t manufacture these nutrients. You can get most of your daily requirements from food, although you do need supplements containing these important vitamins, particularly if you’re over 40 years old or develop chronic health conditions.
Saturated fat is a type of fat that has been chemically altered to have a chemical called arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is found in specific cells of the body and helps make cell membranes and is sometimes called inflammatory. When you have lots of saturated fat — about 35% of your body weight in men and 21% in women — your cells can become clogged with cholesterol, and blood vessels can become blocked.
Saturated fat is a type of fat found in animal and plant foods, such as beef liver, bacon fat from partial beef or veal, coconut, and palm oil. It is blamed for causing heart disease and related deaths because it can increase cholesterol and blood pressure levels. It is recommended by health organizations and the United States government that anyone who consumes foods made from animal products reduce their saturated fat intake by replacing it with unsaturated fats like coconut and olive oil.
The difference between whole grains, refined grains, and processed grains
Whole grains are minimally processed in that they’re made up of the entire grain kernel and are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. Refined grains have been stripped of much of their nutrients and fiber, leaving only the starchy endosperm, which is typically enriched with vitamins and minerals. Whole grains also tend to be more expensive than refined grains.
This is because the farmer who grows the grain has gotten to know how the grains are growing. He or she may have grown them on their farm, along with many of their family members, or on a nearby farm where they can share growing space and learn more about the grains’ characteristics and uses. Similarly, since there’s more processing involved, farmers will charge more for whole-wheat products than refined products. When it comes to gluten-free diets, whole grains play a massive role in helping to control/prevent celiac disease since the gluten in grains is absorbed easily when eating them. The enzyme casomorphin, which is used to trigger inflammation in the small intestine, also works on the outer coating of the gluten kernel, which makes it susceptible to digestion.
Whole grains are also healthier for you in terms of satiety. There is less processed food in a single serving, making these foods more affordable.
Specifically for lactose intolerance, grains have a gel-like consistency that’s released with digestion. It’s this gel that causes stomach cramps in the first place. There’s no known way to taste gluten, so it’s impossible to say that a food contains gluten simply by its texture.
Refined grains do feed the gut simply because the body can’t properly process them. On the other hand, other whole foods are absorbent and go through various chemical changes in the digestive tract before being assimilated. Some whole grains, like oats, are prebiotic, meaning they feed the good bacteria in the gut, fueling their growth.
Oats, quinoa, and barley are highly nutritious sources of whole grains rich in fiber and protein.
How essential fats can protect you from disease, weight gain, and slow mental function
Omega 3 fatty acid is essential fats that our body needs to survive. They’re found in foods like fish, shellfish, nuts, seeds, and leafy greens and are so important because they’re involved with every single system in your body. Omega-3s even help keep inflammation in check and may even reduce the risk of heart disease.
However, the current guidelines on keeping omega-3s in your diet are incredibly low. Since these essential fats are linked with chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer, the American Heart Association recommends consuming at least 1.8 grams per day of DHA (the main Omega 3 found in fish) and 1.6 grams of EPA (the main omega-3 in plant oil) to get the necessary amount of these essential fatty acids. This gets you into the 3.5 to 5.8 g/day range for most Omega-3-rich foods.
Healthy fats (Omega 3) have excellent benefits
Kim K et al., Ph.D., a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and Mediterranean Nutrition Center, explains that:
“In addition to aiding the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels, dietary fish oil also appears to reduce triglyceride (fat) levels which are associated with cardiovascular disease risk. In addition, dietary fish oil appears to decrease serum low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, actually helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
Omega-3s also appear to have a strong anti-inflammatory effect. Our recent research from the MRC Laboratory of Nutritional Sciences has found that diets rich in DHA-rich fish lower C-reactive protein levels, a key marker of inflammation. Since inflammation is linked to all of the things, we’re trying to overcome with dietary tweaks, including heart disease, lowering inflammation might be just enough to make a huge difference.
And stay away from foods with a high Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. Research shows the ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats is just as important as keeping Omega-3 levels high.