For your body to function properly, you need to give your body six essential nutrients each day. Here’s a quick overview of each one.
Water is the most basic nutrient your body needs. Every single cell in your body needs it to function and up to 70% of our body is made up of water. It helps regulate our body temperature and heart beat, helps the cells deliver energy and is vital in burning fat, just to name a few functions. Most experts recommend 7-8 glasses of water a day in addition to the five servings of fruits and vegetables we should be eating. Anything with caffeine in it does not count toward your recommended daily allotment since caffeine drinks like coffee and tea expel water from the body.
Minerals like magnesium are involved in over 500 distinct processes in the body; sodium and potassium help keep your heart beat regular and calcium is essential for not only your bones but for your muscles, too. Eating a wide variety of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, will help provide the daily intake you need.
Vitamins are chemical components that help other chemical reactions happen in our bodies. Involved in almost every function in our body, from our immune system to our mood levels to our bone strength, vitamins make our bodies’ functions possible. Since cooking destroys certain vitamins, it is best to eat the majority of your food raw, steamed, grilled, or stir-fried to get the most benefit from the available vitamins in your food.
Without protein, our bodies couldn’t manufacture the amino acids needed to repair muscle tissue, or control certain hormones properly. It is also used as a source of energy when there are not enough carbohydrates available. Good sources of protein include eggs, fish, chicken, beef, milk, beans and seeds.
The fuel that is the body’s first choice in running the brain and the muscles, carbohydrates play an important role in the everyday functioning of what makes us who we are. There are two classes of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates like honey, refined grains, and candy provide almost instant energy boost that doesn’t last long. Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, provide the body fuel as well, but also depart a more sustained source of energy, avoiding those highs and lows. Foods that should be considered as good carbohydrate sources are vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
While scorned upon in the diet world, fats are absolutely essential to the functioning of our bodies. Our nerve fibers are sheathed in particular type of fat which enables the electric signals to travel properly. Our brains are mostly fat, helping us to think quickly. And our organs are cushioned by fat, protecting them from sudden jarring and in other cases, providing an emergency source of fuel when the rest of the fat storage has run out. Healthy sources of fat include olive oil, salmon, walnuts, and fish oil.