Your basic nutrients



Although everyone has the need for the same nutrients, the amounts required differ due age, sex, body type and level of activity. The six nutrients that are present in the foods we eat are: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. Each nutrient has its own specific function but no one acts independant on another. These nutrients aid the body in growth and repair body tissues,provide energy and assist in regulation of body processes. Lets talk about each one.

Protein... Next to water, protein is the most plentiful substance in the body. It is of primary importance in the development and growth of body tissues. Protein is also needed for the formation of hormones and to control your rate of metabolism. An important use of protein for women is the formation of milk during lactation and also in blood clotting. The amounts vary in all of us but excess protein that is not used for building tissue is stored as fat in the body. As I mentioned before, protein requirements will differ due to body size and activity level. Obviously someone who works out more intensly will require a higher amount to assist in muscle growth. This seems to work best when ingested within an hour after your training session. A good guide to how much you need is to divide your bodyweight by two and that total will indicate the approximate grams you need each day. One fairly easy way to track your protein is to find a health food store that sells quality supplements. You can usually find the big containers that will supply you with 35 to 45 grams with each scoop. Mix that with milk and use this as your protein drink. You may have to experiment with flavors to find one that you like. There are many flavors and brands but the good thing is that it ends up being pretty inexpensive. Heres one tip. Don't take your shake to late at night or you'll have a tough time getting a good nights sleep. One thing to keep in mind, protein deficiency may result in lack of energy and weakness and also slow recovery from disease. At certain times you may find it necessary to consume extra protein in order to replace used or worn out tissues.

Carbohydrates...These are the chief source of energy and assist in the digestion and assimilation of other foods. They also help to regulate protein and are needed for muscular exertion. The principal carbohydrates present in foods are sugars, starches and cellulose. The simple sugars, that are easily digested, come from fruits and honey. Starches, on the other hand, require a more prolonged breakdown into simple sugars. All sugars and starches are converted to glucose. This is used as a fuel by the muscles of the body as well as the tissues of the brain and the nervous system. One important issue when it comes to carbs. Too many will crowd out the other essential foods from your diet and could result in obesity. As in protein, differences in metabolism, activity level and body size, determine the amount of carbohydrates that are necessary for each of us. On the other side of the coin, too little of this nutrient may produce ketosis, lack of energy and depression.

Fats...Here's something I'll bet you didn't know. Fats are the most concentrated source of energy in your diet. When these are oxidized they furnish more than twice the number of calories per gram furnished by protein or carbohydrates. Many people think the word fat is a bad thing, but actually fat deposits surround, protect and hold in place organs like the heart, kidneys and liver. They also preserve body heat. One source of fats are milk products,eggs and cheese. The substance that give fats their different flavors are known as fatty acids. There are two types, saturated and unsaturated. Rarely is there a deficiency of fat which could lead ot eczema or skin disorders however, excessive amounts of fat in the diet can lead to abnormal weight gain if more calories are consumed than needed. One side affect of this is slow digestion and absorption, which reults in indigestion.

Water...this is the most important nutrient found in the body. It's also two-thirds of your body weight. You know the old adage that you can live without food but not water, well thats true. Water has many important values. It helps to transport other nutrients thoughout the body and helps to regulate the body temperature, while carrying waste out of the body. The rate of water loss depends on the amount of activity. That's why during and intense training session, it's important to keep drinking. As I'm working out I find myself constantly taking a drink. Just keep reminding yourself that if you're perspiring, keep drinking. Technically, the body contains approximately 45 quarts of water and loses about 3 quarts daily. An important fact to remember is a deficiency in water intake can result in dehydration and salt depletion. Aside from that, water is essential in keeping your bowel movements regular. Trust me,the term "constipation" is a very uncomfortabe situation. Also, while managing you're water intake, don't forget to add fruits and vegetables to your diet. These are good sources of chemically pure water.

Vitamins...They are an important nutrient in that they help to regulate metabolism as well as converting fat and carbohydrates into energy. With only a few exceptions, vitamins cannot be synthesized, they must be supplied by in the diet by supplements. It's important that you get hold of a vitamin chart to keep around and familiarize yourself with all that are available. If you browse through any health food store, it's pretty overwhelming. The fact is,all natural vitamins are found only in living things such as plants and animals. Each of these are present in specific foods, but unfortunately all of us don't have the same tastes. I knew that there was a need for more greens in my diet. So I discovered a product called Simply Greens as a supplement and take it everyday. Getting a chart and noting what vitamins are in certain foods is very important.

Minerals...These nutrients are vital to overall mental and physical well being. They act as a catalyst with metabolism and muscle response as well as the production of hormones. They are also vital in maintaining water balance and add in permitting the other nutrients to pass into the bloodstream. It's important to become familiar with nutrients such as calcium and chlorine, mainly due to their deficiency symptoms. Some of these are brittle and softening of the bones as well as hair and teeth loss. Also slow growth rate and glucose intolerence.