I get asked “why is nutrition important?” all of the time. Kids want to know why they can not just eat candy or cereal for dinner. Adults want to know the benefits of eating healthy when other options are so readily available. So why is nutrition important? Let’s get some nutrition facts. First, our bodies need certain nutrients in order to grow and regenerate. There are 7 main groups of nutrients.
1. Protein: Protein builds muscles and increases your bodies ability to fight off viruses and bacteria by strengthening your immune system.
2. Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates also known as carbs give your body the energy it needs to function. Healthy forms of carbs can be found in rice, pasta, and potatoes. Unhealthy forms include candies, sugar, or sodas. Your body converts carbohydrates into energy for walking, running, or to keep your heart beating. However, excess carbs are stored in your body as fat and can be damaging.
3. Fat: Fat in your body stores extra energy and releases it when our body needs the extra boost that it is not getting from your meals. Unsaturated fat, such as fish oils and flax oil can be beneficial while saturated fat, found in most shorteners and margarine can be very damaging. Fat should only be consumed in small amounts as it can cause serious health problems.
4. Vitamins: Vitamins help to regulate body processes. They can be found in pill form at your local store, but they are better for you when they are taken in by eating fruits and vegetables. This includes Vitamins A, B, C, and many others that are essential for your body to function properly.
5. Minerals: Minerals also help to regulate body processes but also make up a portion of the body tissues. Some minerals that are important are:
– Calcium found in dairy products helps to build strong bones
– Iron found in meat, eggs and some green vegetables helps to distribute oxygen in the blood through the body.
– Zinc helps to boost the immune system.
6. Water: One of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle is water. Water gives cells shape, allows for nutrients to be delivered throughout the body and provides a medium for important processes in the body.
7. Fiber: Fiber helps not only our digestive tract but also helps to reduce cholesterol and can help prevent gallstones and bowel cancer. Fiber is found in vegetables and bran cereals.
Our diet determines the way we look, the way we feel, and the number of sick days we have. Different bodies need different things. A bodybuilder would take much more protein than a marathon runner who would load up on Carbs. By adjusting our diets we can gain or lose weight, control diabetes, improve sports performance and boost our immune system.