Basic Nutrition 101

Basic Nutrition 101

Probably one of the most common questions I get as a nutritionist is, “what should I be eating?”

The majority of people I talk to realize they need to pay better attention to what they’re putting into their body. However, many are confused as to what constitutes a balanced diet. And with so much conflicting, confusing and misleading information out there, I can’t blame anyone for being fuzzy on the requirements of basic nutrition.

In order to understand what comprises a “good diet,” there are 3 components that need to be considered: Macro-, Micro- and Phyto-nutrients.

Macronutrients

Consider these guys like the foundation of a building.  These provide energy and primary building blocks needed by the body. A certain balance is necessary for organ function and muscle building.

  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
  • Fat

The amount of energy derived from here is measured in a unit called the calorie– which according to the diet industry, is the enemy. The amount of energy each individual needs varies from one person to another based on a variety of factors including genetics, activity level, body mass and metabolic level.

Micronutrients

Just because they’re “micro” doesn’t mean they’re not important; they are vital for proper body function. They are involved in everything from immunity, muscle function, bone integrity, cell regeneration, nerve function and much, much more!

  • Vitamins– Include Vitamins A, B, C, D, E etc…
  • Minerals– Calcium, iron, magnesium etc…
  • Trace Elements– Zinc, Selenium, Manganese etc…

The distinction between macro- and micronutrients explains how someone can be overweight (too many macro-nutrients) but still be malnourished (lack of micro-nutrients). The standard American diet (SAD) is full of junk and processed food is full of calories, but they’re empty calories with little if any vitamins or minerals.

Phytonutrients

These work like scavengers, responsible for correcting DNA and cell malfunction that lead to chronic disease. Studies show that increased amounts of phytonutrients in our diet can improve immune function, detoxify, prevent disease (like heart disease and asthma) as well as prevent and fight cancer. Phytonutrients are the colorful component of fruits and veggies- the more colorful your diet the better!

  • Found in Fruits and Veggies
  • Include reservatrol, lycopene, chlorophyll, flavenoids etc
  • Various colors are indicative of various kinds of phytonutrients. This is why variety in your diet is so important!
  • May be supplemented by powder or tablet form; however a good source is vital! Fresh, organic food is always best.

 

Seems pretty straight forward, right?

Make sure you have all these components in high quality on a daily basis and viola! You have a great diet!

But who are we kidding? I realize it’s not that simple. With work, family and day-to-day stress many of us let one (or more) of these vital components go. Before you know it, you’re skipping breakfast on a regular basis or no more veggies at lunch. Besides getting it all in, choosing the right sources are vital, understanding the value of organic farming, non-GMO sources, grass-fed beef or hormone-free poultry and dairy is also important.

It may take some time and effort… But learning to eat this way can change your life!

Making slow and steady changes is the best way to make it stick. This blog is meant to help you learn how to implement them. That’s why, over the course of the next several weeks, we’ll be exploring various nutrients in detail and where you can add them in your diet.

But don’t be afraid to ask for help! Working with a nutritionist or Health Coach can be invaluable to helping you succeed. Contact me for a consultation.

I want to hear from you!

When you are trying to incorporate better basic nutrition into your life, what’s the main obstacle you face?

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