Food is fuel for your body — this is the idea that we should remember when it comes to our nutrition. Having the right mindset about health could help us choose the right food for our diet. If you look at how food is viewed in popular culture, you might think about food as a reward, an obsession, or a temptation. But fundamentally, food is the fuel your body uses to think, work and play. In order for your body to function at its best, here are 4 essential nutrients you should try to include as part of your daily balanced diet.
Protein Is One of the 4 Essential Nutrients in a Balanced Diet
Proteins are made up of amino acids. They are the building blocks of your muscles, organs, and every other cell in your body.
Your body can only get the necessary amino acids for health from food and the nine essential amino acids can be found in animal protein sources.
For vegetarians, it can be a little more challenging. Often vegetarian foods need to be eaten in combinations to fulfill protein needs. For example, a plate of rice and beans is considered a complete protein, with all nine essential amino acids.
Some vegans choose to try out protein powders as a substitute, but what are the different types of protein powder that they could drink? Some of the most common vegan protein powders are hemp, soy, brown rice, and pea.
Fun fact about protein: Having enough protein is especially important after a workout for muscle repair and recovery.
Carbohydrates for Energy
When you hear the word ‘carbs’ or ‘carbohydrates,’ you think of foods that could make you gain weight. However, carbohydrates are the basic source of energy for everyone.
When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose and fructose for immediate energy needs.
Unused glucose is then converted into glycogen for short-term storage. That is why food balance is important. Beyond your body’s need, unused carbs will be turned into fat for long-term energy storage.
For you to maintain a healthy body weight, you want enough carbohydrates to fuel your daily activity, but not so much that you are storing excess fat.
Fats for a Balanced Diet
“Is butter a carbohydrate or fat?” If you remember this famous question, the answer is, no, butter is not a form of carbohydrate. It’s 100% pure fat and another nutrient our body needs.
Fats play a vital role in long-term energy storage. They also offer insulation and protection for vital organs. The goal of a balanced diet should not be the elimination of fats but consuming the right fats.
You want to eat polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats such as those found in fish, nuts, olive oil, and peanut butter. You want to limit the number of saturated fats such as those found in dairy products and red meats. It’s best to avoid trans-fatty foods such as many baked goods, fried fast foods, and vegetable shortening.
What’s the Difference Between Vitamins and Minerals
There could be many ways your body uses nutrients. That is why we need to be sure that we have enough of them in our bodies, but what’s the difference between vitamins and minerals?
Minerals are inorganic elements, while vitamins are organic substances, both of which we need to function well.
Vitamins and minerals are substances in foods that the body uses as part of the many important processes like cell repair and energy conversion.
Although you can find many bottles of vitamin supplements in the store, your body is designed to get vitamins from the foods you eat. When you walk into the produce section, notice the vast array of natural colors.
The more colorful your diet, the more vitamins you are getting. Eat your greens, but be sure to get your reds, yellows, and a few purples as well.
You can get all the 4 essential nutrients you need from a healthy, balanced diet. Focus on minimally processed foods with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables. The food you eat is a delicious fuel that will make you strong and healthy.