With good nutrition, your body is capable of making many of the necessary nutrients you need. But there are 6 essential nutrients for the body that you can’t manufacture. And these are called “essential nutrients” because your body can’t make them. You need to get them from your diet.
Essential vitamins and minerals are micronutrients, only needed in minute amounts. Protein, carbohydrates, fat and water are macronutrients, required in much larger amounts.
Healthy protein, carbohydrates and fats, along with sufficient vitamins, minerals and water help to provide your body with the nutrition and energy that support growth and body tissue repair. They’re also necessary for the regulation of thousands of different body processes.
Believe it or not, water is actually the most important of the 6 nutrients for the body. Water makes up 50 to 75% of your body and you can only go about 3 days without it.
Severe dehydration can cause your heart and other organs to collapse and result in death.
Nearly all the important life-sustaining processes of your body require a water environment in order to function properly. Water is required for you to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste. And water is necessary to make sweat, so you can maintain your body temperature.
At least eight cups of fluids a day are recommended. And although they don’t all have to be water, caffeine and sugary drinks dehydrate the body and increase your water needs.
After water, protein is the most common element of the human body.
High protein foods – meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy, grains, beans, nuts and seeds, from the best protein sources – are the basic building blocks of nutrition, building and repairing bones, muscles, skin, hair, nails, blood and internal organs, such as the brain and heart.
You need about one gram of protein for every two pounds of body weight. For example, a person weighing 140 pounds would have to get about 70 daily grams of complete protein.
Healthy carbohydrates are your primary source for energy, endurance and protein and fat metabolism. Basically there are two types of carbs, simple and complex carbohydrates. And most people eat far too much of the wrong kinds of unhealthy simple carbohydrates.
Unhealthy simple carbs are the main source of “empty calories” found in sweets, processed foods and bakery products, like pastries, candy and refined grains. Most simple carbs provide little to no nutrition and are also major contributors to obesity and tooth decay.
But simple carbohydrates are also found in low fat dairy and whole fruit, which are healthy sources of nutrition, since they contain fiber, vitamins and important minerals like calcium.
Healthy complex carbohydrate high fiber foods, like vegetables, whole grains and beans take longer to digest, which is good. And besides fiber they provide essential vitamins and minerals.
Good dietary fats with essential fatty acids are not only a highly concentrated source of energy and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, they also add flavor and texture to many foods.
However, eating unhealthy fatty foods, particularly red meats and whole-fat dairy, high in saturated fat, or refined bakery products, high in trans fatty acids, can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer of the breast, colon and prostate.
Vitamins & Minerals
You also need the essential vitamins and minerals found in food. But, even if you eat a healthy diet, studies show it’s next to impossible to get all of the nutrients you need from the foods you eat. Therefore, be sure to combine a healthy diet with quality nutritional supplements.
So, what’s the ideal combination of these 6 essential nutrients for the body?
Well, you already know how much water to drink and how to make sure you get all the essential vitamins and minerals. As for the other three macronutrients, it’s recommend that you eat a diet of about 15% lean protein foods, 20% good fats and 65% healthy carbohydrates.
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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.