Micronutrients, Fiber and Water
Micronutrients are those food components that are needed in small amounts to support the body’s functions. They include vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. They are required in a precise amount: too much or too little can create problems. Most of these must be consumed in our diet. The only exception is Vitamin D, which is made by our bodies and require sunlight for production.
There is still much to be learned about the role of the micronutrients. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies and toxicities can be described for many micronutrients but the effects of insufficient levels are poorly understood. In fact it is still unclear as to what represents an optimal level for many of these micronutrients. We know that the antioxidant vitamins such as C and E helps the body dispose of free radicals, which can damage the cells. However the role of these micronutrients in cancer prevention and other disease process are only now being intently studied.
Fiber is the component of plant foods that can’t be digested. It contains cellulose, lignin and pectin, which are resistant to the digestive enzymes. Other terms used for it are roughage and bulk. It is an important component of a nutritious diet.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and helps to regulate the blood glucose and cholesterol levels. It is contained in nuts, beans, apples, oatmeal and other sources. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve. It helps the digestive system to balance water absorption and promotes intestinal motility. This type of fiber is contained in whole grain products, wheat, brown rice, legumes, and many vegetables.
It is recommended that we consume 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories. This is approximately 25 grams for women and 38 grams per day for a man. Fiber has been proven to lower insulin levels, improve the lipid profile, control glucose levels and lower blood pressure. Research has demonstrated that a diet high in fiber will decrease heart disease, diabetes and death by 40-50%.
Water: most of us take it for granted. But have you ever taken a moment to stop and think just how important water is to you? For the human body, water is truly a vital resource. You can go weeks without food but only 5-7 days without water. When the water in your body is reduced by just 1 percent, you become thirsty; at 5 percent, muscle strength and endurance declines significantly and you become hot and tired. When the loss reaches 10 percent, delirium and blurred vision occur. A 20 percent reduction in water leads to death.
There is no more important nutrient for our bodies than water. No other substance is as widely involved in the processes and make-up of the body. A man's body is about 60 percent water, and a woman's is approximately 50 percent. Did you know that the human brain is about 75 percent water?
Tissue Percent Water
Every day, we lose 2-3 quarts of water through urination, sweating and breathing. Since many of the processes within the body rely greatly on water, it is important we replace our fluids regularly to compensate for this loss.
So when you are planning a nutritious diet for you and your family, remember the micronutrients, water and fiber. You will get most of the micronutrients if you eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables but pay attention to specials needs that may occur during pregnancy, in children or the elderly. Makes sure you factor in plenty of water and don’t forget to include at least 25 grams of fiber.
I hope this article has provided you with information that will help you make wise choices, so you may:
Live healthy, live well and live long!
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