Our Basic Nutritional Requirements

wholenutrition Our most basic nutritional requirements aside from the elements of air and water are comprised of three nutrient groups in the category known as macronutrients. (I have another post coming soon on the micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients)

After digesting what we eat, our metabolic system carries these nutrients to our cells. These nutrients comprise the structure of the cells in our bodies, and define our state of health. If we eat unhealthy and toxic foods, our cells become unhealthy and toxic, as do we.

Proteins:

Proteins are necessary for maintaining the structure of our cells and are necessary for the growth, repair, and maintenance of cells, muscles, blood, organs, skin, hair and nails. Proteins are broken into smaller components known as amino acids, and then rebuilt when needed.

Meat is not the only source of protein, and as a matter of fact, too much meat can lead to too an overabundance of purines, which leads to excess uric acid, which can lead to gout adn kidney stones.

Excess meat protein may also overwork the liver, which can have other unwanted side effects that affect cell reproduction, leading to disease and premature aging. Meat may also contain excess amounts of animal fat.

The influence of proteins on inflammation are a result of the fat and carbohydrates. Animal fats are more commonly saturated, while they also come with greater environmental contamination than plant foods. Toxins cause inflammatory response by way of the resulting oxydative stress.

Vegetable sources of proteins include soy and other legumes. These sources of protein are no less nutritious than meat protein.

fishFish is an excellent source of protein, and is highly recommended in favor of meat for its omega-3 fatty acids, but it is desirable to avoid some fish, such as tuna or shark, for their levels of mercury and PCBs. Good choices are wild Alaskan salmon, Alaskan black code (sablefish or butterfish), and sardines.

Fats:

Yes, fat is an essential part of our diet. It is an energy source, is a carrier of certain nutrients, and insulates our nerves and bones.

Most people understand by now that there are good fats and there are bad fats. The bad fats are saturated fats. and are associated with cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. They are found in animal fat and the coconut plant. Large quantities of these fats should be avoided.

The good fats are known to lower cholesterol and aid in other bodily functions. These are the monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, found in olive oil, vegetable and fish oils.  They are better for you and even have health benefits.

Balancing essential fatty acids are critical in maintaining the body’s ability to temper the inflammatory response. In general, the hormones synthesized from omega-6 fatty acids, which are abundant in our SAD (Standard American Diet) increase inflammatory reaction, while the hormones we create from omega-3 fatty acids have the dampening effect on this response.  In the distant past our diets consisted of a more equivalent amount of these fats, but are now heavily weighted in the omega-6 fats.

pumpkinseedsUnfortunately, omega-3’s are much harder to come by than omega-6’s. They are found in low concentrations in leafy greens, a few seeds and nuts (walnuts, flax, hemp) and a few vegetable oils (soy, canola), sea vegetables, and oily fish from cold waters (salmon, sardines herring, mackerel, black cod, and bluefish). Animals that are allowed to graze on grass rather than being fattened on grains accumulate omega-3s in their fat.

margarineSome fats are extremely pro-inflammatory. These are the artificially hardened fats: margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These products include oxidized fatty acids and trans fats.

Oxidized fatty acids occur when oils are exposed to air, light and heat. Rancidity is a sign of oxidation; if your oil smells at all fAdd an Imageunny, toss it! This includes nuts and seeds, which do not have a long shelf life. The omega-3’s in these foods break down with oxidation, and as with oils, dispose of them when they begin to smell the least bit rancid. Refrigeration can extend their shelf life.

Carbohydrates:
These nutrients have a plant based origin, and are our primary source of energy.  There are two basic types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are the sugars (having a high glycemic index or GI), and the complex are starch and fiber found in whole grains and vegetables (having a lower GI).

As with the fats, our sources of carbohydrates can be pro-inflammatory. The glycemic index and glycemic load are indicators of the oxidative stress that will occur as a result of ingesting certain foods.

breadbasketSimple carbohydrates provide calories and short-term energy, but no nutrition. As you eat more high-GI foods, such as bread, white potatoes, white pasta, sugars, chips, crackers and snack foods, your body processes these foods as simple sugars. It burns these sugars very rapidly, causing excessive oxidation which results in an inflammatory response, leading to obesity, premature aging, and a weakened immune system.

Natural sugars found naturally in fruits and vegetables however are part of a nutritional package, have a lower GI, and so are much more healthy to eat.

sweetpotatosEat foods with a low-GI such as whole grains, beans, sweet potatoes, winter squashes and other vegetables, temperate fruits (berries, cherries, apples and pears) and less refined or processed food. Eating these foods will avoid inflammation, as the body will process these foods in a more regulated manner.

If You Enjoyed This, Please Share! These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Ask
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • LinkaGoGo
  • Live-MSN

13 Responses to “Our Basic Nutritional Requirements”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. It really is about getting back to basics isn’t it!
    Here’s to healthier living…
    Thank you for your work to help others!
    -Healthful Chef

  2. Vicki,
    Great article. Think I’ll print this one for my clients.

  3. Great info! I think so many people forget exactly what our bodies DO need, and that we need it regularly. I always compare it to a car…here we spend all this money on a great vehicle, top of the line, we put the premium gas in it and we panic when it breaks down. What about our bodies breaking down too? Thanks again- CM

  4. Fantastic information that I will be sharing with our readers participating in the 2010 GGM Weightloss is Personal program.
    Looking forward to the post on the micronutrients.
    Elaine

  5. Rob says:

    This is an excellent write up and every one should not only read it but keep a copy for frequent and ready reference.

  6. Vicki you are a breath of fresh air! With all the noise around diets and weight loss it is so refreshing to hear simple, honest nutritional advice.

    For example “Simple carbohydrates provide calories and short-term energy, but no nutrition.” Bingo and there is the global obesity epidemic summed up in one sentence! Love it… more please!

    • Vicki says:

      Thank you so much Liam for the kind words! I do appreciate your support! And you’re right, this stuff isn’t rocket science, it’s just that people aren’t aware and I’m hoping to raise awareness which alone ought to enable people to shed a few pounds here and there!

      To your health!
      Vicki

  7. Tony says:

    Great article Vicki…I enjoyed it very much.

  8. This is by far one of the well composed articles on this theme. I was exploring on the exact corresponding subject field and your position entirely took me off with the way you view this subject field. I compliment your insight but do grant me to come back to input further as I’m presently extending my search on this case further. I will be back to join in this discussion as I’ve bookmarked and tag this very page.

  9. Vicki says:

    Hi Chad! Thanks for the suggestion – I think there is a print button with the other ‘share and enjoy’ social bookmark buttons – I will add it so articles are more easily printed.

    Thanks for the suggestion!
    To you health,
    Vicki

  10. Chad says:

    Hi Vicki. Really enjoy your posts. Would you consider adding a link to print a neat, clean article? Thanks, and keep up the great work. You’re helping many!

Leave A Comment...

*