Nutrition 101


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Today is all about the basics of what we eat and why we need it.

What are protein, carbohydrates and fats and why do we need them? The more you understand the basics of food components, the more you understand why certain foods are good or bad for you.

Protein is found in Meats, Legumes, Nuts and seeds, Chicken, Fish, Eggs, Protein Powders, some wholegrains i.e. quinoa, amaranth, Spirulina, Yoghurt, Kefir (similar to yoghurt, only more beneficial), Tempeh, Miso and vegetables.

When protein is eaten, the body breaks it down into single amino acids. There are 20 amino acids in our protein foods, and many more that make up the structure of our body. Amino acids make up 75% of the human body! There are 8 essential and 12 non-essential amino acids. Non-essential doesn’t mean we don’t need them, (because nature is kind of smart like that in that it doesn’t just make things that don’t have a use) it means that we don’t need to ingest them as they can be made in the body by combining essential amino acids. Essential means we MUST ingest them for our body to function properly. Each amino acid has different uses in the body.

It is needed for:

  • Growth and Repair of EVERY cell
  • Immune System Function
  • Muscle/Connective Tissue Growth and regeneration
  • Nervous System
  • Balancing blood sugar levels
  • Sources contain fat soluble vitamins
  • Hair, Nail and Skin health

If you don’t have enough protein in your diet it can cause:

  • Muscle Wastage
  • Poor Immune System
  • Poor Digestive Integrity
  • Imbalance of blood sugar levels
  • Poor skin, hair and nail health
  • Muscular cramps and spasms
  • Poor connective tissue strength

Carbohydrates are found in Fruits and Vegetables, Whole Grains, Rice, Fresh Herbs, Raw Honey, Dried Fruits, Sprouts, Nuts and Seeds

POOR Carbohydrate sources are bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, cereals, potato chips, lollies, sugar, alcoholic drinks e.g. Beer

We all know about the poor sources above, and think of them as being carbohydrates in whole, but we must remember about the good sources that are very important.

We need them for:

  • A source of Fuel/energy
  • Bowel regularity
  • Cell Communication
  • A source of minerals

If we don’t have enough it can cause:

  • Low energy
  • Poor digestive health
  • Constipation
  • Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies

Fats are found in dairy, nuts and seeds and derivatives of e.g. Oils (Flaxseed, Hempseed, Olive, Coconut, Evening Primrose, etc), avocado, fish, meat, chicken.

Fats are needed for a HUGE amount of things in our bodies:

  • Brain and Nervous System Function
  • Outside of every cell made of fat
  • Hormone production
  • Help lower cholesterol (“good’ fats)
  • Energy source for heart muscle
  • Insulation
  • Bodily Secretions
  • Cardiovascular Protectant (‘Good fats”)
  • Inflammatory responses

Deficiency causes:

  • Loss of cognitive function
  • Low hormone production
  • Nervous System weakness
  • Dryness throughout whole body (e.g. dry eyes, constipation, vaginal dryness, dry skin)

I hope this now makes you see the importance of a truly balanced diet and moderation of everything is the key. We need ALL of these components to be a fully functioning human being and this is why restrictive low fat, low carbs or low protein diets DO NOT WORK.

 

We must look at the quality of the protein, carbohydrate or fat source as well…. But that’s for another day!

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