In an ideal world, we’d be just like the humble polar bear. One unlucky seal or walrus and we’d be good to go for days, or even weeks. Unfortunately, our bodies require a much wider range of nutrients than what’s found on a chunk of meat and it’s important that we consume a balanced diet that covers these needs.
Carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals, fats and acids are all integral parts of our diet that are essential for maintaining our physical and mental health. While it would be quite time consuming (and costly) to constantly ensure that our diet contains every single nutrient we can benefit from, there are some that we need to be particularly mindful of.
We’ve put together a list of five important nutrients that you should incorporate into your diet, as well as the foods that provide them.
Modern health trends usually allude to carbs being something you should avoid. While this is partly true, they are essential for a number of reasons. Carbohydrates are broken down by your body into glucose, which provides energy. They also prevent your body from resorting to protein as a means of gaining energy, helping you maintain muscle mass.
The key here is balance – stick to complex carbohydrates, which are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Complex carbs take longer to break down, which prevents unhealthy snacking by keeping you fuller for longer.
Just like carbohydrates, fat usually gets a bad rep due to its association with body fat. This is true for certain types of fat, such as trans fats, which are found in processed foods and should be avoided completely. Natural fat, usually called unsaturated fat, is essential for protecting your heart and organs. Unsaturated fats also aid with vitamin absorption.
Unsaturated fats can be found in fruits such as avocados, as well as nuts and salmon. To further boost your immune system, you could consider taking a supplement. These can be found through companies such as Immunocorp who provide not only nutritional supplements, but also powerful antioxidants and skincare products.
Immunocorp’s products are categorized by your health goals, whether it’s to get more sleep, lose weight, relieve pain or improve your skin. They also offer discounts and free shipping is available for orders over $75.
Vitamins are micronutrients that your body only needs a small amount of, but are nonetheless essential. No single food provides all the vitamins we need, so a balanced diet is important. Supplements can also be considered if you’re particularly deficient in a certain vitamin. The most important vitamins are Vitamin A, B, C, D and E.
Vitamin A is important for vision and skin health, and B vitamins are important for a number of reasons including energy and blood health. Vitamin C helps with muscle and bone structure, as well as immune system support. The same applies to Vitamin D, while Vitamin E protects your cells from damage.
There are seven minerals that are essential for your health: sodium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Sodium, in moderation, is important for maintaining nerve and muscle function. Iron helps with carrying oxygen to your lungs, while potassium is essential for bone and cardiovascular health.
We know that calcium is important for bone and muscle health, along with nerve function. Calcium is found not only in dairy products, but also certain fish such as sardines and salmon, as well as leafy greens. Magnesium and zinc have a plethora of benefits for your health, including immune system function as well as bone, muscle and nerve health.
Most of these minerals are found in the natural foods that we consume on a daily basis. While supplements are usually unnecessary in this case, it’s worth considering if you know you’re deficient in a certain mineral. As usual, avoid any processed foods when it comes to getting your daily mineral intake.
Protein contains amino acids, which are essential for slowing the ageing process as they act as the building blocks of your cells. Protein is also important for muscle formation and creating new hormones and enzymes in your body. There’s a rather extensive list of amino acids out there, but out of the 20 that exist, only 9 are essential for your health.
Most types of meat provide all 9 of these amino acids, while plant proteins tend to lack several of them. Essential proteins can be obtained not only from meat, but also dairy, eggs, beans and nuts. Certain meats are also healthier than others. Stick to lean meat wherever possible.
Aside from the above-mentioned nutrients, you should also be sure to incorporate the omega-3 fatty acids contained in plant-based foods such as chia seeds and walnuts, as well as fish such as salmon and mackerel. Finally, don’t forget to drink plenty of water, as we all know it’s the number one thing our body needs.