A healthy diet does not only mean eating lots of fruits and vegetables, more leaner protein and less fat. This thought and discipline can take you far, but looking at the bigger picture, this is quite vague. A lot of people are surprised to know that, although they eat only the “essential” food, their nutritional status is very poor. Several people, including those who eat a “healthy diet” lack elements inside the body which keeps it in good shape and functioning properly.
The elements of the body which makes it structurally acceptable and internally well-maintained are called nutrients. There are two categories of nutrients, macronutrients and Micronutrients.
Macronutrients are compounds consumed by humans in large quantities. These nutrients build muscles and provide energy. Micronutrients are nutrients needed by the body in minute amounts. However minimal the requirements may be, the body can’t function properly without these chemical compounds. These compounds work to fuel bodily functions and systems, particularly, the immune system. Each required micronutrient functions differently.
There are two categories of Micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals are substances that are vital inside the body to help it grow and become insusceptible to diseases. Vitamins are divided into fat-soluble and water-soluble classes.
Some Vitamins are considered essential nutrients.
Vitamin A is important for good eyesight, appropriate immune function and growth of tissues.
The Vitamin B group are essential to influence energy metabolism. It also assists in blood cell development and production and other metabolic actions. It also keeps the nervous system
Vitamin C is essential in repelling germs and cancers. It is also vital in the production of collagen that keeps the skin healthy. Vitamin C improves iron absorption.
Vitamin D is generally for healthy bones. It maintains the calcium and phosphorus levels in the body.
Vitamin E reduces free radicals and prevents cell damage, even death.
Minerals can be macrominerals or microminerals. Macrominerals or “bulk minerals” are required in relatively higher quantities than microminerals. Some are necessary for cell structure while others act as electrolytes. Microminerals are trace minerals that are required in very little amounts.
Some important minerals are:
Calcium keeps the bones strong and can help prevent osteoporosis.
Iodine helps in producing thyroid hormones that are necessary to grow healthy. It also helps in normalizing the nervous system.
Iron is necessary in creating haemoglobin, the protein in the blood that carries oxygen all throughout the body.
Zinc is required for a healthy looking skin, prevention of infection and healing of wound.
Antioxidants and phytochemicals are two other important Micronutrients in the body. It serves as cell protection and can influence bodily functions.
Too much or too little of anything can be harmful. That’s why a deficiency or an over dosage of Micronutrients can cause various disorders.
Deficiencies of Micronutrients may result to goiter, scurvy, osteoporosis and certain cancers among others. Excess levels of these nutrients are also hazardous to health. Higher dosages than normal can be toxic to health.
To ascertain that a person’s nutritional status is at a good level and that his bodily functions are normal, eating a “healthy diet” is not enough. A “balanced diet” of food rich in different nutrients should be consumed. Balanced amount of every nutrient is the key to living healthy.