We are what we eat!
Diet is critically important to our wellbeing. Whatever your interest in Nutrition, whether for general well being, weight loss or improved athletic performance this guide will help you decide what you want to put in your body.
Calories provide the energy and building blocks your body needs to operate on a daily basis. They are needed in large quantities and come from things called Macronutrients. There are three types of Macronutrients: Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats.
You also need micronutrients which are nutrients that your body only needs in small amounts, such as vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients help your body stay healthy and are critical to your wellbeing.
Counting macronutrient ratios is similar to counting calories but differs in that it considers where the calories come from.
How much of each Macronutrient do I need?
Here’s three basic rules of thumb, the guidelines differ between men and women and by age. Later on there are links to detailed daily recommended values.
The average adult’s total calorie breakdown should look something like this:
- 45-65% calories from carbohydrates
- 10-15% calories from lean proteins
- 20-30% calories from healthy fats
Endurance athletes might increase their carbohydrate ratio:
- 55-70% calories from carbohydrates
- 15-20% calories from lean proteins
- 20-35% calories from healthy fats
If you want to build muscle by exercising then your body may benefit from more protein:
- 40-50% calories from carbohydrates
- 25-30% calories from lean proteins
- 20-30% calories from healthy fats
What are Carbohydrates (Carbs) and why do you need them?
You can get 4 cal of energy from every 1 g of carbs that you eat.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. You’ll find them in fruits, vegetables and grains. Carbs are broken down to glucose, a simple sugar which can be rapidly metabolized to produce energy. Glucose dissolves readily in water and is transported around your body in your bloodstream
The pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin, which helps glucose to migrate from your blood into your cells. Once inside a cell, the glucose is ‘burned’ along with oxygen to produce energy. Your brain, muscles and nervous system all rely on glucose as their main fuel source.
Your body converts excess glucose from food into glycogen. Glycogen acts as a storage form of glucose within the skeletal muscle tissue (⅔) and the liver (⅓). The role of glycogen is to supplement blood sugar levels if they drop between meals or during physical activity.
Once the available glucose is used up, the stored glycogen is broken down again into glucose so that it can be used to power your body. Glycogen also provides structural support in various tissues in your body including your brain.
Once your stores of glucose and glycogen are used up you can replace them by consuming more carbs. If you don’t do this your body starts to use fat as its energy source (which is good if you are trying to lose weight and which is why fasting rides are popular because if you start with little glucose and glycogen you should start to burn fat sooner).
Glycogen is stored in the Liver and Skeletal Muscles
About 0.5 percent of the weight of your muscles and 5 percent of the weight of your liver are made up of glycogen. Unlike glucose, glycogen is not soluble in water and cannot pass in and out of cells unless it is broken down into smaller, more soluble units (glucose).
Glycogens usefulness as a storage molecule is largely due to this insolubility as it can’t be washed out of your body in the way that water soluble molecules can be.
The Glycaemic Index (GI)
The glycaemic index (GI) is a way to classify foods and drinks according to how quickly they raise the glucose level in your blood. GI has replaced the earlier method of classifying carbohydrates as either ‘simple’ (High GI) or ‘complex’ (Low GI).
The glycaemic index (GI) rates carbohydrates according to how quickly they raise the glucose level of the blood. (Higher is quicker).
The glycaemic load (GL) rates carbohydrates according to the glycaemic index and the amount of carbohydrate in the food.
How is GI Defined?
Carbohydrate-containing foods are compared with glucose or white bread as a reference food with a GI score of 100.
The GI compares foods that have the same amount of carbohydrate, gram for gram.
Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion have a higher glycaemic index (GI more than 70). These high GI carbohydrates, such as a baked potato, release their glucose into the blood quickly.
Carbs that break down slowly, such as oats for example, release glucose gradually into the bloodstream. They have low glycaemic indexes (GI less than 55). Low GI foods prolong digestion due to their slow break down and may help with satiety (feeling full).
Eating low GI foods two hours before endurance events, such as road cycling, may improve your exercise capacity. The theory is that the meal leaves your stomach before the start, but remains in your small intestine releasing energy for a few hours afterwards.
High GI foods are recommended during the first 24 hours of recovery after an event to rapidly replenish muscle fuel stores (glycogen).
Some examples of the GI rating of various carbohydrates are:
- Low GI (less than 55): soy products, beans, fruit, milk, pasta, grainy bread, porridge and lentils
- Medium GI (55 to 70): orange juice, honey, basmati rice and wholemeal bread
- High GI (greater than 70): potatoes, white bread and short-grain rice.
Sugar and high GI carbohydrates are important during and after exercise because they supply energy for working muscle, increase insulin and assist in the breakdown of fats for fuel.
On a non-exercise day it’s best to avoid the insulin boosting sugars and high GI carbs since that will promote unhealthy storage of fat.
The Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that carbohydrates should account for 50% of daily caloric intake for the average adult.
You should try to favour complex carbohydrates when possible; that’s because they don’t lead to blood sugar spikes, which simple (High GI) carbs can.
Your Brain needs Carbs to Work but can also use Fat
Your brain is the most crucial organ in your body, as it controls all of your movements and functions. Your brain mainly derives nutrition and energy from carbohydrates, but also from fatty acids, which provide fuel in the form of ketones.
Glycogen for the Brain
As mentioned earlier, when your body produces too much glucose, it is stored in your liver and muscles as glycogen, where it can be used later on to provide energy for your body as well as your brain.
Recent research on the role of glycogen as an energy source for your brain found that it not only provides necessary fuel, but that glycogen is crucial for communication activity inside the brain, as well as for maintaining memory function and a generally healthy brain.
Ketones as Brain Fuel
Ketones are water-soluble elements that are created when fatty acids are broken down. When your body doesn’t have enough glucose, either from diet or in storage it turns to fatty acids as an energy source for its activities, including for brain energy.
When your body is low on glucose, but glycogen stores are not fully depleted, ketones are broken down primarily to fuel your brain function. Your other organs and muscles can continue to be fueled using the last of the stored glucose.
The Importance of Protein to the Brain
Protein does not provide energy directly to your brain, but your brain still needs it to create the necessary pathways for healthy brain function.
Your brain uses amino acids from proteins to produce neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are crucial for brain function as they allow the individual cells in your brain to communicate and network.
What are Proteins and why do you need them?
You can get 4 cal of energy from every 1 g of protein that you eat.
Your body can do three things with protein calories; it can add them to fat stores, use them as an energy source or use them to carry out functions vital to life.
Proteins are made up of linked chains of amino acids; the human body contains a total of 20 different amino acids. Amino acids fall into 3 categories: essential, conditional and nonessential. The human body cannot produce essential amino acids so these need to come from diet.
Protein calories will be used as an energy source when your body is lacking fat or carbohydrate calories for fuel.
If your body receives the right balance and quantity of proteins, fats and carbohydrates then proteins will carry out their primary functions which include: replacement of old cells, building muscles, organs, blood, nails, hair, skin, and tissues. Proteins also take part in hormone, antibodies, and enzyme formation.
Although proteins are not the best source of energy as they have other important functions they can be called upon when other sources are depleted. This is because amino acids derived from protein are chemically similar to glucose except that they contain nitrogen.
This means that after protein is digested into amino acids, they can then go through more steps to have the nitrogen removed.
Once this is done the amino acids are converted into glucose or fatty acids. Either way, they give you energy. Due to the extra steps, protein provides a slower but longer-lasting source of energy than carbohydrates
The majority (60%) of protein is stored in your musculature. Your protein stores don’t serve as direct sources of energy, but rather work like building blocks for other structures in your body.
You will need to consume more protein if you do regular Sport and Exercise
If you are participating in regular sport and exercise like cycling/swimming/running or go to the gym on a regular basis, then your protein needs might be slightly raised in order to promote muscle tissue growth and repair.
Consuming a healthy, varied diet containing nutrient dense foods will ensure you get enough protein without the use of protein supplements or special high-protein eating strategies, even if your needs are a little higher.
You should try and spread your protein intake throughout the day.
Different foods contain different combinations and amounts of amino acids. The full range of essential amino acids needed by your body (high protein quality) is found in these foods:
- Animal based: meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt.
- Plant based: soy, tofu, quinoa and mycoprotein e.g. Quorn.
As some high protein foods can also be high in saturated fat, it is important to choose lower fat options, such as lean meats or lower fat versions of dairy foods.
Do I need extra protein to build muscle?
It’s a myth that consuming lots of extra protein on its own increases muscle size.
Just 20g of high quality protein, equivalent to half of a medium sized grilled chicken breast or a small can of tuna, has been shown to be enough for optimum muscle protein synthesis following any exercise or training session.
Any more protein than this will not be used for muscle building!
As well as including protein as part of a healthy, balanced diet, the incorporation of some protein after exercise is important for building new muscle tissues and repairing the damaged ones.
Protein Category 1: Essential Amino Acids
Essential amino acids cannot be made by your body. As a result, they must come from diet.
The 9 essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Protein Category 2: Conditional Amino Acids
Conditional amino acids are usually not essential, except in times of illness and stress.
Conditional amino acids include: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.
Protein Category 3: Nonessential Amino Acids
Nonessential means that our bodies produce an amino acid, even if we do not get it from the food we eat.
Nonessential amino acids include: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.
Meat, Fish and seafood, Milk and dairy products, Eggs, Legumes, Grain products, Nuts, Soy products
You can check the functions of each Amino Acid below:
|Amini Acid (Click on link to view function)||Type|
|1. Histidine (His)||Essential|
|2. Isoleucine (Ile)||Essential|
|3. Leucine (Leu)||Essential|
|4. Lysine (Lys)||Essential|
|5. Methionine (Met)||Essential|
|6. Phenylalanine (Phe)||Essential|
|7. Threonine (Thr)||Essential|
|8. Tryptophan (Trp)||Essential|
|9. Valine (Val)||Essential|
|10. Arginine (Arg)||Conditional|
|11. Cysteine (Cys)||Conditional|
|12. Glutamine (Gln)||Conditional|
|13. Glycine (Gly)||Conditional|
|14. Proline (Pro)||Conditional|
|15. Serine (Ser)||Conditional|
|16. Tyrosine (Tyr)||Conditional|
|17. Alanine (Ala)||Non Essential|
|18. Asparagine (Asn)||Non Essential|
|19. Aspartic acid (Asp)||Non Essential|
|20. Glutamic acid (Glu)||Non Essential|
|21. Selenocysteine (Sec)||Non Essential|
The protein requirements of a normal adult are around 0.75g per kilogram of body weight per day. For strength and endurance athletes, protein requirements are increased to around 1.2-1.7g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day.
What are Fats and why do you need them?
You can get 9 cal of energy from every 1 g of Fats that you eat.
Fats are the most energy dense nutrient and are ideal as a fuel source, especially for endurance type activities.
There are numerous types of fat. Your body makes its own fat from taking in excess calories and many foods also contain fat which is referred to as dietary fat.
Fat is essential to your health because it provides energy and also supports a number of your body’s functions. Some vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) for instance, must have fat to dissolve so that they can be used by your body.
Animal fats provide the human body with cholesterol, which is synthesized through exposure to sunlight to form vitamin D in the skin.
Cholesterol also plays an important role in hormone production. While your body does need some cholesterol, a diet rich in high-cholesterol food isn’t recommended due to the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Research about the possible harms and benefits of dietary fat is always evolving but it is generally accepted that there are healthy and unhealthy fats:
There are two main types of potentially harmful dietary fats:
Saturated fat.This fat comes primarily from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fats raise both high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol AND low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol can build up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow.
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL, or “good,” cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.
Trans fat.This type of fat occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts.
Most trans fats however are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. These partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but lower HDL cholesterol.
This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. In the USA the FDA is so concerned it has considered banning trans fats but in recent years the industry has voluntarily reduced the amount of trans fat in processed food
Most fats that have a high percentage of saturated fat or that contain trans fat are solid at room temperature. Because of this, they’re typically referred to as solid fats. They include beef fat, pork fat, butter, coconut oil, and margarine.
The potentially helpful types of dietary fat are primarily unsaturated fats:
Your body needs unsaturated fats to regulate metabolism and also to maintain the elasticity of cell membranes. Unsaturated fats also improve blood flow and are important for cell growth and regeneration.
Lipids don’t just provide your body with valuable fatty acids, they also deliver the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Animal fats provide the human body with cholesterol, which is synthesized through exposure to sunlight to form vitamin D in the skin.
Monounsaturated fatty acids.This type of fat is found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids.This type of fat is found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids instead of saturated fats improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Omega-3 fatty acids.One type of polyunsaturated fat is made up of mainly omega-3 fatty acids and may be especially beneficial for heart and joint health. There are plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it hasn’t yet been determined whether replacements for fish oil — plant-based or krill — have the same health effects as omega-3 fatty acid from fish.
Foods made up mostly of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature, such as canola oil, olive oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.
Most trans fat is formed through an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil causing it to become solid at room temperature.
This partially hydrogenated oil is less likely to spoil giving foods a longer shelf life. Restaurants use partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in their deep fryers because it doesn’t need to be changed as often as do other oils.
Fats should make up about 30 – 35% of your daily caloric intake, with 20 – 25% being unsaturated and a maximum of 10% saturated fats.
What is Omega-3 and why do you need it?
You should try to consume omega-3 and omega-6 at a ratio of 5:1. Most people don’t meet their omega-3 goals so it might be worth taking a supplement as it cannot be synthesized in your body and must be acquired as part of your diet
Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, sardines and herring. Plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed (ground), oils (canola, flaxseed, soybean), and nuts and other seeds (walnuts, butternuts and chia seeds).
Why do you need Omega-3?
There are many, many health benefits of Omega-3. It’s good for our brains and eyes and it helps keeps our joints and skin healthy it can also reduce blood pressure and keep your heart healthy
Just 150 years ago the ratio of Omega-3 to 6 in our diets was 1:1 – now it’s closer to 1:15 and as high as 1:25 in the US. That imbalance really isn’t good for us. Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune disease
Omega-3 vs Omega-6
The Omega-6 group of fatty acids is also vitally important and is used for brain growth and development. The problem is most people eat far too much Omega-6. It’s hard not to because it’s in everything you eat.
Even the animals we use for meat are fed Omega 6-rich grain instead of their normal diet of grass. Too much Omega-6 in our diets stops Omega-3 from working and is a major cause of illness and inflammation.
The importance of the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio
Once you’ve eaten all the Omega-6 you need, the excess gets converted to a type of prostaglandin that encourages inflammation in your body.
With so many inflammatory compounds to deal with, your body enters into a state of low-grade inflammation that ‘switches on’ your immune system – something it’s not designed to do over long periods of time.
How much Omega-3 do you need?
Conditions like arthritis, coronary heart disease and depression have their own recommended therapeutic doses of Omega-3, but there isn’t an agreed daily requirement for set standard for general health.
Suggestions range from 200mg to 1,000mg a day.
It may also depend on how much Omega-6 you’re getting in your diet. If you know you’re eating too many processed foods and vegetable oils, you may need closer to the upper end of the recommended amounts of Omega-3.
How can you make sure you’re getting enough Omega-3?
To get 500mg of Omega 3 per day, an amount that’s in the middle of the average suggested range for good health, you’d still have to eat one serving of salmon every day – and that’s if you chose wild salmon, because farmed fish contains only about half the Omega 3 levels (as well as worrying levels of antibiotics).
Taking an Omega 3 fish oil supplement means you don’t have to eat fish every day, and you won’t have to worry about how many toxins you may be consuming.
What are Ketones and why do you need them?
What are Ketones?
Ketones, also known as “ketone bodies,” are byproducts of your body breaking down fat for energy that occurs when carbohydrate intake is low. This is known as ketosis.
Here’s how Ketosis works
When your body doesn’t have sufficient reserves of glucose and glycogen, the blood sugar and insulin levels are lowered and your body looks for an alternative source of fuel, preferably fat.
This process can happen when a person fasting, after prolonged exercise, during starvation, or when eating a low-carb, ketogenic diet.
When your body breaks down fats for energy in this way, a process known as beta-oxidation, ketones are formed for use as fuel for your body and brain..
People following a ketogenic diet do so for the following reasons: less reliance on carbs and more burning of fat, lower blood pressure, impoved mental performance, reduced cravings, improved cholesterol, increased weight loss, improved energy and more.
Following a Ketone Diet
A Ketone diet means cutting back on or eliminating most carb sources, including:
- Whole and processed grains
- Candies and baked goods
- Fruit juices and sugary soft drinks
- Refined sugars
- Starches like potatoes and pastas
- Beans and legumes
As well as cutting back on carbs, a ketone-centric diet also involves eating moderate amounts of protein and, most importantly, high amounts of fats.What
What are Micronutrients and why do you need them: Vitamins & Minerals
Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals you need in small amounts to help catalyze the processing of the macronutrients into a healthy and active body.
The 13 essential vitamins include the water-soluble vitamin B complex and vitamin C, both of which must be consumed every day as they are not stored in your body.
Fat soluble vitamins K, A, D and E can be stored in your body fat. For athletes the most important vitamins are the B complex, C, D and E.
B vitamins are all about energy production, building muscle and forming the oxygen carrying red blood cells.
Vitamin C is a major part of the collagen found in most body tissue and is a potent anti-oxidant. It has also been shown to blunt the muscle wasting effects of cortisol.
Vitamin D is necessary for absorption of calcium and thus helps build the strong bones especially necessary for an athlete.
Vitamin E is another great antioxidant and helps prevent muscle breakdown with exercise.
Muscle building minerals include calcium, phosphorus, iron and zinc, while all athletes need the electrolyte minerals sodium, potassium and magnesium.
Our bodies need salt to function. Unfortunately most of us eat too much salt which can cause health problems especially with your cardiovascular system
Most of the salt we eat is included in our food, especially processed or restaurant food which both contain high levels of salt.
Healthy adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium, the rest is chlorine), that’s around 1 teaspoon and includes the salt already included in the meal, not just what you add at the table.
Remember that exercise causes you to lose salt, especially if you are a “Salty Sweater”. Lick your arm when sweating to check this out (or look for white salt crust on your jersey after a workout).
If you sweat a lot of salt you need to adjust your diet to replace it. Ideally during exercise, or shortly afterwards during the recovery phase.
Vitamins are a group of substances that are needed for normal cell function, growth, and development.
There are 13 essential vitamins. This means that these vitamins are required for your body to work properly. They are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- Vitamin B3 (niacin)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Biotin (B7)
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)
- Folate (folic acid and B9)
Vitamins are grouped into two categories:
- Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your body’s fatty tissue. The four fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are absorbed more easily by your body in the presence of dietary fat.
- There are nine water-soluble vitamins. Your body must use water-soluble vitamins right away. Any leftover water-soluble vitamins leave your body through the urine. Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the liver for many years.
Each of the vitamins listed below has an important job in your body. Vitamin deficiency can cause health problems. A balanced diet should give you all the vitamins you need but you may consider taking a multivitamin supplement.
|Vitamin A||Helps form and maintain healthy teeth, bones, soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin.|
|Vitamin B6||Also called pyridoxine. Vitamin B6 helps form red blood cells and maintain brain function. This vitamin also plays an important role in the proteins that are part of many chemical reactions in the body. The more protein you eat the more pyridoxine your body requires.|
|Vitamin B12||Like the other B vitamins, is important for metabolism. It also helps form red blood cells and maintain the central nervous system.|
|Vitamin C||Also called ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that promotes healthy teeth and gums. It helps the body absorb iron and maintain healthy tissue. It also promotes wound healing.|
|Vitamin D||Is also known as the "sunshine vitamin," since it is made by the body after being in the sun. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times a week is enough to produce the body's requirement of vitamin D for most people at most latitudes. People who do not live in sunny places may not make enough vitamin D. It is very hard to get enough vitamin D from food sources alone. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. You need calcium for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. It also helps maintain proper blood levels of calciumand phosphorus.|
|Vitamin E||Is an antioxidant also known as tocopherol. It helps the body form red blood cells and use vitamin K.|
|Vitamin K||Is needed because without it, blood would not stick together (coagulate). Some studies suggest that it is important for bone health.|
|Biotin||Is essential for the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates, and in the production of hormones and cholesterol.|
|Niacin||Is a B vitamin that helps maintain healthy skin and nerves. It also has cholesterol-lowering effects at higher doses.|
|Folate||Works with vitamin B12 to help form red blood cells. It is needed for the production of DNA, Which controls tissue growth and cell function. Any woman who is pregnant should be sure to get enough folate. Low levels of folate are linked to birth defects such as spina bifida. Many foods are now fortified with folic acid.|
|Pantothenic acid||Is essential for the metabolism of food. It also plays a role in the production of hormones and cholesterol.|
|Riboflavin||(vitamin B2) works with the other B vitamins. It is important for body growth and the production of red blood cells.|
|Thiamine||(vitamin B1) helps the body cells change carbohydrates into energy. Getting enough carbohydrates is very important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is also essential for heart function and healthy nerve cells.|
Food Sources for vitamins
|Vitamin A||Fat Soluble||Dark-colored fruits, Dark leafy vegetables, Egg yolk, Fortified milk and dairy products (cheese, yogurt, butter, and cream), Liver, beef, and fish.|
|Vitamin D||Fat Soluble||Fish (fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring), Fish liver oils (cod liver oil), Fortified cereals, Fortified milk and dairy products (cheese, yogurt, butter, and cream).|
|Vitamin E||Fat Soluble||Avocado, Dark green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, asparagus), Margarine (made from safflower, corn, and sunflower oil), Oils (safflower, corn, and sunflower), Papaya and mango, Seeds and nuts, Wheat germ and wheat germ oil.|
|Vitamin K||Fat Soluble||Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cereals, Dark green vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus), Dark leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collards, and turnip greens), Fish, liver, beef, and eggs.|
|Biotin||Water Soluble||Chocolate, Cereal, Egg yolk, Legumes, Milk, Nuts, Organ meats (liver, kidney), Pork, Yeast.|
|Folate (Vitamin B9) Folic acid is a synthesized version||Water Soluble||Asparagus and broccoli, Beets, Brewer's yeast, Dried beans (cooked pinto, navy, kidney, and lima), Fortified cereals, Green, leafy vegetables (spinach and romaine lettuce), Lentils, Oranges and orange juice, Peanut butter, Wheat germ.|
|Niacin (vitamin B3)||Water Soluble||Avocado, Eggs Enriched breads and fortified cereals, Fish (tuna and salt-water fish), Lean meats, Legumes, Nuts, Potato, Poultry.|
|Pantothenic acid||Water Soluble||Avocado, Broccoli, kale, and other vegetables in the cabbage family, Eggs, Legumes and lentils, Milk, Mushroom, Organ meats, Poultry, White and sweet potatoes, Whole-grain cereals.|
|Thiamine (vitamin B1)||Water Soluble||Dried milk, Egg, Enriched bread and flour, Lean meats, Legumes (dried beans), Nuts and seeds, Organ meats, Peas, Whole grains.|
|Pyroxidine (vitamin B6)||Water Soluble||Avocado, Banana, Legumes (dried beans), Meat, Nuts, Poultry, Whole grains (milling and processing removes a lot of this vitamin.|
|Vitamin B12||Water Soluble||Meat, Eggs, Fortified foods such as soymilk, Milk and milk products, Organ meats (liver and kidney), Poultry, Shellfish NOTE: Animal sources of vitamin B12 are absorbed much better by your body than plant sources.|
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||Water Soluble||Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Citrus fruits, Potatoes, Spinach, Strawberries, Tomatoes and tomato juice.|
Minerals support a wide variety of bodily functions, ranging from building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth to keeping your muscles, heart and brain working properly. The minerals your body needs are called essential minerals.
Essential minerals are sometimes divided up into major minerals (macrominerals) and trace minerals (microminerals). Trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than major minerals but the amounts needed are not an indication of their importance.
A balanced diet usually provides all of the essential minerals. The table below lists the essential minerals, what they do in your body (their functions), and their sources in food.
|Sodium||Needed for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction||Table salt, soy sauce; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk, breads, vegetables, and unprocessed meats||Macromineral|
|Chloride||Needed for proper fluid balance, stomach acid||Table salt, soy sauce; large amounts in processed foods; small amounts in milk, meats, breads, and vegetables||Macromineral|
|Potassium||Needed for proper fluid balance, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction||Meats, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes||Macromineral|
|Calcium||Important for healthy bones and teeth; helps muscles relax and contract; important in nerve functioning, blood clotting, blood pressure regulation, immune system health||Milk and milk products; canned fish with bones (salmon, sardines); fortified tofu and fortified soy beverage; greens (broccoli, mustard greens); legumes||Macromineral|
|Phosphorus||Important for healthy bones and teeth; found in every cell; part of the system that maintains acid-base balance||Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, processed foods (including soda pop)||Macromineral|
|Magnesium||Found in bones; needed for making protein, muscle contraction, nerve transmission, immune system health||Nuts and seeds; legumes; leafy, green vegetables; seafood; chocolate; artichokes; "hard" drinking water||Macromineral|
|Sulfur||Found in protein molecules||Occurs in foods as part of protein: meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, legumes, nuts||Macromineral|
|Iron||Part of a molecule (hemoglobin) found in red blood cells that carries oxygen in the body; needed for energy metabolism||Organ meats; red meats; fish; poultry; shellfish (especially clams); egg yolks; legumes; dried fruits; dark, leafy greens; iron-enriched breads and cereals; and fortified cereals||Micromineral|
|Zinc||Part of many enzymes; needed for making protein and genetic material; has a function in taste perception, wound healing, normal fetal development, production of sperm, normal growth and sexual maturation, immune system health||Meats, fish, poultry, leavened whole grains, vegetables||Micromineral|
|Iodine||Found in thyroid hormone, which helps regulate growth, development, and metabolism||Seafood, foods grown in iodine-rich soil, iodized salt, bread, dairy products||Micromineral|
|Selenium||Antioxidant||Meats, seafood, grains||Micromineral|
|Copper||Part of many enzymes; needed for iron metabolism||Legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, organ meats, drinking water||Micromineral|
|Manganese||Part of many enzymes||Widespread in foods, especially plant foods||Micromineral|
|Fluoride||Involved in formation of bones and teeth; helps prevent tooth decay||Drinking water (either fluoridated or naturally containing fluoride), fish, and most teas||Micromineral|
|Chromium||Works closely with insulin to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels||Unrefined foods, especially liver, brewer's yeast, whole grains, nuts, cheeses||Micromineral|
|Molybdenum||Part of some enzymes||Legumes; breads and grains; leafy greens; leafy, green vegetables; milk; liver||Micromineral|
What are Probiotics and prebiotics and why do you need them?
Probiotics and prebiotics are pretty big topics in nutrition these days. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, while prebiotics are food for these bacteria.
What Are Probiotics and Prebiotics?
Probiotics and prebiotics are equally important for your health. However, they play different roles:
Probiotics: are live bacteria found in certain foods or supplements. They provide numerous health benefits.
Prebiotics: come from certain types of carbs (mostly fiber) that we can’t digest. The probiotic bacteria in your gut eat this fiber.
The bacteria, collectively referred to as the gut flora or gut microbiota, perform many important functions in your body.
Eating balanced amounts of both pro- and prebiotics can help ensure that you have the right balance of these bacteria, which should improve your health.
Why Are the Gut Bacteria Beneficial?
The bacteria in your digestive tract protect you from harmful bacteria and fungi.
They also communicate with your immune system and help regulate inflammation.
Some gut bacteria form vitamin K and short-chain fatty acids which are the main nutrient source of the cells lining the colon.
They promote a strong gut barrier that helps keep out harmful substances, viruses and bacteria, reduces inflammation, and may reduce the risk of cancer.
How Does Diet Affect the Gut Microflora?
The food you eat plays an important role in the balance of good and bad gut bacteria.
A high-sugar and high-fat diet negatively impacts gut bacteria allowing harmful species to dominate.
Consistently feeding the wrong bacteria allows them to grow faster and colonize more easily.
These harmful bacteria may cause you to absorb more calories than people with a better balance of gut bacteria, these people tend to be leaner.
Studies have also shown that antibiotics may cause permanent changes in certain types of bacteria, especially when taken during childhood and adolescence.
Which Foods are Probiotic?
There are also many probiotic foods such as yogurt that naturally contain helpful bacteria.
Fermented foods are a great option, as they contain beneficial bacteria that thrive on the naturally occurring sugar or fiber in the food.
Examples of fermented foods include:
- Kombucha tea.
- Kefir (dairy and non-dairy).
- Some types of pickles (non-pasteurized).
- Other pickled vegetables (non-pasteurized).
If you are going to eat fermented foods for their probiotic benefits, make sure they are not pasteurized, as this process kills the bacteria.
Which Foods Are Prebiotic?
Prebiotics are types of fiber found in vegetables, fruits and legumes. Foods that are high in prebiotic fiber include:
- Legumes, beans and peas.
- Jerusalem artichokes (not the same as regular artichokes).
- Dandelion greens.
Your good gut bacteria can turn this prebiotic fiber into a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects inside the colon.
Butyrate may also influence gene expression, block the growth of cancerous cells and help provide fuel to healthy cells so that they can grow and divide normally.
What is a Synbiotic Food
Synbiotic foods contain both probiotic bacteria and a prebiotic source of fiber for the bacteria to feed on.
Sauerkraut is an example of a synbiotic food.
What About Probiotic Supplements?
Probiotic supplements are pills, capsules or liquids that contain live beneficial bacteria.
They are very popular yet not all of them are worth your money. They are not regulated and so they do not all have the same types of bacteria, or the same concentrations (or even any bacteria at all).
They also usually do not come with fibrous food sources for the bacteria to eat.
Some probiotic supplements are designed to carry the bacteria all the way to your large intestine for better effects, while others probably don’t make it past your stomach acid.
European Nutritional Resource
Very detailed nutritional guidelines and daily recommended values for medical professionals and available to the general public:
Notes on this resource:
A balanced diet is one that provides adequate amounts of various nutrients to maintain health and well-being. Protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, minerals and water are all nutrients. Each nutrient has a particular function in the human body.
The amount of each individual nutrient needed to maintain an individual’s health is called the nutrient requirement. Nutrient requirements vary depending on age and gender. Level of physical activity, physiological status (such as pregnancy), dietary habits and genetic background are also important factors.
Dietary reference values (DRVs) is an umbrella term for a set of nutrient reference values that includes the average requirement (AR), the population reference intake (PRI), the adequate intake (AI) and the reference intake range for macronutrients (RI). These values guide professionals on the amount of a nutrient needed to maintain health in an otherwise healthy individual or group of people. DRVs also include the tolerable upper intake level (UL), which is the maximum amount of a nutrient that can be consumed safely over a long period of time.
DRVs are not nutrient goals or recommendations for individuals (see FAQ). They are used by policy makers in the EU and its Member States to issue recommendations on nutrient intake to consumers. DRVs are also used as the basis for information on food labels and for establishing dietary guidelines. Such guidelines can help consumers make healthy dietary choices.
DRVs are intended for healthy people. Those who suffer from diseases may have different needs. Health professionals provide guidance to individuals or groups with specific needs.
UK Nutritional Resource
This website contains general information about health, nutrition and exercise for adults. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. Before starting any exercise, diet or fitness programme, you should speak to your doctor.
You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.