With all the fad diets and health gurus in the market today, it can be difficult to discern what exactly your body needs to function properly. Is it healthier to go paleo or keto? Should you avoid sugar or salt? And how healthy is bread anyway? The truth is most people will swear by whatever their personal preferences are, but that might not work best for you. The easiest way to determine your new diet is to be aware of which nutrients your body needs to function at its very best and find ways to incorporate them into your daily life.
Why Are Nutrients Important
You might have a coworker who swears by their green superfood powder because it's full of nutrients, but why is that good? All food contains some nutrients and finding the right balance of them can be key because nutrients do a lot to support your body and your health. Their most important function is providing energy to keep you going throughout the day. Your body knows how to break down and absorb nutrients from food, vitamins, and supplements so that you have the energy to keep going. That's why people typically feel better after eating a healthy meal or have a little boost of energy after a snack. It provides needed nutrients to your muscles and brain that give you a little kick in the pants when you need it most.
Nutrients are also a key player in supporting major players in your body such as muscles, organs, and cells. Fats, proteins, and minerals can all help to rebuild muscles, support cell growth, and develop your bones and teeth. In addition to supporting bodily systems, nutrients even help to regulate bodily functions. They can contribute to your hormone production and regulation, which in turn help with things such as sweating, metabolism, thyroid function, and blood pressure regulation.
Nutrients are broken down into groups, similar to the food pyramid. Three familiar nutrients you get from most foods are protein, carbohydrates, and fats. These are typically the buzz words in any fad diet or eating plan because your body has a unique way of processing and using each of these nutrients. Protein has held the spotlight for quite some time among athletes and bodybuilders because of its inherent need in the development of muscles and bones. This isn't its full extent, however. In fact, every aspect of the human body requires protein to exist and function, so it's an incredibly important nutrient for overall health.
Carbohydrates are another popularly discussed nutrient among dieters because so many structured diets try to limit them. This isn't because carbohydrates are bad, but because they help the body store energy for later. Many people focus on grains as a source of carbs, but you can also find healthy, if not quite as dense, sources in fruits and vegetables.
Finally, we have fats. You might have grown up being told fats are bad, but this rule doesn't apply to all forms. Many types of altered or long-chain fats can be difficult for your body to break down and get stuck in arteries as plaque, but there are plenty of healthy options as well. Fats can help in vitamin and mineral absorption and provide an energy source for your body to draw on, plus they help to keep you full between meals. They're an undeniably important part of any diet, so look for healthy sources such as avocados, nuts, or fish like salmon.
There are two more essential nutrient groups that can't be left out of the conversation: vitamins and minerals. Vitamins can help to boost your immune system and fight off infection and minerals support your body's functions. Fruits are a great source of many vitamins and vegetables store a powerhouse of minerals.
Now that you know all the nutrients you need, you can find the best diet plan for your goals while still supporting your overall health.