Your body needs a variety of things to operate at its best. It does a wonderful job of providing what it needs on its own, but there are some things it has to get from foods. A varied and healthy diet can provide these missing essentials for your body. Macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates (carbs), and fats allow our bodies to have the energy it needs to function. Micronutrients, which include vitamins and minerals, are needed only in small amounts but are vitally important. In addition, water is needed for nearly all bodily functions.
Your body is more than one tenth protein by weight, and every single cell contains some amount of protein. The various types of protein we eat are converted by our bodies into whole proteins, which are then used to build cells. Adequate protein allows our bodies to maintain health from a cellular level, and it acts as an energy source backup if needed. Protein is found in meats, eggs, beans, nuts, and even some grains. If you live a very active lifestyle, your daily protein needs will be higher, although there should be no need to eat a diet that consists primarily of protein, as this has not been proven healthy or effective.
- How Much Protein Do You Need?
- Which Foods Have the Best Protein?
- How Does the Body Use Protein?
- How Can You Choose the Healthiest Protein for Your Body?
Carbohydrates sometimes have a bad reputation, but this should not be the case. Carbs are a wonderful source of energy that should make up around half of your diet or more. It’s important to note, however, that there are many types of carbs, and some are much better dietary choices than others. Whole-grain carbs are much healthier than their refined counterparts. When choosing which carbs to include in your diet, you should always choose carbs that are higher in fiber and lower in sugar. These can include whole-grain bread, beans, and high-fiber fruits and vegetables like apples, raspberries, and sweet potatoes.
- How Carbs Fit Into a Healthy Diet
- The Truth About Carbs
- Understanding Carbs
- Identifying Good and Bad Carbs
There are several different types of fats, and only one should be a major part of your diet. While many people think of any type of fat as bad, unsaturated fat is important to help your body function. Fat helps with movement, cell production, and providing energy. Around 25 percent of your diet should consist of healthy fats, and this can happen by including nuts, seeds, fish, and vegetable oils in your diet.
- How Much Healthy Fat Do We Need?
- Cut Down on Saturated Fats
- Avoid Saturated Fats Whenever Possible
- How Healthy Fats Influence Weight
Minerals are important micronutrients. Minerals help with carrying oxygen throughout the body, keeping you hydrated, and boosting your immune system. They are also an important component for cell construction, building healthy bones and teeth, and keeping your metabolism working. Zinc can help your skin look radiant, and copper can help your skin’s elasticity, giving you a healthy glow.
- Minerals: Their Functions and Sources
- Understanding Minerals for Kids
- Vitamins and Minerals for Older Adults
A lack of vitamins is a major health concern and can lead to poor health, including a weak immune system, a lack of energy, or even cancer. Your vision, skin health, and bone strength are all improved by a vitamin-rich diet. Vitamins boost the immune system, and it’s important to get a variety of them; 13 vitamins are necessary for your body to stay as healthy as possible. A variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet should provide all of the necessary vitamins without a supplement being necessary. A varied, healthy diet will give you more energy, stronger bones, and more radiant skin.
- How to Get the Vitamins You Need
- Should You Take a Multivitamin?
- Are Too Many Vitamins Bad for You?
- How to Get All of the 13 Essential Vitamins
While your body can make do for a while without nutrients, it cannot last without water. Water is used throughout the body and makes up more than half of your body weight. Water not only helps with digestion and flushing out toxins, but it also helps by acting as a lubricant and by cushioning your organs like a shock absorber. Drinking plenty of water can also contribute to clear skin and fewer wrinkles as you age. Water can be found not only in a glass of water but in water-rich foods, like zucchini and watermelon. Many foods contain some water, but it’s important to drink plenty of water in addition to what you get from food.