Digestion, Nutrients and You

All about Nutrients your body needs.


Do you ever get tired at work or school? Even when you’ve had enough rest it takes energy to keep your mind alert.

Our bodies were made to move, think, to breathe and in cold places, to stay warm. Without energy, you physically and mentally cannot do these things. Energy equals action. Also, growing takes energy along with your body’s ability to repair itself when you get hurt.

With all of this energy talk, where does it come from, the energy I mean? You guessed it, food. All of our energy comes from the food we eat.

The Digestive System

Our bodies have the superhero ability to change the food we eat into a form or a source our body can use. One of the ways is through our digestive system. This system breaks down the food from the time it hits your lips. This being the case, it is so important to chew your food extremely well to give the digestive juices in your mouth time to work. Besides the juices, chewing breaks the food down into smaller pieces, making it easier for the food to be processed through the rest of your digestive system.

Getting fresh airDigestion is helped when you get fresh air and exercise. I don’t mean you should do a marathon and then sit right away to eat or eat and then get on the treadmill. It’s better to have low impact shortly before and after your meals. Your stomach needs blood to digest your food and too much exercise can draw the blood away.

Another thing to consider is having regular mealtimes. Your digestive system will work better when you do, and you will also feel better. Starving yourself or going too long without a meal can make you crabby and result in low energy. Too much at one time can make you feel sluggish because your body must work extra hard to digest a larger amount. So, be kind to your body and eat regular, smaller portioned meals.

Certain emotions play havoc on your digestive system. These types of emotions anger, fear, or excitement during meal time can cause your stomach to ache. Other emotions such as, happy, stable and feel good emotions will help and make mealtime a more pleasant experience.

nutrientsWhat Are Nutrients?

According to, Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, Nutrients are: a substance or ingredient that promotes growth, provides energy, and maintains life.

“Tomatoes contain a lot of nutrients, among them vitamins C and B-complex and the minerals iron and potassium.”— Mayo Clinic Health Letter

“Nutrients include proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and oils.”

Protein

Hair, skin, and nails, along with muscles, your brain, and internal organs are largely made of protein. Therefore, it’s extremely important to get enough protein in your diet. Your body can not repair itself or work at full capacity without enough protein. 

Here are some good sources of protein

  • lean meats
  • eggs
  • milk, buttermilk, or powdered milk
  • yogurt
  • fish
  • chicken, rabbit, duck, and turkey
  • cheese
  • dried beans

good sources of proteinWhat can protein can do for you?

  • helps your body grow
  • repairs your body
  • fights infection
  • helps your body function properly
  • builds bones and cartilage
  • It’s a building block for blood

Every day you should be drinking milk or consuming some other food high in protein. Your body does not store protein, so a daily amount is required to stay healthy and on track.

Breakfast is especially important to get your intake of protein since that sets the tone and determines your energy level throughout the rest of the day. Giving your brain a head start will help you focus which then enables you to work more efficiently.

“The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman. is suggested.”

Vitamins

Definition of vitamin as is described in, Merriam Webster’s Dictionary. 

any of various organic substances that are essential in minute quantities to the nutrition of most animals and some plants, act especially as coenzymes and precursors of coenzymes in the regulation of metabolic processes but do not provide energy or serve as building units, and are present in natural foodstuffs or sometimes produced within the body.”

The amount of vitamins in food depends on several things. Ripeness, length of time stored, season, the temperature at the time of harvest, and how they are cooked. Eating a variety such as dark leafy greens, fruit and a meat will help your body get the different kinds of vitamins it needs.

Vitamin A

Your body can make vitamin A from vegetables that are orange or dark green, deep yellow fruits, and in foods, we get from animals.

Sources of vitamin A

  • milk
  • liver and fish-liver oils
  • butter
  • egg yolk
  • dark green vegetables
  • orange and yellow vegetables and fruits

What can vitamin A do for you?

  • helps with the glow and elasticity of your skin
  • vision, especially at night
  • may reduce certain types of cancer
  • helps hair stay healthy and shiny
  • helps with enamel, bones and nail growth and development

What foods have vitamin B?Vitamin B’s

Did you know there are eight different B vitamins? Just like proteins, your body does not store them well, so eating them every day, again, is important. The B vitamins work together and are vital in every part of your body.

Good source of B vitamins

  • All the B vitamins are in these foods: liver and wheat germ.
  • Some B vitamins are found in these: Milk, meat, wholegrain bread and cereals, most vegetables and nuts.

What can B vitamins do for you?

  • help your body turn food into energy
  • keep your blood healthy
  • prevent tooth decay
  • help your body digest your food
  • helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA
  • helps your body use the proteins to build new tissue
  • allows your body to grow at a normal rate

Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid, otherwise known as vitamin C is a “vitamin your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. C is also vital to your body’s healing process … The recommended daily amount of vitamin C for adult men is 90 milligrams and for adult women is 75 milligrams.” -Mayo Clinic.

Good sources of vitamin C

  • citrus fruits and juices like orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit.
  • berries
  • tomatoes
  • cantaloupe
  • raw cabbage
  • broccoli and other vegetables
  • sweet potatoes and regular

 

vitamin C

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is formed when sunshine hits your skin and therefore is called the sunshine vitamin. However, we don’t always get enough sunshine, especially in the Winter, so we need a little help from and by the foods we eat.

Good source of vitamin D

  • raw or fortified milk
  • liver and fish-liver oils
  • salmon
  • tuna
  • egg yolk
  • sardines or other oily fish

What can vitamin D for you?

  • prevents tooth decay
  • creates healthy skin
  • helps build strong bones
  • protects against type 1 diabetes
  • supports the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system
  • It supports lung function

What foods and nutrients are in vitamin K?Vitamin K

The K vitamin helps your blood to clot and prevents excessive bleeding when you get a cut or scratch.

Good source of vitamin K

  • yogurt
  • broccoli
  • dark vegetables and leafy greens
  • liver
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • meat
  • eggs

What can vitamin K do for you?

  • helps your blood to clot properly

Vitamin E

“Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient found in many foods. In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.” – National Institute of Health

Good source of vitamin E

  • vegetable oil
  • wheat germ
  • whole-grain bread and cereals
  • green leafy vegetables (such as spinach and broccoli)
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • bean sprouts
  • liver
  • egg yolk

What can vitamin E do for you?

  • keeps your skeletal muscles healthy
  • changes food into energy
  • heals burn wounds when applied directly to them
  • heart health
  • keeps nutrients in your body from being destroyed
  • helps in the uptake of vitamin A

Why does your body need mineralsMinerals

The roots of plants absorb and pull minerals and water from the soil through their roots. After that, they travel through the stem and into every part of the plant, including the portion of the plant we eat. You can also get minerals from animals that eat plants.

Good source and important minerals include

  • sodium
  • iron
  • zinc
  • iodine
  • potassium
  • phosphorus
  • calcium

What can minerals do for you?

  • build strong teeth and bones
  • they relax you
  • change food into energy
  • keep your blood healthy
  • helps your muscles to contract
  • make hormones and maintain a normal heartbeat
  • help your body grow and develop

CarbohydratesCarbohydrates

Exercise, swimming, mowing the lawn all take energy. And as we previously discussed, energy comes from the foods we eat. Foods that have sugar and starches in them are considered carbohydrate foods. Your body is a miracle worker and changes the starch and sugars into energy using minerals and vitamins.

Sweets such as candy, syrup, cake, and other refined type foods are not a healthy or wise choice. Since they are refined they have no nutritious value. You can get energy from these, not so healthy choices, but they have a higher calorie count and usually, get stored into fat. Plus it’s not a maintained energy, it’s more of a surge and then a crash.

Good source of carbohydrates

  • vegetables
  • whole-grain bread and cereals
  • fruits
  • brown rice
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • dried beans and peas
  • potatoes, sweet or regular
  • squash

What can carbohydrates do for you?

  • give you energy for physical activities
  • maintains your body temperature
  • help your body use fats
  • allow your body to use proteins to grow and repair itself

Fats and Oils

Fats and oils are a good thing when consumed in a moderate way and with the right kinds. Everyone needs them but usually eat too many and the wrong kind. Look for foods that have natural fats and oils that your body can use.

Good source of Natural Fats and Oils

  • butter
  • cheese
  • whole milk
  • cream
  • egg yolk
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • wheat germ
  • homemade mayonnaise
  • pure vegetable oils
  • peanut butter

What can fats and oils do for you?

  • gives energy
  • insulates and protects your organs
  • satisfies your feeling of hunger
  • helps to keep your skin smooth
  • help proteins do their job
  • stockpiles certain nutrients (this is why it’s important to eat healthy fats and oils)

drink lots of waterWater

Your entire body contains some water and needs it to do its job. Not having enough water can leave you dehydrated and make it so you’re more susceptible to colds and diseases. In hot weather when drinking ice water, be sure to sip it and drink slowly. This is easier on your body and does not shock it.

A good source of water

  • non-fluoride
  • osmosis
  • use a filter if you have tap water. It will not remove everything unless you have an osmosis system but it will help.

What does water do for you?

  • carries nutrients to your body
  • aids in food digestion
  • helps expel wastes from your body
  • it’s needed to make digestive juices, produce blood and saliva
  • helps control a person’s body temperature

Eat plenty of fiberFiber

“Soluble fiber dissolves in water and becomes a gelatinous form, which may help to slow digestion and help your body absorb vital nutrients from foods. Insoluble fiber stays in its fibrous form, helps food pass through the digestive system, and adds bulk to the stool, which helps you to stay regular.” -Fiber Choice

Good source of fiber

  • most vegetables
  • whole grains
  • most fruits
  • seeds

What can fiber do for you?

  • helps clean your digestive system and get rid of unwanted waste

Well, that does it. You now have the facts about digestion, nutrients and how you can attain nutrition in your daily lives.

Have a healthy week!!

-Heather Earles

 

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