I thought I would start doing a few posts on nutrition/supplements/alternative therapies and share my knowledge gained from working in the health food industry. I’ve only been working in this industry around 9 months now but I feel I’ve already learned so much and would love to share it.
Today I’m just starting off with a basic nutrition 101.
There are 5 basic nutrients required for health: Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Vitamins and Minerals.
Carbohydrates seem to be the enemy in the blog world right now, with many turning to low-carbohydrate diets which I personally believe are unsustainable and not good for long term health. Carbohydrates get a bad rap but they are vital as they provide fuel for energy when digested. Carbohydrates can be broken down into two categories complex and simple.
Complex Carbohydrates are digested slowly which gives a sustained release of energy over a long period of time. Whole grains would be a perfect example of an excellent source of complex carbohydrates.
Simple Carbohydrates break down quickly and provide an instant energy hit but a quick drop off in levels. These are mostly the kind of foods that tend to give carbohydrates a bad name- your processed refined white products: flour, white rice, cakes, biscuits etc. Simple carbohydrates I find are most useful shortly before or during exercise, I would usually have some dried fruit like dates which give me instant energy for my workouts.
Fats are another that have got a very bad reputation over the years but are in fact vital for energy levels, skin/hair/nails, joint support, hormonal balancing and the brain. There seems to be this total phobia of fats which is extremely worrying as lack of fats in your diet can cause a lot of health problems down the road.
Good fats are mainly poly-unsaturated and are found in things like flax oils, avocados, nuts and seeds. Coconut products although a saturated fat are slightly different in that the body processes them directly for energy so they are a good fat source also.
Protein is made up of amino acids, when we digest protein we change it back into its amino acid compounds. Protein is vital for the body for growth and repair. Literally every part of us is made of protein- the hair, blood, hormones, muscles, skin and internal organs! Good sources are nuts, beans, legumes, whole grains, seeds and soya products. I personally love to use Sunwarrior or Vega protein powders after exercise as I can get my protein in quickly post workout for repair.
Vitamins are organic compounds found in foods and are vital for life and essential for healthy digestion and the absorption and utilisation of food. A deficiency of them can cause certain diseases. I will take a look at them more in depth in another post.
Minerals are inorganic substances and are essential for body structures like the bones and the teeth. They also help with enzyme processes and chemical reactions in the body. Again I will look at these in more depth another week.
So that’s just a really basic introduction to nutrition, for me a healthy balanced diet is made up of all of the above and a well planned whole food plant based provides all of the above in abundance.