Elijah McClain on Fundamentals of Nutrition

Fundamentals of Nutrition
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Eating is a vital part of life, and plays an instrumental role in the physical and even mental well-being of a person. Yet not many people pay enough attention to nutrition, nor do they have a good understanding of the basic building blocks of food. In previous instances, Elijah McClain had discussed how food is comprised of fats, carbohydrates, protein or a combination of these elements.  Food also supplies essential vitamins and minerals in varying amounts.

The basic fundamentals of nutrition are:

  • Calories: A calorie is a unit of energy present in food, including proteins and carbohydrates. Fats are known to contain nine calories per gram, while proteins and carbohydrates contain four calories per gram.
  • Proteins: Proteins are considered to be essential building blocks of life. Each and every cell in the body contains protein. These cells make up the muscle, bones, blood, skin and organ tissue.  Having adequate protein is vital for preventing malnutrition. The consumption of protein additionally results in very little insulin release. Lean sources of protein range from low-fat cheeses, low-fat yogurt, and beans/legumes to eggs, poultry, lean meats, fish, and tofu.
  • Fats: Fats are vital to growth, development and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, but need to be consumed in moderation. Certain dietary fats are more beneficial than others. For instance, mono-saturated fats are considered to be “ healthy fats” that are good for heart health and have a positive effect on the blood cholesterol levels. Peanut oil, canola oil and olive oil are some of the popular sources of healthy fats. Polyunsaturated fats are needed by the body in small amounts. Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids that are found in fish, nuts and oils are two types of polyunsaturated fats that are important to the body. They are required to make hormones and even have a positive impact on blood cholesterol levels. “Unhealthy” saturated fats come from butter, meat fats, full-fat dairy products, and coconut oil, and tend to have a negative effect on blood cholesterol. Trans fats are another type of “unhealthy” fat and are found in some margarine, crackers, cookies, and any processed food made with partially hydrogenated oils.
  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates imply to a group of sugars attached together as a chain. They supply energy to the body. However, when consumed in excess, carbohydrates are stored as fat. There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates cause a sharp rise in insulin production, and may lead to insulin resistance, which has been shown to contribute to diabetes.  Simple carbohydrates like fruit juice and sugar are easily digested, and cause food to empty from the stomach fast and lead to an increased feeling of hunger. Complex carbohydrates on the other hand include high-fiber whole-wheat grain products, vegetables, fruits and beans. These carbohydrates require more work for the body to break down, and cause a longer-lasting feeling of satiety, or fullness.

Earlier, Elijah McClain had spoken about how to maintain a balanced diet, one need to consume a variety of foods from all food groups in appropriate proportions. A balanced diet typically consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and dairy or dairy alternatives.

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