Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Importance of Nutrients

Good nutrition has always been a key element in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and is something Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary promotes. 

Nutrition is responsible the growth, repair and maintenance of the body. It is well known that the typical Canadian diet contains too much fat, too much cholesterol, too many calories, too much salt, not enough fibre, and insufficient complex carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains, beans and vegetables.) It is important to have a well-balanced diet with the proper proportion of nutrients; nutrients are the chemical substances found in foods that supply your body with the required elements for metabolism and energy. By doing so, you will greatly increase your quality of life.

The six main classifications of nutrients are as follows:

1. Carbohydrates
2. Proteins
3. Fats
4. Water
5. Vitamins
6. Minerals

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy from foods. These include the sugars (also known as simple carbohydrates), starches (the complex carbohydrates), and fibre (also known as cellulose.) Complex carbohydrates are beneficial to having a healthy diet as they are lower in fat, higher in fibre, and are a great source for other vitamins and minerals. Complex carbohydrates include vegetables such as yams, carrots and peas, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, as well as whole grains and pasta.

Proteins are what from the base of each living cell within our body and are fundamental for growing and repairing tissue, giving our bodies energy, as well as contributing to the structure for our muscles, bones and blood.

Also known as lipids, fats are a dominant source of energy. They have two classifications: Saturated or unsaturated. In moderation, fats can benefit the body as they help to provide a source of energy, assistance in transportation of other vitamins such as A, D, E and K, and add taste to foods. However, many Canadians are consuming more fats than they should be.

The body needs water in order to survive. Unlike food, which the body can survive without for several weeks, it cannot survive without water for more than a few days. Water has many health benefits and it is recommended that at least 6 to 8 glasses are consumed each day. However, the requirement for water intake is also based on an individual’s age, body size, metabolic rate and other factors.

Vitamins are organic substances that are essential for the body’s metabolism, growth and development. They are identified by an alphabetical letter and have two main classifications: Fat-soluble vitamins (such as A, D, E, and K) and water-soluble vitamins (such as B and C.) For more information on vitamins and their benefits, read Dr. Ali Ghahary’s articles titled ‘Vitamin D Important For Optimal Health’ and 'Vitamin D Deficiency'.

These are inorganic elements that are found throughout the body and come from multiple sources. Fruits and vegetables, as well as milk, contain many different minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, iron and iodine. While minerals don’t provide the body with energy or calories, they do benefit hormones and heart contraction. To ensure you are getting your body the appropriate amount of minerals, try to buy organic fruits and vegetables 

Remember, the key to having a well-balanced diet is eating a variety of healthy foods. Make sure you are eating foods that are fresh as opposed to processed, as well as lean meat, poultry, and fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. While sugary, sweet food can be pleasant to the taste buds, they are not nutritional and should be limited or cut from the diet all together.

For more information, visit Dr. Ali Ghahary’s blog at http://alighahary.wordpress.com and click on the ‘Diet’ category. You can also find great nutrition-specific information on Dr. Ghahary’s Instagram account, which is updated regularly, as well as by following him on Twitter at @DrAliGhahary.

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