What Should I Eat - The Basics of Nutrition

We want to get healthy, to eat right BUT, just what does that mean? There’s so much information out there and companies trying to sell you their version of good food. So, I offer this review as a guide to get you started eating good quality, nutrient-dense food as you start on your health journey.


What is a nutrient?

Nutrients are the chemical substances contained in food that are necessary to sustain life. They play many key roles in the body, including:


  • Providing energy (calories)

  • Contributing to the body’s structure

  • Regulating and assisting in body processes i.e. enzymes and hormones

Nutrient Composition of Body

  • Water-55-60%

  • Fats-15%

  • Carbohydrates(glucose)-2%

  • Amino Acids-18%

  • Vitamins-<1%

  • Minerals 4%

3 Classes of Nutrients

  • Water

  • Macronutrients: (macros) protein, Fats, Carbohydrates

  • Micronutrients: vitamins, minerals

Water

Water is the most important nutrient in the body - you can go ~8 weeks without food, but only days without water


Water makes up 55 – 60% of our total body mass

  • Water is found in all tissues of the body

  • Most of the volume of cells and body fluids is water

Roles of water in the body

  • Improving oxygen delivery to cells

  • Transporting nutrients

  • Enabling cellular hydration

  • Cushioning bones and joints

  • Absorbing shocks to joints and organs

  • Preventing tissues from sticking

  • Lubricating joints

  • Removing waste

  • Flushing toxins

  • Moistening oxygen for easier breathing

  • Regulating body temperature

  • Improving cell‐to‐cell communications

  • Maintaining electrical properties of cells

  • Empowering natural healing processes


Sources of Water

  • The body can produce about 8% of its daily water needs through metabolic processes

  • The remaining 92% must be ingested through the foods we eat and the beverages we drink

Water Loss

The amount and distribution of water are regulated within the body, water cannot be stored, making daily consumption of water essential for a healthy body.

  • GI Tract 4% (100mL)

  • Lungs 12% (300mL)

  • Skin 24% (600mL)

  • Kidneys 60% (1500mL)


How much water should I drink daily?

  • Body weight divided by 2 = # required ounces

  • If any caffeine is consumed, add 1½ the amount to the daily requirement


Example: Weight is 130#.

Divided by 2 = 64 oz

Add 16 oz caffeinated coffee = 16 x 1.5 = 24

64 + 24 = 88 oz daily water requirement


How to consume water

  • Good quality water, non-caffeinated herbal tea counts

  • Drink 8-16 oz upon awakening

  • Sip throughout day, don’t chug

  • Maximum 1 gallon/day

  • Don’t drink ½ hour before or 1 hour after meals (dilutes the hydrochloric acid required to digest food in stomach)


Proteins

Proteins are the building blocks of the body


Our bodies use and assemble ~50,000 different proteins to form organs, nerves, muscles, tissue


Roles of Proteins in the Body

  • Enzymes: These specialized protein molecules act as the managers and catalysts for all biochemical processes

  • Hemoglobin: Red blood cells are specialized proteins that deliver oxygen around the body

  • Antibodies: These protein structures help fight infection and destroy foreign invaders

  • Hormones: these proteins regulate metabolism and almost every key function in the body


Amino Acids – structural elements of proteins - All proteins are combinations of up to 20 amino acids.

  • 10 are essential, meaning the body cannot produce them

  • 10 are nonessential and can be synthesized by the body


What this Means

  • Approximately 30% of your daily calorie intake should be high quality proteins

  • Daily consumption of quality sourced, complete proteins is essential to a healthy


Good Sources of Protein

  1. Wild caught fish and seafood, preferably smaller fish lower on the food chain to avoid the accumulation of heavy metals in the body

  2. Organic, 100% pasture raised beef, pork, lamb, goat, poultry and eggs

  3. Organic, raw, full-fat, 100% pastured milk products: cheese, yoghurt, kefir, cottage cheese, milk, etc.

  4. Soaked and sprouted nuts, seeds and legumes



Fats


  1. Fats compose about 15% of our body weight

  2. Animal and vegetable sources of fat provide a concentrated source of energy in our diet

  3. Contrary to popular belief, a fairly high percentage of diverse, good quality fats are required for optimum health


Roles of Fats


  • Providing a source of energy

  • Acting as building blocks for cell membranes and hormones

  • Aiding the absorption of the fat‐soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K

  • Allowing for the proper use of proteins

  • Serving as a protective lining for the organs of the body

  • Helping regulate energy absorption by slowing the absorption of food

  • Increasing satiety

  • Making food taste good


All fats and oils are some combination of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated

fatty acids

Omega‐3s (Polyunsaturated): Mackerel, Salmon Oil, Cod Liver Oil, Walnuts, Chia Seeds, Herring, Salmon (wild‐caught), Flaxseeds, Tuna, White Fish, Sardines, Anchovies, Natto, and Egg Yolks (Pasture‐Raised)

Omega‐6s (Polyunsaturated): Blackcurrant Seed, Evening Primrose, Sunflower Oil, Sesame Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Pistachio Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, and Sunflower Seeds

Omega‐9s (Monounsaturated): Olives & Olive Oil, Avocados & Avocado Oil, Almonds & Almond Oil, Hazelnut & Hazel Nut Oil, Macadamia Nuts & Macadamia Oil

Saturated: Fats from Pasture‐Raised Animals, Grass‐Fed, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Palm Oil


Fats to Avoid

TOXIC! These fats interfere with the critical roles healthy fatty acids play within the body

Trans Fats

  • Hydrogenated Fats

  • Partially hydrogenated fats

  • Highly processed vegetable oils

  • Fried fats


Carbohydrates

  1. Carbohydrates compose about 2% of our body

  2. Chemically, carbohydrates contain carbon (carbo) and water hydrate)

  3. Grains, breads, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and sweeteners are common


Roles of Carbohydrates

  • Providing fuel for the brain

  • Providing a quick source of energy for muscles

  • Helping regulate protein and fat metabolism

  • Providing a source of fiber, which helps with regular elimination of waste

  • Helping fight infections*

  • Promoting growth of body tissues such as bones and skin*

  • Lubricating joints*

*along with proteins and fats



Good Carbohydrates

  • Approximately 40% of your daily calorie intake should be UNREFINED, MOSTLY COMPLEX carbohydrates

  • Unrefined carbohydrates exist in nature

  • These energy‐providing carbohydrates are linked together with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein, fat, and fiber to support life


Carbohydrates to Eat

Vegetables: Eat a wide variety of local, organic, in‐season vegetables, aiming to eat as many colors as possible, at least some raw, with an emphasis on leafy green vegetables


Fruit: Always in their whole form (avoid fruit juices), preferably organic (especially when consuming the skin) and in‐season*


Tubers & Squash: Active, pregnant, or breastfeeding individuals should include a variety of starchy vegetables, including sweet potato, yams, taro, plantains, pumpkin, parsnips, rutabaga, etc.*


Properly Prepared Grains & Legumes: Only if tolerated and only when properly prepared (i.e. soaked, spouted, or fermented)


*Those trying to lose body fat or suffering from blood sugar dysregulation should limit

consumption of fruit and starchy vegetables


Bad Carbohydrates

  • Refined carbohydrates are manmade concoctions

  • These “bad” carbohydrates are hostile to life, because they are stripped of their bodybuilding nutrients

  • Digestion of “empty” carbs depletes the body’s own reserves of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes


Carbohydrates to Avoid

Consuming processed foods can lead to more nutrient deficiencies and GI distress

  • Refined Sugars: Avoid manmade, processed sugar (e.g. white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave, and fruit juice)

  • Refined Grains: Stay clear of any grain that is not in its whole form and properly prepared (e.g. white bread and pasta)

  • Packaged Foods: Be cautious about consuming of “foods” with labels as these tend to not be a nutrient dense version of the whole food they are from (e.g. chips, cereals, cookies, crackers, prepackaged meals, etc.)


Vitamins


Vitamins compose less than 1% of our body. Most vitamins cannot be manufactured by our body, so we can only get them by eating the plants and animals that make them.

Most vitamins produce the best results when present with natural cofactors (trace minerals, enzymes, other vitamins, etc.)


Roles

  • Acting as coenzymes (“helpers”) in metabolic processes

  • Supporting digestion, elimination, and immune function

  • Supporting tissue growth, vitality, and overall health

  • Preventing deficiency related disorders and health problems

Vitamin Classifications

Good Sources of Vitamins

  • Organic fruits and vegetables

  • Whole, raw, unrefined and cultured foods

  • Pasture-raised meat, poultry and eggs

  • Wild-caught fish and seafood


Minerals

  • Minerals compose about 4% of our body

  • Minerals are provided solely from food sources (they are not produced by the body)

  • Minerals are what remain as ash when plant or animal tissues are burned

  • They come from the earth and will eventually return to the earth

  • Out of the 103 known minerals, at least 18 are necessary for good health


Roles of Minerals

  • Act as cofactors for enzyme reactions

  • Maintain proper nerve conduction

  • Tightly regulate acid/base balance of blood

  • Contract and relax muscles

  • Maintain osmotic pressure

  • Regulate tissue growth

  • Facilitate the transfer of nutrients across cell membranes

  • Provide structural and functional support


Good Sources of Minerals

  • Nutrient-dense foods and beverages

  • Mineral-rich bone broths

  • Unrefined sea salt

  • Organic vegetables