(Continued from #21 Nutrition Principle Pt.2)
Billy is excited yet still uncertain of his nutrition because even though he now understands HOW MUCH he should be eating each day he still doesn’t really know WHAT to eat. He discovered the importance of the energy balance & macronutrients, which should and needs to be the foundation of any & all diets. With that said, he needs to figure out the remaining pieces of the nutrition “puzzle.”
As Billy begins to dig deeper into the nutrition principles, he notices that there are so many different recommendations. Just like how carbohydrate and fat quantity can vary significantly depending on the factors like goals, genetics, and more, the type of food was the similar case. All these catchy words are evident like organic, whole-food, gluten-free, grass-fed, whole-grain, dairy-free, high-fiber, and hundreds of others.
How do I simplify this?
Billy thinks perhaps common sense may be the best thing. Rather than digging into all these contradicting & catchy claims of each food he decides to look up the purpose of food: WHY we eat.
So, why do I eat?
Billy googles, “why do we eat?” As expected, the obvious answer shows up: for fuel. Just like a car needs gas for fuel, we, humans, need food. It’s common sense, right? That being said, he notices that the word “nutrient” is repeatedly used so he digs in deeper to what nutrients are needed for the body. What he found is that the food we eat provides a range of these nutrients: protein, carb, fat, vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. Well, Billy is already somewhat familiar with protein, carb, and fat, also known as macronutrients, and now he now needs to research water, fiber, vitamins, and minerals!
The term, micronutrient, is used repeatedly, and Billy figures out that term is referring to vitamins and minerals. While we need A LOT of macronutrients (since macro means “large”) we don’t need so much of the micronutrients (as you probably already knew micro means “small”). But wow, it kind of gets confusing. There are 13 vitamins, which some are “fat-soluble” and some “water-soluble.” There are even more minerals! Some are called “major/macrominerals” and the rest are called “trace minerals.”
Do I really have to keep track of every single vitamins and minerals?
This seems unrealistic, Billy’s common sense tells him. He continues to look up some details of micronutrients and learns that the amount of each micronutrient varies depending on numerous factors like genetics, exercise, and etc. Sound familiar? Just like the MACROnutrient amounts can differ from one person to another, the MICROnutrient amounts will differ as well.
So how do I consume all these micronutrients?
The thing is, Billy learns, every single food we eat is comprised of some levels of these micronutrients! A piece of white bread has B-Vitamins and various minerals like Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, and more. A piece of steak is a good source of Vitamin B-12, Zinc, Phosphorus, and Selenium.
So if “all foods” varying different levels of micronutrients, does that mean no food is bad?
Billy sees the term micronutrient-density. He learns that even though ALL FOODS have micronutrients, some tend to have more than others and those are the foods that we should try to eat. If he eats the same quantity of calories and macronutrients from a whole food source, let’s say almonds, versus a processed food source, a cookie, the almonds will have more vitamins and minerals compared to the cookie. He recalls the claims of eating whole foods over processed foods, and realizes this is why!
Billy notices that an extreme amount of a vitamin or a mineral can be detrimental to the body. For example, rickets, the weakening of bones, is caused by Vitamin D deficiency, and excess Calcium levels can lead to kidney stones and even heart & brain function. So what he discovers is the importance of consuming a variety of foods rather than eating the same things over and over again. By doing so, he can get a variety of micronutrients without consuming an excess of any kind.
Billy is ecstatic. He now knows WHY he eats: for fuel/nutrients. He’s figured out HOW MUCH he needs to eat…more specifically how much calories and macronutrients. Lastly, if he chooses whole foods rather than processed foods and a variety of foods instead of eating the same thing, he will get sufficient levels of all micronutrients. His nutrition puzzle is coming along!!!