UNDERSTAND THE BASICS OF NUTRITION
Nutrition is the essence of good health. It consists of bringing together all the processes that take place in the body (assimilation, excretion, etc) and allow it to function correctly. Nutrition creates the body’s energy production and provides both a physical and psycho-emotional balance that helps maintain good health.
It is good to know that the food consumed is generally made up of two types of nutrients.
Macronutrients are those required by the body when it needs energy or for calorie production. These are the macronutrients that promote the correct functioning of the organs. They must be ingested in greater quantities than micronutrients, “macro” meaning large.
They can be divided into proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.
Proteins are essential for a balanced diet. They help the organs to function properly thanks to the amino acids of which they are made up.
Proteins make up many essential elements such as antibodies (immune system), collagen (skin and bone-building blocks), hormones, enzymes, muscle tissue, and much more!
Carbohydrates, saccharides, sugars, as many names as biochemical structures or roles for the organism. Indeed, carbohydrates represent a very important nutrient because they are an immediate source of energy.
A carbohydrate is an organic molecule. As such, it is composed of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. This whole is more or less complex and soluble in water. Carbohydrates can be divided into two categories that reflect their composition.
On the one hand, there are simple carbohydrates, long known as fast sugar. In chemistry, they are monosaccharides, composed of a single molecule (glucose, fructose, galactose), or disaccharides composed of two molecules (lactose, saccharose, maltose).
On the other hand are complex carbohydrates, long called slow sugars. In chemistry, these are polysaccharides. They can be digestible like starch or non-digestible like cellulose, which represents dietary fiber. These molecules are glucose polymers, i.e. a chain of glucose molecules attached together with different bonds.
Fibers is provided by plants and is, therefore, part of carbohydrates. They are food components that are neither digested nor absorbed by the intestine. Therefore, they do not provide energy. Fiber is provided in the diet to help regulate transit and has other health benefits.
Fat. We like it on the plate, but not really on us. So like a lot of people, you go on a fat hunt.
You have to contextualize and adapt your intake in an individualized way. Each person is different. You must keep in mind that the quality of food plays a primordial role in the assimilation of nutrients and the health of your body.
These are minerals that are essential for the proper functioning of our system, although they are less rich in energy intake than macronutrients.
Micronutrients have their own roles in the body. They are divided into several categories: major minerals are defined as such for their higher intakes (>100mg per day).
There are 7 different categories: magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, chlorine, and sulfur.
Conversely, trace elements are named as such because they are found in trace amounts. Together they represent less than 5g of the total body mass. There are 15 of them in all, mainly iron, copper, fluorine, zinc, iodine, selenium, and chlorine.
All nutrients are fundamental for our organism. A balanced diet is a correct variation between macronutrients and micronutrients.
Fat-soluble vitamins are those found in fat-rich products because, as their name indicates, they are fat-soluble. As a result, they are absorbed along with fat and then stored in our bodies. These vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K.
Vitamin A exists in two different forms: retinol, which contributes to good vision, and beta-carotene, better known, which acts as an antioxidant to slow down the aging of cells in particular.
Antioxidants are essential to our health. They protect our body from free radicals (aggressive particles) and in this way reduce the risk of many diseases.
Vitamin D promotes the fixation of calcium and phosphorus on the bones. It thus contributes to bone growth and ensures the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
Vitamin E is known for its powerful antioxidant effect. It also helps to lower the level of bad cholesterol in the blood, hence its preventive effect on cardiovascular disease.
Vitamin K mainly promotes blood coagulation. And like vitamin D, it promotes the fixation of calcium on the bones and therefore helps to fight osteoporosis.
Water-soluble vitamins, unlike fat-soluble vitamins, are soluble in water. The vast majority of these vitamins are not stored because any excess is excreted and eliminated in the urine. They include vitamin C and B vitamins. All these vitamins belong to the same group but they have very different roles, essential for the proper functioning of our body.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It helps to reduce cellular aging and fatigue. It also promotes the absorption of iron.
B vitamins are numerous. Although they belong to the same group, these vitamins can have very different chemical formulas and have different roles. They are all necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
Vitamin B12 also called cobalamin, is a very important vitamin for the functioning of the brain, the nervous system, and the synthesis of DNA.
It must be provided through diet or supplementation, especially for populations most at risk of deficiency, such as vegans.
WHAT IS A BALANCED DIET?
Eating well means eating everything but in appropriate quantities. More specifically, we encourage the consumption of foods that are good for our health (fruit, vegetables, starchy foods, fish, meat) and we limit fatty, sweet, and salty foods (sweets, sweet drinks, cold meats, chips, aperitif cakes, etc).
A balanced diet extends over 7 days, and not over a single day or a single meal. This is why no food is forbidden or miraculous. If one evening you eat a large meal, all you have to do is eat more digestible meals on the following days to rebalance your diet.
A balanced day can consist of 3 meals:
If this does not seem sufficient for your needs, then nothing prevents you from having a balanced snack. Of course, you should limit sweet, highly processed products and give preference to dairy products, cereals, fruit, and nuts.
Find out what a balanced meal is here.
We also have a dedicated article on breakfast !