What you eat is important for maintaining a healthy body. In this world of processed foods, would you know that you are getting all the right nutrients from the foods you eat? Here are my top 10 magic nutrients you need for a healthy body and mind by building a strong foundation from the foods you eat.
Never underestimate the power of protein. This nutrient deserves to be at the top of the list. It assists in building a strong immune system in the body. It is often referred to as the “building block of life” because the body needs it to repair and maintain itself every day. Sources include meat, chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, milk, cheese and yoghurt.
2. Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Do not ditch the fats, these are super important. Omega-3s are especially needed by the body (as opposed to the Omega-6 that is plentiful in most people’s diets). ALA, DHA and EPA are the most common omega-3 fatty acids and they help the body create cells, regulate the nervous system, strengthen the circulatory system, build immunity and assist with absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A,D, E and K.
Food sources include oily fish such as salmon and fresh tuna (not canned), nuts (especially walnuts), flax seeds (also referred to as linseeds) and, wait for it, leafy green vegetables!
Yes, this is one of the most important nutrients that is often overlooked. It is required for digestion, absorption and transportation of nutrients, elimination of waste products and hormonal harmony. Water accounts for 50-80% of your body weight, depending on the amount of muscle mass.
When we think of fibre we think of bowel motions. Fibre is most defiantly needed for proper functioning of the gut and is associated with reducing the risk of chronic ailments such as heart disease and Type II diabetes. Excellent sources of fibre include oat bran, psyllium husks, nuts, seeds, lentils, fruits such as papaya and apples, and vegetables such as carrots and broccoli. Insoluble fibre is found in wheat bran, cabbage, leafy green vegetables and whole grains.
The carbohydrates I am referring to are not the processed variety but your basic fruits and vegetables in the form nature provided them. Try and eat more vegetables in their raw form or slightly steam to retain their nutrients. There are some exceptions such as tomatoes where the lycopene is more readily available to the body once it is heated.
6. Complex B-Vitamins
The main role of B vitamins is to help the body utilise the energy provided by fat, carbohydrate and protein. B vitamins are found abundant in leafy vegetables and dairy foods.
7. Vitamin C
This water-soluble antioxidant is required for growth and repair of tissues and is vital in the making of collagen which is the base for cartilage, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of non-haem iron (found in plant proteins) and helps heal wounds. Best sources are citrus fruits such as lemons and limes, ginger, tomatoes, and berries.
I know, I have already discussed the B vitamins, but B12 needs a heading of its own. This vitamin is vital for producing healthy red blood cells and formation of DNA. Some people may be deficient in the intrinsic factor which helps with absorption of B12 from the gut. Sources include red meats, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy.
Iron and blood production go hand in hand. Around 70% of the body’s iron is found in the red blood cells (haemoglobin) and muscle cells (myoglobin). If you are tired and exhausted, you may be deficient in iron as it is the haemoglobin that is responsible for the movement of oxygen from the lungs to all cells of the body. Great sources of iron include red meat, tuna, eggs, poultry, salmon and legumes.
Absolutely crucial for healthy teeth and bones as well as nerves and muscles. Sources include dairy, leafy green vegetables, sardines, mussels, salmon and figs.