The most important contribution to our health and preventive health program is to read our body signs. To do this we need to understand our body system in order to make corrective action. Our fearfully and wonderfully made body has the capacity to heal and repair itself if we give it the right nutrients. Health, nutrition and easy diet begin with giving our body its basic needs.
The basic needs of our body are: water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Let us look at them individually to understand their importance in our body system.
Water. This is a very basic but essential constituent of all living matters. Yet most people don’t drink enough of it by itself. A large percentage of all foods is water. The water content in the body is approximately 70-80%. Water regulates the body temperature, bathes the cells and tissues, including cartilages, and is the basis of all our vital fluids and secretions. Many chronic ailments and illnesses can be cured simply by drinking our eight glasses of water daily.
It might be a good idea to check the situation of the water supply in your area. Is it adequate or unsatisfactory? In most localities, it is heavily chlorinated. There are many contaminants in drinking water, therefore it should be carefully filtered for drinking. What are the best filtration systems? The ultimate is distilled of course. Then, experts tell us the next best thing is reverse osmosis. And there are several other systems that can be thoroughly investigated for their capacity to eliminate the most dangerous metals and bacterial elements.
Proteins. These are the fundamental structural elements of every cell of the body. They are used in tissue building and repair. The word comes from the Greek meaning “of first importance”. Next to water, protein is the most essential constituent of cell metabolic component. Yet few people eat adequately in this area — either not enough, or over-cooked.
Proteins deliver or help form enzymes, anti-bodies and hormones; they can be broken down and joined to other body chemicals to make neurotransmitters and neuroinhibitors which are vital to brain and nerve functions.
Proteins are an organic compound and complex combination of amino acids. Each gram of weight protein produces 4 calories. However it is not to be taken as a sole dietary style. All-protein diets are out of balance with the rest of the food elements needed by the body in the carbohydrate category.
Amino acids. These are compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen; some also contain sulphyr, iron, phospherous, zinc, copper. There are about 22 amino acids that can be produced in the body through raw foods. Eight of these the body does not produce and therefore have to be obtained through foods that are protein or complimentary proteins. About 1/2 of the amino acids can be broken down to produce heat and energy.
For the body to manufacture protein, all of the necessary amino acids must be present at the same time. Complete protein or a combination of complementary proteins must be eaten at every meal or at least everyday. Surplus amino acids are used to produce carbon skeleton molecules or are broken down into carbon dioxide, water, energy, nitrogen-based radicals for elimination or excretion or utilization in other compounds.
Examples of best sources of proteins are: complete protein such as fish, poultry, meat, milk, eggs, dried yeast, wheat germ, whole wheat, soy beans, grains, lentils, peanuts, cornmeal, oats.
Incomplete protein such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, rice, nuts, etc.
Complimentary protein are foods like, rice/legumes, wholewheat/legumes (wheat bread/peanut butter), grains/dairy (brown rice/tofu), rice/dairy, wholewheat/soy, rice/soy, sesame/legumes, legumes/seeds, cornmeal/beans, legumes/corn (beans/corn). Concentrated protein are brewer’s yeast, powdered skim milk, wheat germ, soy flour, cottonseed flour, etc.
Carbohydrates. These are the healthiest sources of sugar and starch energy. They are the most efficient and easily digestible. All foods contain carbohydrates except meats. Carbohydrates are made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They are the same amount of calories as protein – 1 gram of weight = 4 calories of energy.
There are two kinds of carbohydrates: starches (complex, unrefined – good food) and sugars (simple, refined – empty calories).
Complex, unrefined starches take longer to digest therefore the blood sugar is kept stable and energy reaches the brain, nervous system and muscle tissue in steady amounts. When eating starches, it is important to have water-carrying foods along with them such as vegetables and fruits. We are told that eaten in abundance carbohydrates can create excessive carbons in the body which slows down the metabolism. Much oxygen then is required to handle these carbons. Excessive carbon in the system leads to obesity and cause other problems.
Dietary carbohydrates are the principle and preferred source of energy for all body functions including digestion and absorption. Best sources of carbohydrates are: Complex, unrefined (good, nutritious) – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes, fiber, etc. Simple, refined (empty, non-nutritious) – sugars, sweeteners, white flour, processed grain flour and rice, candies, cakes, pies, white bread, pizzas, lasagnas, macaronis, spaghettis, etc.
Fiber. This is a carbohydrate from plants. Fiber cannot be completely digested. It goes from mouth to the large intestine relatively intact. In the past century, there has been an increase of incidences of constipation, diverticulosis, colon cancer and gastrointestinal disorders, because people have been eating less fiber-rich foods.
Fiber increases the ability of fecal stools to bind large amounts of water, making their passage easier and quicker. According to experts in the field, most serious organic diseases of the colon are linked to low-fiber and high-saturated fat diets — which show up first as constipation. To improve our dietary habits, we must reduce saturated fats from animals and increase fiber foods such as cereal grains, vegetables, legumes.
Fruits and vegetables contain other factors that inhibit various types of cancer. These also include trace minerals, vitamins, fiber, inositol and other food factors found to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease, and they are low in saturated fats.
Too much dietary fiber can reduce the absorption of trace minerals and irritate the intestinal lining. Experts recommend a diet containing 37 grams of fiber which will provide enough roughage without causing damage to the intestinal mucosa. There are various types of fiber but there is no time in this article to cover them. But the best sources of fibers are: fruits and vegetables and complex carbohydrate foods.
The other basic needs of our body in our list above are the fats and vitamins and minerals. There is too much about these to cover in this article. But, suffice it to say here that there are good fats and bad fats and good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. A search on the internet will give you the information you need in order to know which to keep and which to cut out of your diet.
As for vitamins and minerals, I always tell my clients to start with a good brand of multi vitamin, multi mineral and B-Complex. Only after you give your body these basic supplements should you start adding isolated vitamins and herbs. Always check with your doctor or health professional before undertaking any major health or diet program./dmh
Diane M. Hoffmann is a certified nutritional consultant and an entrepreneur of offline and online businesses. Diane offers a page on health and stress management for business people on her web site at [http://www.build-your-internet-business-now.com/health-stress-management.html] because if anyone needs to keep healthy it’s a business owner who can’t just call in sick when he/she is! Articles copyright(c)2010 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.