Macro-nutrients & Micro-nutrients – The Basics

The human diet consists of macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. On this post I want to take you through the basics of both, what they are and how they affect our body.

MACRO-NUTRIENTS
 
Often referred to as “macros” – our body needs a large amount of these to make sure our body has all that it needs to fuel itself, grow and keep a healthy metabolism. There are three major ones. Protein, carbohydrates and fats. Fibre is now also being considered as the 4th major macro-nutrient due to our level of understanding on the role it plays in our diets. What you put in your mouth has a huge impact on your health and how your body works. Let’s have an overview of the main three and how our bodies uses them.

Protein:
 
This is hugely essential for the human body as it is what you and I are made out of. When digested, protein is broken down to amino acids and these are used to build and maintain all our bodily tissues – so everything from your hair and nails to your muscles as well as aiding transporting other vital nutrients to other areas of the body.
Meat, fish, dairy and eggs are all examples of primary sources of protein and animal products make up the most complete sources of protein.
Making sure you eat enough protein is essential for your overall health.

Fats:
 
Fats get a bad name in the media – and wrongly so and this will be discussed on a future post. But you only need to avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. That’s it.
They are incredibly important for a whole host of reasons. Without fat, vitamins cannot be transported and absorbed throughout the body efficiently – especially vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats also regulate and help hormone production in both men and women.

Diabetics – fat will also slow down the release of glucose into the blood stream which will lower the fast acting impact of particular foods on your blood sugar levels. In return this should keep your appetite under control and will help keep your energy levels stable and constant. If you’re interested in a low carb diet then fats should account for a large proportion of your daily calorie intake – again, to be expanded further on another post at a later date.

Carbohydrates:

Ah, the dreaded C word.

I will write a massive blog post about carbs and diabetes at a later date. This is obviously a hot topic in the diabetic and health & fitness world and it is something that is incredibly important to discuss as there’s a lot of mis-information out there. Carbs are very important and should not be viewed as “the enemy” but they do need to be understood properly in order to have a healthy diet.

Carbohydrates are essentially a source of energy and are categorized into two groups depending on how they impact our blood sugar levels.

– Simple (high glycaemic): These carbs cause a rapid rise in your blood sugar levels and they bring a surge of glucose to the body. If you are non-diabetic they’ll also cause your sugars to go up, but very quickly come back down leaving you craving that sugary hit once again. Diabetics – this rise can mean it’s very difficult to bring your blood sugar back down to a stable levels

There are examples where this is useful, including in the post-workout window if you’re looking to build muscle but they need to be moderated.

Avoiding constant rises and falls in blood sugar levels is crucial in order to have a healthy body.

– Complex (low glycaemic): These provide a much more manageable release of sugar into the blood stream as they are metabolised much slower than simple carbohydrates. In order to have good control of your blood sugar levels, the majority of your carbs should come from this source.

Head over to here to gain a better insight into the glycaemic index of carbs:
http://www.the-gi-diet.org/lowgifoods/

MICRO-NUTRIENTS

Micro-nutrients, in laymens terms, are elements that cannot be made by our body but we need them in order to work and function at our best. As we don’t produce them we therefore need them from food.

Making sure you eat a good intake of micro-nutrients is essential for a healthy body.

Such examples include a range of vitamins like A, B, C, D, E and K and minerals like magnesium, zinc and potassium.




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Dan has been a Type 1 Diabetic for over 5 years and writes about his experiences with Type 1, nutrition, exercise and living an overall healthier life with diabetes on his blog and via his social media platforms.

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