Free Health Facts

The Basics of Nutrition

Fields of diet and nutrition are areas of research that are constantly evolving. Below are some basic concepts you can keep in mind. By knowing these basics, you will be better equipped to sort through nutrition research and dietary advice.

Food Groups

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Grains
  • Dairy
  • Protein

Water

You need water to replace what your body loses through normal everyday functions. Of course, you lose water when you go to the bathroom or sweat, but you even lose small amounts of water when you exhale. You need to replace this lost water to prevent dehydration.

Dietary Fat

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend that Americans:

  • Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fats.
  • Replace solid fats with oils when possible.
  • Limit foods that contain synthetic sources of trans fatty acids (such as hydrogenated oils), and keep total trans fatty acid consumption as low as possible.
  • Eat fewer than 300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day.
  • Reduce intake of calories from solid fats.

Carbohydrates

Your body uses carbohydrates to make glucose which is the fuel that gives you energy and helps keep everything going. Your body can use glucose immediately or store it in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.

Some diet books use “bad” carbs to talk about foods with refined carbohydrates (i.e., meaning they’re made from white flour and added sugars).

“Good” carbs is used to describe foods that have more fiber and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are carbohydrates that take longer to break down into glucose; such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.

Protein

Maybe you’ve wondered how much protein you need each day. In general, it’s recommended that 10-35% of your daily calories come from protein. Protein can be found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, and some vegetables.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals, have a unique role to play in maintaining your health. For example Vitamin D helps your body absorb the amount of calcium (a mineral) it needs to form strong bones. A deficiency in vitamin D can result in a disease called rickets (softening of the bones caused by the bodies inability to absorb the mineral calcium.) The body cannot produce calcium; therefore, it must be absorbed through our food. Other minerals like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc are called trace minerals because you only need very small amounts of them each day. The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. You can usually get all your vitamins from the foods you eat.

Information Provided By