Living in the modern world is great – we have the benefits of modern medical science and technology on our side, but what if our diet is lacking? As much as food production has been modernised in order for us to have access to good food, not all of us make use of it. To top it off, not all of our food sources ensure that we will get all the micronutrients and macronutrients that we need. Food, through preparation, transportation or cooking methods, ends up losing their nutrients and being less nutritious when it comes to us eating them.
Macronutrients are the compounds that we have to eat the most of. They are defined as the chemical compounds we as humans most consume in order to gain bulk energy.
There are three macronutrients:
Proteins are used to build muscle and for other cellular processes. Our DNA is made of protein. Proteins function as enzymes in our cells, which catalyze certain cellular functions. They are also used for cell signalling and most visibly – proteins are used structurally. Proteins are used to build muscle, nails, hair and even feathers and hooves.
Carbohydrates are what the human body uses to gain energy for life. Through the intake of sugars and other long-chain carbohydrates, we break them down to form simple sugars, which fuel cellular function and give us life. It is important to note that carbohydrates can refer to not just pastas, breads and some root vegetables – but also to simple sugars like glucose and fructose.
Fats, while much maligned in the dieting industry are vital for human life. Without fats, our nerves are not able to function properly – nor would our cell membranes be formed. Fats are necessary for the absorption of Vitamins A, D, E and K – they cannot be utilised in the body without fats. Most importantly, fat serves as the energy store for the human body, and can be broken down when extra energy is needed.
Micronutrients are those nutrients which humans need in small quantities in order to survive, but cannot produce themselves. There are four main types of micronutrients that the body needs to function properly – vitamins, macrominerals, trace minerals and organic acids.
Vitamins are defined as an organic compound needed as a nutrient in tiny amounts by an organism.
Macrominerals are the dietary minerals that organisms need to survive, other than carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, which are present in common organic molecules.
Trace minerals are those minerals that humans need in much smaller amounts, but are still vital for healthy body function.
Those minerals are:
Organic acids are weak acids that the body needs in order to function correctly.
- Acetic acid
- Citric acid
- Lactic acid
- Malic acid