The Five nutrients we need to live, what foods they are in and how they work

Are We what we eat or are we eating? In The age of a la carte nutrition , implausible diets, false gurus of dietetics and food preparations Miracle to Gogó, we regain the course aimed at the most elemental: the necessary nutrients. Is It Normal to add protein to the morning shake? What Vitamins Are we zampando when we take a supplement? Do We really Know what we need?

Point number one, nutrients are not so called by whim or marketing of the food industry. "They Are the useful part of the food for our organism and are necessary for life," explains the Doctor specializing in endocrinology and nutrition, and member of Communication of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Francisco Botella. Nutrients are essential for growth, reproduction, and good health, and include from water to macronutrients--proteins, carbohydrates, and fats--and micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals.

Insuring the intake of macronutrients is simple, probably because we see them with the naked eye on the PLATE: a plate of pasta to win all the races, a steak of veal, a glass of milk... But What about the micronutrients, the imperceptible vitamins and minerals, absolutely necessary for life? "A simple and effective way to ensure sufficient intake of micronutrients is to vary our food as much as we can. We are fortunate that micronutrients are very much distributed within food families, so if we eat enough of them and vary our choice, we will reach the needs of micro and macronutrients easily, "points out the Academician of the Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Javier Marhuenda. However, and to not fail in the planning of the diet, it is never more to review with the experts this important part of the essence of our survival.


Proteins, cement and bricks for the body

They Are large and complex molecules, they are formed by chains of amino acids and they fulfill several critical functions in our organism. Proteins provide a structure and support to the cells, exert a defensive function (antibodies), enzymatic, regulatory (many hormones are of a protein nature) and transport (for example, carry oxygen).

There Is A minimum of these molecules necessary for life. Some of the amino acids that form them are called essential because, even though we need them for our survival. We don't produce them naturally, so we have to incorporate it through the diet. These essential amino acids are found in foods such as fish (especially in blue), in the meat (both red and white), in eggs and in dairy, says Marhuenda.

What happens then with restrictive diets such as vegan, in which there is no consumption of products of animal origin? "Proteins of vegetable origin are of lower biological value, which means that their proportion (not quantity) of essential amino acids is lower. People who follow a vegan diet should go to protein supplementation, " says The Endocrine Francisco Botella. The doctor illustrates this important nutritional point of veganism with an example: "Wheat flour lacks lysine and legumes methionine. If We combine them, what is missing from one food is given by the other, and together they manage to meet those needs. A vegan person who properly combines vegetable sources of protein can perfectly have all the essential amino acids. "


Carbohydrates, the gasoline that turns into sugar

They Are The most important source of energy. The Digestive system converts carbohydrates into glucose that our cells, tissues and organs use. As the human body is wise and cautious, it stores the extra sugar we ingest in the liver and in the muscles, for when we need it. In Addition, enough scientific evidence suggests that whole grains and dietary fiber could help reduce cardiovascular risk. And Although carbohydrates "are not essential, since we are able to synthesize those we need, if we exclude them from the diet we can get to trigger an acidosis, [a metabolic state] that can cause serious health problems and organic failure," warns Marhuenda.

Between the Carbofobia and the ingestion of hydrates of poor quality to Cascoporro There is a right half suitable point. Healthy Sources of carbohydrates are fruits, vegetables, milk, nuts, seeds, cereals, and legumes. To get the most benefit, these foods always have to be consumed whole and integral.


Lipids, a debate between good and bad

The food industry has given them a bad reputation through low-fat products, 0%, light And For The most part, they are always surrounded by a healthy halo (and cheating). But lipids, better known as fats, are necessary for our survival. Yes, don't think eating bacon is a matter of life and death.

"Fats are an important source of energy, they help the organism to absorb some vitamins and minerals, to build the cell membranes and the sheaths that surround the nerves. They Are essential for blood clotting, muscle movement and inflammation, "They Are listed on a Harvard University website. But The secret of its use is knowing how to distinguish between good and bad. From the American academic institution they say that the good ones are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated ones, and that the bad ones include the trans fats, of industrial manufacture, and those saturated, that occupy an intermediate place.

Among polyunsaturated fats, the famous omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are of vital importance. "Its precursors, linolenic and linoleic acids are considered essential fatty acids because the organism requires them for normal functioning and cannot be synthesized endogenously. These can only be acquired through food, "says a group of Spanish scientists in the magazine Offarm. Being essential, we need them to survive. Where to find them? Marhuenda clarifies: "In blue fish, extra virgin olive oil, avocado or nuts."


Vitamins, Pure Life in thirteen essential versions

That the small size of this micronutrient does not let you deceive, are small but (without them) bully. "All vitamins are essential, as their name suggests; vita means "life", in Latin, recounts Botella. And it is that together with other essential nutrients, if we do not take "We die from deficiency diseases such as scurvy (lack or shortage Of vitamin C) and beriberi (When vitamin B1 is insufficient)," continues the endocrine.

There Are Thirteen essential vitamins and each one of them meets one or several different functions. In general, some of the most important processes in which the vitamins are involved are the regulation of the metabolism, they participate together with the enzymes in releasing the energy of the carbohydrates, lipids and proteins of the food, and intervene in the Hormonal system. "All fruits and vegetables have an enormous amount of vitamins and minerals, however, there are some that are majority in animal food and whose presence should be monitored in the absence of this type of food," says Marhuenda. And recommends: "It Is important to note that there is no food that has a high amount of all essential nutrients, and the only way to get ingested is to vary as much as possible our food, not repeat the same foods Constantly (even if they are fruits and vegetables). "

Of all the vitamins, the D is the one that has the greatest lack in our country. Paradoxically, the only vitamin that is synthesized through the solar exposure is not abundant in the "beach of Europe". In addition to ensuring proper sun exposure with adequate protective measures, we must eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as blue Fish (better with thorn), egg, milk, mushrooms and crustaceans.


Minerals, jugglers of endless functions

Minerals, such as vitamins, "are also essential," stresses nutritionist Javier Marhuenda. It Is because they have countless functions, including the maintenance of bones, the cardiovascular system and the nervous. They Also have vital implications for the endocrine and enzyme system. There are two types of minerals. On the one hand are the superminerals, which owe their name to that we need them in greater quantity and that are the calcium, the phosphorus, the magnesium, the sodium, the potassium, the chlorine and the sulfur. On the other, the trace elements, which we need in less quantity and are iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluorine and selenium.

The specialists talk about the ease of obtaining the mineral contribution thanks to a rich and varied diet, but does it happen the same with restrictive diets? If We recover the stage of the vegan diet we see that, according to a study published in The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, "the elimination of all animal products from the diet increases the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies. Micronutrients of particular concern to vegans include vitamins B12 and D, calcium and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Unless the vegans regularly consume foods fortified with these nutrients, appropriate supplements should be consumed. In some cases, the state of iron and zinc from vegans can also cause concern because of the limited bioavailability of these minerals. "

Do we Eat everything we need?