Last week we were looking at ways in which we can be proactive in supporting our body so we do not damage our immune system and avoid the winter bugs. One of the key factors that we discussed was a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, grains, nuts and wholesome foods. Some of you may be saying , “…that’s great, but why and what options are there?” So I have outlined below essential vitamins, nutrients that our body needs, and where we can find them. I will then examine some specific food options, with further details of their nutrients but also what they can specifically help us, but also if they could be potentially harmful to us. We are all different, our digestive systems react to foods in different ways, allergies are common place and certain foods can cause irritation of the bowel, regardless of their power. Being more self-aware can only benefit your well-being.
The information below is by no means extensive, but it should be thought provoking, and hopefully will help guide you to looking at the different options available to you to power your body and keep you fit and healthy.
ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS:
Vitamin A / Retinol
Function: Essential for formation of visual pigment, needed for vision at night. Health and resiliency against infection of outer skin. Also a vital antioxidant, linked to preventing cancer of the cervix.
Sources: Blueberries, eggs, tomatoes, vegetables dark green and yellow.
Function: Essential for the maintenance of good vision and healthy skin. Also involved in converting carbohydrates to ATP (cellular energy source).
Sources: Eggs, fish, grains whole, vegetable leafy and green.
Function: Plays an essential role in cellular respiration of all muscles. Makes it possible for muscles and their nerves to function with less oxygen, thereby increasing endurance and stamina. Powerful antioxidant and protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
Sources: Eggs, grains whole, legumes, meats organ, nuts, seeds, vegetables leafy green
Function: Involved in duplication of chromosomes during cell reproduction, higher consumption needed during pregnancy. Regulates blood homocysteine levels, an amino acid associated with the risk of heart disease, strokes and osteoporosis.
Sources: Citrus fruits, asparagus, salmon, broccoli
Function: Essential for regulation of healthy bones and teeth. Helps to regulate nerve transmission, involved in muscle contraction and aids relaxation and quality of sleep.
Sources: Dairy products i.e. milk and cheese, mackerel, sardines, green leafy vegetables, dried figs.
Function: Vital component of red blood cells, also used in enzymes involved in oxidation-reduction reactions.
Sources: Meat, organ meats, poultry, Fish, dried fruit, leafy green vegetables.
Function: Constituent of at least 25 enzymes involved in digestion and metabolism. Aids wound healing and bone fractures, also needed for healthy skin and support of the immune system.
Sources: crab, eggs, fish, herring, organ meats, poultry, whole grains, sunflower seeds.
Non-starch polysaccharides (fibre)
Function: Helps to protect against bowl disease. Helps your bowel to pass food by making stools soft and bulky. This type of fibre helps prevent constipation. Also delays time food spends in small intestine which aids absorption.
Sources: Wheat, corn, rice, vegetables and pulses
Polyunsaturated fats Omega 3/6’s
Function: Essential to the body, meaning the body has to obtain them from the diet it cannot produce them itself. Regulate the transport of oxygen and are vital in maintaining the integrity of cell structures. Crucial for blood clotting, for support of the immune system. Omega 3’s especially important in protecting the nervous system and integrity of cell membranes in the brain.
Sources: It is important that you get these in an equal balance Omega 6 examples are evening primrose oil, Sesame oil, Sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, UDO’s oil. Omega 3 examples are Fish oils, flaxseeds, Hemp seeds, Salmon, sardines.
Functions: Lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and maintain HDL (good cholesterol levels).
Sources: Peanuts, walnut oil, olive oil, Cashews, Canola oil.
So what are the specific nutrients in different food choices and how can they help or hinder??
Starting from next week, we will look at a variety of different food choices, what nutrients they have in them and how they can benefit us, as well as being aware of any irritations they may cause us. Rather than categorizing in different food groups, we will look at a range of foods starting with the letter A , through to the end of the alphabet! 2 letters per week, therefore by the end of this group of blogs you will have a great source of foods, the typical serving size, and how they can help you, (or hinder you! )
As a taster!:
1 medium apple (182g) has approx. 92 calories.
Apples are packed full of nutrients, offering us Vitamin C, fiber and are a good source of antioxidants such as Quercetin, Flavonoids and Procyanidins (cancer fighting)
Apples will help us fight against Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancer, high blood pressure, weight gain, blood sugar swings, CV disease, high cholesterol and help maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Make sure that you wash them as pesticide residues can be harmful, and they can cause bacterial infection and allergies.
If baking, Golden delicious, Macintosh and Granny smith are some of the favourite options, and Gala and Red Delicious for eating. The web pages below provide some good examples