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  • Writer's pictureDr. Susan Knight-Nanni

Top 5 Nutrients for Better Health

Top 5 Nutrients for Better Health

Your body needs a variety of nutrients, most of which you already consume. The trick is finding out what you’re taking too little or too much of. In honor of March being National Nutrition Month, let’s explore the top nutrients your body needs, and in what quantity.

1. Water

Water is life, responsible for regulating your body’s biological processes- controlling your temperature, lubricating your joints, and aiding waste removal. The commonly touted rule is to drink 8 glasses of water per day, but the reality is that your water intake should be guided by your environment, body type, and activity levels.

It is recommended that men and women drink on average 3.7 liters and 2.7 liters of fluids a day, respectively [1]. Also remember that an additional 20% of fluids will come from the foods that you eat.

2. Carbs

Every action your body takes- from breathing to running, is powered by carbohydrates. Carbs, which are broken down into sugars and starch, are therefore responsible for your energy needs. Guidelines state that carbs should make up between 45% and 65% of your total calories per day [2], with majority intake leaning towards starches more than sugars.

Some great sources of carbs include veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy, sweet potatoes, and potatoes.

3. Fats

Healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) are responsible for absorption of vitamins, reduced LDL cholesterol levels, enhanced brain function, and decreased risk of heart disease, to name but a few positives.

For healthy adults, fats should make up between 20% and 35% of your daily calories [3], from sources including avocados, nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds), olive oil, fish (tuna, salmon), olives, dark chocolate, tofu, seeds (chia, sunflower), and eggs.

4. Protein

The role of protein is to build organs, muscles, skin, tendons, hormones, enzymes, and a great number of other vital molecules, making it critical to your body’s functions.

The average recommended protein intake is 46 grams for a sedentary woman and 56 grams for a sedentary man [4], however, if you are active, a higher-protein intake is needed. Great sources of protein include white meat, lean beef, legumes, nuts, dairy, eggs, beans, soy, and seafood.

5. Fiber

Most people associate fiber solely with improved digestion, however, this crucial nutrient also promotes weight loss, decreases blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and reduces your risk of heart disease. To get the recommended intake of 21 to 25 grams per day for women and 30 to 38 grams per day for men [5], introduce more whole grains, beans, nuts, bran cereal, berries, brown rice, oatmeal, and veggies into your diet.

Use the tips above to find nutritional balance, and watch as your body grow stronger and healthier.

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