You are what you eat! – The Macro- and Micro- nutrients of our diet.

Despite there being so many different diets out there, what we eat and digest that eventually becomes us really comes down to the basics of what constitutes a healthy body. Below is some information on what makes up our body, and hence what should make up our diet. A healthy diet needs essential macro and micro nutrients including;

Macro-nutrients -water, protein, carbohydrates, fats and fibre

Micro-nutrients -vitamins and minerals.

Water – Makes up 60% of the body. Should be sipped throughout the day mostly concentrated away from meals. Every morning should begin with a glass of water. A little slice of lemon will also promote healthy digestion to start the day and “break” the “fast”.

  • Focus on filtered water from a pure source free of contaminants like toxic levels of minerals, heavy metals, fluorine, chlorine, bacteria, parasites and many other toxic chemicals.
  • Avoid too much carbonated water – affects acid alkaline balance because of large amounts of carbon dioxide.
  • Requirements:
  • Based on size, activity level, climate and diet
  • Losses from skin, urine, bowels and lungs
  • 50% obtained from good diet based on fruits and vegetables
  • Average = 3 quarts or 2800ml or 12cups
  • More meats and fats = more water needed
  • Diet high in fruits and veg = less water needed
  • Athlete training in the dessert = greatest water need
  • Sedentary person in the winter = less need

Dr. Kelly’s tip – carry around a glass or other non-plastic water bottle that you can sip on anywhere you are. Keep one in the car, your purse, and at the office. Be sure to clean it regularly with hot soapy water!

 

Protein – Makes up 18% of the body.  Should make up a about 20-30 percent of the total diet ranging in intake from 0.8g/kg of lean body weight for the average person to 1.5g/kg for endurance athletes. Historically protein requirements have been grossly overestimated especially for athletes.

  • Focus on quality over quantity. Lean sources of protein with trimmed fat and skin. If vegetarian be sure to combine proteins in order to safeguard against amino acid deficiencies.
  • Requirements are needed to maintain positive nitrogen balance in childhood, illness, healing, pregnancy and lactation whereas even-balance is ideal in adults.
  • Second only to water
  • Based on activity level, size and life stage – required for growth, and maintenance of tissues
  • Muscles, hair, nails, skin, eyes, organs
  • Mostly heart and brain
  • Immune system
  • Hemoglobin
  • Hormones (Thyroid Hormones and Insulin) – regulates metabolism

Dr. Kelly’s tip – Good sources of protein are organic chicken, fish, eggs, and lean meats like venison. Red meat should be limited to once per week and chewed really well. Greek yogurt has great protein, so does quinoa, and tempeh. A good quality protein powder can go a long way in boosting up your meals and can be really helpful for weight loss programs and athletes.

 

Carbohydrates – Make up 2% of the body. Should make up about 40-60% of the total diet. This is the body’s main source of energy that gets burned as fuel. Provide immediate and timed released energy source. A diet too low in carbohydrates can lead to ketogenesis which is essentially starvation; however a diet too high in carbohydrate is also associated with problems like blood sugar issues and obesity. Ideal protein to carbohydrate ratio in the diet depends on energy demands. For the average adult a 1:1 ratio is ideal at each main meal.

  • Focus should be on vegetables and fruits as first choices, followed by modest amounts of whole wheat grains and gluten free varieties.
  • More grains and starchy vegetables can be eaten during growth and development and with active adults or athletes.

Require Carbohydrates for:

  • Fuel for human bodies CHO (1:2:1)
  • Dietary fibre – insoluble and soluble
  • Food for bacteria in large intestine (FOS)
  • Cell to cell signaling (I.e. blood type – sugars on surface of cells determines type)
  • Sugars to fuel cells

Dr. Kelly’s tip – Vegetables that are green can pretty much be eaten unlimited!! Should be getting a minimum of 3 servings per day…one of my favourite ways to boost up my greens is adding a cup of spinach to a berry smoothie! Other good carbohydrates come from all other vegetables adding another 4-5 servings per day plus a couple of fruits. If you want to have some grains good choices are quinoa, brown rice and other whole wheat products like whole oats or pasta. A great substitute for pasta is spaghetti squash.

 

Fats – Make up 15% of the body. Should make up 10-30% of the total diet depending on life stage and risk factors.

  • Focus on Omega 3 mono and poly unsaturated fats as the typical diet is low on these types.
  • A healthy diet should contain a variety of short, medium and long chain fats as well as some saturated and unsaturated.
  • Avoid excess intake of fats as this is associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
  • Fats are primarily found in meats, dairy, nuts and seeds – most visible and concentrated but all food contains some.
  • Common vegetarian sources are soybeans, olives, peanuts and avocadoes.

More info on Fats:

  • Packs more calories than carbs and proteins – 9cal/g vs. 4cal/g for carbs and proteins
  • Storage and energy source
  • Transport fat soluble vitamins
  • Cell membranes and organ protection
  • Regulates body temperature and nervous tissue
    • Saturated – coconut oil, butter, most animal fats
    • Mono-unsaturated – olive oil, canola oil
    • Poly-unsaturated Omega 6 – Safflower, sunflower, sesame, grapeseed, borage, EPO, black currant, human milk, some fungi, beef fat, egg yolk
    • Poly-unsaturated Omega 3 – flaxseed, pumpkin seed, hemp seed, walnut, fish oils (EPA and DHA)

Dr. Kelly’s tip – Make your own salad dressings to avoid Trans and other processed fats and unnecessary sugars. Olive oil with a splash of balsamic tastes great. Mix it up and try flax oil and lemon on more delicate greens. Tablespoons of oil can also be added to smoothies to boost up nutrition value and can help you feel fuller for longer.

 

Fibre – Exclusively a plant nutrient needed for structural support. Humans require fibre to form and excrete healthy bowel movements. Sometimes called “roughage”. Areas of the world with least food processing and least amount of animal foods have the greatest intake of fibre.

  • Focus on a combination of soluble and insoluble fibres from vegetables and fruits.
  • Functional fibre or supplementation plans can be used for specific conditions like high cholesterol or weight loss.

More on fibre:

  • Should try to get at least 30g per day.
  • Focus should be on vegetables and fruits and whole foods for fibre.
  • Low fibre is associated with constipation, gastrointestinal disorders and colon cancer
  • High fibre diet is associated with healthy digestion and prevention of chronic disease
  • Sometimes a low fibre diet may be indicated to treat certain medical conditions but this should be supervised by your doctor

Dr. Kelly’s tip – some of my favourite fibres come from vegetables like celery! I usually wash up the entire stalk and store it in some water in the frig so I can snack anytime on a fresh crunchy stick. Other fibres that I love are chia seeds sprinkled onto yogurt, ground flax seeds or other ground nut mixes which are easily sprinkled onto salads and other dishes.

 

Vitamins – Make up <1% of the body. Taking a regular multi-vitamin is like an insurance plan that prevents the body from becoming deficient. However, it should not replace a healthy diet.

  • Focus should be on getting everything you need out of a whole foods and healthy diet.
  • Increased levels of stress or other disease states may necessitate therapeutic intervention using specific vitamins at higher doses.
  • Illness or after injury or surgery is another time when supplementation may be necessary.

More on vitamins:

  • Vitamins are Micronutrients (with minerals)
  • Fat soluble – A, D, E, K
  • Water soluble – Bs(1,2,3,5,6,12,biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol, paba, orotic acid, pangamic acid, laetrile, bioflavonoids), Vitamin C
  • Greater need to supplement with poor diet or absorption issues

Dr. Kelly’s tip – Taking a good quality multi-vitamin during cold and flu season can help safeguard against deficiencies. It may also be helpful during times of stress or lower quality nutrition like during travel, moving, or stressful projects. Speak to a professional about supplementing higher doses of specific vitamins as they can be helpful for certain health conditions but dosing should be unique to your health needs.

 

Minerals – Make up 4% of the body. Assist the body in energy production.

  • Focus should be on getting these from whole foods diet rich in local, organic foods if possible.
  • Modern day farming techniques have changed our soils and depleted them of the full spectrum of minerals.
  • Diets high in refined and processed foods may need to supplement.

More on minerals:

  • Come from the earth and return to the earth
  • Cannot be reduced to something simpler
  • Mostly in skeleton
  • Also in tissue proteins, enzymes, blood and some vitamins
  • Macrominerals and elements àOxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, chloride, sodium, and magnesium.
  • Microminerals à Iron, flouride, zinc, strontium, copper, silicon, cobalt, vanadium, iodine, tin, selenium, manganese, nickel, molybdenum, chromium.

Dr. Kelly’s tip – Eating a variety of seasonal and fresh fruits and vegetables should provide adequate minerals. Most multi-vitamins will also include minerals as well. Speak to a professional before supplementing any one particular mineral to make sure it’s appropriate for your life stage and health goals. Minerals can compete with each other from the diet and when supplemented; for example zinc can reduce iron, copper and phosphorus absorption. When things are too far out of balance minerals can have toxic effects. Having a hair mineral analysis done may give you an idea of where your current balance lies.

 

More questions about your diet? Book a consultation with me I’ll be happy to review your diet and advise you on healthy changes that can be made.  ~Dr. Kelly McGuire