Diabetes Diet: Balancing Micro And Macro Nutrients

Doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists may suggest we eat a good balance of macronutrients and micronutrients, assuming we know what macro and micro nutrients are.

They may assume we know because these two broad categories - macronutrients and micronutrients - contain food elements that most of us are, at least to some degree, familiar with.

Macronutrients

Macronutrients make up the largest portion of the foods we consume, and though we all need them they are especially important if we try to put on muscle or weight, or engage in vigorous activities.

Macronutrients include:

  • Carbohydrates. All foods contain some amount of carbohydrate, a source of fuel for our body composed of sugar, or starches. Fiber is also a carbohydrate; it aids digestion, but does not provide energy.
  • Proteins. Made from chains of amino acids, proteins are structural elements of body tissues such as hair, collagen, and muscle. Proteins also function as enzymes, and antibodies. It’s not only meats, eggs, and dairy that provide protein, we also get it from plant foods such as flax seeds, nuts, chia, avocados, spinach, and kale.
  • Fats. Our body needs “good” fat to function properly. Cell membranes, for instance, require fat to maintain their integrity. Fat protects our organs, and helps us absorb vitamins from food. Sources of healthy fat include pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and almonds, avocados, olives, and coconuts. Some nutritionists also include grass fed meats, and organic eggs.

Each of these macronutrients is found in almost all foods, but in varying amounts. For example, a banana is mostly carbohydrate with a bit of fat and protein, while avocados are three-quarters healthy fat, less than one-quarter carbohydrate, and a dollop of protein.

Micronutrients

In contrast to fats, proteins, and carbs, micronutrients are substances we need in very small amounts, yet without adequate micronutrients we are vulnerable to body malfunctions, and disease.

Micronutrients include:

  • Vitamins. We need vitamins A, B, C, D, E, K, and carotenoids.
  • Minerals. Minerals are inorganic substances that our body requires: boron, calcium, chloride, chromium, cobalt, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc.
  • Organic Acids. Our body uses acetic, citric, lactic, and malic acids, choline, and taurine.
  • Phytochemicals. Though phytochemicals are non-nutritive, they have powerful properties that protect us against disease. There are many types of phytochemicals, and each functions differently. Some, for instance, work as antioxidants, protecting our cells from the mischief of free-radicals. Other phytochemicals stimulate or inhibit enzymes, protect against carcinogens, have hormonal properties, have antibacterial effects, or help regulate our metabolism.

The best way to get plenty of micronutrients is eating a diet rich in whole grains, beans, herbs, and fresh or frozen fruits, and vegetables.

Getting What We Need

Together, macronutrients and micronutrients provide our body optimal nutrition. There are apps available that make tracking nutrient intake doable, but the simplest way to get our macros and micros is eating a varied diet of mostly fresh, whole foods—most of the time.

Your body is only as amazing as the material it has to work with. The quality of the food you put into your amazing body has a huge impact on your health. An apple is not just an apple, nor is a steak just a steak … Depending on where your food was grown, or how your meat was raised, the quality of its macro and micro nutrients can be incredibly different. ~ Bonfire Health

Sources: Phytochemicals; Mercola; Bonfire Health
Photo credit: Johnn

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