In order for the body to function properly and for us to survive, we need nutrients. Nutrients are essential in maintaining our health as well as providing us with the energy we need to get through our everyday lives. What you might not know about nutrients, however, is that they can be split into two categories: Macronutrients and Micronutrients.

Macronutrients consist of the following: Protein, fats and carbohydrates. While the latter two might sound scary, these nutrients are essential in supplying our bodies with the calories and energy in requires. As such, we need to tailor our diets accordingly to make sure we’re getting enough of what we need. Fats, for example, aren’t something we always need to stay away from. Why? Because there are good fats and bad fats. Examples of bad fats include things like pork, beef, lamb, poultry with skin, butter, cheese and cream. These are fats you should avoid, as overconsumption can lead to things like heart disease and other health problems. Instead, you’ll want to opt for healthier fats. Examples of good fats include avocados, olives, nuts (such as almonds and walnuts) and seeds (such as pumpkin or chia seeds.) Next up in the macronutrients list is protein. Protein is essential for the repair and regeneration of body tissues and cells. It also helps promote proper immune system function, as well as hormone manufacturing. Good sources of protein include things like raw green vegetables (spinach, kale, and broccoli), beans, beets, seeds, nuts, quinoa, and legumes. Last but not least…carbohydrates. Another word that might sound daunting, but the types of carbohydrates the body actually requires may not be the same kind of carbohydrates you’re thinking of (i.e. bread and potato.) Examples of good carbohydrates to include in your diet are fruits like apples and bananas, vegetables such as carrots and cauliflower, brown rice, oats, quinoa, kidney beans, and chickpeas.

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that are required by the body. While they aren’t considered as essential as macronutrients, becoming deficient in certain vitamins and minerals can have severe, long-lasting effects on the body and your overall health. An example of micronutrients are fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A, D, E and K. Vitamin A is essential for eye and brain health; Vitamin D is essential for the promotion and preservation of bone health in addition to improving the respiratory system, immune system, and mental/emotional wellbeing; Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects your DNA; and Vitamin K activates blood-clotting proteins. Then, there are water-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins consist of B-Complex vitamins, which are essential for immune health and boosting the mood; and Vitamin C, which plays many roles including boosting immunity, as well as strengthening connective tissue as well as the elasticity of bones and tissue. Vitamin C also helps to enhance the absorption of iron.

Then, there are also macrominerals. Macrominerals consist of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium chloride (also known as table salt.) Sodium chloride, in particular, is something you’ll want to pay close attention to be and extra careful with. While some salt is required by the body, we can also become addicted to it. Over time, too much salt in your diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke, so it’s important to limit your salt intake as much as possible.

To learn more about macro and micronutrients, check out this video from Global BC.