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The main purpose of carbohydrates is to give us the energy we need to fuel our activities. This energy comes from the breakdown of starches and sugars to their simplest forms, which your cells can then easily convert to usable power. Although protein and fat can also supply you with energy, your cells prefer the calories from carbohydrates.
Remember: carbs can come from fruits, vegetables, grains — not just the doughnut everyone’s afraid of. In fact, some organs – your brain and kidneys, for example – have a specific need for a carbohydrate fuel source.
Found in meats, milk, eggs, soy, legumes and whole grains, protein supplies your body with a pool of amino acids — the building blocks of all your cells. As part of muscle, bone and skin tissue, it supports your body’s structure. It also repairs cells if they become damaged and provides antibodies to cope with inflammation and infection. Your dietary protein helps keep your cellular machinery running smoothly.
Vitamins and Minerals
These are small-molecule food components you need in order to support your health. Vitamins are involved in energy production, healing wounds, eye and skin health, bone formation and immunity. Minerals provide structure to your skeleton, maintain your cardiovascular health, and help transmit nerves. Eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables helps ensure you have plenty of these nutrients in your body.
Water and Fluid
Of the all nutrients in foods, the most important is water or fluid. It assists with maintaining normal body temperature, lubricates and cushions your joints, protects your spinal cord and removes wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements. You need water to replace what your body loses through normal everyday functions.
Fat supplies more than twice the calories per gram as protein or carbohydrates and is a highly concentrated source of energy your body can store for later. It provides structure to cell membranes and cushions your internal organs to help prevent damage to tissues. Fat serves as a vehicle for delivering vitamins, and it can store these nutrients as insurance against a deficiency. Dietary fats can come from both animal and plant sources, with plant-based foods, nuts and fish offering a healthier version.
All of your plans balance these five factors to make sure you’ve got a complete solution.