What the body needs
- Protein for body growth, maintenance and repair. Protein also provides the raw materials for tissues and fluids and helps maintain the chemical balance in the brain, spine and intestine. Sources of protein include meat, dairy products, eggs, fish, chicken, pulses, nuts and seeds.
- Carbohydrates provide the body’s main source of energy. Carbohydrates exist in two different types: simple sugars and complex carbohydrates such as starch. The majority of the diet should be made up of the latter. Sources of these include bread, pasta, rice, fruit, potatoes and other vegetables, and pulses.
- Fat provides essential fatty acids for the production of substances such as hormones and cell membranes, and is also used as a concentrated energy source. Fat is found in most foods although butter, cheese, lard, margarine and oil all have high-fat contents.
- Fibre has almost no nutritional value but has several key functions. It helps the digestive system absorb water from food and bulks shit so that it can pass more easily through the body. Foods containing fibre fill you up without piling on the calories. It can also help in lowering fat levels in the blood. Sources of fibre include whole grain bread, cereal, oats, fresh fruit and vegetables and pulses.
- Vitamins are essential to tissue-building, hormones, nerve and muscle function and protection against illness and disease. Needed in small quantities, they are vital to the diet because they cannot be made by the body. Most foods are packed with vitamins but many of them increasingly lose their value the more the food is refined and cooked.
- Minerals help regulate the body’s water balance, and the acidity level of body fluids. They assist in body growth and repair. Like vitamins, they are needed in small quantities but are usually found in most foods although they lose their value the more they are cooked.
- Water is the body’s most important component, in that it makes up well over two-thirds of our bodies. All organs and tissues are dependent on water, and, without sufficient quantities, they will stop working. Blood, which is made up mainly of water, carries dissolved nutrients and oxygen to the body’s tissues and carries away waste products including carbon dioxide.
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