Protein and Carbohydrates
Protein – Proteins form the major solid matter of our; muscles, organs, glands, bones, teeth, skin, nails and hair. Our blood contains proteins in the form of; hemoglobin, enzymes, natural antibiotics, neurotransmitters and hormones. Without protein the building and repair of all bodily tissues and fluids would not be possible.
22 Amino Acids are the building blocks of all proteins, 8 of the Amino Acids are essential – meaning that your body can not produce them – therefore they must be obtained through food. When an essential amino acid is lacking the manufacture of various proteins is limited, and effect many other functions like the growth and repair of cells.
Vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds contain protein; however they do not complete forms of protein, because they are missing 1 or more of the essential amino acids. So it is vital that people on vegetarian diets combine two or more of these incomplete proteins to facilitate protein synthesis. Only flesh foods (meat), dairy and eggs are complete proteins.
Many vitamins and minerals are better absorbed in the presence of animal products (protein and fat), Vitamin A and D is only found in animal fat, B6 is available mostly from animal products, usable B12 is only available in animal products. Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc and copper are all absorbed better in the presence of animal proteins and fats.
Sources of protein include: Meat (Beef, Lamb, Veal), Chicken, Fish, Eggs and Dairy.
Carbohydrates – Carbohydrates are our principal source of energy for all body functions. Proteins and lipids (fat) can be converted into energy, but carbs are preferred. Carbohydrates are the only source of energy used by the Central Nervous system and retina of the eye. Limited amounts of carbohydrates are stored in the liver and also in your muscles, however unlimited amounts of carbohydrates can be stored as body fat.
In combination with proteins, carbs form substances that are essential to fighting infection, lubricating joints, maintaining bones, cartilage, tendons, skin and nails.
There are two basic types of carbohydrates Simple and Complex. Simple carbs are usually highly processed food; they are rapidly digested and absorbed, high GI, and cause a quick elevation of blood sugar. Complex carbs are slowly digested and absorbed with a steady rise in blood sugar.
When choosing carbohydrates you should try to get a broad range of nutrients, vegetables are the most nutrient rich carbs and each meal should include them. Your vegetables should be eaten raw or lightly cooked to preserve enzymes and nutrients. By eating a wide range of carbs you also get a wide variety of fibre, fibre (both soluble and insoluble) assist digestion, elimination and detoxification. Fibre also lowers blood fats, balances your blood sugar, improves energy and immunity, it also decreases the digestive and bowel disorders, even colon cancer.
Sources of carbohydrates include: Above ground vegetables (low GI, broccoli), below ground vegetables (high GI, potatoes / carrots), grains, rice, pasta, beans, legumes and breads.
Look out for Part 2 Nutrition Basics – Fat click here.