Essential Nutrients and Fiber
Why essential nutrients are important and the 6 major classes of essential
because it's indigestible and doesn't provide direct nourishment for the body.
Although fiber isn't considered to be a nutrient, it is an essential component of
nutrition and health. Fiber is neccessary for the proper elimination of waste and
toxins from the digestive system. Proper elimination of wastes and toxins helps to
keep the body healthy. When fiber is eaten regularly as part of a healthy diet, it not
only cleans the digestive tract. It also helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and
prevents several illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer.
Fiber - Soluble and Insoluble
There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is
dispersible in water, while insoluble fiber is not. Soluble fiber has been associated with
the decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. When soluble fiber is mixed with a
liquid, it forms a gel. This action is what makes soluble fiber a stool softener. Soluble
fiber slows digestion and slows the rate of nutrient absorption. When foods
containing soluble fiber are consumed, the soluble fiber also slows the rate at which
starches and sugars are absorbed by the body. Soluble fiber is found in varying
quantities in all plant foods. Foods that are great sources of soluble fiber include
beans, peas, lentils, apples, pears, berries, oranges, bananas, plums, prunes, and
psyllium. Insoluble fiber helps to prevent colon cancer. Insoluble fiber, often
referred to as roughage, is fiber that when combined with water it doesn't dissolve
and form a gel. While soluble fiber is a stool softener, insoluble fiber is considered to
be the broom that sweeps away wastes and toxins from the digestive tract.
Insoluble fiber is found mostly on the skins and peels of plant foods. Foods that are
great sources of insoluble fiber include green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, lentils,
whole grain foods, nuts, and seeds. Wholefood Sources of Fiber
Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells against the damaging effects of
oxidative stress. They're natural cancer fighters, they help to prevent many illnesses
including cancer and heart disease, and they also help to slow the aging process.
There are over 5,000 antioxidants and only afew of them are considered to be
essential nutrients. The essential antioxidant nutrients are vitamins A, C, E, and
Selenium. Although most antioxidants aren't essential for the proper functioning of
the body, they are highly recommended for the prevention and treatment of many
illnesses and conditions. Raw fruits and vegetables are the best sources of
The 6 essential nutrients are: vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, carbohydrates, and
water. Essential nutrients are nutrients that are required for the proper functioning of
the body, but cannot be manufactured by the body. Supplements are often
recommended for those who are defficient in one or more of the essential nutrients.
Both synthetic and natural supplements are available, but the healthiest way to get
adequate amounts of essential nutrients is to eat and drink natural foods that contain
them. Often, supplements contain added chemical ingredients and lack the fiber and
other nutrients that the body needs.
Essential nutrients are further divided into two groups: macronutrients and
micronutrients. The word macro means large. Macronutrients are nutrients that are
required by the body and that we need large amounts of. The macronutrients are
fats, protein, carbohydrates, macro-minerals, and water. Macro-minerals are
minerals that are required in amounts of 100mg or more per day. The macro-
minerals are calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and
sulfur. The word micro means small. Micronutrients are also nutrients that are
required, but that we need smaller amounts of. Micronutrients are the vitamins and
Vitamins are organic chemical compounds that are divided into 2 categories: fat
soluble vitamins, and water soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins are transported
around the body in fat and are stored in the liver and fatty tissues. The fat soluble
vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K. Water soluble vitamins are transported around
the body in water. The water soluble vitamins are vitamins B, C, and folic acid.
Water soluble vitamins can't be stored by the body. Excess amounts of water
soluble vitamins are passed through the urine. Since water soluble vitamins can't be
stored by the body, they should be consumed everyday by eating healthy foods that
contain them. Water soluble vitamins can be destroyed by cooking. To avoid this, it
is recommended that foods containing them are eaten raw, stir-fried, steamed, or
grilled. Since fat soluble vitamins are stored for long periods of time, they pose a
greater risk of toxicity when consumed in excess. Eating a well balanced diet is the
best way to get fat soluble vitamins. Taking supplements of fat soluble vitamins
increases the risk of toxicity. Wholefood Sources of Individual Vitamins
Minerals (dietary minerals) are chemical elements that provide nourishment for the
body. Dietary minerals are essential nutrients and are divided into 2 basic groups:
macro-minerals and trace minerals. Macro-minerals are those that are required in
amounts of 100mg or more per day. Trace minerals are also required, but in smaller
amounts of less than 100mg per day. The macro-minerals are calcium, magnesium,
phosphorus, chloride, sulfur, sodium, and potassium. The micro-minerals (commonly
reffered to as trace minerals) are chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron,
manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc.
Wholefood Sources of Individual Minerals
Fats are lipids that play a vital role in helping the body to function properly. Fats are
essential for maintaining healthy skin and hair, insulating body organs against shock,
maintaining body temperature, and promoting healthy cell function. Fats also provide
energy stores and are neccessary for the transportation of fat-soluble nutrients
throughout the body. Essential fatty acids are lipids that are required for health,
but are not manufactured by the body. They can only be obtained through foods
and natural supplements. The two essential fatty acids (EFAs) are Omega-3 fatty
acids and Omega-6 fatty acids. Great food sources of essential fatty acids are oily
fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna and plant foods such as olives,
nuts, and seeds. Oily fish are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids and nuts and
seeds are great sources of Omega-6 fatty acids. Due to mercury levels that may be
present in fish, it is recommended that fish not be eaten on a daily basis. The
American Heart Association recommends eating oily fish at least two times (two
servings) a week, but generally not more than 12 ounces of fish per week per
person. A serving is about 3.5 ounces cooked.
Wholefood Sources of Healthy Fats
For children and women who are pregnant or nursing, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) recommends avoiding the consumption of fish that contains
high levels of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish. The FDA
recommends to eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) per week of a variety of
fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury such as canned light tuna, salmon, pollock,
and catfish. They also recommend to check local advisories about the safety of fish
caught by family and friends in local lakes, rivers and coastal areas. Smaller fish such
as sardines and herring have much lower levels of contaminants such as mercury.
Protein is an essential nutrient contained in every part of the body including the skin,
muscles, hair, blood, body organs, eyes, fingernails, and bones. Protein is the
second most plentiful substance in the body. The first being water. Protein is
composed of small units called amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of
protein. There are about 20 known amino acids, 8 of which are essential amino
acids. The 8 essential amino acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine,
phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. There are two types of protein:
complete protein (contains all 8 essential amino acids), and incomplete protein (is
missing one or more of the 8 essential amino acids). Animal foods are complete
protein foods that provide all 8 essential amino acids. Plant foods are incomplete
protein foods that are usually missing one or more of the 8 essential amino acids.
For those on plant based diets such as the vegetarian or vegan diet, eating a wide
variety of plant foods can ensure sufficient consumption of all 8 essential amino
acids. Animal food sources of protein include meat, eggs, milk, yogurt, and kefir.
Protein is contained in all plant foods in varying amounts, but the best plant sources
of protein are legumes, bean sprouts, nuts, and seeds.
Wholefood Sources of Protein
- The superfoods spirulina and chlorella are complete protein micro-algae. They
contain all 8 essential amino acids and are also an excellent source of several other
nutrients including chlorophyll, essential fatty acids, B vitamins, antioxidants, and
several minerals. Spirulina is an especially rich source of potassium, and also
contains calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus,
selenium, sodium, and zinc.
Although spirulina and chlorella contain similar nutrients, they have some differing
elements that allow them to provide their own set of health benefits for the body.
Spirulina is a nitrogen based micro-algae and has a similar taste to seaweed, while
chlorella is an oxygen based micro-algae and has the flavor similar to wheatgrass.
Spirulina provides up to 35% more protein than chlorella, which makes it a high
energy food. Chlorella gets it's name because it's the highest source of chlorophyll.
Chlorella provides up to 10 times more chlorophyll than spirulina. Chlorophyll is
beneficial for many actions in the body including detoxification and increased
immunity. So even though both provide complete protein and very similar nutrients,
each one has a higher amount of certain nutrients than the other. Chlorella is about
40 percent protein and spirulina is anywhere from 55-75 percent protein. Unlike
chlorella, spirulina also contains essential fatty acids. Unlike spirulina, chlorella also
contains antioxidants that are highly beneficial in the prevention and treatment of
disease. So while spirulina is especially useful for gaining healthy weight, chlorella is
especially useful for detoxification and immunity boosting. They are both super
healthy and help to prevent and fight disease. It is always recommended that
spirulina and chlorella be taken together because they provide such a great balance
of nutrients when combined.
Carbohydrates (also known as saccharides) are sugars and starches that provide
energy for the body. The body needs carbohydrates in order to function properly.
Although we get energy from protein and fats, carbohydrates are our greatest
source of energy due to there supply of glucose. Glucose is the body's major source
of energy. Carbohydrates are generally divided into two groups: simple
carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are those that are
high in sugars and starches and go through the digestion process quickly. Simple
carbohydrates include fruits, dairy, pasta, refined cereals, soda, processed candies,
cookies, cakes, and other high sugar processed desserts. Although fruits are simple
carbohydrates they're also generally high in fiber and other nutrients that allow them
to digest much slower than the other simple carbohydrates. Processed sugar items
like soda, candies, cookies, and other desserts go through the digestive system the
fastest due to their high sugar content and their usual lack of fiber. Complex
carbohydrates take the longest to digest due to their much lower sugar content,
fiber, and often protein. Complex carbohydrates include vegetables, whole grains,
legumes, nuts, and seeds. Wholefood Sources of Complex Carbohydrates
One of the functions of the liver is to breakdown carbohydrates and turn them into
glucose so the body can use the glucose as energy. This process takes some time,
that is one of the reasons why complex carbohydrates are such a good source of
lasting energy. On the other hand, refined simple carbohydrates are already mostly
sugar so the liver doesn't have to do much work to digest them. They are quickly
digested, causing spikes in insulin levels, crash of energy, and excess weight gain.
Although fruit contain natural sugar, their fiber content allow them to pass through
the digestive system much slower. While fruits are generally an excellent source of
nutrients, complex carbohydrates are also an excellent source of energy. Refined,
processed sugary sweets and desserts are generally empty calories because they
offer very little or no nutritional value. They usually contain unhealthy fats and are
low in protein and fiber.
- Glycemic Index (GI) is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar
levels. During digestion, carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and
release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high glycemic index; and
carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into
the bloodstream, have a low glycemic index. So generally, foods with a high
glycemic index will cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, and foods with a low
glycemic index won't cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. The sudden spikes in
blood sugar levels (also known as insulin levels) contribute to several health
conditions such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and obesity. Studies
show that eating a diet that's high in simple sugars also increases the risk of
developing cancer. Some vegetables, such as potatoes, have a high glycemic index.
Eating legumes and low glycemic index vegetables will drastically lower the glycemic
index of the meal. Also, eating the skins of potatoes along with the potatoes also
lowers the glycemic index of the food. In some regions where rice is a staple for
most meals, fiber rich vegetables, legumes, and protein is consumed along with the
rice. In those regions there is generally a reduced risk of diabetes, obeisity, and
The glycemic index of foods depends on several factors including the type of starch,
physical entrapment of the starch molecules within the food, fat and protein content
of the food, and organic acids or their salts in the meal. Several diets rely on the
glycemic index of foods among other things. There's some criticism of the glycemic
index program. One of those criticisms is that foods generally considered to be
unhealthy can have a low glycemic index, while some healthy foods can have a high
glycemic index. Some examples of low glycemic unhealthy foods are: chocolate
cake, ice cream, some candy bars, and pure fructose. Some examples of high
glycemic healthy foods are: potatoes, millet, watermelon, brown rice pasta, parsnips,
Water is far more than an essential nutrient. Dr. B (Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D.)
is the Author of Your Body's Many Cries For Water. He's an internationally renowned
researcher, author, and advocate of the natural healing power of water. He explains
that water is the basis of life. It's needed for every function in the body. The
muscles that move the body are 75% water, the blood that transports nutrients
through the body is 82% water, the lungs that provide oxygen are 90% water, the
brain is the control center of the body and it's 76% water. Even the bones in the
body are 26% water. He educates that our health is dependent on the quality and
adequate quantity of the water we drink. Dr. B's research work shows that
Unintentional Chronic Dehydration (UCD) contributes to pain and many degenerative
diseases that can be treated and prevented by drinking adequate amounts of water
on a daily basis. Dr. B's research shows some of the many wonders of water.
According to his research, water helps to cure and prevent many illnesses and
conditions. The following are some of the illnesses and conditions that water helps to
cure and prevent:
Heartburn is a signal that their is a shortage of water in the upper part of the
gastrointestinal tract. Not recognizing heartburn as a sign of dehydration and instead
treating it with antacids and other medications overtime will cause adverse effects in
the stomach and other parts of the digestive system such as inflammation, ulcers,
and eventually cancer.
Arthritis (rheumatoid joint pain) is a signal of water shortage in the painful joint.
Although it's common among the elderly, it can affect people regardless of their age.
Taking pain medications doesn't cure arthritis, but creates adverse effects for the
person taking them. Dr. B says that the adequate intake of water and small
amounts of salt will cure arthritis.
Back Pain - Lower back pain and ankylosing arthritis of the spine are signs of water
shortage in the spinal column and discs. The spinal column and discs are water
cushions that support the weight of the body. Not recognizing lower back pain and
akyolosing arthritis as symptoms of dehydration, and instead using pain-killers,
manipulation, acupuncture, and eventually surgery - will (over time) produce
osteoarthritis when the cartilage cells in the joints have eventually all died. These
painful back conditions can be treated with increased adequate water intake.
Angina (heart pain) is a sign of water shortage in the heart/lung axis. Increased
adequate water intake is the cure for angina. Angina should be treated with
increased adequate water intake until the patient is free of pain and independent of
medications. Medical supervision is necessary.
Migraines - Migraine headaches are a sign that more water is needed by the brain
and the eyes. The type of dehydration that causes migraines can eventually cause
inflammation of the back of the eye and possibly cause loss of eye sight. Drinking
adequate amounts of water can clear migraine headaches if dehydration is prevented
from establishing in the body.
Colitis pain is a signal that there's water shortage in the large intestine. Colitis is
associated with constipation because the large intestine constricts to squeeze the
last drops of water from the excrements. So dehydration in the large intestine
creates a lack of water lubrication which is needed to assist in regular elimination of
Asthma affects over 14 million children and kills several thousand of them every
year. Dr. B's research shows that asthma is a sign of dehydration in the body.
Asthma is caused by through the drought management programs of the body. In
asthma, free passage of air is obstructed so that water doesn't leave the body in the
form of vapor. Adequate intake of water prevents asthma attacks. Those with
asthma also need to take more salt in order to break the mucus plugs in the lungs
that obstruct the free flow of air in and out of the air sacs. Dr B says that not
recognizing asthma as the indicator of dehydration in the body of a growing child not
only will sentence many thousands of children to die every year, but will also allow
irreversible genetic damage to occur in the remaining 14 million asthmatic children.
High Blood Pressure (hypertension) is a state of adaptation of the body to a
generalized drought. Hypertension occurs when there's not enough water to fill all
the blood vessels that diffuse water into vital cells. As part of the mechanism of
reverse osmosis, when water from the blood serum is filtered and injected into
important cells through minute holes in their membranes, extra pressure is needed
for the "injection process". Just as an I.V. in the hospital, water is injected by the
body into tens of trillions of cells all at the same time. Increasing water intake by
adequate amounts and taking a small amount of salt along with it, will bring blood
pressure back to normal levels.
Not recognizing hypertension as a sign of dehydration and instead using diuretics that
further dehydrate the body, will (over time) cause blockage by cholesterol of the
heart arteries and the arteries that go to the brain. It will also cause heart attacks,
small or massive strokes that paralyze, kidney disease, brain damage, and
neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
Early Adult-Onset Diabetes is also a state of adaptation to severe dehydration of
the human body. All cells of the body need water. During diabetes, only some cells
get survival rations of water. In order for the body to have enough water for
circulation and for the brain's priority water needs, the release of insulin is inhibited to
prevent insulin from pushing water into all body cells. Taking adequate amounts of
water and some salt will reverse adult-onset diabetes in its early stages.
Dr. B says that not recognizing adult-onset diabetes as a complication of dehydration
will eventually cause massive damage to the blood vessels all over the body. This
will lead to the loss of toes; feet; and legs from gangrene, and it will cause eye
damage and even blindness.
High Cholesterol levels are an indicator that early drought management is taking
place in the body. Cholesterol is a clay-like material which is poured into the gaps of
some cell membranes in order to safeguard them against losing their vital water
content to the osmotically more powerful blood that's circulating in their vicinity.
Cholesterol is not only used to manufacture nerve cell membranes and hormones.
It's also used as a "shield" against water taxation of other vital cells that would
normally exchange water through their cell membranes. Drinking adequate amounts
of water lowers blood cholesterol.
You can learn more about Dr. B's Research by reading his books and listening to his
audio seminars. The following is a list of afew of his works:
- Your Body's Many Cries for Water
- Water: Rx for A Healthier, Pain-free Life
- Water For Health, For Healing, For Life
- Water Cures, Drugs Kill
Caution: Although drinking adequate amounts of water is beneficial for health,
drinking excessive amounts of water causes water intoxication. Water intoxication
causes death. Eating raw fruits and vegetables is one way to consume natural water
in the form of juice from whole foods. Juicing raw fruits and vegetables is a common
practice among many health enthusiasts. Drinking freshly made fruit and vegetable
juice blends provides many health benefits. If drinking clear water beyond occasional
thirst quenching, be sure not to exceed far beyond the recommended daily intake for
your height and weight. Please keep in mind that there is still much controversy
about how much clear water we should drink everyday.
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
Britannica Online Encyclopedia
Essential nutrients are nutrients that
can't be manufactured by the body,
but are required by the body in order
for it to function properly. Each
essential nutrient directly provides
health benefits and it also works in
conjunction with one or more of the
other essential nutrients. The only
way we can obtain essential nutrients
is through the foods we consume and
the natural supplements we take.
There are 6 major classes of
essential nutrients: vitamins,
minerals, fats, protein,
carbohydrates, and water. Fiber is
generally not classified as a nutrient
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this website is for educational purposes only. Please consult with your physician before using natural
remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise program.
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