Fuel Your Journey to Optimal Health the Right Way
Here at SciLife™, we know nutrition is a personal subject. Each of us has our own unique genetic heritage, fitness regimen and health goals. That said, there are a few things all of us could do to ensure we’re adequately fueling our bodies. These include paying attention to macronutrient consumption (protein, carbohydrates, fats) and educating ourselves on additional nutritional supplementation to help maximize the benefits of our health-promoting lifestyle choices. Knowledge is power, and in the case of health, having the right mental tools to fill your plate can not only help keep you strong and fit, it can add years to your life.
We break down the role of each macronutrient pool below, offering advice on how to make sure you’re hitting the optimal balance.
Proteins are molecules that play many critical roles in the body. They do most of the work in the cells and are required for the structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissue and organs. They provide the body with energy and are needed for the manufacturing of hormones, antibodies and enzymes.
Amino acids are the foundational building blocks of all proteins in our bodies. Whenever the body makes a protein—so as to build muscle, for example—it needs a variety of amino acids to do so. Essential amino acids come from animal- or plant-based protein in the foods we eat while non-essential amino acids can be sourced from the body’s existing amino acid pool. If the body is facing a shortage in its storage of amino acids, the building process stops and the body suffers.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean you should go out and eat a giant steak every night. If anything, protein consumption is about quality over quantity: it’s better to focus on consuming good, well-sourced lean protein (chicken, eggs, fish, legumes) than always reaching for large amounts of red meats—these tend to be high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Most people should aim for 40–60 grams of healthful protein daily depending on age, biological sex and activity level.
The energy the body needs to function comes from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the main source of glucose, which is a major fuel for all the body’s cells and the only source of energy for the brain and red blood cells.
Glucose is either used immediately for energy or stored in the liver for future use. If we consume more carbohydrates than the body needs for energy, a portion may be stored in the body as fat.
As with protein, eating the right carbohydrates is all about quality. Fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains are high-quality carbohydrates that are unlikely to result in erratic energy fluctuations. They also tend to be a good source of fiber—a high-fiber diet helps keep the digestive tract clean, reducing the likelihood of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels. It achieves this as only a small part of fiber is metabolized in the stomach—most of it moves through the gastrointestinal tract and ends up in the stool. Resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes, fiber retains water and therefore helps both soften and bulk up stools to prevent constipation.
During infancy and childhood, the human body requires fat for normal brain development. Fat helps provide us with energy and can support growth. After about two years of age, we require less fat than in infancy, though it remains critical to all of our diets.
Excessive intake of poor-quality fatty foods is a major cause of obesity, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease. Understanding the different types of fat can help you make better choices when it comes to filling that third of your plate.
There are four different types of fats: trans; saturated; polyunsaturated; monounsaturated.
Trans fats are the most problematic of the bunch. They’re cheap and known for adding a well-liked texture to food. Unfortunately, they heighten your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) while lowering your good cholesterol levels (HDL) and contribute to the development of heart disease. Avoid whenever possible.
Like trans fats, saturated fats may increase the likelihood of heart disease. They are also known to increase LDL levels; the liver uses saturated fat to make cholesterol, and over consumption can raise the blood cholesterol levels of LDL. While the jury is still out on the side effects of saturated fats, it’s generally a good idea to eat these fats in moderation. Dietary food sources include many animal products, dairy items and fatty meats such as ham, beef, veal, pork, and lamb (the fat marbling you can see in these meats is saturated fat). Coconut oil, vegetable shortening and palm kernel also fall in this camp.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in sunflower and safflower oils, corn and soybeans. Polyunsaturated fats may lower total blood cholesterol levels; however, in large amounts they may also lower the good cholesterol, HDL. Again, moderation is key.
Vegetables, peanuts, olive oil, canola oil and nuts provide monounsaturated fatty acids. These fats can lower LDL without affecting the HDL levels.
In general, more research is required on the consequences of fat intake, but as a starter, your daily diet should consist of around 30% fat. Use oils in moderation and focus on getting your fats from whole foods like avocados and nuts.
VitaYears™ Helps Ensure You Receive All the Best Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are considered micronutrients: they are needed in small amounts to achieve optimal intake. That said, they’re essential to life. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a Recommended Daily Allowances for each to help make sure our bodies meet their total nutritional requirements. Lifestyle choices play a role in required nutritional intake. Are you facing a mental or physical illness? Are you active/inactive? Are you on a restrictive diet? Factors like these all need to be taken into account when adjusting your whole food and supplemental needs. Note that whenever you seek to correct a vitamin deficiency, it’s important to understand how each nutrient works and interacts with your body’s general nutritional profile. Some vitamins and minerals work synergistically, promoting the absorption and assimilation of one another and accelerating benefits. VitaYears™ products are intentionally designed to ensure each nutrient is properly absorbed regardless of lifestyle. That said, eating well, exercising regularly, and catching enough z’s can go a long way toward helping you maximize the benefits of any nutritional supplementation plan.