The Downlow on Macro and Micro: the body’s essential nutrients

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Have you ever heard the terms macro or micronutrients thrown around in health circles?   Or perhaps you’ve read about them in books and blogs and wondered what’s a simple way to incorporate them into your busy lifestyle? 

I was in the same boat, sick of nutritional ‘buzz words’, and looking for a simple explanation of what it all meant.  So after a little research, I discovered not only what macros and micros are, but how to get these key nutrients into your body.

Macronutrients

Macros are the building materials for your body.  They are its preferred fuel source and provide your body with all the energy it needs to function properly.  Macros are needed in large quantities to sustain growth, metabolism and other bodily functions.

These nutrients are comprised of carbohydrates, fats and protein.

Carbs

Let’s look at carbs first – the good, the bad and the ugly!

Good carbs are the complex ones. They provide energy to keep us going and are an important source of fiber to keep things ‘moving’.  Examples to add to your diet are:

  • Root and Starchy Veg
  • Wholegrains
  • Fruit 
  • Legumes  

Next up are the bad and the ugly: your simple carbs.  They provide only quick energy spikes, contain lots of calories and lack any nutritional benefits

Some examples:

  • Sugar and all its brothers and sisters (refined corn syrup, rice malt, glucose syrup, golden syrup)

The key takeaway here is that carbs are needed as the preferred fuel source of our muscles, organs and brain.  The quality of your carb intake is what matters the most and ensuring you eat clean sources from mother nature’s table, you will be assisting your body to build strength, endurance and stamina.  So top up on wholefoods and give your body what it needs.

Fats

Depending on your age, your viewpoint may be a little different here, but when I worked in personal training and gym sales, FAT was a dirty word.  Fat was the enemy, the human equivalent to Superman’s kryptonite. The worst of the worst foods, because fat makes you fat right? 

Wrong! 

We could not have been further from the truth. Fat is a wonderful, essential part of your diet.

But of course, quality counts.  Good fats help to improve brain development, cell function, organ protection and even helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals.

Foods and supplements containing good fats – nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and plant based-Omegas are all great ways to add fat into your diet.

Protein

Now let’s discuss protein, your body’s key to repair and regeneration. 

Essential amino acids are found in protein rich meat and veg and should be sourced from real whole foods.  Amino acids are the building blocks for protein and these compounds assist the body in performing vital processes like the synthesis of hormones, immune system function, and manufacturing neurotransmitters.  

Your best sources are meat, eggs, beans, pulses, legumes, seeds (like hemp, chia and flax) nuts, quinoa, avocado, kale and spinach.

Micronutrients

Micro clearly means small – these nutrients are needed in smaller quantities and work together with macronutrients. They assist the body in maintaining energy levels, metabolism, cell function,  and overall physical and mental wellbeing. Well known micros are vitamins A, B, C and K, and the minerals magnesium and zinc.

What’s particularly interesting, is that the volume of micros in your fruit and veg is related to the mineral content of the soil they were planted in.  So this is a great reason to source organic and clean food grown by farmers who love what they do.

So to get micros into your diet – think diversity and colour.  Think quality, think SLOW food principles – seasonal, local, organic, and whole.

But, sometimes, having a pure organic wholefood diet can be tricky. When life descends into a blur of busyness, that drive-thru window beckons. But if you slip up, all is not lost! This is where a good quality supplement can help to bridge the gap.  Look for one that is made from raw fruit and veg, and try to stay away from anything with a laundry list of chemicals in the ingredients.

So, to sum it all up, the body needs a healthy balance of macro and micronutrients to thrive, grow, and regenerate.  The best sources come from wholefoods direct from mother nature herself – from paddock to plate.

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