Let’s face it. The lockdown, contactless food delivery, and multiple streaming subscriptions have seen an increase in binge-watching and other excuses to gorge on food. A single look at our meal plates will highlight how our Indian diets are usually heavy on carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
We love to focus on our protein intakes, in particular, be it for building muscle or otherwise, in the tempting and tasty forms of chicken, dal, paneer, and many more. Unfortunately, proteins alone are not enough for our bodies to stay healthy.
Proteins do perform a lot of bodily functions and immediately come to our mind when we think of gym rats with huge biceps. As per USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) each food group, which is fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy, are equally important. But science loves complicating matters and we’re stuck with a bunch of jargon that intimidates anyone from clean eating. In short, micronutrients are the tiny building blocks of nutrition that are usually consumed in a healthy diet from common food sources. Macronutrients are those nutrients commonly found in food in huge amounts, like carbohydrates being the primary nutrient in rice.
Vitamins and minerals are known as micronutrients and for good reason. We need them in very small doses. Sadly, we are not capable of producing them in our own body which is why they are termed essential micronutrients.
Here are some little known facts on vitamins:-
- Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins. This means they are well absorbed in the body when taken along with water.
- Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K are fat-soluble vitamins which means they are absorbed while having fat sources alongside.
Deficiencies are common and one can check for the level of vitamins by getting a prescribed blood or urine test. Here are some signs of vitamin deficiency.
Remember the days you feel lethargic or lazy? This is possibly due to a deficiency in water-soluble micronutrients. In this case, check out your Vitamin B complex levels because they are responsible for your energy production. These are mostly obtained from whole grains, milk, almonds, leafy vegetables, sprouts, eggs, fish, meat.
Unless becoming as authentic as a pirate is your goal for which you’ll most likely suffer from scurvy, Vitamin C is a must. Also known as ascorbic acid, it is the main protein in your skin which is required for the creation of collagen and certain neurotransmitters as well. Broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes spinach and other leafy greens provide a good source of Vitamin C.
Moving on to fat-soluble vitamins, suffering from dry skin and eyes, night blindness, acne, and breakouts are the signs of Vitamin A deficit. So grab your carrots like the rabbit regularly to avoid the conundrum.
Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly noticed in today’s urban setting with buildings that go high as the sky, leaving very little sunshine. This leads to frequent cough, cold, sneezing, sickness, severe pain in the legs, depression. Going out first thing in the morning into open spaces helps with vitamin D absorption and those living in cold spaces can consume milk and fish oil to get the benefits.
Vitamin E assists in immune functions and acts as an antioxidant. It reduces stress in the body’s cells and is naturally found in sunflower seeds and almonds.
Vitamin K plays the most important role in blood clotting and acts as a companion for calcium to reach into our bones for its proper development and is found in leafy greens, soybeans, and pumpkin.
Macrominerals, the larger cousin of micronutrients are essential minerals that are needed in larger amounts to perform specific roles in our body including. These include sources like calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, potassium, sulphur.
Any deficiency of this lesser-known group in our body also causes unfortunate problems. Experiencing weak teeth, weak muscles or pain in legs and joints? This is due to calcium deficiency and you can beat these problems by consuming milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Magnesium, the superman in our system, assists in almost 300 enzymatic reactions. It is majorly found in curd, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.
Sodium chloride and Potassium play a major role in hydration. Further, Sulphur acts as a best friend to amino acids methionine and cysteine. Sodium chloride has always been a vital part of the Indian diet in the form of salt. Grains and foods are an adequate source of potassium.
Trace minerals, another group of micronutrients, are required to perform very important functions in the body. These primarily include iron, copper, manganese, copper, zinc, iodine, fluoride, and selenium.
Our body exhibits deficiency symptoms when this group of nutrients is in low amounts. Our cells die without proper oxygen and this can be avoided by consuming iron which also assists in the creation of certain hormones. Iron deficiency causes anemia and this can be prevented by including spinach, oyster, and white beans in our diet.
Pineapple, peanuts, and pecans are some of the best sources of manganese. Its importance is ignored but it performs many important functions from carbohydrate metabolism to amino acid and cholesterol metabolism.
Zinc has a major role in our immune function and wound healing. Zinc is found in chickpeas, oysters, and crab. So, start having your chole and chickpeas salad from now on but at the same time having healthier versions of it.
Iodine is the solution to prevent thyroid issues and is found in dairy sources like milk, egg, curd and a non-dairy dairy source is a fish. Fluoride on the other hand is essential for the development of bones and teeth and can be found in chocolate and condiments like coriander, turmeric, and salt. Selenium is our natural antioxidant, important for thyroid health and cholesterol health. Good sources for Selenium are eggs, chicken, brown rice, and flax seeds (commonly known as alasi).
Veggies provide us with a good amount of fiber thus helping us in weight loss as well. So, focus on your diet by including seasonal fruits and vegetables, and you will hit your fitness goals faster than planned.
Thus, the huge amounts of carbohydrates and proteins aren’t necessarily the only nutritional aspects of food. Spare a thought for vitamins and minerals starting today. These tiny nutrients may not be needed in big amounts but are just as essential as any other nutrient and can cause issues when not consumed enough.