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Nutrition Basics

Although an old saying, it can be true to say "we are what we eat". To maintain a healthy body, we have to make sure our diet is balanced and varied. There are some main categories that our food falls into :

Carbohydrates

The body's fuel source which can be derived from many foods. Those that contain nutritional value in addition to energy are the best to opt for: bread, cereals, rice, pasta, fruit and vegetables.

Protein

For care and repair, the body needs protein to maintain a good state of health. Found in meat, poultry, fish and eggs.

Vitamins and Minerals

Essential for health, we can make sure we take in sufficient vitamins and minerals by choosing a balanced diet. For some groups though (ie the elderly or children), additional supplements may be needed and can be bought from pharmacies or health food stores. If you have concerns about your intake of vitamins and minerals it is advisable to consult your doctor or pharmacist.

There are 13 vitamins: A,C,D,E,K, B12 and Vitamin B complex, under which the remaining 7 are grouped (Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin, Pyridoxine (B6), Pantothenic acid, Folic acid and Biotin, also known as Vitamin H). In small amounts these are essential for the normal functioning of the body and must be obtained from our diet as the body is unable to manufacture them (except Vitamin D and Niacin). For more information, see the Supplements section.

Minerals are chemical elements, which again the body needs to maintain health. At least 20 are essential and can generally be obtained from a balanced diet. Potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus are important minerals; others are needed in small amounts, known as trace elements and include iron, zinc and copper. For more information see the Supplements section.

Fluids

An essential source of nutrition, yet so often overlooked, fluids - especially water - play a vital role in a healthy body. Involved in every metabolic process, water carries nutrients through the body and is needed for both fuel and stamina.

Fat

Although essential for absorbing fat soluble vitamins, you are likely to take in enough fat by eating a healthy balanced diet, without the need to add extra! Using a small amount of fat or oil in cooking is fine - adding excess fat will just increase the risk of heart disease and clogged arteries.