As a parent, you want to give the best nutrition to your children. July is considered Nutrition Month, and it is right for you to study nutrition and prepare healthy meals for your children. When it comes to nutrition, there are two categories that you need in your diet. According to experts, these are macronutrients and micronutrients.
Nutrients are chemicals that the body needs to function. Cells, tissues, and all organs need different nutrients for growth, repair, and protection against disease-causing microbes. Unlike plants, humans and animals cannot produce their nutrients, so we get food and water.
The two essential types of nutrients that the body needs are macronutrients and micronutrients.
Difference between macronutrients and micronutrients
When it comes to requirements, the body needs more macronutrients than micronutrients because macros provide energy for the body while micros prevent diseases. Having the right amount of macronutrients and micronutrients is essential to having a well-balanced diet.
If you take too many macronutrients, you are at risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.; lacking these nutrients can cause malnutrition. On the other hand, micronutrient deficiency can cause anemia, scurvy, goiter, and other diseases. And if you consume too many micronutrients, it can affect your liver and cause nerve damage.
What are macronutrients?
Micronutrients provide energy and the components to maintain bodily functions; that is why they compose most of your diet. Carbohydrates, protein, and fat are the macronutrients that your body needs. Each of these nutrients has its function.
Carbohydrates are nutrients that are broken down to glucose. Carbs provide the energy that you need. Examples of carbs are rice, pasta, sweet potato, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and corn. On the other hand, fiber is another carb that does not break down into glucose but is essential for digestion.
Foods like crackers, bread, cakes, sodas, and candy are also carbohydrates. However, you should limit these foods because they contain excessive sugar.
Protein provides structure to the tissue, muscle repair, and bone strength. Your cells, organs, muscles, hair, skin, bones, and even blood plasma need protein to function. The best protein sources you can have come from meat, poultry, fish, dairy, seafood, soy, beans, whole grains, and nuts.
Processed meats like hotdogs, bacon, and longganisa contain protein, but you should limit yourself from eating these foods because they have saturated fat.
Many people think that fats only come from pork fat and are unhealthy. However, this is far from the truth because there are several fat sources, and fat is needed for cell membrane health, energy absorption, insulation of organs, and storing energy. You can get healthy fats from fatty fish, vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
On the other hand, butter, cream cheese, fats from meat, portions of margarine, and packaged baked goods have high levels of saturated fat, so you should limit eating these foods.
What are micronutrients?
To simply put it, micronutrients are vitamins and minerals. Your body only needs a small amount of these nutrients. That is why they are called “micro.” Micronutrients are plant-based nutrients that protect you from diseases and repair damaged cells.
There are two types of vitamins, water-soluble vitamins, and fat-soluble vitamins.
Water-soluble vitamins easily dissolve in water. When consumed in excess, these vitamins do not stay in your body for long because you flush them out with your urine. Some examples of water-soluble vitamins are Vitamins B1 to B12 and Vitamin C (which protects your skin). You can get these vitamins from fruits and vegetables.
On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins are consumed alongside a source of fat. These vitamins are stored in your liver and fatty tissues for future use.
Some of these vitamins include Vitamin A (for proper vision), Vitamin D (for immune function and bone growth), Vitamin E (protects cells from damage), and Vitamin K (repairs blood clotting). Each vitamin has its function, and you can consume these vitamins in your food or via capsules.
All minerals are micronutrients. However, there are some minerals that your body needs more. You can get all the minerals you need in a balanced diet. However, you can always consult your doctor if you need more. There are two types of minerals: microminerals and trace minerals.
Macrominerals are needed more than trace minerals. The macrominerals that your body needs are:
- Calcium (for bone and teeth strength).
- Magnesium (for regulation of blood pressure).
- Sodium (aids the regulation of blood pressure).
- Chloride (used to make digestive juices).
- Potassium (helps with muscle function).
- Sulfur (part of every living tissue).
On the other hand, trace minerals are still essential, but you don’t need as many trace minerals as macrominerals.
Iron (provides oxygen to muscles), manganese (assists in cholesterol metabolism), copper (for connective tissues), zinc (for wound healing), iodine (for thyroid regulation), fluoride (for teeth development), and selenium (for thyroid health) are the trace minerals you need.
Does your child need both nutrients?
Your child needs to have both micronutrients and macronutrients in their diet. Both of these nutrients are necessary for your child to be healthy. Kids need these nutrients because they can help in their growth too. The challenge here is having a balance to avoid overconsumption or deficiency.
Having these two nutrients on their diet might sound challenging, but it is not that difficult if you think about it. A plate of rice, protein, and vegetables with a side of fruit in every meal can give you all the nutrients your child needs. If needed, you can add extra supplements or capsules to their diet.
There are many benefits to having a healthy body, and this can only be achieved through an excellent diet. You can find nutritious recipes online that your children will surely love. Having a healthy lifestyle does not only apply during nutrition months. This involves a complete change of habits for life. So, you have to have minor, sustainable adjustments.
Why July is Considered PH Nutrition Month
Know why July is an important health month reminder