With so much information circulating out there about nutrition, it can be challenging to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need each day. In fact, with some sources listing as many as 90 essential nutrients, following a balanced diet can quickly become overwhelming.
However, getting all the nutrients you need doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, by just being mindful about a few specific nutrients, eating a healthy diet full of nutrient-dense foods can be pretty simple.
Breaking it down into essential versus nonessential nutrients can help simplify and streamline your diet, making it easier than ever to achieve better health. But what are those nutrients, and what do nutrients do, anyway? Let’s take a look at the 11 essential nutrients your body needs, why and how to obtain them.
What Are Nutrients?
According to the dictionary, the official nutrients definition is “a substance that provides nourishment es
sential for growth and the maintenance of life.”
This encompasses the broad spectrum of micronutrients, fatty acids, amino acids and other substances that your body needs to function, survive and thrive. Most of these are obtained through the things you eat, drink or supplement in your diet.
However, this nutrients definition doesn’t differentiate between essential and nonessential nutrients.
While there are thousands of specific nutrients, each with its own unique benefits and functions, there are a few specific nutrients that you should be especially mindful about incorporating into your day.
The 11 Essential Nutrients Your Body Needs
Despite being demonized as “unhealthy” or “fattening,” carbohydrates are critical to the function of your body. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is the primary source of fuel for your body and brain.
Not only do they provide energy for the body, but they also help stabilize blood sugar levels and preserve muscle mass by preventing the breakdown of proteins for energy.
Plus, some of the world’s healthiest foods fall into the category of carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables, for instance, are incredibly nutrient-dense and loaded with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Even on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, you’re still taking in a few grams of carbohydrates here and there, making carbohydrates an important part of any diet.
Complex carbohydrates take longer to break down, which can help you feel fuller for longer and keep blood sugar levels regular.
Whole grains, fruits and vegetables are a few examples of healthy complex carbohydrates that can fuel your body and supply you with a megadose of nutrients.