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ABC's about Food Groups and Food Nutrients- Do you know the difference?

Kim Shapira
July 2, 2023
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What is nutrition and why is it important for you to understand? 

Nutrition is the study of how food affects the body and the process by which the body digests, absorbs, and uses nutrients. Proper nutrition also ensures that the body receives the proper nutrients, including carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Eating a variety of foods from all the food groups is key to achieving this. By making a variety of food choices, you can improve your overall health and well-being. This is vital because a balanced and healthy diet will help prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.  Understanding nutrition as a whole involves educating yourself about the different types of nutrients that our body needs for overall health. These nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, water, vitamins, and minerals.

Welcome To Nutrition 101 with your friendly dietitian, Kim Shapira ūüėČ(watch an IG Live I did for¬†#trytrimly¬†this week on Instagram. # realtalkkim, #realtalk)

So, now we know that nutrition is the study of how food affects the body. Let's touch on the process of consuming, digesting, and utilizing nutrients from food. As we begin, let me remind you, good nutrition is important for maintaining a strong healthy body and preventing diseases. Your balanced diet should come from a variety of food groups, so go ahead and mix it up. Remember "I say eat what you love, and make sure the food loves you back." Part of being 'healthy' is having a sound, strong body, and mind. (A food is only 'healthy', if it doesn’t make you sick.) And, we know that poor nutrition at any age can lead to various health problems later, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and malnutrition. Therefore, it is important to make informed choices now about what we eat to maintain good health.

I am going to help you understand the difference between food groups and food nutrients...

Food groups refer to the different categories of foods based on their nutritional properties and characteristics. Food nutrients are the specific chemical components of these foods that provide essential nourishment to the body. Food groups provide the framework for healthy eating habits, it is important to also consider the specific nutrients that each food provides to ensure you are getting a well-balanced diet. In addition to six individual nutrients, there are six food groups that provide a variety of nutrients to the body: fruits, vegetables, starches, meats, milks, and fats. 

Each food group is important for a balanced diet. (Notice how I say six, just like my six simple rules.)

  • Fruits and vegetables give us antioxidants that fight free radicals, they make us healthier by preventing infections and disease.¬†
  • Starches give us B vitamins and fiber. We need this to help the lining of our digestive tract stay healthy, to help breakdown protein, to regularly detox, even our nerves and muscles need the.¬†
  • Meat has iron- and amino acids. We need this for everything, iron carries oxygen to every cell in our body and amino acids are the building blocks for muscle.
  • Milk gives us calcium and vitamin D. Think about the bones that carry us and vitamin D is essential for our wellbeing and health. Plus so much more.
  • Fats provide essential fatty acids. We can‚Äôt absorb fat-soluble vitamins without fat: A, D, E, and K. There are different types of fats and they do different things. We need fats for insulation and padding and so much more.¬†

Food nutrients are essential for the body to function properly. (read this again) Each of the six nutrients has a unique role in the body: 

  • Carbohydrates (think CARBO+ hydrates) provide¬†us with¬†energy and water¬†
  • Proteins build and repair tissues
  • Fats help to absorb nutrients and protect organs
  • Vitamins and Minerals support various bodily functions
  • Water is essential for hydration and digestion

See, this is how they work together for you. It is important to limit processed foods and added sugars and to choose whole foods as much as possible. And I promise you will get there. We make 221 food choices every day. If you aren’t someone who eats a ton of WHOLE FOODS that’s ok. The next time you go grocery shopping look around and pick 1 or 2 new things to try. Cut them up when you get home and make them easily accessible. Try picking these the next time you feel hunger (don’t forget to start with half).  Don’t worry we can build your diet around the foods you love, one day at a time. Eating a balanced diet, helps your body get the nutrients it needs to function properly and maintain good health, (easy peasy right!) and if you aren’t there yet, we have a supplement for that.

No matter if you are on a medication that is helping you lose weight, or you are doing it by following my six simple rules, it is important to eat balanced because your diet will impact how you feel today and tomorrow. By choosing a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains (starches), lean proteins, and healthy fats (monounsaturated), you fill your body with the nutrition it needs. Maintaining regular movement (Rule #4, get 10,000 steps in) is also an important ‚Äúnutrient‚ÄĚ to helping your body feel¬†its¬†best today and tomorrow.¬†

See my previous blog on my feelings about taking a semaglutide or Berberine***. If it gets you taking of yourself then I am all for it. Please consult a medical professional before doing so.  Berberine & Ozempic- Do you know the facts?

As always, have a wonderful 4th of July Holiday, and stay safe. Make good choices and see you next time.



***If you are thinking about starting a supplement, like #berberine, understand that there are benefits and side effects. You should not take Berberine before consulting a medical professional and if you are taking other medications: especially sedatives or other CNS depressants (because it may cause too much drowsiness and lower your breathing rate), blood pressure medications, are allergic to plant material, are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is not for children or infants, or you take other Type-2 diabetic medications. And if you are on the petite side and diabetic, you can experience hypoglycemic symptoms if your blood sugars drop below a normally healthy range. (Symptoms include, sweats, dizziness, fatigue, shaking, and in extreme cases, seizures.)

Kim Shapira

Kim Shapira

dietitian and nutrition therapist.

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