By Lifestyle Reporter
While it’s important to include a wide variety of vitamins and minerals into your diet, there are some important nutrients you need to pay special attention to.
Now more than ever, our health should be a top priority.
This means making choices to nurture our bodies even more so than we did before Covid-19 impacted our lives.
When we make poor choices – such as selecting foods that are high in calories but short on important nutrients – we can be overfed and yet undernourished.
Starches and sugars may fill our bellies, but we may be lacking many important nutrients that support overall health, including the health of the immune system.
Susan Bowerman, senior director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife Nutrition, highlights the essential nutrients we should pay more attention to.
Best known for helping with regularity, high fibre foods are filling and relatively low in calories, making them one of the best allies when it comes to weight management.
Certain fibres can also encourage the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in your digestive tract.
These beneficial bacteria help support immunity because they serve as an initial line of defence, by crowding out potentially harmful bacteria that might enter the digestive tract.
You can get more fibre by including more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.
Use fruits and veggies as snacks, add them to smoothies, sandwiches, salads, soups, and stews, and replace refined grains with whole grains.
While it’s not a mineral we typically think about, magnesium contributes to hundreds of bodily functions.
Magnesium supports the health of your immune and nervous systems, supports muscle function, and assists your cells in producing energy.
Magnesium is abundant in plant foods like leafy greens, nuts, beans, and whole grains, so try snacking on nuts, or toss some beans into a leafy green salad.
Most people associate calcium with healthy bones, but your bones need vitamin D too since it helps your body absorb calcium from your diet.
Vitamin D is also needed for proper muscle function and supports the activity of the immune system.
Good dietary sources of vitamin D include eggs and fortified dairy products; a daily walk outside can help too since your body produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
This mineral supports the function of nerves and muscles and helps regulate blood pressure.
Potassium also supports chemical reactions in the body that generate energy from food.
One reason many people don’t get enough potassium is that they don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables – the most abundant sources of this important mineral.
Calcium is critically important for bone health. Adults need at least 1,000mg of calcium each day or the amount found in three glasses of milk.
However, many women don’t eat enough dairy products, either because they simply choose to avoid them, are following a vegetarian or vegan diet, or because they are sensitive to lactose.
However, calcium can also be obtained from leafy green vegetables and some fortified foods.
One of iron’s key functions is to support the transport of oxygen to cells and tissues.
Women who are pre-menopausal lose iron routinely with their monthly cycle, which is why it is so important to ensure they have adequate intake.
Meat is an excellent source of iron, but those on a plant-based diet can obtain iron from beans and fortified cereals.