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Food – effects on the body

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 301 views

Lots of vitamins, fiber and healthy fats: Diet plays a crucial role in whether the body has enough energy and is healthy. Nutrient-rich foods should therefore be on the daily menu. Read more about foods and their effects on the body here.

carbohydrates

Whether lugging boxes or brain jogging – carbohydrates are the most important suppliers of energy. Without them nothing works in the body. Carbohydrates are made up of one or more sugar molecules. Simple sugars (monosaccharides) such as glucose and fructose can go directly into the blood and cause an immediate energy boost. Double sugars (disaccharides), for example common household sugar, quickly enter the blood.

Multiple sugars (polysaccharides) such as starch, which consist of several sugar molecules, must first be broken down. Starch is found in bread, rice, cereals and vegetables, but especially in legumes and potatoes. It goes into the blood more slowly.

If you don’t need larger amounts of energy right away, they’re healthier. They don’t cause blood sugar and insulin levels to spike as quickly and keep you full for longer. Whole grain products that are digested particularly slowly are good.

According to the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), food should consist of 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates. The main part ideally comes from whole grain products and vegetables. A maximum of ten percent should come from processed sugar. This includes sweets such as cakes, candies and chocolate. But sweetened drinks and juices, yoghurts, muesli and many finished products also contain sugar.

Learn more about carbohydrates here .

Fett

Fat has a bad reputation as a fattening food . In fact, there are more than twice the calories in 100 grams of pure fat than pure sugar or protein (900 calories vs. 400).

This is an advantage in times of need, because adipose tissue offers the opportunity to store energy in a compact form. A certain amount of body fat is important: it surrounds all organs with a protective shell. Under the skin, it ensures that not too much body heat is lost.

Above all, fats are essential for survival. They contain fatty acids and transport the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. The body also needs them for the production of hormones and enzymes.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids

The body cannot produce the so-called essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, although they have vital functions. They must therefore be ingested through food. Essential fatty acids are, among other things, a component of the cell walls, important for maintaining brain function, play a decisive role in the immune system, in digestion, cell respiration and in lipid metabolism.

  • Large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids are found in linseed, walnut and rapeseed oil, as well as in nuts and fatty fish such as salmon, herring or mackerel.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are mainly found in cereals, vegetable oils such as corn and sunflower oil, and in smaller amounts in meat and dairy products.

Nutrition experts recommend a 5:1 ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, however, the proportion of omega-6 in the European diet is much higher.

This is problematic, because omega-6 fatty acids not only have positive properties. They also have an inflammatory effect and are therefore a danger to the blood vessels . Omega-3 fatty acids can balance this effect .

Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids

Omega-3 and Omega-6 are among the polyunsaturated fatty acids that are considered particularly healthy. In addition, there are also monounsaturated fatty acids, which are also healthy, which are found in rapeseed oil and olive oil , for example , as well as saturated fats. The latter are of animal origin with the exception of coconut and palm fat. They should only be consumed in moderation. This applies in particular to industrially hardened fats, the so-called trans fats .

However, the main problem with dealing with fat is that it is over-consumed overall. Overall, fats should make up 30 to 35 percent of your daily energy intake—in fact, many people exceed that number. If you want to lose weight, you should reduce the consumption of saturated fatty acids, but not the intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Find out more about saturated and unsaturated fatty acids here .

proteins

Proteins are true all-rounders. They are an essential part of the muscles and organs. They also sprout hair and nails. Transport proteins serve as ferries for important substances. The protein hemoglobin is a vital oxygen carrier.

Proteins that are integrated into the cell membranes have a gatekeeper function, they decide what enters the cell and what leaves it. Hormones and enzymes are also based on certain proteins and regulate most of the body’s processes, from cycle to growth to metabolism.

Proteins from food are digested into many small pieces – the amino acids. The body converts these into its own proteins. Fish and meat, as well as dairy products and eggs, are rich in protein, albeit in smaller amounts. The best vegetable sources of protein are legumes and soy products.

The German Society for Nutrition recommends a daily protein ration of no more than 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. An excess of proteins is metabolized to uric acid, among other things, which puts an unnecessary strain on the kidneys.

You can find out more about protein-containing foods here .

fiber

Without fiber, the intestines quickly become congested. The intestinal cleaners swell up and make what is left of the food more transportable. In addition, dietary fiber binds toxins from food and fills you up. However, if you consume a lot of fiber, you have to drink plenty of water. Otherwise there is a risk of constipation.

Fiber is only found in plants. Basically, they are large, indigestible sugar molecules that make up the framework of plant cells. Whole grain products are particularly high in fiber. Unlike white flour products, they contain the husks of the grain – and that’s fiber. Legumes, cabbage and dried fruit are also high in fiber.

You can find out more about dietary fiber here .

Vitamins

The body only needs vitamins in tiny amounts. Nevertheless, the 13 vitamins are vital building blocks. With the exception of vitamin D, the body cannot produce them on its own. They must therefore be ingested through food.

Vitamins are involved in all metabolic functions. For example, some scavenge destructive free radicals, others are important for brain function or the immune system .

A vitamin deficiency therefore makes itself felt in a variety of ways. The ability to concentrate suffers, the susceptibility to infections increases, you feel tired and listless, there is a risk of headaches , inflammation or hair loss . However, a real vitamin deficiency is rare in this country. The requirement can be easily covered by a normal mixed diet. Additional vitamin supplements are usually not necessary.

You can find out more about vitamin deficiencies here .

Most vitamins are found in both animal and plant products, but in very different concentrations. Whole grain products, vegetables and fruit and lean milk products are the most valuable suppliers of vitamins.

The B vitamins and vitamin C are water soluble. The body cannot store them in the long term. Excess quantities are flushed out. Therefore, they should be part of the daily diet.

Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, can be stored in the tissues and therefore do not have to be consumed every day.

Vitamins are sensitive to light, air and heat. It is therefore best to store fruit and vegetables in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator or in a cool cellar. Wilted vegetables have hardly any vitamins left. Blast-frozen frozen food is then the better choice.

You can find out more about vitamins here .

minerals

The body cannot produce minerals. Like vitamins, he has to absorb them from food. Depending on the amount in which they occur in the body, a distinction is made between bulk elements that make up more than 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight and trace elements that occur in the body in lower concentrations.

Minerals are necessary for countless processes in the body. Among other things, they are components of enzymes and messenger substances, they regulate the water balance, serve as transport molecules and are important for growth and the immune system.

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