Triglycerides are usually stored in the body when we eat excessive amounts of fat. When needed the body transforms parts of triglycerides into glucose to be used by the body. Vegetable oil and animal fat are primarily made of triglycerides.
Cholesterol is used to make hormones and the bile that helps digest fats. Cholesterol is usually referred to as LDL or low density lipoprotein and HDL or high density lipoprotein. Most cholesterol is stored in the liver. LDL transports the cholesterol from the liver to the body and HDL carries it back to the liver.
Phospholipids help create the cell membrane. They are comprised of fatty acids and phosphorus molecules. Lecithin or phosphatidylcholine is one of the most common phospholipids. It breaks down fats and helps fat work together with other nutrients.
Fatty acids are thought of as the building blocks of fat and they all contain a chain of carbon atoms. They can be short, medium or long chain fatty acids. These chains can be saturated or unsaturated.
Saturated fatty acids are complete atoms that are stable and don’t interact with other molecules. They provide stability to the cell membrane which can help prevent foreign particles from entering the cell.
Unsaturated fatty acids are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. These are more flexible and allow the cell membrane to absorb the nutrients necessary for health. Omega-3 and omega-6 are both considered polyunsaturated fats.
It’s important to have both saturated and unsaturated fat in your diet to have healthy cells.
Trans fat removes some unsaturated fatty acids through a process called hydrogenation. In this process hydrogen is pushed into the substance creating a new form of fatty acid that the body doesn’t recognize. This will have a negative affect on your health. Try to avoid trans fat or anything labeled partially hydrogenated.
Fats also known as lipids are used to store energy, transport fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K, produce eicosanoids, and are part of the cell membrane. Fats are mainly found in seeds, nuts, meats, and dairy.
Digestion of lipids primarily occurs in the small intestines. Chewing your food will begin to separate fats. Once in the stomach, hydrochloric acid or HCL will break down some of the fats. When it moves into the small intestines, the gall bladder releases bile to emulsify fats. It then moves into the liver which is the where fat metabolism occurs.
It’s important to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats and essential to consume healthy fats on a daily basis. If too much unhealthy fat is consumed it can lead to various diseases.
Proteins are an important part of nutrition. It consists of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. Some good sources include lean poultry, meat, and fish, low fat dairy, and egg whites.
Some of the benefits include: helping cell growth and maintenance, regulating fluid balance, making enzymes, antibodies, and hormones.
Protein digestion starts in the stomach. Hydrochloric acid or HCL in the stomach begins to break down proteins. The partially broken down food then moves into the small intestines where digestive enzymes finish converting the food particles into amino acids which are absorbed and utilized by the body.
When you consume excessive amounts of protein you may begin to find crystal like particles under your skin in your hands and feet. These are purines found in protein that can turn into uric acid if not properly digested and absorbed. If the same amount of protein continues to be consumed, you run the risk of kidney stones. Eating less protein in one sitting is helpful as well as increasing your intake of water.
We get our fiber from plant based foods. Plants use fiber to support their structures whereas animals use muscles and bones.
Fiber helps with sugar or glucose levels in blood, cholesterol, and constipation. It can be found in various grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and oils. If the food is highly processed the fiber contents will be affected.
If you’re increasing your fiber intake please start gradually because your body needs time to adjust. If you increase your intake of water it can help in this transition.
Starches are one of the most common carbohydrates that people consume. There are three categories of starches:
1. Starches – These contain many sugars, in the glucose form, put together.
2. Celluloses – These are strong carbohydrates made of glucose.
3. Hemicelluloses – They are easier to break down and use by the body.
Simple sugars are the easiest carbohydrate for our bodies to digest. They can be broken down into four categories:
1. Monosaccharides – This is the base unit of simple sugars.
2. Disaccharides – These carbohydrates need water and an enzyme, a protein in the body responsible for a specific reaction, to break them down into something the body can utilize.
3. Oligosaccharides – Mostly found in plant foods and utilized in the large intestines for beneficial bacteria.
4. Polysaccharides – They are considered complex carbohydrates because they contain quite a few sugars.
Some may think that carbohydrates are bad, but that is a broad generalization. Some forms are not the healthiest and should be consumed in moderation while other forms are important for energy in the body. The better types include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. The types to be more conscious with are usually found in processed foods like cakes, muffins, and foods made with white flour.
Carbohydrates begin to break down in our mouth as we start to chew them. Our saliva contains amylase, an enzyme that aids in digestion of carbohydrates. The rest of the carbohydrates go right through the stomach and are digested in the small intestines where the nutrients, now glucose or sugar, are absorbed into the blood for use by the body. The brain tells the pancreas to release insulin which is used to place the excess glucose into the muscles for storage. These glucose stores are later used for energy.
If excessive amounts of carbohydrates are consumed then the blood sugar levels will rise rapidly. Our bodies can only handle a certain amount of sugar or glucose in our blood. At this point insulin is released and some of the glucose is stored in the muscles. Unfortunately, our muscles can only hold so much, the rest of the extra glucose is surrounded and “stored” in various places that the body deems safe. These stores become fat deposits in our body. This is why it’s important to be aware of the nutrients you’re consuming.