Through the food, living beings obtain the necessary nutrients for the body to carry out its metabolism.
The metabolism It develops through physicochemical processes that can be observed at the cellular level. These processes make it possible to change substances obtained from the outside (through food or respiration) into chemically different substances that the body needs for its growth and survival.
Among the foods, there are some that contain substances that cannot be manufactured by the human body. These substances are called essential nutrients, and it is essential that they are acquired through food.
There are foods that contain a variety of nutrients, so they can be both regulators and builders and energetic, so they will appear in more than one list. The egg, a food with a great variety of nutrients, is one of them.
The regulating foods They are those that regulate the functioning of the body and prevent diseases. They are those that contain a large amount of vitamins and mineral salts such as iron, calcium, phosphorus, fluorine, iodine, zinc, magnesium and potassium. For example: eggs, milk, fish.
Vitamins are necessary to catalyze physiological processes and are not used for energy, but are involved in the formation of enzymes. The necessary amounts of vitamin intake is much less than that of other nutrients, since they are measured in milligrams. They are classified into:
- Water soluble vitamins. Soluble in water, they can be consumed in excess since they are eliminated with the urine.
- Fat-soluble vitamins. They are stored in the body’s fat, so excess of them can be harmful to the body.
In addition to vitamins, regulatory elements include: Mineral salts, which intervene in the hydration of cells thanks to osmosis, in metabolic processes and in the immune system.
Also some proteins participate as regulators, due to their enzymatic and homeostatic function.
Although lipids (fats and oils) are known mainly for their energy function, they are also regulating foods, since they intervene in the absorption of vitamins and in the synthesis of hormones.
Examples of regulatory foods
- Eggs. It contains vitamin B, which is involved in the creation of new cells (growth) and the breakdown of other nutrients. It also contains Vitamin D (calciferol) which regulates the passage of calcium to the bones. It also contains zinc, which is a mineral salt that is involved in the immune system.
- Nuts. They contain mineral salts such as calcium and iron.
- Milk. Contains Vitamin D, and Vitamin B (vitamin complex) that intervenes in many functions of the body such as growth and the breakdown of nutrients.
- Fresh vegetables and fruits. Vitamin C is a vitamin found in most plants, so consuming these fresh foods (not packaged or dried) offers a good source of vitamin C.
- Green leafy vegetables. They contain a variety of Vitamin B, which is a vitamin complex that includes substances such as thiamine, riboflavian and niacin.
- Fish. They offer omega 3 fatty acid, a substance that regulates blood clotting.
- Water. Water is an essential regulator for the body. Although it does not offer any type of energy, it is essential for the proper functioning of all body systems. In addition, it fulfills structural functions since cells have a high water content.
Builder foods are those foods that contain a large percentage of protein. For example: red meat, white meat, eggs.
Proteins can be:
- Holoprotein (holopeptide or simple protein). It has a unique amino acid sequence. Among the holoproteins are nucleic acids, that is, elements that make up DNA.
- Heteroproteins (conjugated proteins). They are molecules that have a protein and a non-protein part, which is called the prosthetic group.
- Derived proteins. They are those that are formed from the denaturation of the previous proteins.
Proteins are used by the body to:
- Contract your muscles.
- Form the cells of various parts of the body, such as nails, hair, muscle fibers, etc.
- Defend the body from pathogens (which cause disease) by turning into antibodies.
However, some lipids (fats) also fulfill construction functions since they are present in cell membranes and surround nervous tissue.
Examples of builder foods
- Red meat. They have a large proportion of proteins, in addition to a variety of essential amino acids, that is, amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the human body. Red meat also contains fat, which is a source of energy, so it is usually avoided to consume large amounts of meat in diets that seek to reduce the amount of available energy. Fresh red meats (not packaged or dried) also contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, so they also have regulatory functions.
- Eggs. All the essential amino acids are found in eggs, which is why they are an important building food.
- Fish. They have a large percentage of proteins and a variety of proteins. Although they do not contain as much variety of essential amino acids as red meat and eggs, they have the advantage of containing less cholesterol, in addition to containing essential fatty acids (regulatory function)
- White meats. Poultry, such as chicken or turkey, also contain a large amount of protein, although they do not contain as much variety of essential amino acids.
Are the foods that offer the necessary energy to carry out activities, for the functions of the various systems of the body and to maintain metabolism. The main energy foods are those that contain carbohydrates, also called carbohydrates or carbohydrates. For example: vegetable oils, sugars, honey. They are biomolecules made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. According to their structure they are classified into:
- Monosaccharides. Formed by a single molecule.
- Disaccharides. Formed by two monosaccharide molecules, joined by a covalent bond (glycosidic bond).
- Oligosaccharides. Made up of between three and nine monosaccharide molecules. They are usually bound to proteins, so they form glycoproteins.
- Polysaccharides. Formed by chains of ten or more monosaccharides. The chains may or may not be branched. In organisms, they fulfill structure and storage functions.
Fats are also energy foods. While carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram, fats provide 9 calories per gram.
Examples of energy foods
- Flours. Breads, pasta, cookies and all foods made from flour are energy foods due to their high amount of carbohydrates.
- Vegetable oils. They are 100% lipids (fats) so they offer a significant amount of energy.
- Butter. They offer a large amount of energy for being a lipid. Unlike vegetable oils, they have the disadvantage of containing saturated fatty acids, which are harmful to health.
- Sugar. Sugar is a pure carbohydrate, so each gram provides 4 calories, in the form of energy ready to be used by the body.
- Cakes. They combine the energy of flours, sugar and butter.
- Rice. As a cereal, rice also contains high proportions of carbohydrates.
- Nuts. In addition to their regulatory functions, nuts are an important source of healthy energy, due to the vegetable oils they contain, and in some cases to natural sugars.
- Honey. Honey contains carbohydrates.
- Various meats. To a lesser extent, the proteins and fats in meats can be used as an energy source. Proteins have the same amount of calories per gram as carbohydrates. However, as the body uses protein for its building function, it only uses it as an energy food when carbohydrates and fat are not available.