Healthy Habits

You should be getting around 1,300 mg of calcium daily. Read the Dietary Reference Intakes to see what else you should be aiming for!

Healthy Habits

There are six essential nutrients. You need a variety of all of them to balance your diet. Check out the Dietary Reference Intakes to learn the right amounts for you.

Healthy Habits

The amounts of nutrients and servings of food that we need to grow depend on our age, gender and activity level. Make sure you know where you stand.

For TeensWHAT'S A NUTRIENT?

Grow Right

Adolescence is about extremes — especially when it comes to height and weight. Good nutrition — getting ready-to-burn fuel and the right nutrients in the right amounts — is critical to your rapid growth. So,  do you think what you eat right now is important? Oh yeah, and establishing healthy eating habits at your age is critical to helping prevent health problems later in life. Go on. Check out this info-packed Health Trek page to learn about nutrients and their role in your life.

Food for Life

We need food to live. We need it to grow. That's what getting hungry is all about. Your body is telling you, "Hey, it's time to feed me!" A smaller voice grumbles, if you listen closely, "And make it some good nutritious foods that replenish and fuel the whole machine, buddy." Keep in mind, your body can't make nutrients out of thin air, so it must be supplied by food. Nutrients are the important parts of food that give us vital energy so we can run, jump, yell and do all the wonderful things we do.

Learn about nutrients in the foods that you eat

Go to MyPyramid.gov to use the MyPyramid Tracker.  Enter the foods you have eaten and learn what types of nutrients you ingested and the amounts you need. This site is easy to use. You can pick from a variety of foods as you track your eating and learn how to create healthy habits. Your challenge? Log three days of food and three days of activity to get a baseline of what you normally do. Then set some goals for the areas that you need to improve!

Nutri Nuggets of Wisdom 101

Carefully consider the following list of nutrients, what they do for you and how often you munch (or should start munching) on them.

Carbohydrates – Supplies the major source of energy for the body.

Simple Carbohydrates – These are sugars that provide fast energy. They can be broken down and absorbed by the body quickly. (fruits, milk and juice
Complex Carbohydrates – These are starches that provide longer lasting energy. They take longer to break down and are absorbed more slowly. (potatoes, whole grain breads, legumes)

Fats – Supplies energy, but they have many other benefits, including transporting nutrients and being part of many body cells. Fats provide storage and insulation for your body.

Saturated Fat – A type of fat that is solid at room temperature, such as  butter and lard. Saturated fat can clog arteries and veins. It’s associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is usually found in animal products. (meat, poultry, whole milk, dairy products)
Unsaturated Fat – A type of fat that is liquid at room temperature. (vegetable oils, salmon, tuna, sardines)
Trans Fat – A type of fat that started out as an unsaturated fat, but then was combined with hydrogen to make the fat act like a saturated fat. (some butter spreads, some fast foods, some packaged foods)

Proteins – Builds and repairs body tissues; supplies energy.

Complete Proteins – These are animal products that are high in essential amino acids. (meats, dairy)
Incomplete Proteins – These are plant products that are missing or low in essential amino acids. (nuts, beans)

Vitamins – Are needed in very small amounts in the diet to regulate chemical reactions in the body. Vitamins do not provide energy but they help our bodies use the energy from foods.

Water soluble vitamins – These are vitamins that are needed on a daily basis because the body cannot store them.
  • Vitamin C -
    Promotes healing of wounds. (fruits).
  • Vitamin B -
    Release energy from the foods you eat so that your body can use it. (breads, grains)
Fat Soluble Vitamins – These are vitamins that are easily stored in fat within the body.
  • Vitamin A -
    Helps maintain healthy skin and good eyesight. (dark green and yellow fruits and vegetables)
  • Vitamin D -
    Promotes absorption of calcium which helps maintain strong bones and teeth. (vitamin D fortified milk, egg yolks, fortified cereal, salmon, sunlight)
  • Vitamin E -
    Helps protect red blood cells and prevents the destruction of vitamins A and C. (avocados, vegetable oil, leafy green vegetables)
  • Vitamin K -
    Allows blood clotting and synthesis of protein. (spinach, lettuce, meat, dairy)

Minerals – Perform many functions in regulating the activity of cells.

Calcium – Helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. (milk, dairy products)
Iron – Important for making red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body. (meat, fish, poultry, iron-fortified cereals, spinach)
Potassium – Helps balance the amount of water in your body. Allows for normal muscle growth and healthy brain function. (bananas, spinach, cantaloupe, raisins)
Sodium – Important in regulating blood volume and blood pressure. Helps maintain water levels in the body and assists nerves in sending messages throughout the body. (processed foods, crackers, canned vegetables, soups, pretzels)

Water – Not one of the food groups, but important to you health. It helps digest food, carries nutrients from food throughout your body and helps regulate body temperature through perspiration. (water, milk, juice, fruits)

Read, apply, and benefit!

Nutrition helps make you who you are today and who you will be down the road. You're more in control of things than you thought! Download Health Trek's Dietary Reference Intakes. Then match yourself up to see exactly what your body needs and in what amounts — from calories to protein and vitamins to minerals. Find your gender, age and your activity level on the sheet. Follow across the same line to see the recommendations for what nutrients you should be getting daily.

*All Downloads are in PDF format – Get the Acrobat Viewer Here

Understanding how nutrients  benefit your body will help you stay healthy. Tracking your intake and knowing the recommendations help you stay on course as you grow. You need to keep on top of all those crazy changes going on in your body like bone and muscle growth, increased energy needs, increased metabolic processes involved in sexual maturation, and keeping up with tremendous cellular growth. Hey, this is all good!

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