19 Reasons Macronutrients Are So Important for Your Health
In addition to regular exercise and a healthy sleep schedule, proper nutrition could be the best way to lengthen your life and prevent painful illnesses. After all, our bodies require dozens of life-sustaining nutrients and minerals to grow and flourish. Macronutrients are the building blocks that help us survive, and they’re crucial in several ways.
There are many reasons why the three major macronutrients are essential to human health. Proteins play a major role in energy production, tissue repair, and immune function. Carbohydrates can help maintain proper digestion and reduce blood sugar levels, and fats are vital to cardiovascular health.
Let’s take a closer look at macronutrients and discover why they’re a cornerstone of excellent health. Once you’re more familiar with macronutrients and their benefits, you can begin to embrace a healthier and potentially life-lengthening diet plan.
What Are Macronutrients?
Have you ever heard the phrase, “you are what you eat”? While it may seem like a silly proverb, this string of words conveys a startling truth. After birth, the human body nourishes itself and continues to flourish only by consuming life-sustaining nutrients.
The cells in our bodies are very much sustained and created via the constant intake of micronutrients and macronutrients. Individuals who eat fresh, healthy meals consistently are more likely to enjoy fit bodies and peaceful dispositions.
Alternatively, those who find themselves perpetually dieting on fast food dinners or junk food snacks may suffer from a wide range of health conditions. While complex, processed foods may have been a technological and agricultural marvel last century, it’s no longer proving to be as helpful as it once was.
Turning to Historical Dieting Trends
There’s been a significant increase in “rustic” diets that harken back to a simpler or even ancient time. Paleo dieting is an abbreviated form of paleolithic dieting. To put that in perspective, the paleolithic era was about 2.5 million years ago. This was about the same time that sabretooth tigers and wooly mammoths died out.
Others may prefer keto dieting techniques. The crucial aspect of keto diets is the elimination of processed, refined ingredients and foods. This diet is reminiscent of the early hunter-gatherer diet, before agricultural refinement. As such, it’s high in natural fats and proteins but low in sugars and carbohydrates.
It’s interesting to note that both the paleo and keto diet feature a focus on the consumption of raw, unprocessed macronutrients. That’s because macronutrients are some of the most vital components of our diets. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to heal, grow, or survive.
Macronutrients are the building blocks of any person’s diet. Traditionally, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are considered to be the primary macronutrients necessary for survival. However, it’s essential to note that micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are also vital for growth and proper bodily function.
To understand why macronutrients are important for good overall health, you must first break them down into their three primary categories. Alcohol is sometimes considered the fourth because it does provide the body with energy. However, alcohol is void of significant nutritional value, so we will abstain from discussing this component.
It can be challenging to unravel the mysteries and benefits of macronutrients with an unorganized approach. There’s simply so much to discuss and discover!
Importance of Proteins
Proteins are a broad group. At their most basic, proteins can be broken into the simplest part – amino acids. These are often called the “building blocks of life,” but they’re also the primary components of proteins. When amino acids bond together, they become polypeptides, a slightly more complex form of protein.
These macronutrients serve more than a dozen purposes in keeping us alive and healthy. Some of the functions of protein include:
- Tissue repair
- pH balance
- Immune function
- Fluid balance
- Blood sugar maintenance
- Waste removal
- Human growth
- Metabolism regulation
- Cellular structure
This can be quite a lot of information to take in. To help you digest this data more easily, let’s break down these benefits individually. Understanding the reasons why macronutrients are important doesn’t have to be a complex task.
When you take the time to see how things interact on a microscopic or cellular level before stepping back and seeing the whole picture, you can appreciate the finite details of macronutrients and how they work.
Without further ado, let’s start with protein’s ability to repair tissue. Protein is a critical component of nearly every bodily system, so it’s a great place to start.
Can Help Repair Tissue
Though the human body is gifted at healing itself, it isn’t infallible. And while our bodies heal relatively quickly when we’re young, the body’s innate healing ability begins to slow down and falter as we age.
Skin tissue or muscle tissue may remain strained or damaged for longer and longer bouts of time as the body struggles to deploy or deliver critical healing cells. Fortunately, a diet that is rich in protein can help prevent many issues relating to long-term damaged tissue.
That’s because protein is crucial for tissue repair. Ingesting quality sources of protein regularly can help you enjoy faster healing, fewer aches and pains, and an overall feeling of improved strength and vitality. While meats and fish are traditional sources of protein, you can also enjoy vegetarian sources of protein by consuming chia seeds, lentils, or peas.
Helps Maintain Internal pH Balance
Every person’s body is full of various fluids. These liquids range from saliva and sweat to blood and urine. Additionally, each of these fluids has a specific pH. While some of these substances can have a safe variable pH, others must remain within a specific range.
Healthy blood, for example, has a pH of 7.35-7.45. When a person’s blood falls below 6.5 on the pH scale, it is considered to be acidic. If it rises above 7.5, it may be alkaline. Both of these readings would be worrisome for both a patient and their physician.
- Avoid tobacco product
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Drink plenty of clean water
- Eat a diet rich in healthy proteins
Protein can help restore your body’s natural pH balance, which is one of the many reasons why it’s a vital macronutrient that is pivotal to continued good health. Protein can also aid in proper, painless digestion.
Can Improve Immune Function
Our immune systems are pretty dependent on protein. Without it, our bodies would not be able to repair and heal themselves. Consequently, adding adequate protein to your diet could help you enjoy a better and stronger immune function.
If you’re experiencing feelings of fatigue and weakness throughout the day, you may be suffering from a lack of protein. Fortunately, a few bites of grilled chicken or cooked beans can help your body experience a boost in protein and, accordingly, immunity.
Protein may help you feel more energetic and awake throughout the day. As such, it’s considered one of the best macronutrients for energy production and maintenance.
Helps Maintain Fluid Balance
There are specific types of proteins that are responsible for maintaining your body’s fluid balance, and these proteins are called plasma proteins. Like gatekeepers, they allow various fluids to travel in and out of cells.
This is crucial because an uneven distribution of fluid within a tissue could cause cellular ruptures. Additionally, many cells rely on the surrounding pressure of the extracellular fluid to inform their functions and actions.
When fluid pressure is too high or too low, cells may begin to perform unnecessary or potentially harmful functions. Fortunately, proteins (especially albumin) help to maintain balance among the cells of the body, preventing pressure problems.
Protein Could Help With Blood Sugar Maintenance
Though protein doesn’t affect blood sugar levels as intensely as certain hormones or sugars, it does provide a small amount of assistance to the waste removal system that helps keep blood sugar levels balanced.
Unlike carbohydrates, proteins don’t cause blood sugar levels to increase. As such, diabetic individuals are often encouraged to enjoy diets that are rich in protein and low in carbs. Proteins may be easier on your digestive system and blood sugar levels because it takes a little longer to break down.
This slow-working deconstruction upon hitting the stomach is partially why protein is essential to the waste removal process. However, that’s not the only reason why protein can be a boon for your bowels.
Aids in Waste Removal
Though proteins may be most beloved for their muscle-repairing functions and features, they’re also excellent at helping the body get rid of waste products. Interestingly, proteins also tend to be the most plentiful form of cellular waste throughout the body.
That’s because every cell is made of proteins. When cells undergo repair or deconstruction, those bits of proteins must either be destroyed and whisked away or recycled into new forms. Without a proper amount of protein, dead or damaged cells simply wouldn’t be able to fulfill their full life-death cycle.
Like forgotten dead, they’d drift among the cellular plasma, contributing to tissue damage. If you don’t correct this issue by consuming protein, the waste removal process begins to fail. Not only are proteins the building blocks of cells, but they’re also one of the major energy sources utilized by the muscles and liver.
Proteins are also a crucial part of the growth process. Without them, we’d never grow stronger or taller than we are at birth.
Is a Vital Aspect of Human Growth
Protein is a vital part of the human immune response. Without protein, our muscles would tear and grow weary but never be able to recover. When you consider how essential this macronutrient is to muscle health and recovery, you can begin to understand why it’s a necessary part of human growth.
The first twenty years of our lives are spent moving through a series of transformative stages. When we are born, we are incapable of caring for ourselves. This remains true for the first several years of our lives. Our ability to survive individually stems from growth and its many benefits.
If your body remained the same as it was the day you were born, you’d likely find it very difficult to care for yourself. However, as an adult, you’re likely experienced enough to handle common challenges and physically capable of overcoming those challenges. This wouldn’t be possible without protein.
This all-too-important macronutrient also plays a significant role in metabolism regulation. Individuals hoping to enjoy healthy growth, muscle recovery, and a surge of natural energy may want to consume more protein.
Plays a Role in Metabolism Regulation
While the stomach may break down foods into smaller pieces and components, it’s not known for its metabolization functions. That honor goes to the liver, as does everything you eat and drink.
The liver is responsible for taking the bits and pieces of your meals and sending them onward to their proper destination. Toxins are filtered out and sent to the waste system, while helpful macronutrients and micronutrients are sent forward to be absorbed by the intestines.
The liver also creates and destroys proteins during this process. Naturally, it doesn’t create proteins out of thin air. Instead, it relies on components that are carried to it via the bloodstream. Individuals with low-protein diets may consequently experience a slower, less effective metabolism.
They may also suffer from a lack of energy. That’s because the metabolization of protein can release an enormous amount of energy, helping to keep an individual’s metabolism in fine working order.
When the liver doesn’t have the tools it needs to process your food, the whole body suffers. But this is the big picture. A lack of protein is detrimental to humans on the microscopic level too.
Provides Cellular Structure
Cells aren’t as simple as they may first appear. Nearly all cells are full of tiny components, including a nucleus, a mitochondrion, and cytoplasm. Animal cells have a protective outer layer called a cell membrane. This outer layer is built of many tiny proteins.
As such, a person with a low-protein diet may have cells with weak or flawed cell membranes. With a cell’s membrane stops functioning, the cell can shut down or slowly die. A high-protein diet may help your cells stay strong, healthy, and effective.
Importance of Carbohydrates
While protein is widely recognized as a useful macronutrient and a primary component of proper health, carbohydrates are often considered to be entirely unnecessary. However, this isn’t the case.
A diet rich in simple, processed carbohydrates can contribute to a wide range of health conditions. But enjoying healthy, colorful vegetables, fruits and whole grains could help with:
- Energy Production
- Improved Cardiovascular Health
- Improved Digestion
- Weight Maintenance
The most crucial thing to consider when adding carbohydrates to your diet is refinement. If you’re about to bite into a big slice of refined, enriched bread, stop yourself and choose a whole grain alternative. Doing so just may help you avoid many of the negative aspects of carb intake.
There are both good carbs and bad carbs, and understanding the difference between them is key to choosing the ones that can benefit your body. Good carbs can mean the difference between needing an afternoon nap and having enough energy to hit the gym after work.
Are Vital for Energy Production
Proteins can help provide energy, but carbohydrates may be a faster route to burnable energy. Athletes often consume a variety of good carbs while working through a new training routine.
A high intake of heart-healthy carbs can ensure that you have plenty of energy to make it through your workday or complete a challenging workout. When you ingest carbohydrates, your stomach and digestive tract work to break down those carbs into their smaller components, including sugar.
These smaller building blocks are then sent around the body to provide cellular energy. The bits of sugar (or glucose) that aren’t used for energy are ushered into muscle tissue or organs for storage.
Anyone hoping to build muscle and lose weight without sacrificing their energy levels may want to add a moderate amount of good carbohydrates to their diet. Doing so may also help you enjoy improved cardiovascular health.
Could Improve Cardiovascular Health
Eating a variety of good carbs may be a fantastic way of improving heart health. Processed and refined carbs can contribute to increased cardiovascular risks.
But whole carbohydrates from natural unrefined sources could decrease the amount of bad cholesterol in the heart and arteries, resulting in improved cardiovascular health. As always, moderation is key.
May Improve Digestion
Unlike bad carbs, good carbs take a while to break down and pass through the digestive system. This can be a good thing, especially for those with issues with constipation, stomach upset, or heartburn. Hearty grains are typically chock-full of dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber is an essential part of digestive health. It can help keep bowel movements regular, help prevent colorectal cancer, and decrease instances of diarrhea. The digestive system is intrinsically linked to the body’s waste removal functions, and as such, it’s imperative to keep it in excellent condition.
Consuming a moderate amount of good carbs with plenty of dietary fiber could help you experience fewer digestive issues. Good carbs could also be a boon for those hoping to maintain their weight (or gain weight in a healthy way).
Are Crucial for Weight Maintenance
A moderate carb-carb meal plan could help you maintain your current weight or lose weight. And if you are underweight, healthy carbs could be the key to boosting your daily caloric intake and experiencing a progressive weight gain.
While many diets stress a low amount or complete absence of carbohydrates, this macronutrient could be vital to your weight loss plan. That is because healthy, whole-grain carbs are full of dietary fiber. A high-fiber diet not only results in improved digestion, but it could also help you feel fuller longer. a low-carb diet can help you lose a few stubborn pounds initially, a diet rich in healthy complex carbohydrates could help you maintain your current weight. If you’re underweight, a macronutrient rich in healthy carbs could be the key to boosting your daily caloric intake and experiencing a progressive weight gain.
While many diets stress a low amount or complete absence of carbohydrates, this macronutrient could be vital to your weight loss plan. That is because healthy, whole grain carbs are full of dietary fiber. A high-fiber diet not only results in improved digestion, but it could also help you feel fuller for longer.
Chia seeds are one of the best examples of positive carbs. These small black seeds might not look like much, but 1/4 of a cup provides 18 grams (0.63 ounces) of carbohydrates, 14 of which are pure dietary fiber.
That wallop of fiber could help you resist the temptation to eat unhealthy snacks throughout the day. Carbohydrates are crucial for staying full and satisfied throughout the day and maintaining lean muscle mass.
Importance of Fats
Fats get a bad rap. However, fats are an essential macronutrient that helps us stay alive. The key to understanding this group is to recognize that there are healthy and unhealthy sources of fat. Additionally, fats are a wonderful thing when they’re used in moderation.
Healthy fats are responsible for helping you enjoy:
- Improved skin health
- Lowered risk of stroke
- Blood pressure maintenance
- Better vitamin absorption
- An abundance of stored energy
- Efficient hormone production
It’s also worthwhile to note that the human brain is about 60% fat. Low-fat diets may help you shed a few pounds, but they may not be a healthy long-term solution. If you eat foods that are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, you’re doing your body far more good than harm.
Anyone who has suffered from dry skin or an uneven skin tone may enjoy a few aesthetic results after increasing their omega-3 fatty acid intake. Alongside Vitamin E, healthy fats are one of the best things you can eat to improve your skin’s health and natural glow.
Keep Skin Healthy
It should come as no surprise that fats can help your skin look its best and stay healthy, elastic, and bright. Think about your favorite moisturizer and how it looks and feels as you apply it. Now think about cooking oils and animal fats. Are you beginning to see the similarities in texture, viscosity, and function?
Fats help to provide energy, but they can also help to keep your skin feeling smooth and hydrated. Foods that are a source of both healthy fats and Vitamin E can benefit your skin, hair, and nails. Avocados, for example, are a fantastic dietary option for individuals seeking improved skin health.
Can Lower Your Risk of Stroke
Good fats won’t clog your arteries as bad foods do. Interestingly, eating a diet that’s rich in healthy fats may help you lessen your risk of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Good fats can also help your heart’s cells stay healthy and functional.
These benefits extend to blood pressure as well. This may be wonderful news for individuals who find themselves struggling with blood pressure problems.
May Help Maintain Blood Pressure
Monosaturated fats derived from natural ingredients can help regulate blood pressure and help keep arteries healthy and well-dilated. These types of fats can reduce bad cholesterol and help keep the immune system in tip-top condition.
Aid in Vitamin Absorption
Natural dietary fat can help increase the absorption of some vitamins, including Vitamin D-3. Vitamin absorption is a subject that is worthy of its own article, as it can be quite complex.
Consuming a large amount of a particular vitamin can be disastrous. Some multivitamins can be ineffective due to a poor combination of ingredients. Some minerals, like iron, can be stifled by other micronutrients and minerals, like calcium.
By incorporating a small amount of health omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, you may enjoy a higher vitamin absorption rate. Additionally, you may experience a little boost in energy thanks to small areas of stored fat.
Create Stored Energy
Though it may be frustrating to gain weight that is purely fat, it’s important to recognize the biological reasoning behind this development. Human beings are a relatively new species, and the majority of our existence has been spent hunting and gathering.
Agricultural innovations, civilization, and everything else associated with modern humans are comparatively novel, especially when you study the broad scope of Earth’s history. The human body thrives in a hunter-gatherer setting but can become unhealthy in a sedentary environment, and most folks find themselves in a sedentary routine.
When you consume more calories than you burn, your body can store that excess energy in the form of fat. While this can be irritating, it serves a pivotal biological function. If you’re ever thrust into a desperate survival situation where food is scarce, your body will begin to use this stored fat for emergency energy.
It’s essential to remember that this process is completely natural and healthy. Regular exercise, careful fat consumption, and excellent hydration can all help to prevent unwanted excess fat storage.
Help With Hormone Production
While diets full of processed, sugary, or fried foods have been linked with obesity and decreased sexual health, the opposite is true of diets rich in natural omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats may play a significant role in hormone production, thus helping to increase or maintain fertility.
There are tons of reasons why macronutrients are important for good health and long life. The three major macronutrients–proteins, carbs, and fats, help regulate nearly every bodily system or function. Without them, we’d be unable to grow or survive.
Richard A. Lehman, LMT, CSCS
Compliment Your Body, LLC
1441 Broadway #6087
New York, NY. 10018
Compliment Your Body has been providing corporate chair massage and in-home massage therapy to New York City and the surrounding boroughs since 2004. We are local to New York City and pride ourselves on our team of local therapists. All of our therapists are hand-picked and thoroughly vetted. We don’t hire over the phone, we meet our team on the field.
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