Most Americans look to food as a source of pleasure. Eating a tasty meal makes us feel satisfied and even boosts our mood. In fact, our serotonin levels, the hormone related to elation and positivity, increase dramatically when we consume certain foods. This sense of contentment drives many of our food choices, and not always in the best way. Instead of letting your taste buds and stomach always dictate the foods you eat, think about how the foods you eat best nourish your body.

We can define our food by breaking it down into two categories based on nourishment: macronutrients and micronutrients. As discussed in the previous post, we consume the majority of our calories through macronutrients. We use these essential nutrients for activity, maintaining our basic functioning, and growth.

Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals. Whereas we consume very few micronutrients in relation to our whole diet, they are also an essential part of our survival. Vitamins and minerals help us maintain normal metabolism. They aid in growth, improve our productivity and fight infection. Certain extreme cases of deficiencies can result in physical and mental impairments, blindness and even death.

No one food can provide us all the vitamins and minerals we need to survive. Whew! Eating cabbage or kale all day and night would definitely make for a boring life. A balanced diet consisting of nutrient-rich foods will ensure your body gets everything it needs to perform at its best. For example, eat a simple spinach salad and your whole body benefits!

Spinach: This leafy green is particularly rich in iron, a mineral which helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of your body.

Pumpkin seeds: Full of magnesium, pumpkin seeds maintain muscle and nerve functioning, including the rhythmic beating of your heart.

Feta cheese: Certain goat cheeses like feta are low in fat and high in calcium. This mineral aids in keeping your bones and teeth strong.

Pomegranate seeds & beets: Both these foods give your body many vitamins including the B vitamins (folic acid) and C. Foliates repair and maintain our cells and also prevent heart disease. Vitamin C strengthens our immune system, which allows us to fight foreign bacteria, viruses, and infection.

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