Your guide to understanding Nutrition

Your guide to understanding Nutrition

Imagine your body is like a car. To keep it running smoothly, you need to give it the right fuel. Nutrition is like choosing the right fuel for your body. Nutrition is the process by which we acquire and utilize the nutrients necessary for our growth, maintenance, and overall well-being. If you don't get the right nutrients, it will impact your overall well-being not just physically but also mentally. So, nutrition is all about making sure you give your body what it needs to stay healthy.

These nutrients can be divided into macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) both equally important to keep our body running. 

What are Macronutrients and Why do we need them?

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats, the elements that form the bulk of the diet and provide the energy necessary for the body's day-to-day functions are Macronutrients. These nutrients are required in relatively large amounts and are crucial for sustaining life and promoting overall health. In short, macronutrients are the essential nutrients that provide the energy needed for the body's daily functions.

There are three main types of macronutrients:


These are the body's primary source of energy. Carbohydrates are found in foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose, which is used for immediate energy or stored for later use. Are you eating enough rice, wheat, berries, carrots or chickpeas? These are a very rich source of Carbohydrates and necessary to find a place on our plate. 


Proteins are crucial for building and repairing tissues, making enzymes and hormones, and supporting the immune system. Foods rich in protein include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, and nuts. What do vegans consume to get enough Proteins? Tofu, soya milk, quinoa and spinach are some of the easy-to-find vegan alternative sources of protein.


Fats are another energy source and play a role in nutrient absorption, protecting organs, and maintaining cell structure. Healthy fats can be found in sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish. It's important to choose unsaturated fats (like those found in plant oils and fish) over saturated and trans fats for heart health. While mostly misunderstood, Fats are a very important element of a balanced diet. But a lot of work goes into finding the fats which are healthy and not the opposite of it causing issues in the long run. Try adding avocado, healthy seeds, and better quality oils like olive oil for a healthy source of fats. Pro-tip for all your sweet tooth: Dark Chocolates gets you some of these healthy fats too.

What are Micronutrients and why are they important?

Vitamins and minerals are members of the micronutrient family. Their deficiency can lead to a range of health issues. It is important to incorporate these into your diet since these are the nutrients that determine the healthy functioning of our body.


Vitamin A: Found in sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and liver. Important for vision, immune function, and skin health.

Vitamin B (e.g., B1, B2, B3, B6, B12): Found in various foods such as whole grains, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and leafy greens. They play a role in energy metabolism, nerve function, and red blood cell formation.

Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli. It helps with the immune system, skin health, and wound healing.

Vitamin D: Obtained from sunlight, and also found in fatty fish, and fortified dairy products. Helps with calcium absorption and bone health.

Vitamin E: Found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils. Acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage.

Vitamin K: Found in leafy greens, broccoli, and soybeans. Essential for blood clotting and bone health.


Calcium: Important for bone and teeth health, muscle function, and blood clotting. Found in dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods.

Iron: Necessary for oxygen transport in the blood and overall energy metabolism. Sources include red meat, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals.

Zinc: Supports immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis. Found in meat, dairy products, nuts, and legumes.

Magnesium: Involved in muscle and nerve function, bone health, and energy metabolism. Sources include nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens.

Potassium: Essential for maintaining fluid balance, nerve impulses, and muscle contractions. Found in bananas, potatoes, oranges, and spinach.

Sodium: Important for fluid balance and nerve function. Commonly found in salt and processed foods.


Does our body need all of this every day?

Yes, our bodies need nutrients daily to function properly. The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) are a set of nutrient intake recommendations developed by health authorities like Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to ensure that the majority of the population receives adequate nutrition for good health.

Daily Nutrient Requirements:

  • Nutrients are necessary for various physiological processes, and obtaining them from the diet is crucial.
  • Daily requirements vary based on factors such as age, sex, weight, health status, and activity level.

Daily Values (DV):

  • Daily Values are provided on nutrition labels to help consumers understand the nutrient content of foods.
  • DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet, and they provide a general reference for the average adult.

RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowances):

  • RDA is the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97.5%) healthy individuals in a specific life stage and sex group.
  • RDAs are set by health organizations, such as the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

RDA for Indians

The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Indians can differ from general RDAs provided by international health organizations. The RDAs are often developed based on the specific dietary patterns, lifestyles, and health conditions prevalent in a particular population. Different countries and regions may have distinct nutritional requirements due to factors such as genetics, cultural practices, and the availability of certain foods.

Why does our body lack nutrients?

Several factors contribute to the lack of nutrients in daily diets for many individuals. These factors can vary widely and may include:

Poor Dietary Choices:

Limited Variety: Consuming a limited range of foods may lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients that are not adequately represented in the diet.

Highly Processed Foods: Diets rich in processed and convenience foods may lack essential nutrients found in whole, unprocessed foods.

Inadequate Intake of Fruits and Vegetables:

Low Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Insufficient intake of these food groups can result in nutrient gaps.

Unbalanced Diets:

Overemphasis on Certain Macronutrients: Diets that are disproportionately high in carbohydrates, fats, or proteins at the expense of micronutrients may lead to nutrient imbalances.

Dietary Restrictions:

Vegan or Vegetarian Diets: While plant-based diets can be nutritious, individuals need to pay attention to specific nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Allergies or Intolerances: Dietary restrictions due to allergies or intolerances may limit the intake of certain nutrients.

Lifestyle Factors:

Busy Lifestyles: People with hectic schedules may rely on quick, convenient, and often less nutritious food options. Lack of cooking skills or time for meal preparation can lead to reliance on pre-packaged and fast foods.

Health Conditions:

Digestive Disorders: Certain gastrointestinal conditions may affect nutrient absorption, leading to deficiencies.

Chronic Diseases: Some chronic diseases may require specific dietary modifications, and individuals with these conditions may be at a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies.

How to make up for the lack of nutrients?

One can take a casual stroll in their kitchen and look around at how many of the above-mentioned food items are available at their disposal and how many of those one included in an everyday diet. In an ideal world, we would be eating healthy food and no one would have the deficiencies and issues that they face but in this rat race of the world, we stuff half a toasted bread in our mouth as we get started with our day.

A balanced diet is a nutritional approach that provides the body with the right proportion of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) needed for optimal health and well-being. The goal of a balanced diet is to ensure that the body receives the essential nutrients in the right amounts to support growth, maintenance, and various physiological functions.

How do we fix this gap between what we have and what we need conveniently, cost-efficiently and sustainably? 

Consider Health Supplements:

If it's challenging to obtain certain nutrients from food alone, consider talking to a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian about the possibility of taking supplements. Common supplements include vitamin D, vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.

With a market full of solutions to almost all your health concerns, supplements can be a valuable tool when used appropriately to address specific nutritional needs.

The most common health issues that supplements help with:

Nutrient Deficiencies:

Depending on the specific nutrient deficiency, supplements can provide the lacking nutrient. 

  • Iron supplements for iron-deficiency anaemia.
  • Vitamin D supplements for individuals with insufficient sun exposure or difficulty obtaining enough from food.
  • Vitamin B12 supplements for those with a deficiency, are often seen in individuals following a vegan diet or experiencing absorption issues.
  • Folic acid supplements to address folate deficiencies, especially during pregnancy or for individuals with certain medical conditions.

Bone Health:

  • Calcium supplements help ensure an adequate intake of this essential mineral, crucial for bone density and strength.
  • Vitamin D supplements aid in the absorption of calcium, promoting overall bone health. Together, they reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Eye Health:

  • Antioxidant supplements containing vitamins C and E, zinc, and lutein can help protect the eyes from oxidative stress and support overall eye health.
  • These supplements may be recommended for individuals at risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or other eye conditions.

Joint Health:

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are commonly used to manage symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  • These supplements may help reduce joint pain, improve joint function, and slow down the progression of joint degeneration.

Immune System Support:

Vitamin C supplements are known for their immune-boosting properties, helping reduce the severity and duration of colds.

Zinc supplements support immune function and may aid in the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections.

Digestive Health:

Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that can help maintain a healthy balance of gut microbiota.

These supplements may support digestion, improve nutrient absorption, and contribute to overall digestive health.

Weight Management:

  • Fiber supplements can aid in weight management by promoting feelings of fullness, supporting digestive health, and regulating blood sugar levels.
  • Green tea extract and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplements are marketed for potential benefits in fat metabolism and weight loss, though individual responses may vary.

Sports Performance:

  • Protein supplements support muscle growth and repair, making them popular among athletes.
  • Creatine supplements may enhance strength and performance during high-intensity, short-duration activities.
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) supplements can aid in muscle recovery and reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness.

If any of the above concern was crossed on your checklist, it is a cue for you to look into what you are eating and if it is working for you!

If not check out how supplements can help.

To sum it up,

  • Nutrients are the fuel for your body
  • Lack of nutrients is the reason for your health concern
  • This lack of nutrients can be fixed with a balanced diet
  • If you are not sure whether your diet has the nutrients your body needs, consider supplements.
  • Supplements are not quick fixes but adopting a lifestyle
  • We are what we eat