Vitamins, Minerals, Probiotics, & Enzymes

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Real Food Education

A healthy diet requires a mixture of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and probiotic bacteria for your body to break down and absorb the nutrients in your food. For these essential elements to be most effective, they should be eaten in their whole natural forms: Whole grains, meat with the fat, whole milk dairy products, etc.

Vitamins:

Any of a group of substances that are essential in small quantities for the normal functioning of metabolism in the body. They cannot usually be created in the body but they occur naturally in certain foods: insufficient supply of any particular vitamin results in a deficiency disease.

 Minerals:

Minerals are chemical elements required by living organisms for normal functioning of metabolism, other than the four elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen which are naturally present in the body. Minerals enter the food chain when they are absorbed by plants, which are then eaten. Plant and animal foods both contain minerals. Bacteria play an essential role in breaking down these minerals to release the nutrients and make minerals available for use at a cellular level in the body.

 Enzymes:

Enzymes are molecules in food that speed up the chemical reactions that break down large molecules of food in the digestive system so that they can be absorbed and used by the body. Enzymes are found in both plant and animal food sources. All enzymes are deactivated at a wet-heat temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit, and a dry-heat temperature of about 150 degrees, so it is important to eat a good amount of raw foods, and to not cook foods at extremely high temperatures.

 Probiotic Bacteria:

Probiotic bacteria are a group of live microorganisms living in the body which improve the intestinal microbial balance, and inhibiting pathogens and toxin producing bacteria. The most common of these microbes are lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and bifidobacteria; but certain yeasts and bacilli, such as those found in yogurt and kefir are also a part of this group. Heating milk over 110° kills any probiotic bacteria that was in the milk and removes any of the benefits that you may have otherwise received.

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