Understanding your body requirements is an invaluable tool for developing fitness. Just as a car engine requires fuel to burn in order to power it, water to cool it, and oil to lubricate it, so your daily body requirements include fuel, fluid, and substances to help your systems work more smoothly – in other words, lubricants.
But unlike a car engine which only needs filling with petrol, your daily body requirements are more varied, and include vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre in addition to your basic fuel: carbohydrates. Vitamins and minerals act as your body’s ‘lubricants’ by providing the elements necessary for chemical reactions that unlock energy or enable growth.
Although your body can store some vitamins, a regular daily intake is important because some of the most vital vitamins, B and C, are water-soluble, so are quickly flushed out of the system. On the other hand, vitamins such as A, D, E and K are fat-soluble and are stored in the body, which means it’s possible to overdose on them – with unpleasant, even dangerous side-effects – so simply consuming as many vitamins as possible is not the answer.
Minerals are equally important to facilitate the chemical processes in your body, and the chemical elements you need are those found in the earth’s crust – the same chemical elements needed by all life forms on earth. Luckily, you don’t have to eat earth in order to ingest these minerals – although this practice, known as geophagia, has been scientifically documented in a few rare cases – because plants grow from the earth, and absorb minerals from it, and we either eat the plants, or animals that have eaten the plants.
The most important watchword when it comes to planning your daily diet is balance: include something of everything, and avoid anything to excess.