5 Essential Nutrients: What They Are & Why Do You Need Them?

5 Essential Nutrients: What They Are & Why Do You Need Them?

HEALTH FACTS: The 5 Main Nutrients That Our Body Needs! What Should We Eat To Stay Healthy?

There are several basic needs of humans to survive. Among all, food is the most important as we need to eat proper food for our body to perform its physical function.

A diet can affect one's health for a lifetime, while a balanced diet will enable our body to absorb the important nutrients, improve its defense system against bacteria and viruses to keep us healthy. Only with the presence of good health, we can enjoy a quality life. Therefore, we have to bear in mind that nothing is more important than good health.

What Should We Eat To Stay Healthy?

There are different types of nutrients in our food to provide our body with the energy and nutrition that we need all day to perform daily functions and stay healthy. Some even argued that nutrients are the element of life, therefore a human can only survive between 10-14 days without consuming food.

Normally, we have to consume at least three meals per day, however, how do we know if our diet is in a good balance? Now, please bear in mind that a balanced diet is a combination of science and rational choices. Only eating with a rational mind would ensure the most optimal health. Thus, you may follow the golden ratio of *2:1:1*Vegetables & Fruits: Protein:Carbohydrates) for each meal on top of practicing a regular eating schedule. If you are prone to having your dinner late, then you should watch out for your food intake, such as eating a portion of fruits + a boiled egg and a cup of low fat milk.

*[1= size of one fist, 2= size of 2 fists]







This picture illustrates the food ratio for each meal.


Vegetables and fruits make up half the plate, while carbohydrates and protein is about 1/4 of the plate each. This is the definition of the golden ratio of 2:1:1. It is also suggested that you should select your food in an order that begins with vegetables and fruits, followed by protein and lastly carbohydrates.


If you do not want to have fruits during your main meal, you may replace with a portion of vegetables and keep the fruits as a snack between the main meals of the day. Most importantly, your food should not be oily, salty or sweet.


If you do not wish to eat tasteless food, then you may use some spices such as curry powder, dried chilli or italian herbs etc in your food to improve the taste.



Carbohydrates consists of white rice, brown rice, noodles, meehoon, kuey teow, meesua, bread, crackers, oat, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, yams, corns, sugar and more. You should pay attention to the carbohydrate content of each food because a part from being the main contributor to fuel the body, it also increases our blood sugar levels.


Biscuits and crackers are also not recommended as they are high calorie foods. You are advised to choose high fibre food when you make your food choice, such as wholemeal bread, oat, brown rice etc., because these food makes our stomach feels fuller while controlling our blood sugar and improving our bowel movement.



Food that are rich in protein include fish, chicken, pork, cow, lamb, seafood, tofu, nuts, soybean curd, eggs, milk and other dairy products. You should avoid fried food or those with high fat content while choosing the food in this category. Other than that, while choosing milk or other dairy product, you should eat in moderation because they contain carbohydrates and fats too.



Vegetables and fruits are rich in fibre, vitamin and minerals. If you're trying to lose weight, you may consume more vegetables or fruits. However, please note that vegetables are divided into leafy greens and non-leafy greens. It is recommended that you choose leafy greens because they contain more fibre, such as  Choy Sum, Bak Choy, spinach and kale. If you're not a fan of leafy greens, you may choose broccoli, bell peppers or taugeh. The suggested choice for cooking are boiling, steaming or stir frying. Pick fresh fruits instead of those pickled ones, also getting rid of sauces or sour plum powder is a great way to reduce your calorie intake.


Many people think that eliminating fat completely in our diet is not possible, so how should we reduce fat intake? First, if you are eating at home, please cook with a moderate portion of vegetable oil. When you are preparing food for only one person, it is suggested that you should not use more than 2 teaspoons of oil, if there are two people then the oil portion should be less than 4 teaspoons and so on. If you are eating out, you should avoid fried food, sauces and oily food to reduce your fat intake. Also, if you like eating mixed nuts, your portion should be about half a palm because despite being a good source of fat, you should still eat nuts in moderation.


Water is a zero calorie drink that has many benefits. You are advised to drink at least 2000ml of plain water per day. People who are taller or higher weight should drink more. Other than that, avoid taking sugary or processed drinks because they barely have any nutrients. You may still consume coffee or tea but should not replace water with these.


Lastly, you should reduce canned food and choose more fresh food, because canned food contains a high sugar or salt content, thus they are not recommended. Other than that, fried food are a no-no too. Although fried food are delicious, they can only satisfy your cravings and are not the best choice for your health, so you should reduce your consumption of fried food. Meanwhile, sauces are also food that are high in carbohydrates and fat, therefore it may increase your weight without you even realizing it!


If you couldn't remember all of the tips above, we have another way to help you! Just remember the summary below:



Golden ratio 2:1:1

Eat your meal on time

Less oil more fibre

Less salt, less sugar

Stay hydrated with water

Less sauce more spices

Avoid fried and processed food


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Author、27Dietitian JASMIN

Editor、CIND / Image credit: XXX



(1) https://www.nutritionmonthmalaysia.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/nmm2017_infographic_book.pdf

(2) https://www.healthyfood.com/advice/the-perfect-plate/


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