Food is any material consumed to supply nutrition to the organisms living in a human’s body. Basically, food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and contains necessary nutrients, including protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. All living things need food to survive, but humans can’t survive without it. Just like other parts of the human anatomy, the organs that receive daily food are maintained in good condition by a complex system of hormones and enzymes.
Some of the major components of modern human diets include fat, carbohydrate, protein, fruits and vegetables. Most dietary fiber comes from plants, including fruits, leafy green vegetables and whole grains. Animal foods, such as meat, eggs, dairy products, poultry, fish and mutton could contain high quantities of vitamin A, iron, zinc, beta carotene and other fat soluble vitamins. However, these animal foods may not always provide all of the nutrients necessary, especially when processing occurs such as removing the vitamin A and B2 precursors. Also, some plant foods may be deficient in essential mineral ions such as calcium and magnesium.
In particular, Americans consume too much saturated fat, salt and refined sugar. These substances are actually found in junk foods such as potato chips, French fries, fried foods, processed meats, chips, cookies and candy. The average American diet is unfortunately high in trans fatty acids that are often found in fried foods, which may increase the risk of heart disease. Other research indicates that the consumption of trans fatty acids increases the formation of plaque in arteries, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Milk is one of the most frequently consumed dairy products in the United States. One serving of milk contains 9 calories and one tablespoon of milk provides a small amount of dietary fiber. The fat in milk, particularly the casein-based fats, may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Most fruits and vegetables contain almost no nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with water and fiber, but these nutrients are very low in nutrients compared to other carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables also have a relatively short shelf life, so eating large amounts of them before they spoil can be difficult. When fruits and vegetables are eaten, the nutritional benefits are lost as the nutrients are destroyed by stomach acid. This means consuming large amounts of these foods must be carefully monitored.
Fatty acids found in fish and meats are beneficial for overall health. Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of fat that your body uses for building cell membranes, lubricating joints and hormones. However, because fatty acids are easily digested in the small intestine, a person with a fatty liver may be at risk of heart disease if he or she consumes large amounts of fish. Similarly, a person with high blood pressure should avoid meat that is high in cholesterol, since cholesterol can clog arteries and contribute to hypertension.
Some foods high in saturated fatty acids can clog the arteries, too, so it’s best to avoid foods high in saturated fatty acids. Lean meats, egg whites, butter and some dairy products are good sources of unsaturated fatty acids. For protein, look for lean cuts of meat, especially skinless ones, poultry and fish. Nuts, seeds and legumes are excellent sources of protein. Whole grains are also a good choice for getting essential fiber.
Vitamins are needed to keep the body healthy and its cells function properly. Most people don’t get enough vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. Foods high in beta-carotene, found in cantaloupe, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, yams, peppers and some fruits and vegetables, help provide the body with vitamin A, which is essential for helping the body to synthesize vitamin D. But, many foods contain only a small amount of this fat-soluble vitamin. Therefore, it’s a good idea to eat more foods rich in vitamin E.