Food is any material consumed in order to give nutrition to an organism. The word ‘food’ can be used to refer to any source of nourishment, including plants (i.e., vegetables), seeds, roots, berries, legumes, meat, milk, and so on. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and has necessary nutrients, including vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, iron, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, calcium, sodium, zinc, and carotenoids, to enable the organisms to grow and mature normally. Therefore, all food is important for the growth and development of an individual’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
The majority of people eat a combination of foods to meet their daily requirements. This combination includes a mix of carbohydrate, protein, fat, mineral, fiber, vitamins and nutrients. However, it is not uncommon for people to consume large amounts of refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar, salt, and other chemicals, which deplete the beneficial nutrients. This may result in poor digestion of nutrients and increased risk of nutritional deficiencies. In addition, refined foods that are high in sugar increase insulin levels and cause increased fat storage, contributing to overweight and the development of many health conditions, including type II diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Unhealthy diets often consist of a low-quality combination of grains, meat, and potatoes, with very little fresh fruits and vegetables. The lack of good nutrition can cause fatigue, pain, and illness, and can contribute to premature aging. A diet rich in antioxidants can counter the harmful effects of free radicals, the chemicals created by the oxidation process in which oxygen reacts with certain substances in our body. In fact, antioxidants can damage the cells lining the blood vessels, increasing risks of stroke and coronary artery disease. Therefore, a healthy diet should include a variety of whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy products.
The right dietary fibre can provide a healthy balance of nutrients in the diet. Although fiber is digested slowly by the body, the resulting energy and nutrients are quickly absorbed. Foods that are highly fibrous include oats, lentils, beans, and whole-grain breads and cereals. To help make sure you get all the fibre your body needs, choose products that are grain-free and contain complex carbohydrates instead of simple sugars and starches, which are converted to fat during the digestive process.
Fatty acids are necessary for providing the body with a variety of vitamins and minerals. The three most important fatty acids are omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, Herring, and walnuts; vitamin E, which are found in flaxseeds; and carotene, which is found in carrots, squash, spinach, and mangoes. Eating a balance of these essential fatty acids provides your body with the correct proportion of vitamins and other nutrients without adding extra fat.
The fats you eat should be healthy fats, such as those found in butter, mayonnaise, and other low-fat spreads, as well as non-hydrogenated oils like vegetable oil, margarine, and shortening. Unsaturated fatty acids are essential to a balanced diet, as they are vital to cell membranes and cell phone health. Trans fatty acids are different. They are mostly found in junk food and fast food and should be avoided as much as possible. Experts say that consuming too many trans fatty acids can raise cholesterol levels and cause heart disease.