Food is any substance consumed in order to provide nutrition to an organism. Generally speaking, food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and consists of necessary nutrients, including protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. The physiological function of the body is served by the food we eat. Some of the vital tissues of the body are nourished directly by the food we eat, and the rest are supplied by the blood to form various parts of the body. Therefore, the definition of food is very much related to its physiological role in the body.
Some of the important nutrients found in food are carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates are plants or animal foods that contain sugars and starch as primary sources of energy. Protein is the building block of all the tissues of the body, including skin, muscle and ligaments, and fats are fatty substances that supply the body with energy. Lipids are fats that are made up of phospholipids. Vitamins are water-soluble substances that are needed by all cells to function. Other important nutrients in food include fat, iron, salt, fibre, carbohydrates, iodine, and so on.
Food is classified into several groups according to the extent they provide the nutrients they contain. Fruits and vegetables are the richest source of most of the above-mentioned nutrients. Milk products are rich in proteins and fats and contain almost all the other nutrients required by the body in adequate quantities. Cereals, pastries, breads, whole-grains and beans, nuts, pulses, sugar, yeast, and yeast extracts form the richest group of food with the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
Almost all the food we consume is divided into two broad categories: dietary food and medicinal food. Dietary food is food intended to be eaten as a part of the diet; medicinal food is food intended to be consumed in case of illness or to treat some physical ailment. Food that falls in the category of dietary food can be consumed freely without worrying about its nutritional value. This includes fresh fruits, vegetables, and cooked or dried fruits, cereals, legumes (like beans), and pulses, nuts and wheat flour. In the case of food meant to be consumed as a cure for some ailment, it is necessary to consume it in small quantities, but with complete confidence in its healing capacity.
Similarly, food additives are substances added to food to make it taste pleasant, appealing, or to enhance its nutritional value. Most artificial food additives are made from chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Food colorings and flavorings are added to give foods a unique flavor, while some contain only minimal amounts of food additives that augment the nutritive value of the food. Artificial sweeteners are used extensively in junk foods and prepared foods, while additives to protein powders, vegetables and fruits to increase their volume and texture, thereby increasing their nutritional value.
Food containing large amounts of salt is avoided because it causes high blood pressure. The intake of iodine should be done only when food is prepared by following strict recipes. Iodine helps to maintain proper thyroid function, preventing goiter and hyperthyroidism. Tuna, sardines, mackerel, mushroom, salmon, chicken and tuna salad are some good choices for those who don’t like salty taste. Tuna soup is rich in iodine and is an excellent alternative to salt-based soups. A glass of milk mixed with ground radish, gram flour and coconut oil and served with fried shallots in a sauce of lime juice and turmeric, which is high in iodine is very good for those who are suffering from thyroid disorders.