Food is any material consumed to supply nutrition to the organisms. In the simplest terms, food is the sustenance an organism needs to survive. Food is generally of animal, plant or even fungal origin, and carries vital nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. Plants obtain most of their nutrients from the soil in which they grow; animals may eat meat, milk or vegetables; and fungi may only eat dead plants, but may also produce some foods that are inedible for humans. Foods that humans eat can be categorized into three main groups: animal-based foods, plant-based foods, and fungi or micro-organisms based foods.
Animal-based foods provide most of the nourishment to humans, because animals have the capacity to metabolize a large amount of food and digest it easily. Because of this, humans can obtain most of the nutrients they need from animal-based foods. However, a small percentage of the world’s population are not able to consume animal-based foods due to a number of factors, including religious beliefs, political beliefs, financial obligations, time constraints, etc.
Vegetable-based foods are made up of plant material that has been extracted from stems, leaves, roots or seeds. The most popular vegetables include beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, squash, mushrooms, and onions. All these produce various nutrients, including protein (the building block of muscle tissue), carbohydrates (which provide energy for many body functions), vitamins, minerals, and fat. Although these vegetables contain a large quantity of nutrients, the process of extracting the nutrients can be very difficult, so they are often enriched with vitamins, minerals, and fat to ensure a sufficient level of nourishment is received. Fungi are another group of edible organisms that can be found on the skin of fruits or vegetables.
Proteins are one of the most important groups of nutrients in food. They are made up of chains of amino acids linked together. The amino acids can be turned into several kinds of compounds. One of the best known is protein. This is the building block of all living creatures, and even plants. Most protein-rich foods come from meat, fish, milk, cheese, poultry, nuts, legumes, and vegetables.
A large portion of our diets consists of carbohydrates. This includes both complex (such as grain) and simple sugars. These have a wide range of uses, including providing energy and fueling the body. However, unlike proteins and fats, carbohydrates cannot be broken down and absorbed by our bodies; therefore they provide little nutrition.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins are necessary to maintain health and build muscle, but many foods lack complete proteins. This is why a large portion of our diet consists of products like grains, beans, nuts, and vegetables. For this reason, most nutritionists recommend consuming at least a little protein and fat every day, especially if you’re trying to achieve and maintain good health.
Another group of nutrients found in a lot of foods is called saturated fatty acids. Saturated fats are found in meats and some dairy products, as well as margarine, some fish oils, and palm nuts. While eating foods high in unsaturated fatty acids may seem healthy, most scientists agree that excessive intake leads to health issues, including heart disease and certain cancers. Instead, eat foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids.
Lastly, make sure to eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals. The minerals are particularly important, as they help your body maintain good overall health. Total energy is created when food combines with oxygen, so make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to keep your body energized.