The word food refers to the consumption of materials intended to support the growth of living organisms. Food is consumed by people to provide dietary support to an organism. Dietary nutrition is concerned with the intake of food that is required for the growth, maintenance and health of an individual. Food is generally of vegetable, animal or fungi origin, and includes necessary nutrients, like proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals, in adequate quantities for the support of an individual’s physical and mental health. Individuals derive a number of advantages from food:
Providing the required dietary fibre to improve the absorption of iron from other foods and tissues. Iron is absorbed best when it is present in the form of vitamin C, and because vitamin C is the most common acid reflux neutralizer, it is present in many foods. Some foods are higher in vitamin C than others, including oranges, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes.
Providing the important minerals and essential fatty acids necessary for the development of healthy cells and bones. The main nutrients required by the body are: calcium, iron, sodium, potassium and silicon. Food provides two-thirds of the daily amount of these key nutrients. Several foods provide all of the major nutrients. Two of the richest food groups contain the most nutrients.
All of the vitamins, including A, D, E and K. Vitamin A is necessary for the development of new cells and tissue, while vitamin D helps to maintain the normal function of the bone. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant, which plays an important role in fighting infections and regulating the immune system. Vitamin K helps to retain the bone strength, while providing the necessary source of dietary fibre for the absorption of other nutrients. Bacterial growth is inhibited by the presence of Vitamin K. Vitamin A, when combined with a carbohydrate source, can help to control cholesterol levels. However, research has shown that too much Vitamin K reduces the efficacy of antioxidants.
The vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain the health of the skin. The skin is a thin membrane that protects it from bacteria and fungus. The skin contains no fat, but is surrounded by connective tissue. The body needs a source of dietary fats to supply the necessary fatty acids. Some fats are better than others. Those high in saturated fats and hydrogenated oils are not the best choice for protecting the body’s health.
Fats is necessary to help maintain a healthy balance of blood-clotting factors. Foods rich in saturated fats are not necessarily harmful. However, the saturated fats in junk foods contain a higher concentration of Omega-6 fats than do those found in fish oil. While these fats can protect the heart, the research is unclear about the long-term effects of consumption. High-fat foods contain only a small amount of vitamins A, D and E.
Foods high in unsaturated fatty acids reduces the risk of certain types of cancers. Unsaturated fatty acids appear to slow the growth of some cancer cells. Oily foods are loaded with unsaturated fatty acids. However, studies have not established that eating oily foods high in trans fatty acids reduces your risk of certain types of cancer. Some studies have shown a protective effect.
Oils from certain plants contain different kinds of fats. The essential fatty acids found in them are called polyunsaturated fats. They are beneficial to the heart. Plant-based oils contain different kinds of fats that are beneficial to the heart and overall health.
The energy in foods rich in fiber is referred to as “net calorie intake”. This refers to the total energy provided for eating. Junk foods high in trans fatty acids cause a rise in your calorie intake. A diet high in unsaturated fatty acids reduces this effect and leads to weight loss.
Food items that contain antioxidants provide benefits. Antioxidants reduce the risk of heart disease and help prevent certain cancers. Some foods are high in antioxidants. Oatmeal for example, contains significant amounts of antioxidants. Whole grains, nuts, tomatoes, carrots and spinach are also rich in antioxidants.
The nutrients in food provide growth stimulants. Some of these are the vitamins and minerals we already discussed. Others include fats and proteins. We have just covered some of the nutrients that are important for growth and development.