Food Guide For Everyone
Food is any material consumed for the purpose of providing nutrition to an organism. Generally speaking, food is of vegetable, animal, or fungal nature, and has necessary nutrients, including proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates, or minerals, which are required by the body for proper functioning. Most food is consumed in the day-to-day routine, but in some cases, especially in the developing countries, it is not possible for everyone to eat food regularly due to various reasons. It may be difficult to get sufficient amounts of food at regular intervals. Besides, the volume of food available in the market is continuously increasing, which results in scarcity of food in some parts of the world.
Food is categorized into three main categories – animal, plant and fungi. Plants are generally classified according to two groups – aerobic (oxygen-requiring) and anaerobic (oxygen-less) groups. Fatty, salt and sweet foodstuffs are contained in plants, whereas carbohydrates (sugar) are found only in animals. Plants contain very few nutrients in comparison to animals, which constitute a large percentage of our total intake of nutrition. Plants therefore mainly depend on other sources for their vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Amino-acids and starches are major components of plant cells, as they constitute most of the food energy, or calories. Vegetable oils, fruits, grains, roots and stems, fish and seafood, legumes and grains are the sources of vitamins. Some of the main food vitamins are – A, B, C, D, E, K, M, and Zinc. Vitamin A is essential in increasing the blood supply to the skin and brain; vitamin B helps in absorbing iron, and vitamin C is responsible for assimilating phosphorus.
Almost 70% of the calories ingested each day are obtained from carbohydrates. Therefore, foods rich in carbohydrates (such as pasta, rice, bread) are very popular. However, the most important nutrient from which these foods are mainly derived is fat. Animal fat, as well as that derived from plants, contains the highest percentage of nutrients. Foods which are rich in vitamins B, C, and E are also considered excellent sources of carbohydrates.
The main source of energy in the body is the glucose or sugar that is stored in the muscles. This energy can be extracted from food only when the necessary enzymes are released into the blood. However, carbohydrate-based foods provide energy in the body quickly, making them popular with athletes and sports enthusiasts. The energy is stored as glycogen, which is used later as energy. In case the glycogen level falls below a certain level, the stored energy is lost as the body needs to burn reserves for upcoming activities. Therefore, carbohydrate-rich foods should be consumed immediately after exercise to replenish the glycogen levels.
When properly combined, the above mentioned food groups provide an excellent balance for a healthy diet. They all play a vital role in keeping the human body in perfect condition. However, it is essential to ensure that these nutrient levels are met in order to achieve optimum health. A balanced combination of these food groups ensures optimal health.