Food is any material consumed to give nourishment to an organism. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungus origin, and generally has necessary nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. It plays an important role in the life of plants and animals, obtaining energy from sunlight, heat, chemical signals or other sources. The primary role of food is to supply the energy required for growth and development of an individual or an animal. The major groups of foods are animal food, vegetable food, fruit food, legume food, and grain.
With modern society’s increased interest and awareness of nutrition, there has been an increasing demand for ‘natural’ or organic foods. Some people refer to food produced by cultivation as ‘natural’ or ‘organic.’ Generally speaking, however, ‘natural’ food is a term used to distinguish foods that fall within the scope of traditional plant cultivation, where most of the work associated with cultivation of the land is done by members of the local community, the soil and wildlife, with little or no external intervention by humans.
The term ‘natural foods’ is increasingly being used to describe foods produced outside of cultivation, such as ‘home-grown’ food, ‘vegetarian food,’ and ‘fruit and vegetables’ – but these terms tend to be used generally, to describe wider varieties of food that are grown in more natural ways, and perhaps better suited to local markets, where local producers have historically had a strong presence. ‘Organic foods’ is another growing area of interest that include products such as herbs and spices, milk and cheeses, and tea. ‘Certified Organic Foods’ is a broader term that includes more items under the larger umbrella term of organic foods. All of these different types of food are usually healthier than traditionally grown foods, since pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals are not commonly used in modern agriculture.
Perhaps the biggest impact of switching to a “natural” or “organic” diet is the dramatic decrease in fat and cholesterol intake. A natural diet can actually help to reverse many health risks, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. A study published in Nature Nutrition found that older people who switched to a “natural” (not organic) diet from a “conventional” (organic) diet enjoyed a 13% reduction in their risk of death due to all causes, while increasing their lifespan by nearly five years! And the effects did not stop at the end of the study; researchers found that those participants who had maintained their diet throughout the study, also enjoyed a significant improvement in cognitive ability, and a reduction in stress.
It is important to note that, in addition to the noted health benefits of a natural diet, a switch to a non-chemical based food can often seem like an overwhelming task. Many of the ingredients in traditional foods are hard to pronounce and can be off putting to some people. Also, many of the preservatives in many “natural” foods have been associated with an increased risk of cancer. Many people mistakenly think that the only benefit of switching to an “all natural” food is the fact that it is not prepared in the same way that it was prepared in the past.
But the truth is that switching to all natural foods can lead to many exciting new benefits, including a reduction in weight, a reduction in saturated fat, increased energy, better sleep, more vibrant skin and hair, and more. By eating a more natural diet full of unprocessed whole foods, you can improve your health and reduce your risk for chronic disease. Food processing has removed many beneficial nutrients from food, making it harder for our bodies to absorb the nutrition we need. If we don’t eat food the way it was designed, we won’t get the nutrients we need.