Food is any material taken from a plant, animal, fungi or bacteria consumed to supply nutrition to an organisms. In the simplest terms food is food that sustains life. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungal source, and carries vital nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals. The term food is used here not with the word ‘nutrient’ but with the word ‘life’. Any food is alive and has an essential role in the life of other living things.
Plants get their food through respiration; this process involves conversion of food matter into carbon dioxide and water, and requires energy from the Sun. Carbon dioxide is released as a by-product, while water is absorbed through respiration. Animals also breathe air, but plants receive oxygen through respiration also. Plants and animals therefore obtain most of their nutrition from food, although some may obtain some nutrients from mineral absorption, as in the case of vitamins. It is important to recognise that plants secrete food, whereas animals secrete milk.
Plants get their food from the Sun through the absorbance process. Sunlight is a source of food for plants through the photosynthesis process which converts food matter into starch and energy. During the process, sugars are produced and these sugars are separated from fats and starches by a process called dehydration. A lot of vitamins and minerals are then stored in fat cells for future use.
Fats and starches contain no nutrients and so cannot be consumed by humans. Instead, they are turned into a food called fur and food sources of fur include the meat and oil we eat. Plants contain sugars or sugar Substances that are not in the pure form of glucose (blood sugar) but in a complex compound known as sucrose. This sugar is not dissolvable in water, but rather is contained in a solid state in the cells of plants and animals.
Some nutritionists believe that carbohydrates have less essential nutrition than fats and therefore should be eaten in limited quantities. However, carbohydrate food plays an important role in ensuring that all the other food groups are being supplied. Therefore, it is important to ensure that a diabetic maintains a well balanced diet, including carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables. Most carbohydrates found in foods are converted to glucose through the insulin process, so diabetics need to ensure that their diets do not contain too many carbohydrates. It is also beneficial if a diabetic does not take excess fat, sugary foods and carbohydrates because the excess of these will cause the body to use the stored sugar for energy.
Vegetables such as spinach contain a special type of fat known as beta-carotene. Although beta-carotene may be responsible for giving carrots their orange colour, it is not vital for their nutritional value. The body needs a limited amount of beta-carotene to provide enough vitamin A for healthy eyesight, so vegetarians may need to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in their diets. Diabetics are also advised to avoid iron-rich food because it increases the risk of anemia.