Food is any material consumed to give nutrition to an organisms. Food is generally of vegetable, animal, or fungal origin and usually contains necessary nutrients, like protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, or minerals, for the growth and maintenance of an organism. It comprises of the food consumed by an individual on a daily basis. Animal foods like meat, fish, milk, eggs, etc are rich in protein, whereas plant foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, roots, nuts, seeds, etc are rich in carbohydrates.
There are two classes of carbohydrates; simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are those which can be broken down easily into simple sugars, while complex carbohydrates are those that need to be processed before they enter the body. Some important categories of carbohydrates are; glucose, sucrose, lactose, corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, and many people also know as starches. There are many foods like; rice, potatoes, bread, cereals, pasta, etc, that are derived from plant sources and therefore not carbohydrates at all. These carbohydrates are digested slowly and thereby provide energy to an individual.
A diet rich in carbohydrates and other dietary fibres is essential for good health, but many people do not recognize that certain foods can affect their immune system negatively. Many types of cancer are related to improper dietary management of carbohydrates and fibre. When carbohydrates are consumed in excess, they tend to increase the body’s temperature and this affects many parts of the body, including the immune system. The intake of food rich in calories causes obesity, which in turn increases the risk of developing various types of cancer.
To achieve good food security, a sustainable food system should be developed. This food security can be improved by eating healthy food and ensuring the intake of a balanced nutrient diet. A healthy food system is one in which a person gets the right proportion of essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins. In addition, there should be adequate levels of dietary fibre in the diet.
Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet with a healthy eating routine will ensure that the body is provided with all the essential nutrients and vitamins it needs to function normally. One needs to remember that nutrients and vitamins are separated in two categories, i.e. soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber comes from fruits and vegetables, whereas insoluble fiber comes from grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Based on the type of food consumed, the proportion of soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet should be determined. Foods that are rich in soluble fiber include whole grains, dried beans, peas, nuts, fruits and vegetables.
A high quality food system ensures the proper functioning of the various systems of the body including the immune system, the endocrine system, digestive system, cardiovascular system and the nervous system. A healthy nutrition is essential for a long life and a healthy diet plan is one of the keys towards achieving this. One can achieve the best health by including all the important food groups in the diet.