How to Balance Out Your Diet
Food is any material prepared to provide nutrition to an organism for life. The word ‘food’ itself means ‘proteinaceous matter suitable for eating’. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and often contains necessary nutrients, including vitamins, fats, carbohydrates, or minerals. Plants absorb the most nutrients from the sun while animals digest protein-based foods.
When a person consumes food, the energy required is supplied by oxygen dissolved in water. The chemical reactions which result from eating provide the food with the nutrients it needs to grow and develop normally. It takes much less energy to digest than it does to break down the food. So plants can live on the amount of food they consume, whereas animals need to eat a lot more to obtain the same amount of nutrients. Plants grow all year round, while animals are fed only during a time frame when they are actively growing.
The word ‘food’, therefore, in its most common sense refers to any food that is consumed by people for the growth and development of an individual. This means that all animals and insects can be classified as food. However, this is not the only definition. In its technical use, food means the nutrients that are required for growth and development of an animal or insect. The term is sometimes used to refer to the whole classifications of food, which include plant food and animal food.
Plants contain carbohydrates, sugars, protein and fibre. These are the four main ingredients that together make up a vegetable diet, and these nutrients help to build and maintain the human body. Different types of food have different contributions to these four ingredients. Some foods, for example, contain significant amounts of fibres while other varieties of food tend to lack fibre.
Many plant foods, including beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables contain significant quantities of fibre. However, some of these foods are enriched with additional sources of fibre that make them more beneficial to nutrition than others. For example, some foods such as legumes and pulses have significantly higher quantities of soluble fibre than foods such as wheat or corn. Similarly, some foods such as maize have a considerable quantity of complex carbohydrates but very low levels of simple carbohydrates, which are less vital for nutrition than fibre.
Animal food, on the other hand, consists of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins. These provide the essential building blocks of life. Some types of animal food are naturally more filling and nutritious than others, whereas some can cause indigestion, gas and bloating. It has been noted that saturated fats are the worst for your health and so should be avoided as much as possible. However, it is also important to remember that if you consume a large amount of animal product, it may be healthier for you than a small amount of plant food. So eat plenty of fish, eggs and poultry, but be sure to eat other food choices such as pulses, lentils, nuts, seeds and fruits and vegetables as well.