We have all heard about food. But do you know what food is? Food is any material consumed with the intent to provide nutrition to the organisms. The word ‘food’ refers to anything consumed for the purpose of providing nutrition to an organism. In scientific terms, food is any material that can be digested and absorbed by the body. This includes both soluble and insoluble compounds, inorganic and organic compounds, and any number of naturally occurring compounds.
The term food comes from the gourds that were used thousands of years ago for food. Today, the term refers to processed or manufactured food that is not made from natural ingredients. Examples include cookies, candy, cakes, ice cream, potato chips, hot dogs, sausages, sauces, instant rice/pasta, and canned goods (i.e. soup, jelly, spaghetti sauce, meat balls, etc.). Although real food can be equally nutritious, processed foods are often nutrient-poor and/or highly damaging to our health.
Processed foods contain chemicals, preservatives, additives, binders, flavourings, artificial dyes, flavour enhancers, artificial sweeteners, colourings, salt, flavour enhancers, flavourants, packet material, flavour enhancers, stabilizers, sugar, salt substitutes, hydrogenated oils, artificial fats, and unnatural flavours. They are nutritionally dead foods. They do not provide the nutrients or the calories we need. In addition, these chemical additives, flavour enhancers, stabilizers, sugar substitutes, artificial fats, salt substitutes, and hydrogenated oils create unnecessary amounts of pollutants in our environment. In other words, the products we consume these days don’t have real food in them.
A diet rich in processed foods is unhealthy. Processed foods are void of nutrients and the nutrients they do have are generally minimally absorbed. Therefore, a diet that is high in processed foods is a diet that is high in fat, carbohydrates, sodium, cholesterol, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, fiber, magnesium, and potassium. What’s more, eating this type of diet can cause serious negative health consequences. High blood pressure is one such example. Also, eating this type of diet for extended periods of time can damage your kidneys and your arteries.
On the other hand, eating diets rich in natural, unprocessed plant foods (e.g. foods rich in calcium, protein, iron, etc.) provide energy, fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and various kinds of polysaccharides (the molecules that combine with amino acids to form proteins). Polysaccharides are powerful antioxidant compounds that are necessary for protecting the body from the harmful effects of free radicals.
Polysaccharides are found in oatmeal, nuts, grains, fresh vegetables, whole-grains, legumes, seeds, fruits, some vegetables, meats, milk, cheese, potatoes, rice, wheat, yeast, seaweeds, and herbs. Many of these polysaccharides provide energy through the action of their amino acid compartments; however, the most important compound, glycine, provides energy only after the last molecule of carbohydrates has been metabolised by the liver into glucose. Glycine is then used for storing excess glucose, so that it may be used when a person needs energy. Therefore, the best dietary fibre to use for promoting long-term energy levels in your body are plant-based sugars and starches, which supply the body with both the glucose that it needs to replenish itself and energy that it needs to move about and perform its functions.