Food is any material consumed in order to give nutrition to an organism. Usually food is of animal, plant or even fungi origin, and normally contains vital nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals, in the appropriate quantities. Food is categorized into three categories: animal foods, which are proteins and vitamins; plant foods, which are carbohydrates, fiber and vitamins; and fungi foods, which are micro-nutrients that are not essential to humans but are beneficial to other organisms. The human body requires a wide variety of different types of food in order to satisfy the needs of the body’s diverse species. In modern times, the major sources of food in the diet are carbohydrates (mainly in the form of sugar), cereals, breads, potatoes and rice; vegetables such as spinach, carrots, beans and other bean foods; fruits such as avocado, strawberries, watermelon and pineapple; meat and dairy products; and processed foods.
During the first part of the study session, students were asked to think about main sources of nutrients and food consumption habits. For example, what types of foods are regularly found in a person’s home? What are the major sources of nutrients for animals? What kinds of people commonly eat these types of food, and where do these sources of nutrients come from?
In the second part of the study session, students were encouraged to think carefully about the types of food they eat and their caloric intake in a day. Students were asked to identify what is considered a “balanced diet.” According to this concept, a balanced diet means that there are equal proportions of carbohydrates, protein, fat, and other nutrients present in the food. This sounds like a fairly simple idea, but many people fail to achieve a balanced diet, primarily because they either choose food with too much or too little of one of these essential food groups.
“balanced diet” also implies that there are four groups of food: carbohydrates (such as vegetables and fruits), proteins, fats, and liquids. The next group, “others,” includes both vitamins and minerals. The last group, “untapped resources,” refers to anything that’s not in these four categories. This could include fats and oils, which contain the vitamins and minerals that are not part of the food source, as well as herbs, spices, fiber, vitamins B and C, and other nutrients.
The fourth category, called “protected resources,” represents those resources that humans need in large quantities, but which are not found in large amounts in diets. Examples of protected resources are coal, petroleum, salt, and forests. These are the major categories of nutrients that are consumed by humans in their daily lives. The concepts of balanced diet, protected resources, and small amounts are all related to each other; eating a small amount of each will maintain a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Although there are many books written about food nutrition, very few focus specifically on foods that are used to feed the animals and plants that make up a diet. The primary concern of the animal eaters and the plant eaters isocaloric or macronutrient balance. Macronutrients are the nutrients found in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds. A balanced diet needs a wide variety of these foods, to ensure a variety of micronutrients and a balanced level of carbohydrate, protein, fat, and water. Many professionals in the field of nutrition consider a basic food pyramid to be the best tool available for creating a healthy diet and lifestyle. The food pyramid is divided into six categories, with the center representing the food groups that provide the greatest amounts of individual micronutrients, at their most concentrated levels.