Food nutrition is the process by which living organisms obtain nutrition for growth and development. It involves ingestion, digestion, absorption, transport, assimilation and excretion.
A diet that provides a balance of essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water is known as a healthy diet. Eating this way can help you feel your best and stay energetic throughout life.
Protein is one of the essential macronutrients for good health. It can be found in many foods like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, soy products, beans and peas as well as many plant foods like nuts and seeds.
The human body can synthesize most proteins, but to achieve optimal health it’s necessary to consume a diet with all the amino acids (building blocks) of protein. Animal sources like meat, milk and cheese provide complete proteins while plant foods like grains, vegetables, legumes and nuts provide incomplete sources.
Protein quality can be assessed through several methods, such as biological value, net protein utilization and PDCAAS (Protein Digestibility Checklist).
However, some of these systems fail to take into account how well a food is digested and absorbed by the body, leading to inaccurate measurements of a food’s protein quality.
Studies have suggested that high protein intake may not be recommended for individuals with health conditions that hinder nutrient absorption, such as inflammatory bowel disease, trauma and burn injuries or kidney disease.
Carbohydrates, also referred to as sugars, provide essential energy for the body. They can be found in many foods in both simple and complex forms.
Carbohydrates are most often broken down into sugars, starches and fiber. Sugar is the simplest type of carbohydrate; it naturally occurs in fruits, dairy products and other foods like fruit.
These sugars are metabolized by the body into glucose, which serves as the primary fuel for brain and other organs. After eating, blood sugar levels rise and insulin is produced to help use it for energy production. If glucose levels become too high or low, your body won’t be able to properly utilize it and may experience insulin resistance.
Complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes contain long chains of sugar molecules which make people feel fuller for longer. Plus they’re an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Some people worry that they don’t get enough carbohydrates in their diets. This can be an issue since carbohydrates serve as the body’s primary energy source, so they need to come from healthy sources.
If you’re uncertain whether a food contains adequate carbohydrates, make sure to look at its nutrition facts label. Look for ingredients that state “no added sugar.”
When planning your meal, one factor to consider is the glycemic index (GI). This measures how quickly food raises blood sugar levels on a scale from 0 to 100; the higher the GI, the quicker your sugar will spike after eating it.
If you choose to eat carbohydrates, make sure they are nutritious by selecting unprocessed or minimally processed foods that provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients. A diet including these nutritious carbs will support weight loss, heart and gut health as well as overall wellbeing.
Hominins, the earliest humans on Earth, were mostly omnivores, living off fruits, leaves, seeds, flowers, bark and tubers. While they occasionally consumed some meat, it wasn’t a major part of their diet.
Around 2.6 million years ago, humans began cooking food due to a change in climate that made it hotter and drier. Cooking was an essential evolutionary advancement since it improved digestion efficiency, freeing energy for larger brains.
Cooking also made starchy vegetables like potatoes and other tubers more digestible, providing their ancestors with the calories they needed to develop healthy brains.
It is possible that early humans occasionally ate raw meat, as it was easily accessible and easy to obtain. But since their teeth weren’t equipped to break down raw meat, they likely used stone tools instead – most likely smashing it up with their fists.
Some cultures, such as the Inuit and some Middle Eastern and North African tribes, still practice this type of eating. It’s also popular for preparing dishes like sushi and sashimi that feature raw fish or meat.
Some restaurants are even reintroducing steak tartare after it was briefly de-emphasized due to concerns over e.coli bacteria in ground beef. These dishes, which combine cooked and raw meat with vegetables and an egg on top, offer chefs a way to add flavor without adding fat.
However, some experts question the safety of this diet. Eating raw meat could potentially lead to amenorrhea – an irregular menstrual cycle which could be dangerous for women – as well as cause the body to absorb more calories than necessary, which isn’t good for overall wellbeing.
A high-fiber diet can promote health and help to prevent disease. Eating more fiber in your meals may also aid weight loss, keep stomach and bowels healthy, as well as making you feel more satisfied and less likely to overeat.
Fiber can be found in many foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. Unlike carbohydrates which are broken down into sugar molecules upon consumption, fiber remains relatively intact throughout your stomach, small intestine and colon.
Fiber can be divided into two categories: soluble (dissolves in water) and insoluble (doesn’t dissolve). Soluble fiber has been known to lower blood cholesterol and prevent diabetes.
Consuming adequate dietary fiber is important for all age groups, particularly children and adolescents, as a low-fiber diet can cause constipation, bloating, intestinal gas and diarrhea. Not only does dietary fiber improve digestive health but it has been linked to lower risks of heart disease, cancer, obesity and Type II diabetes [2, 3].
There are many ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Eating whole grains such as bread, oatmeal, pasta and rice are great sources of this vital nutrient. You could also switch out white flour for whole-grain alternatives like rolled oats, millet, quinoa or barley flours.
Add more fiber to your meals by including more vegetables, fruit and nuts in your dishes. Try swapping lettuce for a salad made with nuts, or have a veggie burger with some beans on the side for an oat-rich meal.
Increase your dietary fiber intake for a simple, straightforward, and powerful way to improve your health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Start today by including more fiber in your meals – you’ll reap the rewards for years to come!
Water is an integral element of food nutrition. It supports plant growth and development, livestock health, as well as many other living organisms. Furthermore, it has many uses such as cleaning and transportation.
Hydroxygen (H20) is the liquid element most often found in our planet’s hydrosphere – a vast system of rivers, lakes, oceans and other water bodies. It has a molecular structure made up of hydrogen atoms linked to oxygen atoms. Natural water typically consists of isotopes hydrogen-1 and oxygen-16 but also heavier elements like deuterium or tritium.
Water plays a crucial role in cell biology (Figure 2), filling them with essential elements to create the right shape at the molecular level. This enables cells to perform essential tasks such as sending signals and catalyzing chemical reactions.
Water plays a key role in the folding of proteins, which are essential building blocks of cells. Without water, proteins would have difficulty folding and could not function correctly within the cell.
Water is an integral component of life on Earth and a valuable resource for humans. It plays an integral role in maintaining a healthy climate, providing clean drinking water for consumption and other uses, and safeguarding ecosystems.
Aurelia is the Editor-in-Chief of The Graceful Kitchen, a vegan lifestyle blog that focuses on delicious, nutritious, and ethical eating. A lifelong vegan, Aurelia is passionate about sharing her love of plant-based cuisine with others. She is a regular contributor to several online and print publications, and has been interviewed by major news outlets about the benefits of a vegan diet. In her free time, Aurelia enjoys cooking, hiking, and spending time with her cats.