We explain what food is, what its functions and food groups are. In addition, its characteristics and possible problems.
All forms of life that we know require food, but not all do it in the same way or through the same sources. Plants, for example, can make their own food (they are autotrophic) , while animals must ingest organic matter from other forms of life (we are heterotrophs ).
The feeding process involves various stages and activities , in which the foods from which we will obtain the nutritional elements are ingested and processed. This results in the excretion process in which cast out of the body the excess material and elements that no longer serve us.
Finally, the way we eat will depend on the functioning of our body and, therefore, the living conditions we have, so many specialists (doctors and nutritionists) are dedicated to studying the ideal way to carry out This process.
Food characteristics :
Voluntary and conscious
Feeding is a voluntary process, at least in beings endowed with consciousness (we do not know in plants ).
An animal can decide whether to feed or not, and can decide which things to consume and which to pass up. In this sense, the will of the individual intervenes.
The social, cultural, ethnic and religious context intervenes in food.
Despite the fact that all human beings must eat and require the same elemental nutrients to exist , there are many ways of eating, which obey the individual characteristics of a person or their cultural and ethnic group.
Thus, a person has individual tastes and preferences , but also a type of diet determined by their social, cultural, ethnic and religious context.
The tasks of food are clear and essential to maintain life:
- Maintain energy levels. Provide the body with the fuel necessary to obtain the chemical energy essential for life. In our case, the glucose necessary to be oxidized and generate energy (ATP).
- Maintain heat levels. The calories obtained through food maintain the body’s thermoregulation at its optimal levels, compatible with life.
- Provide organic matter. Through food, the body acquires materials and elements necessary for the repair of tissues, the manufacture of new cells and the growth of the body.
- Provide extra energy. The surplus energy obtained from a good diet allows us to undertake physical activities beyond the minimum support of life.
A complete diet is one that covers all the nutritional needs of the body —in terms of energy and nutritional elements— such as fatty acids and amino acids that, despite being essential, are not synthesized within the body.
It is necessary to consume 55% carbohydrates and 20-15% protein.
A balanced diet is one that is governed by the ideal proportions of the various food groups .
It must be complete but not abuse the presence of any, which could result in complications. In the case of humans, this translates into: 55% carbohydrates, 30-20% lipids and 20-15% proteins .
To this should be added vitamins , minerals and water , also necessary for our body and obtainable through food.
Some lipids do not contribute anything to the body and take time to process.
The food groups are three: carbohydrates, lipids and proteins . All known organic life is made up of these three types of key substances.
And, as has been said, to maintain a healthy life , our diet must provide us with enough of each.
- Carbohydrates . Also called carbohydrates, they are more or less complex sugars that can be broken down in the body to obtain glucose and from there be incorporated into the blood . An excess of carbohydrates will lead to the production of fat as the excess sugar is thus stored for later use, but a lack of carbohydrates will leave us without immediate energy to function.
- Lipids These are fats that fulfill various functions in the body: support, caloric protection and energy storage (sugars). Some lipids provide essential substances to the body and must be consumed regularly, while others do not contribute anything to the body and rather require an effort to process.
- Proteins . They are the fundamental “building blocks” of the many compounds in the body and are used for the manufacture of tissue, enzymes , regulatory secretions and many other essential organic substances.
Nutrition and food: differences
Eating is a decision but we cannot choose whether to feed ourselves or not.
Food differs from nutrition in that the latter is an unconscious , automatic biological process that does not depend directly on our culture since it is about the digestion and use of what we consume.
We can decide what to eat but we cannot choose whether or not to feed on it.
Another fundamental characteristic of a good diet is that it is harmless, that is to say, harmless: that it is not contaminated by harmful microorganisms (which cause diseases) or by toxic substances that harm us when entering the body.
It is estimated that a good diet should include products of animal origin (meat, fish, eggs, dairy), green vegetables (vegetables, vegetables) or their derivatives, and raw or processed fruits (fruits, cereals, grains).
There are diseases and eating problems that often afflict humans, some of a psychological nature and others of a biochemical nature, such as:
- Celiac disease: Genetic intolerance to gluten (a group of proteins found in wheat, oats, barley and rye) due to an autoimmune intestinal disorder.
- Anorexia: Eating disorder of a psychological nature that generates in the patient an obsessive fear of gaining weight and therefore rejection of food.
- Bulimia: Emotional eating disorder that causes the person to alternate between large binges on food and then purges (vomiting, fasting or excessive exercise) to deal with the guilt caused by the ingested food.
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