Food is the basic necessity of every organism. Food is a substance that we consume in order to derive energy to run our body and nutrition to grow. All living organisms must have food to survive. It provides nourishment to our body system and makes sure that it works smoothly. It aids many biological processes inside the body and helps us grow. As much as it is important to have food, it is more important to have healthy food. Healthy food is the one, which provides a well-balanced diet. It gives us complete nutrition. It consists of food varieties that have maximum nutrients essential for the body. It also intends to provide the right quantity of every nutrient which is required by the body.
The food we eat comes either from plants or animals. Plants are our primary food source of food and the producers in the food chain. Plants make their own food (except for some carnivorous plants). And all other organisms are directly or indirectly dependent on plants for food. Herbivore animals only depend on plants for food. Carnivorous animals hunt other animals for food and omnivores like human beings can have plants as well as animals’ sources for food. There are other sets of organisms like bacteria that depend on dead and decaying organic matter for food. These organisms are called decomposers.
The availability of food sources and the climatic conditions of the region greatly influence the food variety in the region. And apart from that individual food preferences are dependent on three major determinants-
Physical Determinants like education, skills, etc.
Biological Determinants like the taste, appetite, preference, etc.
Economical Determinants like availability of particular food and its cost.
A variety of food consists of an array of nutrients. There is a plentitude of food products available across various regions for consumers to choose from. India has a plethora of food diversity. We have 29 different states, all having their specialty meals consisting of a platter of nutrition and taste. As food variety varies as per climatic conditions and food sources, a region-wise platter of a meal also varies as per these factors.
Food variety ensures all-round nutrition. They offer all sorts of nutrients required by the body. It also brings newness to everyday food, so that there is no monotony in the type of food we have. A single food item does not offer all sorts of nutrition required by the body. Our body needs vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, etc. All these elements are obtained from different types of food. You might have heard that eating fruits is healthy. But what if you ate only oranges every day and no variety of food? It will load your body with a single nutrient and you will be deprived of all other essential nutrients. You will fall sick. Food variety ensures that your body keeps getting all-around nourishment in the form of all the essential nutrients from different types of food. Thus, our everyday meal offers us a mix of carbohydrates through potatoes, rice, vitamins through fruits, proteins through pulses, and so on. Therefore, eating a variety of food is very important for our body.
Nutrients are macromolecules required by the body for proper maintenance and growth. The major nutrients required by our body are carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, etc. These nutrients are broken down in our body through various chemical processes to produce energy, aid cell division, growth, etc. The food we eat has all of these nutrients, but a balanced diet is the one in which all the nutrients are available in the right quantities. An excess of unnecessary fats and carbohydrates in the body causes various malfunctions and affects the body parts. Therefore, one must check the nutrient value of the food before having it.
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There are five major Types of Food that must be included in our daily diet for Good Health and well-being.
Vegetables- Vegetables are an abundant source of minerals, vitamins, fiber, etc. For example- Spinach is rich in iron. Vegetables can be directly obtained from plants.
Fruits- Fruits also provide various nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Some fruits also provide roughage and are also directly available from plants.
Dairy- Dairy products are a good source of calcium and other macronutrients.
Poultry and Meats- Poultry products like eggs, chicken, and meat and fish are an excellent source of protein. Proteins are the building blocks of life and hence, they are essential for proper growth and maintenance of the body.
Cereals and Legumes- Cereals and legumes are a rich source of fiber.
Food can be defined as the nutritious substance which we consume for our growth and metabolism. This is imperative for the survival of all living beings. It gives nourishment to the cells present in the body, helps in their proper functioning, helps in metabolism and helps in the growth of it. One must remember that it is important to have a proper diet that is well-balanced. A well-balanced diet is a diet that contains all the crucial nutrients that are required by the body and is present in the right amount i.e. it is not too little or in excess. Food can be obtained from plants and animal sources.
The plants are the primary producers in the food pyramid which means every living organism is directly or indirectly dependent on plants for food. The herbivores which consume plants obtain it from the plant ecosystem. On the other hand, animals obtain food by consuming other animals and are called carnivores and omnivores (e.g. humans). Other organisms like bacteria and fungi depend on the decaying matter of other living organisms like plants and animals and are called decomposers.
It is important to have variety in the food we consume so that we get all sorts of nutrients that are required for a balanced diet. It is also important because it will help the body perform different functions. Variety in food is important because a single type of food won’t provide all the required nutrients even if we have just fruits and vegetables. The nutrients present in food are diverse. For example, fruits like oranges have high levels of vitamin C and spinach are rich in folate. Excess or deficiency of any nutrients can impair the proper functioning of the body.
1. Why is having a balanced diet necessary?
A Balanced Diet provides all-round nourishment to the body. It contains minerals, vitamins, fibers, necessary for the growth and maintenance of the body. Various chemical processes that occur in our body cannot take place without these nutrients. Thus, having a balanced diet is very necessary for the proper growth and functioning of the body.
2. What are the factors influencing food variety?
Food variety majorly depends on the climatic conditions of the region, as the climate decides which type of crops will flourish and grow in that particular region thus influencing availability of a particular food and sources.
3. Define nutrients and state their importance.
Nutrients can be defined as the food molecules which are crucial for the growth and maintenance of the survival of life entities. The major nutrients in the food we consume are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. These are micronutrients and macronutrients which are essential for carrying out the reactions in our body that are required for body metabolism. This, in turn, aids in smooth digestion and proper growth. The food we consume should be highly rich in nutrition value and shouldn’t have unnecessary fats.
4. How are minerals different from vitamins?
Minerals can be defined as inorganic substances which don’t lose their chemical nature and remain intact whereas vitamins are organic compounds and can be dissociated by acid, air or heat. Thus, the minerals present in soil and water can easily enter our body through our food consumption by plant and animal sources but vitamins in our food can become inactive due to overcooking, storage and light exposure to air since they are comparatively weaker compounds.
5. What are food deficiencies?
Food deficiencies as the name suggests is a deficiency of food when there isn't an abundant or required amount of the nutrients required for a well-balanced diet and also for the proper functioning of the body. These deficiencies are mostly caused due to a lack of proteins, minerals or vitamins. Vitamin deficiencies can be due to a lack of nutrients found in food items like vegetables, fruits, milk, cereals etc. Some of the examples of food deficiencies are – hypoglycemia and ketoacidosis which is caused due to lack of carbohydrates, Marasmus caused due to a deficiency in proteins, Hypothyroidism and goitre caused due to deficiency in iodine.
6. Why is it important to have variety in food?
The importance of having food variety is that it provides all the nutrients that are required to maintain a well-balanced diet. It provides a variety in taste as well. A single food doesn’t have all the nutrients and thus it is important to have varieties because the body requires proteins, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates equally. Having only a single type of food can cause a spike in the nutrient that the food is rich in and this can be harmful to the body leading to sickness.
7. What are the food types one must add to a healthy diet?
The food types can be broadly divided into five types which are as follows:
Vegetables: They are the major source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. These are obtained from plants and are highly required for a proper diet.
Fruits: They provide nutrients like vitamins and minerals. For example, most citrus fruits are found to be rich in Vitamin C. They are obtained from plants.
Dairy: These are rich in calcium which is required for our bones. They are animal products like milk.
Poultry and Meat: They are rich in protein and are animal products. For example, eggs, meat etc. Proteins are required for body metabolism and growth.
Cereals and Legumes: They are highly rich in fibre.