Food is any material consumed by an organism to give it nutrition. In humans, food is a material made up of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, or mineral substances, and has essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, proteins or carbohydrates. The human body requires about one thousand calories of food per day to maintain its activities. Most of the food we eat is not digested by the body and then converted into energy and stored as either fat or tissue.
Dietary fibre provides many benefits, but mainly assists the digestive system in absorbing the food we eat. This prevents excess carbohydrates from being converted into stored fat and provides energy to carry out the necessary daily functions. Some foods that are rich in dietary fibre include whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and nuts, sprouted beans and nuts, and seaweeds. The health benefits of food are most apparent when they are eaten in their natural state – without additives, flavourings or sugar added.
Legumes are the most important source of protein, with milk and meat providing only small amounts. Other legumes include peanuts, fava beans, black beans, chickpeas, garbanzo beans, peas, lentils and Lima beans. In fact, legumes are one of the richest sources of dietary fibre, iron and vitamins.
Types of food that are classified as omnivorous include animals and fish, with the exception of insects, which are considered to be insects by most people. Animal and fish meat provide more proteins and fatty acids than any other source. Omnivores are able to obtain some essential vitamins, minerals, and certain fatty acids from plant sources. Milk is an animal product, but can also be consumed in its natural form by most people. Meat is a complete food, which means that it contains all the essential amino acids (peptides) that are needed to build and repair the body. Vegetarians usually do not eat meat, but may include eggs and dairy products in their diet, which are considered to be part of a healthy balanced diet.
Diets that are based on vegetarian or vegan diets often lack complex carbohydrates and some nutrients. These include sugar (lactose), which is lacking in dairy products, nuts, grains and seeds. Nuts and grains are rich in protein, which can help promote healthy muscle development, provide energy and are a good source of B vitamins (biotin). Beans, nuts, vegetables and whole grains are complete foods that provide all the nutrition required to maintain a healthy weight.
People who are carbohydrate-intolerant need to increase their intake of fiber, vitamins and carbohydrates. If you do not consume any fat and are carbohydrate intolerant, you will have to seek carbohydrates as an alternative. Some foods that you can tolerate carbohydrates are brown rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, cereals and fruits such as watermelon and papaya. Those who are not carbohydrate-intolerant will have to turn to foods that are made from grains, seeds, beans, nuts and vegetables.