Food is any material eaten to supply nutrition to an organism. It is usually of animal, plant or fungi origin, and consists of nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. The human body needs a regular supply of food to live. Many people are now eating less of the healthful food types in favor of junk foods, packaged foods, flavored concentrates, and other processed forms of food. But are all of these changes good for you?
All food has vitamins and minerals, but in smaller quantities than in previous generations. Modern farming methods have reduced many of the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals from the food we eat. The resulting “chemical-free” food often lacks certain important vitamins and minerals needed to keep the body functioning properly. Some of the depleted ingredients are called protective foods or “probiotics”. Some food types that are commonly found in smaller amounts in today’s diet are:
Vitamin A: Calcium, which is part of Vitamin A, is needed by many people to avoid becoming too old, and maintaining normal skin and hair color. Deficiencies in this vitamin can lead to bone diseases, poor eyesight, and poor immune system performance. Some fruits, vegetables and fortified cereals are high in beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A. Milk is another good source of vitamin A. In addition, there are large numbers of vegetarians who get enough vitamin A from plant sources.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps to protect the body against infections. However, some studies show that it may increase the risk of colon cancer, certain cancers of the lung, and certain cardiovascular diseases. Vitamin E can also help with a healthy immune system and may lower the risk of getting too little Vitamin D, another nutrient commonly deficient. It is believed that a balanced diet should contain as much as 30% of Vitamin E.
Folic Acid: This nutrient is necessary for cell division and proper development, but too much can be harmful. Too much of it can prevent formation of the sex hormone estrogen in the body. Folic acid is found in enriched grain tortillas, enriched breads, dried beans, spinach, certain fruits, egg yolks, and some dairy products, especially red meat. For those who need more of it, take a supplement.
Iron: Iron is one of the most important nutrients for good health. If you don’t get enough iron in your diet, you can get anemia and hear symptoms of anaemia such as weakness, fatigue and frequent urination. Some vegetables, meats and fruits are high in iron, including spinach, peas, cauliflower, green leafy vegetables, halibut, salmon, rhubarb, strawberries, blackberries, and pinto beans. Some fortified grain cereals, such as corn, have iron as an added ingredient.