Food is any material eaten to supply nutrition to an organism. In humans, food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and is made up of necessary nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. Most people around the world eat food regularly, but many don’t realize that the food they consume has a purpose or a role to play in their lives. Some foods are important for the growth of a person’s physical health and well-being, others provide the necessary energy to perform daily tasks, while still others help to maintain and support a person’s health after that person has left life.
Among the many things that we consume on a daily basis, food can play an important part in our immune system and the production of hormones and other substances. Many people know that certain foods boost the immune system, but what many people don’t realize is that certain foods also slow down the process. The process by which our immune system produces antibodies, the cells that protect us against disease, is slowed down by some carbohydrates and sugars. Some carbohydrates and some sugars also stimulate the activity of a protein called “cytokines” in our bodies. Cytokines are small chemical chains that act as receptors for various types of chemicals and are responsible for the regulation of our immune system.
Among the things that we need to be healthy and strong is a rich source of energy, particularly carbohydrates. Carbs are the primary source of “meals” for the body and are found in everything from bread to pasta to steak and nuts to fruits and vegetables. But the type of carbohydrate that our bodies need most are unprocessed, complex carbohydrates, including those found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Examples of complex carbohydrates are vegetables, rice, peas, nuts, whole wheat bread, fruit, whole grain cereals, pasta and cereal bars.
One of the benefits of eating a healthy diet is that it will keep your metabolism going, which is one of the reasons that it is so important to choose the right types of carbohydrates and proteins. Your metabolism keeps you energized and in good shape. Certain carbohydrates and proteins contain high amounts of what are called “proteins,” which are amino acids that are building blocks of muscle tissue and the major parts of our immune systems. Proteins can also be turned into amino acids by our bodies, but our muscles only use up about 20% of their amino acids, so you don’t want to skimp here.
A healthy diet is one in which you get a variety of different foods containing the same essential amino acids. So, for example, although eggs are an excellent source of protein, they only contain half of the essential amino acids that you need. Foods containing these essential amino acids include beans, soybeans, lentils, nuts, seeds, poultry and fish.
When you cook food, many of the nutrients become lost in the cooking process, including some of the best nutrients for building muscle. When you eat food, the nutrients that are released remain intact and are used by your body for building new muscles and maintaining older ones. However, there are certain nutrients that are better kept in the raw form. These include fatty acids (such as those found in fish and nuts) and some carbohydrates. By contrast, some carbohydrates (such as those found in most rice dishes) break down into simple sugars, which are quickly turned into fat by the body.
Different foods contain different proportions of vitamins and minerals, and it’s important to get enough of them. For example, some foods contain more vitamins A and E than others. You want to make sure you are getting enough vitamins A, B, C and E, because these vitamins are needed to build and repair your muscles. If you’re not getting enough vitamins, then your skin will be dry, have an unpleasant taste and may have dandruff. Vitamins are fat-soluble; they are found in meats and dairy products. Fats, on the other hand, are soluble in water, so they need to be eaten with foods that are oily.
Most protein-rich food contains the essential amino acids L-Arginine, Leucine and Glycine. These are great nutrients for muscle-building, but most people don’t get enough of them. Some foods, like beans, contain only small amounts of these important amino acids, so even a small amount can make a big difference. It’s also important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, because they contain a variety of vitamins and nutrients that aren’t lost in the cooking process. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in protein and you should be able to get enough of them to make up for what you’re getting from meat and dairy products.