"Food, glorious food! Hot sausage and mustard!" So the urchins sang in the musical "Oliver!" Food certainly plays a major role in our lives. It can do far more than give us energy … it can help us feel good, it can enhance our social lives, it's the centerpiece of many holidays and social traditions. It can be very pleasurable!
Pleasurable yes! Healthy, not always. So what is the basic purpose of food and how does it affect our health?
The basic purpose of food is to provide nutrients to the body so that it can function. Certain nutrients are necessary to combine with oxygen to create energy for physical activity and for all internal functions, including repairing and building cell tissue.
But food and nutrition don't always go "hand in hand." And without nutrition, the body can't function its best. Health and energy ultimately suffer.
Definition of Nutrition
Nutrition simply means something that nourishes. To nourish means "to feed or sustain with substances necessary to life and growth." Not everything that is called "food" contains nourishment! And just because a product has a nutrition facts label, that is no guarantee that there's any nutrition in it. That's why "junk food" is called "junk" – because it has a lot of calories but no real nourishment – no nutritional value!
Nutrition: Macronutrients and Micronutrients
The nutrients that the body needs for energy and to provide the building material for cells, tissues, muscles, bones, hormones, etc. etc. (all physical structure and bodily processes) are broken into two categories: Macronutrients and micronutrients.
Macronutrients are called "macro" (meaning "large") because they form the largest percentage of the nutrients the body needs to function. The macronutrients are:
- Fats (also called lipids)
- Protein and
Micronutrients are called "micro" (meaning "small") because they are needed by the body in very small quantities. The micronutrients are:
The body needs all of these nutrients in balanced quantities to achieve good physical health and to operate at its best.
Food and nutrition
Before the advent of convenience and fast foods, food and nutrition wasn't an issue. Food WAS nutritious! Interesting how there are now epidemics of diabetes, obesity and many other health problems since the nutritional quality of our food supply has deteriorated. Food processing to the degree that is found in fast foods and convenience foods not only robs food of most of its nutritional value, but the pesticides, preservatives and additives that can be found in processed food is toxic to the body.
Food, nutrition and health
Learning the basic facts about the nutrition (or not) in food and how it contributes to health (or doesn't) is probably the smartest thing someone could do to improve their health and energy. Believe me, there are truckloads of false data and myths about food and nutrition that keep people from enjoying better health and vitality.
Food manufacturers with their slick marketing and advertising make matters worse! It appeals to our taste buds and emotions, but processed food eaten on a regular basis, as most Americans do at this point in time, takes a serious toll on health and energy.
The person who said "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" was not kidding!