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Food Allergies and Nutrient Deficiencies

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Food Allergies and Nutrient Deficiencies

Food is any material eaten to provide nutrition to an organisms. In its simplest form food is any food that contains protein, starch or sugar, and has some necessary nutrients, like vitamins, fats, carbohydrates or minerals. Protein is the most important building block of all living organisms, so all living tissue and cells need protein to grow and thrive. A wide range of food forms, from plant foods like meat and dairy products, to animal foods like milk and eggs, are used for human purposes in everyday life.

The five food groups are carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a recommended daily allowance (ADA) of the amount of calories needed to maintain a particular body weight. These guidelines are based on the amount of energy expended to do physical activities, and is considered a good dietary allowance or healthy allowance. The recommended dietary allowances for men and women are published by the government, as part of the Department of Health’s dietary guidelines for the elderly, men and women.

Meats, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and nuts are part of a variety of whole foods, which are food groups. Some foods can be grouped together into one food group, like dairy products and meats, while at other times foods can be classified individually according to how they are used. For instance, whole grain bread is considered a grain, whereas it is made from refined flour. Other individual foods include fruit, vegetables, legumes, potatoes, grains, beans, nuts, and yeast products.

Vitamins are essential to good nutrition. To maintain a healthy immune system and perform many of its functions, the body needs many substances, including vitamins. To keep from becoming deficient in certain nutrients that are important for health, people should eat enough vitamin or mineral food. The recommended amount of vitamin A, for example, is 50 international units (U.S. equivalent) per day for adults.

One class of food that most people don’t think of on a daily basis is food additives. Everything from artificial flavors to petrochemicals to preservatives goes into many foods. Many of these additives are known carcinogens or cancer-causing agents. One such is sodium benzoate, an agent that’s used in the production of preservatives. This substance is commonly added to cured meats, but it may also be added to foods that are canned, frozen, smoked, or processed, to name a few.

Milk, cheese and yogurt, among other dairy products, are full of calcium, protein and other nutrients that are good for our health. Like other diary products, some cheeses have been treated with growth hormones; others are fortified with other nutrients. One food additive that has been linked to an increased risk of breast and colorectal cancer is bovine growth hormone, a by-product of bovine insulin. For this reason, it’s a good idea to read the labels on non-food products as well as those labeled “natural” to make sure you’re getting the food you need with the most nutritional value.

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