The Food That Makes Us Sick
Food is any material consumed by an organism to provide basic nutrition for itself. The types of food that an organism can eat are referred to as diets. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and has important nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, sugars, or other trace minerals.
One nutrient, carbohydrate, is important in building and repairing body tissues, particularly the muscles. Carbohydrate provides energy for moving the body, for performing bodily functions, for growing and replacing damaged cells, and for sustaining a proper balance of water and fluid in the body. Some carbohydrates are essential for life; others, such as protein, fat, and fiber can be used for energy. Fatty acids, contained in certain fats, are important for tissue repair and may reduce cholesterol and weight problems. Fiber provides a combination of sugar and water that may reduce cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease.
Some fats are used by the body in ways other than as food. Cell membranes are made of fat, so many fats are needed by the body to function normally. Cholesterol, another essential nutrient, is stored in the liver, as well. Fats are used to make the skin, hair, and bones strong and dense. To get all of these functions, the body uses fat.
The U.S. diet, according to the government’s dietary guidelines, includes mostly fatty foods that are high in calories. It is estimated that, on average, the average person consumes only two to three grams (a little over a teaspoon) of protein per serving. One gram of protein translates into one gram of fat, so the typical American diet contains very little fat. Animal products, which are rich in protein, are the primary source of animal fats. Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, grains, and seeds make up the rest of the food supply.
People who don’t eat enough vitamin C receive a lot of free radicals in their cells. Free radicals can cause damage to the DNA in cells, so people with low vitamin C receive a greater risk of cancer. Vitamin C increases the efficiency of insulin in turning glucose into energy, so people with diabetes should eat more foods rich in vitamin C. Milk products are good sources of vitamin C, as are citrus fruits, broccoli, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes. Other foods that provide important amounts of vitamin C are: oranges, bananas, cantaloupe, oranges mixed with honey, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, cabbage, beans, peas, and lean meats. Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for maintaining health and healthy bones and teeth.
Cereal grains are grain products that make up the majority of the human diet. These cereals, made primarily of wheat, are made into breads, crackers, breakfast cereals and other items. The food we eat determines how much we can eat. By eating too many carbohydrates, which make up most of the food pyramid, we become obese and unhealthy. A balanced combination of proteins, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is what helps maintain good health, and it also prevents obesity and other diseases that can be caused by an unhealthy diet.