Nutrition In Food
Learning About Nutrition In Food
The easiest way to learn about nutrition in food is to gain an understanding of the food pyramid. The 5 food groups making up the pyramid provide the combinations of nutrients our body needs to become and remain fit and healthy. While we can literally survive on bread and water for a time, our body will quickly begin to suffer, as it tries to compensate for needed nutrients which bread and water alone do not provide. Let's look then at the food groups and see what each group does for us.
5 Food Groups - The 5 food groups are meat, milk products, fruits, vegetables, and grains. Sounds like an item from each group would provide a complete meal doesn't it? That's basically true, but of course some combinations of foods will be more nutritious than others, and the secret to getting the most nutrition in food is to find the right balance among the food groups.
Meat - What kind of nutrition does the meat food group provide? Meat is a great source of protein and iron, two nutrients our body must have. Some of the other food groups provide protein and iron as well, but meat just does a better job of it. If someone is a vegetarian and doesn't eat meat, they may still get sufficient protein and iron if they choose their other foods carefully, but sometimes they may have to rely on supplements to get enough of these vital elements.
Milk Products - The nutrition in foods belonging to the meat group is needed for our muscles. What then does the second group, the milk products group do for us? We need more than muscles to get from place to place, we need strong bones as well, not to mention good teeth. That's where the milk food group comes in. Milk gives us calcium. Without sufficient calcium our bones would become brittle, porous, and prone to disease. Calcium is also used by the muscles and is an important element in the blood supply. If we have a calcium deficiency and cut ourselves, the blood may not clot easily or quickly.
Fruits - What about fruit? We're always advised to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. We'll get to the latter group in a moment. Fruits give us two things our body really needs, vitamins, especially vitamin A and for some fruits vitamin C as well, and fiber. We need fiber in our diet to properly digest not only fruit but foods from the other food groups as well. Any nutrition in food isn't going to do us a whole lot of good if we don't digest the food properly and just allow it to pass through. Fruit helps us do that.
Vegetables - That brings us to the veggies. Vegetables also supply us with vitamins, including vitamin A. Like fruit, vegetables are also a source of fiber and of vitamin C. Vegetables contain a number of other elements that help fight or prevent disease in our body. Green vegetables are good for out heart, immune system, and digestive system, and carrots and a few other vegetables are good for our eyesight.
Grains - Finally, we come to grains. We get most of our grains in breads and cereals. Besides being excellent sources of fiber, most grains are also rich in carbohydrates. The body turns carbohydrates into energy. Fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates too, but grains are the best source. If your diet is bread and water only, you'll at least be getting some energy in the form of carbohydrates.
So as far as nutrition in food is concerned, just one of the food groups isn't quite enough. A diet of just fruits and vegetables will provide much of what you need, the others are important as well, and we really something from all five groups, an exception possibly being the meat group. The secret to good health is to sample foods from each group, in every meal or at least in most meals, to make certain you're getting the nutrients you really need.