There is an old saying; our body is what we eat and drink. This is so true; our body is solely built by what we put into it. The main question is, why do humans need food? Is this all because we get hungry?
No, the primary function of food is to provide energy to our bodies. Humans need energy every time whether they are walking, running, or even sleeping. Our muscles, organs, and bones are all composed of essential nutrients that come from food.
Nutrients – Food Types
- Nutrients are essential to driving biological activity and functioning in the human body. They provide nourishment to our bodies for sustaining a healthy life.
- However, all the nutrients are useful, but some of them need to be taken in an optimal amount.
Types of nutrients
There are mainly seven types of nutrients we also call them seven types of food or seven food classes. Whatever name you call them, their importance in your life remains the same. These seven food groups are made according to the nutritional properties they provide.
The Seven Nutrients Include:
- However, nutrients can further be classified as macronutrients and micronutrients.
- Macronutrients are carbohydrates, fats, fiber, proteins, and water that are required in larger amounts, whereas, micronutrients are minerals and vitamins that are needed in relatively smaller amounts.
- These seven nutrients need to be consumed daily to maintain a healthy life.
Let’s talk about seven food groups, their functions, and sources:
- Carbohydrates are one of the seven food types that are essential energy-giving foods.
- Our body needs the energy to work and move which carbohydrates provide in the form of calories.
- They are macronutrients which means our body consists of large amounts of carbohydrates, up to 65%. Carbohydrates are also known as the fuel of the body as they are easily converted into energy.
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Carbohydrates can be categorized into three types depending on the sugar units they contain:
- Monosaccharides; One unit
- Disaccharide’s; Two Units
- Polysaccharides; Three or more units
Polysaccharides are known as complex carbohydrates because they take longer to absorb and digest. On the other hand, simple carbohydrates are easily absorbed and digested; therefore, they raise blood sugar levels quickly. We should limit our intake of simple carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, and rice.
However, our body needs complex carbohydrates to support the following functions:
- Help the immune system.
- Enhance brain functionality.
- Support nervous system
- Help the digestive system
Putting it simply, carbohydrates are sugar and starches present in fruits, grains, and milk. They are essential for a healthy diet and life.
- For the past few years, people have associated fatty foods with a bad diet or harmful to health. They often misconnect dietary fat with body fat.
- Fats are helpful to maintain health.
- Fats boost the absorption of vitamins and help to protect the organs.
- However, certain fats are truly harmful and should be limited, such as baked foods, because they cause heart disease.
- Fats are essential nutrients, but they take longer than carbohydrates to absorb and digest, and a higher amount of oxygen is required.
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Fats are generally categorized based on their texture at room temperature.
- Saturated Fats
- Unsaturated fats
- Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.
- These are bad fats that must be limited.
- Eating too much-saturated fats is harmful to health and organs.
- They increase the cholesterol level that risks coronary heart disease.
- Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature; they are often known as oils.
- These are good and healthy fats.
- Fish oil, maize oil, and groundnut oils are unsaturated oils that are healthy for our bodies.
Protein is a macronutrient that is essential in forming muscles and creating new enzymes and hormones. Every single cell of our body needs protein to function properly.
Proteins help in carrying out the following functions:
- Growth and development of muscles, bones, and hair
- Creating enzymes, antibodies, and hormones
- Serving as a fuel for cells
Small building blocks are called amino acids to make proteins. Our body requires amino acids to produce new protein and replace damaged protein. A human body has about 20 amino acids, that’s why they must be a part of our diet. A diet with an adequate number of amino acids and proteins is essential for certain conditions like development and pregnancy when the baby is growing inside the woman.
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The main sources of proteins include eggs, meat, chicken, lentils, and milk.
Vitamins are one of the seven food nutrients that are also called protective foods. These micronutrients are groups of related substances essential for the immune system and the proper functioning of the human body. Our body cannot produce vitamins on its own except vitamin D.
Vitamins are categorized into two categories based on their solubility:
- Fat-soluble vitamins
- Water-soluble vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins are soluble in fats and are insoluble in water. Therefore, they need to be consumed when there is enough fat in the body. Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, K, E, and D.
Following are the functions that each vitamin performs:
It supports vision and healthy skin.
It provides energy and releases stress.
Fights with the virus and bacteria. It also provides healthy and glowing skin as well as healthy gums.
Our body produces vitamin D in sunlight which is essential for building bones and teeth.
All the vitamins are found in fruits and vegetables; for example, orange is a rich source of vitamin C.
If you are a person who eats a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, you can get all the vitamins. But if you eat fewer fruits and vegetables, you must take vitamin supplements to avoid any serious health condition.
Minerals are another micronutrient that our body needs to ensure the proper functioning of soft tissues.
Following are seven essential minerals that our body needs:
Minerals can also be classified into two types based upon their intake requirement:
- Major Minerals or Macro Minerals
- Trace minerals
Major minerals or macro minerals
- You must take these minerals in larger amounts.
- Major minerals include magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sulfur, and chloride. It helps our body to maintain good health, balance water levels, and build stronger bones.
- You must take these minerals in smaller amounts.
- Trace minerals include iron, selenium, zinc, chromium, copper, and iodine.
- It helps our body with strengthening bones, preventing tooth disease, carry oxygen and blood clotting.
- Minerals can be lost through sweating; you must ensure a healthy diet to replace lost minerals.
- Your diet must contain seafood, meat, poultry, vegetables, fruits, and cereals to ensure that your body lacks the necessary minerals and elements.
- Fiber is a mixture of carbohydrates with no calories that pass out of our gut unchanged.
- They do not contain calories, but they add bulk to our food which aids in absorption and digestion.
- Fibre also helps to prevent bowel cancer.
- Vegetables, cabbage, banana, avocado, beans, and cereal are rich in fiber.
- Dietitians suggest increasing the intake of fiber in your body if you want to lose a certain weight.
In following reasons, you must include fiber foods in your diet:
- It adds bulk to your food and makes it bigger, which results in eating less.
- Fiber makes food soft, which helps in constipation.
- Fiber is necessary to keep our digestive system healthy and prevent heart disease.
Keeping yourself hydrated is the key to a healthy life as water makes up to 60% of an adult body.
- A few days without water can lead to severe dehydration and illness.
- Our body relies on water as water is essential to remove waste from our body.
- Most of our body fluid is lost in sweating, and it is vital to stay hydrated to replace lost fluids.
- It is not clearly stated how much water intake is necessary; however, if you are an adult, you must consume 8 to 10 glasses a day.
- Water helps with the digestive system, and in the blood, it helps to control blood pressure.
The main functions of water include:
- Flushing out the toxins
- Preventing constipation
- Help digestion
- Make cells and fluids, such as tears.
- Production of urine
Sources of water to drink
- The best source of water is to drink natural and unsweetened water directly from the tap or bottled.
- However, if you cannot drink too much plain water, you can squeeze lemon to add flavor.
- You must avoid taking water from beverages and sugary drinks.
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The human body is very demanding, and a person must consume all seven types of food groups to ensure the best health. The seven different types of nutrients help in the proper functioning of the body, growth, immunity, digestion, and disease prevention. If you are a person who eats a beautiful and healthy diet, including vegetables, grains, beans, meat, and water; you will get all seven types of nutrients you need.
I hope, you got details about food types. And leave your comments below.