How Much Food Is Too Much?
When asked what is food, most people probably have very short answers, usually relating it to taste, color, or nutrients. However, the definition of food is a little more complex than that. In simple terms, food is any material taken from living organisms to provide essential nutrition for an individual organism. Generally, food is of animal, plant or fungi origin, and often contains necessary nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals.
There are many types of food, each providing different nutritional needs in order to maintain health. Plants, such as fruits and vegetables, are the basis of a healthy diet; however, certain foods, like high levels of carbohydrates, can be very beneficial to humans as well. In fact, research has shown that a diet low in carbohydrates is one of the most effective methods of controlling weight gain and helping to preserve a healthy body weight. A proper balance of all of the major food groups is important, but many factors, like certain foods and carbohydrates, can actually help contribute to weight gain. This is especially true for individuals with Type II diabetes, who must control high levels of blood sugar in order to prevent serious medical complications.
The three main food groups, carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables, each provide unique nutrients for the human body. Most carbohydrates are either sugars or starches. Some examples of carbohydrates are breads, rice and pasta. Some examples of protein include meat, eggs and poultry. Vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, which include potassium, riboflavin, folic acid, magnesium and phosphorus.
Fats are another type of nutrient, with different types being needed by the body for different functions. Most fats are unsaturated, but some types of fats are saturated fats that can increase cholesterol levels and cause other health problems. Some fats are considered bad dietary fats while others are beneficial.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and many proteins are made from amino acids. Some examples of common proteins include amino acids found in beans, nuts, meat and dairy products. Nuts and seeds contain the most types of amino acids, as well as fats and vitamins.
For a healthy diet and a strong immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. Nutrient density is determined by knowing what percentage of the calories in one serving of food is made up of the main nutrient and the amount of other ingredients used to flavor the food. For example, whole-grain foods have a higher nutrient density than those made with flour. Knowing how much of a specific food contains the main nutrient as well as the amount of other ingredients can help prevent over-consumption and lead to a healthy and well-rounded diet.