Food is any substance ingested to supply nutrition to an organism. Food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and often contains vital nutrients, including proteins, vitamins, sugars, carbohydrates or minerals. It is the source of energy required to carry out all the body’s processes. The body requires food to survive; without it the individual would soon die. It is therefore necessary that the body consume a variety of food types to meet the varied requirements and tastes of individuals.
In modern times food habits have undergone several changes and now involve a more complex approach to food choices. Modern diets are characterised by convenience, specialization, reduction of local product varieties, convenience foods and the promotion of food additives. Adopting a balanced diet has become a challenge for many people. This is because over time food has been made to taste better, in order to sell it in markets. In addition, there are marketing pressures, where food companies are given excessive time to promote particular foods and make them appealing to the masses. For example, food manufacturers spend millions of pounds on advertising and sponsorship of sporting events.
Due to these pressures, food products are often adulterated with sugar, salt and flavourings to give them a better taste and smell. Although food manufacturers are entitled to manipulate the food they produce to meet consumer demands, this process occurs at an ethically questionable level. This has led to a reduction in the nutrient content of many foodstuffs, with the result that people have started to become more aware of what they are consuming. Many have also become increasingly aware of the link between poor diet and high blood pressure. As a result, people are increasingly rejecting food that is high in fat, salt and sugar, in favour of healthier alternatives.
Developing a balanced diet is not easy. It requires the development of a range of different food choices, from where they can be sifted to determine which ones contain the nutrients the body requires. A balanced diet should include a wide variety of different food types. It should also contain a proportion of protein, carbohydrates, fat, minerals and vitamins in a suitable proportions. The food industry is aware of this challenge and the increasing number of food additives makes it more difficult for consumers to find quality products.
The food industry has responded to the increased demand by using various additives that offer a short-term boost in nutrition. These additives are known as colourings, flavourings and preservatives. Some are even classified as food additives because they interfere with the nutritional qualities of ingredients. Examples include artificial flavours used to extend the shelf life of vegetable and fruit juices and artificial sweeteners found in processed foods, confectionary products, biscuits – the use of flavourings in these products is widespread. These additives are used to prolong the shelf life and increase the flavour of processed foods but they do little to improve the nutrient content.
Nutrients are not the only aspects that should be taken into consideration when creating a balanced diet. In addition to a well-balanced diet, it’s important to make sure that you are getting all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs, particularly if you are a person who is prone to certain diseases. Certain supplements are available to help people ensure that they are getting the right amount of essential vitamins and minerals. It is important to remember that although animal sources are generally high in calories, they are lower in fat and cholesterol than plant sources. It is important to balance the amount of animal sources with the appropriate amounts of plants.