Food is the main source of energy and nourishment for all living things. It includes all the materials we consume and the liquids we drink. The major sources of these materials are animal and plant proteins, fats, carbohydrates and dietary fibre.
The foods we eat help to maintain our health, but also influence how we feel and behave. For example, some foods can promote the growth of “good” bacteria in our digestive tract, which influence production of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Eating a diet rich in these nutrients can make you more alert and focused, reduce anxiety and stress, and improve your mood.
Choosing real food and avoiding processed foods is the best way to maintain a healthy diet. Processed foods are often low in nutritional value and contain added salt and sugars.
Fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. A balanced diet should include a variety of fruit and vegetables at every meal.
Fish is an important part of the diet of many people around the world, especially those who live in warm, tropical areas. They are an important source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D.
Chickens, ducks and turkeys are another popular food source for many people around the world. They are a significant source of protein and calories, and they also contain zinc, selenium and phosphorus.
Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, and they are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked, and they are an easy and quick food to prepare.
Oats are a good source of complex carbohydrates, as well as water-soluble fibre that helps to slow digestion and stabilize blood glucose levels. Coarse or steel-cut oats provide more fibre than instant varieties.
Wheat is a good source of soluble fibre, and it is an important source of folate, magnesium and potassium. Whole wheat products, such as pasta and bread, have more of these ingredients than refined flour.
Legumes and oilseeds are also a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as complex carbohydrates, fibre, B vitamins and minerals. They can be eaten cooked or steamed, and are a useful addition to soups and stews.
Meat is an important part of most people’s diet, but it should be limited to no more than a small amount per day. Meats are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease and other problems. Avoid eating too much of these foods, and choose poultry instead of meat when possible.
Some religions, such as the Jewish kashrut law and Muslim dhabihah law, dictate what can and cannot be eaten, or how food is prepared and served. These laws are designed to keep people from harming living organisms, and they can have a significant impact on how and what we eat.