Food is any substance eaten by people and animals to provide energy, nutrients, and other substances necessary for health and survival. It usually comes from plants and animals, but it can also be made by humans. Most of the food we eat contains protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Some foods are more nutritious than others. People who try to eat only nutritious foods are called vegetarians or vegans.
People have always used food as a way to celebrate and express their culture. In prehistoric times, people hunted and gathered plants and animals for their meals. Later, they started growing their own crops and raising livestock. Eating healthy can reduce your risk of disease and can add years to your life. An effective dietary pattern can help prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and other chronic conditions.
A person’s diet can have a direct impact on his or her mental health. The food we eat directly influences the growth of bacteria in the digestive tract, which in turn affects the production of chemical messengers that send positive or negative signals to the brain. When these chemicals are balanced, the result is a person who feels healthy and happy.
The food we eat can also have a significant impact on our mood and our ability to concentrate. Poor eating habits can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. To avoid these emotional and psychological effects, it is important to eat nutritionally dense food.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, technology and transportation advances enabled people to grow larger crops and make more varied food choices. This was the beginning of the modern food industry. New techniques also made it possible to preserve and store food longer, allowing it to be sold and shipped to distant locations. Throughout history, certain foods have been fortified with specific nutrients to improve their nutritional value. Examples include iron-fortified baby cereals, milk fortified with vitamin D to prevent rickets, and wheat flour fortified with folic acid to prevent birth defects.
A healthy diet includes a variety of foods from the five main food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy. It is important to eat the recommended number of servings from each group every day. It is also a good idea to choose low-fat versions of foods whenever possible. It is important to limit foods and beverages that contain added salt, sugar, and saturated fat.