Food is the substance that living organisms use for the maintenance of their lives and for the growth and repair of body tissues. It can be animal or plant-based. Several processes are involved in food absorption, including digestion and metabolism. A variety of nutrients are required for these processes to take place, and these include carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
Dietary habits vary from country to country, and the foods people eat are strongly influenced by local traditions. In addition, geographic factors can affect diets, such as whether or not people live near water and which crops grow in the tropics. People in warm, wet lowlands depend on plants that retain moisture. Those in cooler regions tend to rely on plants that mature quickly.
People in developing countries, on the other hand, often have limited access to nutritious foods. Malnutrition is a common problem, especially in rural areas. Fortunately, there are a number of food products that are fortified with specific nutrients to prevent deficiencies.
Some examples of fortified foods are infant cereals fortified with iron to prevent anemia, and milk fortified with vitamin D to prevent rickets. These foods can be found in many countries, but the largest producers are the United States, the European Union, and China.
Some other examples of processed foods include meat and seafood. Meat comes from livestock and is a high-protein food. Fish is a good source of vitamins. Many people eat raw fish, but fish can also be preserved. Alternatively, people can purchase frozen or canned fish.
Grains, on the other hand, are generally grown for human consumption. Examples of grain-based foods include rice, wheat, and corn. Refined grains such as white bread are often fortified to provide added nutrients. The process of fortifying a food helps increase its shelf life, but it can also remove important nutrients.
Minimal processing is a term used to describe foods that are not processed to a great extent. Examples of minimally processed foods are dried fruits, whole grains, and fresh fruit. These foods are not altered in a way that changes their nutritional content. For example, they can be eaten with or without salt or sugar.
Vegetables are a good source of many essential nutrients. They are available in many colors, and are rich in minerals and carbohydrates. To maintain their quality, they are usually dried, canned, or frozen. This can mean that some of the plant’s nutrients are removed, but these nutrients are important for maintaining body tissue.
Several factors have facilitated the growth of the food industry. Improved methods of agriculture and transportation have allowed more kinds of food to be produced. However, many people in developed countries eat diets that are too high in calories, fats, and salt, and too low in vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruits.
Although the practice of adulterating food is widespread, few means exist to detect these alterations. In fact, there are few legal limits on the ways that food can be altered. One common method is to peel the outer layers of fruits and vegetables, which can remove some of the plant’s nutrients. Another method is to process foods in such a way as to destroy harmful bacteria.