Food is any substance eaten to provide nutrition to the organisms. Food is generally of animal, plant or microbial origin, and consists of necessary nutrients, including protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, or other minerals. Since almost all living organisms need food to survive, and since food is the only substance that can be completely created by living things, scientists have long been interested in the relationship between humans and their diet. Since humans are complex species with a wide range of cultural practices and food types, there has been much interest in the role nutrition plays in human health and well being.
Over the years, scientists have developed many ways to get food into people’s bodies. Traditionally, people used hunting and gathering to meet their food needs, resulting in diets rich in animal products and a limited amount of fresh produce. New food sources were required to add variety and supply carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that were otherwise not available from food sources. In recent years, many of these new food sources have become popular on grocery shelves. Vegetables and fruits have always been major staples in many diets, but over the past decade, more foods have become available at farmers’ markets and mass retailers that have increased the number and variety of vegetables and fruits that people need to meet their daily nutrition requirements.
One of the most important objectives of the current study session is to understand how changes in the amount and type of food that people eat can affect their health and contribute to the overall wellness of society. The nutrition aspect of health is becoming more complex, with new discoveries coming every day. A good example is the new focus on whole grains, including flax seeds, for their high fiber content, which has the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease. The refined sugar that is so widely found in foods today also contributes to unhealthy weight gain and contributes to a host of chronic diseases. Understanding how food affects nutrition is a complicated process, but the basics remain the same: the intake of a balanced diet containing enough nutrients from a variety of food groups is necessary to obtain the maximum daily nutritional benefit.