The Basics of All Components of Food
Protein, the main structural component of tissue and organs. We need proteins for growth and repair cells. Each protein contains hundreds and sometimes thousands of units called amino acids in specific combinations. In the body there are 20 amino acids, 12 of these are manufactured by the body itself and the remaining eight are obtained from a balanced diet. A vegetarian diet containing eggs, milk, and cheese provides sufficient amounts of all essential amino acids. A vegan diet which also excludes dairy product needs careful planning to prevent protein deficiency.
The two carbohydrate components Starch and Fiber are the main energy source required for metabolism. Carbohydrates should take up at least %60 of your caloric intake.
Fats provide energy for metabolism and are structured components of cells. Most people in developed countries eat too much fat. Fats should constitute no more than %30 of your caloric intake as recommended by the American Heart Association. There are three kinds of dietary fats: Saturated (animal), Monounsaturated (Olive/Avocado) and Polyunsaturated (fish and vegetables).
Saturated fats tend to increase the unwanted kind of cholesterol in the blood, where as unsaturated fats have the opposite effect.
Vitamins, regulators of the metabolism. Vitamins ensure the healthy function of the brains, nerves, muscles, skin and bones. Although vitamins do not provide any caloric value or energy some enable the energy release of the food. A healthy balanced diet contains enough vitamins for most peoples needs. Some vitamins, especially A,D, E, and K and dangerous if taken in excess, because they are stored in fat and are not excreted on a daily basis. Water-soluble vitamins (B and C) are not stored in the body like fat-soluble vitamins and even on a restricted diet vitamin deficiency is rare.
A balanced diet provides enough minerals for most people. Necessary for the maintenance of healthy bones, minerals such as zinc and magnesium also help control the cell metabolism. Sodium is required to maintain fluid balance. Excess may cause hypertension. Potassium helps muscles relax or release a contraction. Calcium helps make the muscle contract. Too much of one or not enough of the other can cause painful muscle spasms.
This is the indigestible structural material in plants. Although fiber passes through the intestine relatively unchanged, it is the essential part of any diet. A low fiber diet may lead to constipation, diverticular disease and hemorrhoids or other disorders. High fiber diets provide bulk without excess calories. Low fiber diets tend to be high in refined carbohydrates and fats.
Our bodies are composed of about %60-%70 water. Water constitutes a high portion of many foods and is essential to maintain metabolism and normal function. It also determines the amount of blood in your circulation.