Food is essential for regular growth and nutrition. Nutrition and food are interrelated. The element that nourishes the human body is food. Different types of nutrients are available from different types of food. Healthy food is a way to gain good health and efficiency. But even after eating healthy food, it is seen that in many cases the body does not get the expected results. That is, foods that are not properly digested in the human body and that do not provide proper nutrition to the human body are not considered healthy food. Food sources can be both plants and animals. Food enters the body, nourishes it, satisfies hunger, and energizes the body. There are some ingredients in this food that solve some important functions in the human body. What are the main components of the food is the main topic of the discussion below with their names effectiveness in human nutrition (1).
The main components of food
There are different types of components in food. These food components or nutrients are mainly divided into two types.
The macronutrients or components of the food are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These nutrients are found in large quantities in food charts. Macronutrients lay an active role in the formation and growth of the body. These components also provide the necessary energy to the organism and increase body weight. Although water does not produce energy, water is also called the main component for the amount and importance of water in the body (3).
Besides the macronutrients, there are two other nutrients in the food called vitamins and minerals. They are called micronutrients because these components are present in small quantities. Micronutrients are essential for body function and physical well-being. They are required in very small quantities and helps in controlling physiological functions and protecting the body from various diseases. These nutrients are also called accessory factors (3).
So based on the above information, there are six nutrients present in food. These are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. The function of all these components in human nutrition is discussed below.
Most of the foods that people eat every day are carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are organic compounds made up of the elements carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The ratio of hydrogen and oxygen in this organic compound is 2:1. The symbol of carbohydrates is C₆H₁₂O₆. That is one carbohydrate has 6 carbon atoms, 12vhydrogen atoms, and 6 oxygen atoms (2) & (5).
Carbohydrates are found in both plants and animal sources. Rice, wheat, cereals, millet, pulses, nuts, roots, potato, flour, molasses, sugar, sago, grapes, corn, bananas, mangoes, watermelons, vegetables, carrots, oranges, dates, apples, barley, goat liver, cow’s and buffalo’s milk, etc. are the sources of carbohydrates (4).
According to the composition, there are three types of carbohydrates.
The carbohydrates that are made up of a single molecule are called monosaccharides. For example, glucose, fructose, galactose are these types of carbohydrates. Glucose found in honey, sweets, fruits. Fructose found in fruits, honey, and root vegetables. Galactose is found in milk.
The carbohydrates that are made up of two molecules are called disaccharides. Such as sucrose, lactose and maltose. Sugarcane, molasses, sugar, date juice contain sucrose, germinated seeds contain maltose and milk contain lactose.
The carbohydrates that are made up of many molecules are called polysaccharides. For example, starch, glycogen, and cellulose are these types of carbohydrates. Rice, wheat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. are rich in starch. Cellulose is found in fruits, vegetables, fruit peels, and seeds. And glycogen is found in muscles and the liver (4) & (6).
The role of carbohydrates in human nutrition is quite important.
- The main function of carbohydrates is to produce heat and energy in the body.
- Carbohydrates help in the combustion of fats.
- Cellulose type food eliminates constipation in the human body.
- Excess carbohydrates are stored in the body in the form of glycogen.
- These organic molecules protect against ketosis.
Carbohydrates are a very significant molecule in the human body. Starch is a type of carbohydrate. Lack of carbohydrates in the human body causes various diseases. like ketosis and marasmus disease is often seen in the body of children.
Excessive intake of carbohydrates leads to the accumulation of fat in the body. As a result, there is a risk of weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc. (3).
Proteins are organic compounds that are made up of the elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. All plant and animal cells are made of protein. Analysis of proteins revealed multiple amino acids. According to the chemical composition, there are three types of protein. These are Simple protein, Conjugated protein, and derived protein (3).
Proteins are found in fish, meat, eggs, milk, pulses, soybean, bean, wheat, etc. Cereals, millet, potatoes, green vegetables, and fruits have a very little amount of protein (1).
- The first and primary function of protein is to assist in the formation of the body.
- One of the functions of protein is to meet the demand for essential amino acids.
- Proteins create new cells to replenish the body’s decay.
- Most of the bones, muscles, organs, systems, blood cells, etc. of the body are made up of proteins.
- It plays a major role in the production of antibodies in the body.
- When the body lacks carbohydrates and fats, the stored protein is broken down to produce heat and energy.
- Hemoglobin in the blood is made up of proteins (5).
Like carbohydrates, fats are made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. However, their structure and proportions are different. Fats are digested and converted into fatty acids and glycerol. Fat does not mix with water, thus floats in water. Fatty acids and glycerol are excreted through the small intestine. According to the structural properties, there are three types of fats, simple fat, compound fat, and derivative fat (1) & (3).
Fats are found in meat fat, butter, ghee, whole milk, ice cream, nuts, oil, red meat, cheese, coconut oil, palm oil, cream, mustard oil, oilseeds, etc. (2).
- Fat is a concentrated source of heat and energy. 9 kcal energy is obtained from 1 gm of fat.
- This organic compound protects the human body from skin diseases by providing essential fatty acids.
- Fat is stored in the animal’s body as a source of food for the future.
- It helps to dissolve and absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.
- It lubricates the rectum and anus and helps in the excretion of feces.
- Fats (cholesterol) produce vitamin-D, hormones like testosterone, estrogen, etc. (2) & (5).
Vitamins are those special organic nutrients that help the body to grow normally and increase immunity. There are two types of vitamins water-soluble vitamins (vitamin B complex, C, and P) and fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E, and K). The sources of all these vitamins and their function are discussed below (1).
Liver oil of cod and halibut, fish, egg, whole milk, carrot, butter, ghee, vegetable oil, rice, flour, yellow pumpkin, mango, tomato, papaya, cabbage, green vegetables and leaves, nuts, peas, spinach, lemon, cauliflower, etc. are rich in vitamins (3).
- The functions of vitamins are to increase the normal growth of the body, build blood cells, keep the mucous membrane healthy, keep the nerve cells healthy, etc.
- Vitamins build rod cells, boosts immunity, and keeps gums healthy.
- It keeps the amount of prothrombin in the blood normal and helps in blood clotting.
- Vitamins help in breast milk secretion, infertility prevention, fetal growth, etc.
- It keeps the skin soft and normal.
- Vitamins help maintain the retinal structure and eye performance (3) & (5).
Minerals are an important component of food. Various minerals are needed to keep the body healthy. There are about 24 types of minerals in the body. Some of these are important in nutrition. The important minerals for the body are calcium, sodium, iron, phosphorus, iodine, potassium, chlorine. Adequate amounts of minerals are required in the daily diet. Especially the presence of calcium, iron, and iodine in the diet (1) & (6).
Milk, fish, meat, green vegetables, eggs, pulses, nuts, grains, liver, cod liver oil, seaweed, table salt, cheese, fish liver oil, etc. are rich in minerals (2).
The function of minerals in the human body is essential.
- Minerals help in bone formation and nutritional maintenance.
- These elements participate in the formation of teeth.
- Minerals help build energy from carbohydrates and fats.
- It makes red blood cells.
- The function of minerals is to maintain the balance of water inside and outside the cell.
- It helps in muscle building.
- Minerals affect the normal growth of bones, skin, hair, and the normal structure of the brain, the physical and mental development of the human body.
- It is an inorganic component of food. It is an essential element. It does not provide energy. When the human body is deficient in minerals, various diseases occur. Such as, lack of iodine causes goiter. This anger swells the front of the throat. Lack of iron in the food reduces the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. As a result, anemia occurs (3) & (6).
Water is an essential and important component of food. Body structure and internal function cannot occur without water. About 60 to 70% of body weight is water. The human body needs water for the formation of every organ-like blood, flesh, nerves, teeth, bones, etc. (1).
The role or function of water in the human body are
- The body needs water for the digestion of foods.
- Water is necessary for all the chemical processes in the body.
- The function of water to transport the necessary elements of the body to the cell.
- Water eliminates constipation.
- Water helps in controlling body temperature.
Above all, the importance of water in the human body is immense. So lack of water causes various diseases in the body. Dehydration can occur in many ways in the body. Water is constantly excreted from the human body along with sweat, urine. In addition, water is excreted from the body through diarrhea, vomiting, etc. as a result, the volume of blood is decreased, the tongue becomes dry, and the skin becomes wrinkled. Above all, low water intake also causes kidney problems (2).
Written By: Manisha Bharati