Food – Scientific Classes, Types, and Functions

Food is any substance consumed by living organisms to provide nourishment and sustain life. It is typically ingested by humans and animals to obtain essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, which are necessary for growth, energy, and overall well-being.

John Stephen

What is Food

Food is any substance consumed by living organisms to provide nourishment and sustain life. It is typically ingested by humans and animals to obtain essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, which are necessary for growth, energy, and overall well-being.

Food can be derived from both plants and animals and comes in various forms, including fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, dairy products, and seafood. These raw ingredients are often cooked, processed, or combined in different ways to create a wide variety of dishes and meals that cater to different tastes, cultures, and dietary preferences.

In addition to its nutritional value, food also plays a significant role in cultural, social, and emotional aspects of human life. It is often associated with traditions, celebrations, and rituals, and can bring people together for shared experiences and enjoyment.

Types of Food Products

The following are types of food

  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Garri
  • Sallad
  • Vegetables
  • Carrot
  • Lemon, etc.,

due to the fact that there are many foods around the world, the food are now classified into 6 for easy identification and grouping.

Classification of food

There are six major classes of food, they are also referred to as classification of food. The six classes of food are itemized below:

S/NClasses of FoodSourcesFunctionsEnd Product
1CarbohydrateRice, yam, garri, cassava, yam
flour, maize, potato, etc.,
It is an energy giving food, hence; it provides the body with energy.Glucose/Simple Sugar
2ProteinsEgg, meat, beans, fish, soya
beans, peanuts,
cheese, chicken, etc.,
They are basically oily food and they help for growth and repair the body tissues.Amino acids
3Fats and oilsButter, palm oils, groundnuts oil,
butter, margarine, sardine, cod liver oil, pork, etc.,
It is a major source for heat production in the body, hence provides the body with heat and energy for daily activities.Fatty acids and Glycerol.
4Mineral saltsLiver, milk, meat, cheese, sea foods, vegetables, etc.,Proper functioning of
the body system.
5WaterSpring, rain, brooks, River, fruits,
beverages, tea, etc.,
It helps for easy digestion and
maintenance of body
[Urine/ Sweat]
6VitaminsFruits, liver, eggs, fish, citrus, tomatoes, etc.,It is a major food class and it helps the body on protection against
Six classes of food

Why Mineral Salts doesn’t have end product

Mineral salts do not undergo a specific end product or transformation like organic compounds do. Mineral salts are inorganic compounds that dissociate into ions when dissolved in water. These ions, which are essential for various physiological functions in the body, include positively charged cations (such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) and negatively charged anions (such as chloride, phosphate, and sulfate).

Once ingested and absorbed by the body, mineral ions participate in various biochemical reactions, maintain proper fluid balance, support nerve function, assist in muscle contractions, contribute to bone health, and play crucial roles in enzyme activity and other physiological processes. They are utilized in the body as needed, and any excess amounts are typically excreted through urine or feces.

It’s important to note that the specific functions and interactions of mineral salts depend on the individual minerals and their concentrations in the body. Different minerals have distinct roles and requirements, and their balanced intake is necessary for overall health and well-being.

Why Vitamins doesn’t have end product

Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for various metabolic processes and the overall functioning of the body. Unlike minerals, vitamins are not broken down into specific end products. Instead, they play specific roles as coenzymes or cofactors in enzymatic reactions, which facilitate vital biochemical reactions in the body.

Category of Vitamins

Vitamins are classified into two categories: water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins.

  1. Water-soluble vitamins: These include vitamin C and the eight B-vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate, and cobalamin). Water-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the bloodstream and are not stored in large amounts in the body. Any excess amounts are typically excreted through urine. These vitamins play roles in energy production, cell metabolism, DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and overall health maintenance.
  2. Fat-soluble vitamins: These include vitamins A, D, E, and K. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed along with dietary fats and are stored in the liver and fatty tissues for future use. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, excess fat-soluble vitamins can accumulate in the body and reach toxic levels if consumed in excessive amounts. These vitamins are involved in various functions such as vision (vitamin A), calcium absorption and bone health (vitamin D), antioxidant protection (vitamin E), and blood clotting (vitamin K).

While vitamins themselves do not have specific end products, they are essential for the proper functioning and regulation of various physiological processes in the body. Their presence and appropriate utilization are critical for maintaining good health and preventing deficiency-related diseases. It’s important to consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods to ensure an adequate intake of vitamins.

Watch: How the six basic nutrients affect your Body | Credit: YouTube @Bestie

Importance of Food

The importance of food extends far beyond basic sustenance. Here are some key reasons why food is important:

  1. Nourishment and Energy: Food provides the essential nutrients and energy needed for growth, development, and daily activities. It supplies the body with carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water, which are necessary for proper bodily functions and maintaining good health.
  2. Health and Well-being: A balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for overall health and well-being. Adequate nutrition helps prevent malnutrition and deficiencies, supports immune function, promotes proper organ function, and reduces the risk of various diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
  3. Growth and Development: Proper nutrition is especially important during periods of growth, such as childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy. Nutrients obtained from food support physical and cognitive development, bone strength, and overall growth.
  4. Cognitive Function: The brain requires a steady supply of nutrients to function optimally. Nutrient-rich foods, especially those containing omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, are known to support cognitive function, memory, concentration, and overall brain health.
  5. Emotional Well-being: Food is often associated with comfort, pleasure, and emotional well-being. Enjoying a meal can evoke positive feelings and contribute to overall happiness. Certain foods also contain mood-enhancing properties, such as serotonin-boosting foods that promote feelings of relaxation and happiness.
  6. Cultural and Social Significance: Food plays a significant role in cultural identity and social interactions. It can represent traditions, heritage, and regional specialties, bringing people together to share meals and celebrate occasions. Food also serves as a means of social bonding and communication within families, communities, and larger social gatherings.
  7. Economic Impact: The food industry is a major global economic sector, providing employment opportunities, supporting agricultural activities, and contributing to trade and commerce. Access to affordable and nutritious food is essential for food security and economic stability in many regions.
  8. Environmental Sustainability: Sustainable food practices are crucial for preserving natural resources and mitigating environmental impacts. Promoting sustainable agriculture, reducing food waste, and making informed food choices contribute to a healthier planet and the conservation of ecosystems.

Overall, food is essential for survival, health, and quality of life. It nourishes our bodies, supports growth and development, and brings people together in various cultural and social contexts. Understanding the importance of food enables us to make informed choices and foster a healthier, more sustainable relationship with what we eat.

What is a Balanced Diet?

A balanced diet refers to a meal plan that provides all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in appropriate proportions to support good health and well-being. It involves consuming a variety of foods from different food groups in the right amounts. Here are the key components of a balanced diet:

  1. Fruits and Vegetables: Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet as they are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. Aim for a colorful assortment to obtain a wide range of nutrients.
  2. Grains: Choose whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread, and oats, which provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, and B vitamins. These help provide energy and promote digestive health.
  3. Protein: Include lean sources of protein such as poultry, fish, legumes, tofu, nuts, and seeds. Protein is essential for growth, repair, and maintenance of tissues, as well as for the production of enzymes and hormones.
  4. Dairy or Dairy Alternatives: Incorporate low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese into your diet, or choose plant-based alternatives fortified with calcium and vitamins. These provide calcium, protein, and other important nutrients for bone health.
  5. Healthy Fats: Include sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon, which provide omega-3 fatty acids. These fats support brain function, heart health, and nutrient absorption.
  6. Hydration: Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to maintain hydration. Water is essential for various bodily functions, including digestion, circulation, and temperature regulation.
  7. Limit Added Sugars and Salt: Minimize the intake of foods and beverages high in added sugars, such as sugary drinks, desserts, and processed snacks. Also, be mindful of sodium intake by reducing the consumption of salt and salty processed foods.
  8. Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating. Balancing the amount of food you consume with your activity level and energy needs is important for maintaining a healthy weight.

It’s important to note that individual dietary needs may vary based on factors such as age, sex, activity level, and underlying health conditions. Consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can help you create a personalized balanced diet plan that suits your specific needs and goals.

Effects of Lack of Proper Diet

Lack of a proper diet, which is characterized by insufficient intake or imbalance of essential nutrients, can have several negative effects on health and well-being. Here are some common effects of a poor diet:

  1. Malnutrition: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients can lead to malnutrition, which can manifest as undernutrition or overnutrition. Undernutrition occurs when the body doesn’t receive enough calories, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, resulting in weight loss, stunted growth (in children), weakened immune system, fatigue, and increased susceptibility to infections. Overnutrition, on the other hand, is associated with excessive calorie intake and an imbalance of nutrients, leading to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
  2. Impaired Growth and Development: Insufficient intake of nutrients during critical periods of growth, such as childhood and adolescence, can hinder proper physical and cognitive development. It can lead to stunted growth, delayed milestones, learning difficulties, and reduced intellectual capacity.
  3. Weakened Immune System: Nutrient deficiencies, particularly of vitamins A, C, E, and zinc, can impair the immune system’s ability to function effectively. This increases the risk of infections, delays healing, and prolongs recovery from illnesses.
  4. Increased Risk of Chronic Diseases: Poor dietary habits, such as consuming excessive amounts of unhealthy fats, added sugars, and processed foods, are associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases. These include obesity, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol.
  5. Fatigue and Lack of Energy: Inadequate intake of calories and nutrients can result in low energy levels, fatigue, and decreased stamina. This can negatively impact productivity, physical activity, and overall quality of life.
  6. Cognitive Impairment: The brain requires proper nutrition to function optimally. Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, can impair cognitive function, memory, concentration, and overall mental well-being.
  7. Bone and Dental Problems: Inadequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients essential for bone health can lead to weak bones, increased risk of fractures, and conditions like osteoporosis. Poor nutrition can also contribute to dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease.
  8. Emotional and Mental Health Issues: Nutritional deficiencies can affect emotional well-being and mental health. Studies have linked poor diet to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

It is important to note that the effects of a poor diet can vary depending on the specific nutrient deficiencies, the duration of inadequate nutrition, and individual factors such as age, overall health, and genetic predisposition. Adopting a balanced and nutritious diet is crucial for maintaining optimal health and preventing these adverse effects.

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