Why Do We Need Food? Importance Of Food For The Body Explained

Oluniyi Akande
May 24, 2024 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Nov 02, 2021
Table with food top view

What helps us sustain ourselves every day and the lack of which leads to health problems and diseases?

Food, after oxygen and water, is one of the most essential things to survive. We need to eat food that supplies the body with the right amounts of nutrients required for healthy body functioning.

The body uses a certain amount of energy every day for basic bodily functions and the work we do. This energy is supplied by the food we intake.

Various body systems, like the digestive system and skeletal system, are strongly affected by the kind of food we eat. A balanced diet consists of food from all necessary food groups in the right quantities.

The daily calorie intake varies for each person depending on factors like weight, energy expenditure, among others. If the diet contains more calories than required, they are stored as fat, which functions as insulation and an energy reserve.

Food is required for growth, for the brain to work, and for bones and organs to remain strong. The different classes of food are carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, roughage and fiber, protein, and fats.

Carbohydrates are the main food group that provides energy for life. Without food, our healthy body functioning will decrease and will suffer from deficiency diseases.

Now that we have established the need for food in our lives, why not also check out interesting articles which answer popular questions like why do people dance and why do our ears pop?

Importance Of Food For The Body

In simple words, materials consumed by living beings to sustain themselves that contain nutrients that supply energy and aid the growth and maintenance of the body are called food. Our body is made of cells that need to be supplied with certain nutrients so that they can function. Any edible material which contains calories is called food.

The different classes of foods are carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and fats.

Water is essential in our diet but is not classified as food because it does not contain any calories. Calories can be considered the currency for work in our body; calories or energy are always used when the body or cells do any work.

Food is important because it aids the body in building bones, muscle function and growth, breathing, energy production, synthesis of hormones, and brain processing.

Everyone needs food, but the quantity and content of food are different for each person. For example, someone who does manual labor for a living has a higher calorie expenditure per day compared to a software engineer who works from their office.

Their diet should ideally reflect this difference; the engineer will need to eat foods that help in maintaining their eyesight and brain capacity, while the laborer will need to eat carbohydrate-rich food to provide energy and protein to build strength as their body uses more calories in a day.

Types Of Food That The Body Requires

A balanced diet is a diet that fulfills all the nutritional requirements of a person. We need to eat the right quantities of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals, fats, fruits, and vegetables. Food groups contain certain types of foods which in turn, contain the essential nutrients required for healthy body functioning.

The importance of a balanced diet is especially stressed for children since their growth wholly depends on the type of foods they eat.

During these growing years, their bodies need specialized diet and nutrition that can cater to their ever-changing body and energy requirements to play, learn, and grow. After a particular age, the nutrients supplied by food are not enough to maintain proper body function; at this stage, people need to use medical supplements to make sure the body functions properly.

Women above 35 often take calcium supplements and people who have some special restrictions on their diet take supplements to balance the lack of nutrition.

All the food we eat daily belongs to a food group and is the source of a particular nutrient.

Carbohydrates that provide energy and help us in breathing and growth are found in food bread, milk, rice, grains, fruit, cookies, sugar, nuts, oils, soda drinks, and potatoes.

Proteins help in building muscles and cells, maintaining the immune system, anti-bodies, fight diseases and are found in chicken, meat, fish, milk, dairy products, legumes, and eggs. Fat is the storage of excess energy, provides insulation for the body and is found in sugar, nuts, oils, meat, eggs, fish, milk, and dairy products.

Minerals like iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, and others, are micronutrients that aid in maintaining the nervous system, blood, strengthening bones, immune system and are found in green leafy vegetables, fruit, milk, dairy products, meat, and rice.

Vitamins are of six major types which help us in maintaining body functions, skin, hair, and are found in fruits, potatoes, meats, eggs, dairy products, legumes, vegetable oils, fish, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains.

The food materials we eat help us survive every day, but what exactly happens to it inside our body once we eat it and how does the digestive system digest it.

When we ingest food, as we chew it, the food is physically broken down into smaller pieces, while saliva begins to digest the food and prepare it for the digestive tract.

The food then uses the esophagus to move into the stomach.

In the stomach, the hydrochloric acid and gastric juices digest the food completely after which the small intestine breaks down the macromolecules of nutrients properly and absorbs them.

The undigested foods then move to the large intestine where the water is absorbed and then excreted out of the system. The nutrients absorbed in the small intestine travel via the bloodstream to each cell.

Family having fun during lunch in dining room

What will happen if we don't eat food?

Insufficient nutrition without food can lead to degradation of health and weakening, diseases, and other issues too.

A host of problems can be caused by the absence of one vitamin from the diet, so it's impossible to imagine what can happen to our health if we stopped eating food altogether.

The disease caused by the lack of a particular related vitamin or mineral in our diet is called a deficiency disease and will cause the body to not function properly.

In most cases, the effects of the disease can be alleviated by ingesting supplements of that particular nutrient. Deficiency diseases caused by the lack of Vitamin B are Beriberi, weight loss, anemia, pellagra, dementia, celiac disease, fatigue, and kidney failure.

Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, bleeding gums, joint swelling, and a decrease in the quality of hair and skin.

Vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness and permanent blindness. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, bending of bones, teeth rot.

Vitamin E deficiency causes muscle and nerve weakness. Diseases caused by the deficiency of minerals are Osteopenia, kidney failure, anemia in the blood, lack of appetite, nausea, seizures, loss of taste and smell, Goiter, and others.

Healthy Vs Unhealthy Food

Healthy and unhealthy are terms that are used to categorize foods according to their nutritional value. Food with low nutritional importance is considered unhealthy.

Often fatty and sugary foods are labeled unhealthy and people are advised to remove these foods from their altogether. Recently researchers and dieticians around the world have agreed that all food is healthy.... in moderation.

The key feature of any diet is moderation; one can be on a weight loss journey but still indulge themselves with their favorite sweet treat once in a while. Consuming an excess of these foods is not advised because they can cause fat accumulation and artery blockage, the latter of which can cause fatal heart attacks.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do we need food then why not take a look at why do boats float, or why do leaves fall?

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

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Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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