What Happens to the Food You Eat?

By: Lauren White

Food and Nutrients

Why do we need to eat food? This is simple, food is the life and breath of us - without it, we would most certainly die. Food gives your body energy. You need energy for everything you do. Food provides building materials for your body. Your body needs building materials so it can grow and repair itself. Food contains substances that help control body processes. Your body processes must be kept in balance for good health. Now, you see why food is so very important. Food contains nutrients, which are chemicals in food that your body needs. There are 6 different types of nutrients. They are carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and water. Let's start with carbohydrates, carbohydrates are nutrients that include sugars, starches, and fiber. There are two different types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. Now, sugars are small, simple carbohydrates that are found in foods such as fruits and milk. The sugar that is found in fruits is known as fructose. The sugar that is found in milk is known as lactose. These sugars are broken down by the body to form glucose, the simplest sugar of all. Glucose is used by cells for energy. Now, for the other carbohydrate. Starch is a large, complex carbohydrate. Fiber is another type of large, complex carbohydrate. Unlike sugars and starches, fiber does not provide energy. There are two types of fiber found in food: soluble fiber and

insoluble fiber. Each type has a different role. Soluble fiber dissolves in water. It helps keep sugar and fat at normal levels in the blood. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. As it moves through the large intestine it absorbs water. This helps keep food waste moist so it can pass easily out of the body.

Now, on to proteins. Proteins are important. They make up muscles, help control the process's in your body, help the body fight off foreign invaders as well as bacteria, and carry substances to the blood. When more proteins are eaten than necessary the unneeded protein helps to give you energy. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Although there are many different Amino acids, your body only needs 20 of them. 10 of these amino acids can be made by your body from simpler substances, while the other 10 must be gathered from the food you eat.

Lipids, Vitamins, Minerals and Water

Lipids are nutrients such as fats that store energy. The heart and skeletal muscles rely mainly on lipids for energy. Lipids have many other roles in the body. Some of these are to protect nerves, help control blood pressure, help blood to clot, and to make up the membranes that surround the cells. Stored fat also cushions and protects internal organs. In addition, it insulates the body. It helps keep you warm in cold weather. Some other types of lipids are saturated lipids and unsaturated lipids. Saturated lipids can be bad for you - even in small amounts. Saturated lipids can heighten your cholesterol, which can be very dangerous. If your body has too much cholesterol it can eventually lead to heart disease. Unsaturated lipids can be good for you - if you eat them in small amounts. Unsaturated lipids cannot be produced by your body. Another type of lipid is trans fat. It is best not to eat many of these, because they are not especially good for you, and in the long run you could end up with heart disease.

Vitamins as well as minerals are needed to help keep you healthy. Though they do not provide you with energy, they are vital for your health. Not getting enough vitamins can cause health problems. For example, too little vitamin C causes a disease called scurvy. The vitamins to watch out for are vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are stored by the body, so they can build up to high levels. Very high levels of these vitamins can even cause death, although this is very rare.

Minerals are chemical elements that are needed for body processes. Minerals differ from vitamins because vitamins do not contain the vitamin element. Some minerals you need in relatively large or small amounts. Minerals have many important roles in the body. For example, calcium and phosphorus are needed for strong bones and teeth. Potassium and sodium are needed for muscles and nerves to work the way they should. Your body can not produce any of the minerals that you need. You have to get them from the foods that you eat. Not getting enough minerals can cause health problems. For example, too little calcium may cause osteoporosis. Getting too much of some minerals can also cause

health problems. Many people get too much sodium. Sodium is added to most packaged foods. People often add more sodium to their food by using table salt. Too much sodium causes high blood pressure in some people.

Finally there is water. Did you know that water is also a nutrient? You can't live without water, because your cells are made up two-thirds of water. It is natural, of course to assume that you can only a few days without water. Whenever you sweat or exhale you lose water. If you do not replace that water, you will begin to dehydrate. Dehydration is very serious, and if you are dehydrated long enough or in a very severe matter, you will die. Drinking too much water can also be dangerous. If you drink too much water, you may develop hyponatremia - a condition that results in the drinking of too much water, so that so much water goes into the brain, that it begins to swell. This condition is terribly dangerous, and if you don't get immediate medical attention, you will die.

How to Choose Healthy Food - The MyPyramid

Having healthy food is something that makes us feel good. One way to begin to learn how to make healthy food choices is by using the MyPyramid. There are 6 different groups in the MyPyramid. They are the grains, the vegetables, the fruits, the oils, the dairy, and the meat and beans. On MyPyramid you will notice that it has really wide bands and really small bands. The orange - grains - is the widest. This means that you should eat the most of grains. You'll also notice that the yellow - oils - is the smallest. This means that you should eat the least of these.

Making the Choices

Whenever you make the choices of what you eat, you should think about eating a variety of different foods. Make at least half your daily grain choices whole grains. Examples of whole grains are whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice. Choose a variety of different vegetables each day. Be sure to include both dark green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, and orange vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes. Choose a variety of different fruits each day. Select mainly fresh fruits rather than canned fruits and whole fruits instead of fruit juices. When choosing oils, go for unsaturated oils, such as olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil. Choose low-fat or fat-free milk and other dairy products. For example, select fat-free yogurt and low-fat cheese. For meats, choose fish, chicken, and lean cuts of beef. Also, be sure to include beans, nuts, and seeds.

So this leads to our next question. What about things considered as "junk food", like ice cream, cake and cookies? These are foods that should be eaten only in very small amounts and not

very often. Such foods contain very few nutrients, and are called nutrient-poor. Instead, they are high in fats, sugars, and sodium, which are nutrients that you should limit in a healthy eating plan. If you eat too many of these, they could begin to lead to a major gain in weight.

The Digestive System

Digestion is when your body breaks down food into nutrients. There are two types of digestion, mechanical and chemical. In mechanical digestion, large chunks of food are broken down into small pieces. This is a physical process. In chemical digestion, large food molecules are broken down into small nutrient molecules. This is a chemical process. After food is broken down into small nutrient molecules, the molecules are absorbed by the blood. After absorption, the nutrient molecules travel in the bloodstream to cells throughout the body. Chemical digestion could not take place without the help of digestive enzymes. An enzyme is a protein that speeds up chemical reactions in the body. Digestive enzymes speed up chemical reactions that break down large food molecules into small molecules. Digestive enzymes are released, or secreted, by the organs of the digestive system. Examples of digestive enzymes


• Amylase, produced in the mouth. It helps break down large starches molecules into smaller sugar molecules.

• Pepsin, produced in the stomach. Pepsin helps break down proteins into amino acids.

• Trypsin, produced in the pancreas. Trypsin also breaks down proteins.

• Pancreatic lipase, produced in the pancreas. It is used to break apart fats.

• Deoxyribonuclease and ribonuclease, produced in the pancreas. They are enzymes that break bonds in nucleic acids like DNA and RNA.

The endocrine system sends hormones around your body to communicate between cells like chemical messengers. Digestive hormones are made by cells lining the stomach and small intestine. These hormones cross into the blood where they can affect other parts of the digestive system. Some of these hormones are listed below.

• Gastrin, which signals the secretion of gastric acid.

• Cholecystokinin, which signals the secretion of pancreatic enzymes.

• Secretin, which signals secretion of water and bicarbonate from the pancreas.

• Ghrelin, which signals when you are hungry.

• Gastric inhibitory polypeptide, which stops or decreases gastric secretion. It also causes the release of insulin in response to high blood glucose levels.

The mouth and stomach are just two of the organs of the digestive system. Other digestive system organs are the esophagus, small intestine, and large intestine. Food enters the mouth and then passes through the rest of the digestive system. Food waste leaves the body through the anus. The organs of the digestive system are lined with muscles. The muscles contract, or tighten, to push food through the system.This movement of muscle contractions is called peristalsis. Without peristalsis, food would not be able to move through the digestive system. The liver, gall bladder, and pancreas are also organs of the digestive system. Food does not pass through these three organs. However, these organs are important for digestion.The mouth is the first organ that food enters. But digestion may start even before you put the first bite of food into your mouth. Just seeing or smelling food can cause the release of saliva and digestive enzymes in your mouth.Chewing is part of mechanical

digestion. Your tongue pushes the food to the back of your mouth so you can swallow it. When you swallow, lump of chewed food passes down your throat to your esophagus. Food moves through the esophagus

because of peristalsis. At the lower end of the esophagus, a circular muscle controls the opening to the stomach. The muscle relaxes to let food pass into the stomach. Then the muscle contracts again to prevent food from passing back into the esophagus. The stomach is a sac-like organ at the end of the esophagus. It has thick muscular walls. The muscles contract and relax. This moves the food around and helps break it into smaller pieces. Mixing the food around with the enzyme pepsin and other chemicals helps digest proteins. Water, salt, and simple sugars can be absorbed into the blood from the stomach. Most of the other substances down further in the small intestine before they are absorbed. The small intestine is narrow tube that starts at the stomach and ends at the large intestine. t is made up of three parts, the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. The large intestine is a wide tube that connects the small intestine with the anus. As waste moves through the large intestines excess water is absorbed from it. After the excess water is absorbed, the remaining solid waste is called

feces. The liver has a wide range of functions, a few of which are:

• Removing toxins from the blood.

• Keeping glucose levels stable.

• Creating proteins.

• Producing biochemicals for digestion

The liver is necessary for survival. You cannot live without a liver. Almost 2 quarts of blood pass through the liver every minute. Since the liver also ensures that glucose levels remain

stable, people with liver problems are at risk for diabetes.

Your large intestine is not just made up of cells. It is also an ecosystem, home to trillions of bacteria. But don’t

worry. Most of these bacteria are helpful. They have several roles in the body. For example, intestinal bacteria:

• Produce vitamins B12 and K.

• Control the growth of harmful bacteria.

• Break down poisons in the large intestine.

• Break down some substances in food that cannot be digested, such as fiber and some starches and sugars.

Food allergies are like other allergies. They occur when the immune system reacts to harmless substances as though they were harmful. Almost 10 percent of children have food allergies.Eating foods you are allergic to may cause vomiting, diarrhea, or skin rashes. Some people are very allergic to certain foods. Eating even tiny amounts of the foods causes them to have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing. If they eat the foods by accident, they may need emergency medical treatment. Tests will identify which foods you are allergic to. Then you can avoid eating these foods. This is the best way to prevent the symptoms of

food allergies. To avoid the foods you are allergic to, you may have to read food labels carefully. A food intolerance, or food sensitivity, is different from a food allergy. A food intolerance happens when the digestive system is unable to break down a certain type of food. This can result in stomach cramping, diarrhea, tiredness, and weight loss. Food intolerances are often mistakenly called allergies.