How Food Can Help You Live a Better Life

Ever wondered what is the first edible food for humans?

How did the ancient Romans feed their armies?

Potato chips, one of the most consumed snacks across the globe, was invented by?

Did someone though of life without food?

Breakfast bowl photo by Jannis Brandt on Unsplash

The more we dwell into the history of food, better the results would be. The staple food of the Egyptians was bread and beer. The bread was baked outside and because of the desert sand was often blown into the dough. In time eating bread with grains of sand in it wore down peoples teeth. In ancient Egypt as in all early civilizations meat was a luxury and only the rich could afford to eat it frequently. Nevertheless, the Egyptians ate sheep, pigs, cows, and goats but meat often came from ducks and geese. However fish were plentiful in Egypt.

Like Egyptians ordinary Greeks ate plain food. They lived on a staple diet of bread (made from barley or, if you could afford it, wheat) and goats cheese. Meat was a luxury but fish and vegetables were plentiful. Ordinary Greeks ate pulses, onions, garlic and olives. They also ate hens eggs.

Poor people ate simple and monotonous food. For them, meat was a luxury. If they were lucky they had a rabbit or pork. They also ate lots of coarse, dark bread and cheese. They only had one cooked meal a day. In the evening they ate pottage. That was a kind of stew. It was made by boiling grain in water to make a kind of porridge.

There had/has been rapid changes in the environment along with it food we take also changed and will be changing in the coming days.

Well, the food timeline helps you understand the history of food from 17,000 B.C to 21st century.

Ancient Indians ate food that was easily available from nature which includes fruits, wild berries, meat, fish, etc. were the main food items of the nomadic dwellers. With the advent of civilization, people settled and started to do farming. This led to the discovery of food crops, seeds etc. Food in ancient India was cultivated in the fertile river valleys. Rice was their staple food that was eaten with cooked lentils, vegetables and meat. 

Cocoa beans were used as currency in Aztec communities

One bean was worth a tamale, and a good turkey could cost you around 100 beans! The pods have been used for thousands of years, with evidence that folks fermented the pulp around the beans to make booze as long ago as 1,400 B.C.

Cereals remained the most important staple during the early middles ages. Barley, oats and rye were eaten by poor. Standard foods included bread, porridge, and gruel. Fava beans and vegetables were important supplement to the cereal-based diet. Meat was expensive and prestigious.

There was no word such as junk food during the ancient era as most of them preferred to eat food that is available natural. Moreover the ancient jobs such as being scribe, trades, blacksmith, and farmers requires extensive physical activity that made the ancient people stay fit and healthy. Food intake was also responsible for good health as it is chemical free and nutrient rich.

As the centuries pass on, the population rose exponentially making the earth dense. This effected the environment, humans, food crisis and wildlife in many aspects such as

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population
  • Paucity of food, which made farmers use fertilizers to enhance the growth to meet the demand, which in-turn affected the people.
  • Cutting of forests for cultivation leading to several environmental change. Besides all this, the increasing population growth leads to the migration of large number to urban areas with industrialization. This results in polluted air, water, noise and population in big cities and towns.
  • Increased prevalence of diseases and new diseases took birth.

Today the quality of food is dreadful that is one of the major reasons effecting human health. The pace of disease flow is been increasing rapidly. From bacteria, virus to dangerous diseases the cause could be food intake, as it’s not healthy. Most common diseases include cardio vascular diseases, various types of cancer, breathing disorders, skin diseases to name a few. These diseases were prevalent since decades, but the intensity is low compared to recent times. This credit goes to population growth, decreased food quality.

In today’s busy world people are looking for quickly available food without caring of the adverse effects. Eating junk food on a regular basis can lead to an increased risk of obesity and chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and some cancers.

Fast food restaurants in America serve 50 million customers per day

The main aim of food is to provide energy and good health, however food these days doesn’t have these properties or contain in minute quantity. Additionally, the way it is grown is not as per standards like excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers. High consumption of oil, sugar, salt, processed food is also dangerous.

Using of coated utensils are effects human health in long run. Overheating causes breakdown of chemicals into air and inhaling this fumes may lead to polymer fume fever or flu.

How can we stay healthy?

Well, there are many ways which could help us to stay healthy while some of them include

  • Consuming organic food that is rich in nutrients and minerals,
  • Regular physical activity like exercise and yoga.
Consuming organic food that is rich in nutrients and minerals

Organic food is one of the best ways to stay healthy as they’re grown using organic compounds such as compost manure and green manure. Some of the benefits include antibiotic resistance, pesticide cutback, strong immune system, chemicals free food.

Also there are some foods that are considered to be superfood: a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being, such as berries, fish, dark leafy green, nuts, whole grains, yogurt, olive oil, nuts, green tea, eggs, garlic, turmeric, avocado and mushroom.

Food should contain essential vitamins and minerals for overall health. Vitamins are organic compounds that are needed in small quantities to sustain life. Most vitamins need to come from food. This is because the human body either does not produce enough of them, or it does not produce any at all. Each organism has different vitamin requirements. Functions of vitamins are growing tissues, regulating metabolism and maintaining a healthy immune system. Vitamins are classified as either water-soluble or fat-soluble. In humans there are 13 vitamins: 4 fat-soluble (A, D, E and K) and 9 water-soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C). u While fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fatty tissue, water-soluble vitamins must be used by the body right away. Just like vitamins, minerals help your body grow, develop, and stay healthy. The body uses minerals to perform many different functions — from building strong bones to transmitting nerve impulses. Some minerals are even used to make hormones or maintain a normal heartbeat.

Types of Vitamins
  • Vitamin A – This fat-soluble vitamin is often found in carrots and other similarly pigmented vegetables. It can also be found in meat, especially liver. Also known as a carotenoid, it is known to be good for your eyes and assists in fighting chronic diseases.
  • Vitamin B –Play a vital role in maintaining good health and well-being. As the building blocks of a healthy body, B vitamins have a direct impact on  energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. Milk, cheese, eggs, meat, dark greens, whole grains.
  • Vitamin C – This water-soluble vitamin plays important roles in immune system function. It is also an antioxidant, which means it helps neutralize free radicals that are believed to cause aging of cells. Orange juice, cherries, red peppers, kale, and grapefruit are some examples of foods where this popular vitamin is found.
  • Vitamin D – This vitamin is important for bone and colon health. Your body generates it when your skin is exposed to sunlight. In today’s high-tech world, many people spend time away from the sun and thus supplement vitamin D3 to ensure healthy levels. Foods containing it include broccoli, egg yolks, cereals, and fatty fish.
  • Vitamin E is an important vitamin required for the proper function of many organs in the body. It is also an antioxidant. This means it helps to slow down processes that damage cells. It is found in many foods including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and wheat germ oil. It is also available as a supplement.
  • Vitamin K plays a key role in helping the blood clot, preventing excessive bleeding.  Vitamin K is actually a group of compounds. The most important of these compounds appears to be vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is obtained from leafy greens and some other vegetables. Vitamin K2 is a group of compounds largely obtained from meats, cheese, and eggs, and synthesized by bacteria.

Food is music to the body, Music is food to the heart

–Gregory David Roberts
Essential Minerals
  • Magnesium – This mineral plays an important role in muscle contractions. It is also a natural muscle relaxant and can help smooth muscles, including  intestines. It also helps another essential vitamin, calcium, to absorb. It can be found in natural sources such as spinach and other leafy greens, almonds and beans.
  • Calcium – This mineral is very essential for bone and teeth health. Some natural sources for this mineral are dairy milk and fortified plant-based milks including almond and cashew milk.
  • Iron – This metal is responsible for the red color of your blood. Iron deficiency, known as anemia, has been associated with autoimmune disorders like lupus. Foods containing iron are clams, liver, beans, and spinach.
  • Potassium – Potassium is an electrolyte (like magnesium and calcium) that plays a role in keeping your body well-hydrated. Potassium is an important supporter of blood pressure. Many Western diets are low in potassium. Unfortunately, potassium cannot be easily supplemented due to a rule that limits the amount that is sold in over-the-counter tablets and capsules. Because of this, finding natural sources such as vegetables and fruits (like bananas, citrus, and spinach) is vital.
  • Iodine is a mineral found in some foods. The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions. The body also needs thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy.
  • Zinc is a vital mineral that your body uses in countless ways. In fact, zinc is the second-most-abundant trace mineral in your body — after iron — and is present in every cell. Zinc is necessary for the activity of over 300 enzymes that aid in metabolism, digestion, nerve function and many other processes. Beans, mushroom, avocado.
  • Selenium is a powerful mineral that is essential for the proper functioning of your body. It plays a critical role in metabolism and thyroid function and helps protect your body from damage caused by oxidative stress. Brazil nuts, sea foods, and organ meats are the richest food sources of selenium. Other sources include muscle meats, cereals and other grains, and dairy products.
  • Phosphorus used  for many functions, such as filtering waste and repairing tissue and cells, keep your bones strong and health, help make energy. Found in meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, whole grains, potatoes, garlic, carbonates drinks.
Vegetables and leaf greens photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

It is important to maintain these vitamins and minerals for overall health, however the quantity too matters. Following is the daily intake for Vitamins and Minerals.

VitaminsRecommended daily intake
Vitamin A600 µg    
Vitamin B1 (thiamin)1.4 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)1.6 mg
Vitamin B3 (niacin)18 mg
Vitamin B5 (patothenic acid)6 mg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)2 mg
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)6 µg
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)75 mg
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol)5 µg
Vitamin E (tocopherol)10 mg
Vitamin K80 µg
Source: https://www.lenntech.com/recommended-daily-intake.htm
Minerals Recommended daily intake
Potassium3500 mg
Calcium1000 mg
Iodine150 µg
Zinc15 mg
Iron15 mg
Magnesium350 mg
Phosphorus1000 mg
Selenium35 µg
Source: https://www.lenntech.com/recommended-daily-intake.htm

Regular physical activity like exercise and yoga

Good food alone is not sufficient to stay healthy, some physical activity like exercise and yoga are essential. Popular ways to be active include walking, cycling, wheeling, sports and active recreation.

Regular physical activity is proven to help prevent and manage noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and several cancers. It also helps prevent hypertension, maintain healthy body weight and can improve mental health, quality of life and well-being. 

A man jogging photo by Gervyn Louis on Unsplash

Key facts according to the World Health Organization,

Globally, 1 in 4 adults do not meet the global recommended levels of physical activity

Up to 5 million deaths a year could be averted if the global population was more active

People who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active

Physical activity has significant health benefits for hearts, bodies and minds

People these days are cautious about the food intake and tend to be healthy. As mentioned before, during early middle ages barley, oats and rye were eaten by poor and meat is considered to be expensive and prestigious. But now irrespective of income class the situation seems to be changed like consumption of these oats, barley and rye is the first priority for health freaks.

The production trend across the world in 2019-2020 shows that people are keen to these food.

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/263977/world-grain-production-by-type/

The trend in fitness industry also proves that people are health conscious these days.

Chart “Fitness Industry Growth Significantly Outpacing GDP” presented by Bloomberg and Toptal

The best example that food could be the savior against the recent pandemic covid’19, provided under the doctor supervision and medication. Strong Immune system is required to fight against the covid’19, which could be provided by foods rich in vitamins and minerals.

One cannot think well, love well and sleep well If one has not dined well

–Virginia Woolf

Let’s be conscious about what we eat, the source of food, nutritional content, proper physical activity to lead the happy and healthy life.

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