The Relationship Between Food and the Immune System
The word food brings to mind the sustenance of life, which in turn creates its definition as food eaten by man to sustain life. It includes food that has been manufactured or prepared for human consumption and may be made of a mixture of edible substances, such as ready made foods, bakery products, sauces, dressings, soup mixes, and dry mixes, and includes food components for ingestion as well as for consumption intended for therapeutic processes. In some sense, food can be considered to be the basic need of a human being. It is this need of man to eat that creates the basis on which our food nutrition system works.
Food is any material consumed with the intent to supply an organisms needs to maintain life. In this sense, food is generally of animal, plant or fungi origin, and comprises essential nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals, which are required by the body in order to carry out its various functions. The modern food systems require a large amount of cereals, meat, fish and pulses, legumes, dairy products, and fats to name but a few of the main categories. These foods, when taken in sufficient quantities on a regular basis, provide the human species with the macro-nutrient intake that is necessary to maintain health and energy levels in a healthy way. However, there are limitations to the absorption of these nutrients in the human diet, especially in terms of the quantity of fat and carbohydrate taken per meal.
As food is ingested through the mouth and the digestive tract, it passes through the two major stages of the food process, called primary and secondary metabolism. The primary metabolism is mainly concerned with energy conversion of carbohydrates and fats to other useful forms such as oxygen, and eventually to energy that the body needs for day to day activities. The secondary metabolism is concerned with the storage of these energies as glycogen, so that they can be available to the body for future use. Both primary and secondary metabolism are affected by the food consumption patterns of an individual. For example, the food habits of an athlete may influence the way carbohydrates and fats are absorbed into the blood stream, but even athletes may suffer from poor absorption of fats, minerals and vitamins.