What Is Inside Foods and Beverages
MACRONUTRIENTS, MICRONUTRIENTS AND NONNUTRIENTS
Foods and beverages are filled with countless substances, from macronutrients, including carbohydrates, fats and oils, proteins, lipids and water that are needed by the body in “macro” or relatively large quantities, and micronutrients, including vitamins and minerals, that are needed by the body in “micro” or relatively smaller quantities. Foods and beverages are also filled with nonnutrients, substances that may have some biological effects on the body, such as dietary fiber and phytochemicals, plant compounds with reportedly healthful benefits. Foods and beverages also carry bacteria, microscopic organisms that can be either beneficial or harmful and potentially toxic substances that may find their way into our food supply. Chemicals that are used in the growth, production, transport and preservation of foods and beverages, such as antibiotics, hormones and preservatives, may also leach into our food supply. While many are safe for human consumption, sometimes undesirable chemicals may circulate. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is responsible for ensuring that the US food supply is safe, sanitary and wholesome.
ESSENTIAL AND NONESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS
Essential nutrients are nutrients that the body cannot make or produce in sufficient quantities. Essential nutrients must be obtained through the diet. They include the building blocks of carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, certain vitamins and minerals, and water. Nonessential nutrients can be made by the body or obtained from sources other than foods and beverages. These include biotin that is produced by gastrointestinal bacteria, cholesterol that is produced by the liver, vitamin K that is produced by intestinal bacteria, and vitamin D that is produced by sunlight. If a person consumes a broad-range diet with a variety of foods and beverages, then he or she should be able to obtain most of the essential and nonessential nutrients they need. When people eliminate certain foods or food groups, restrict calories and/or skip meals on a regular basis, then they may run the risk of nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient knowhow may help to enlighten and guard against these deficiencies.