Why Do We Need Food to Survive: A Detailed Answer
Food is basically a substance we eat to sustain life and growth and contains carbohydrates, fats, proteins, essential minerals, and vitamins. Water is not considered as food because for a substance to be classified as food, it must contain calories, which water doesn’t. That leads other people to wonder why do we need food to survive.
With that being said, we will provide you with a detailed answer to why we need food to survive, even if they say that water is more important than food.
Why Do We Need Food to Survive?
Our bodies consist of tiny building blocks known as cells, which are responsible for carrying out various bodily functions. For instance, the cells inside your heart are responsible for keeping it beating, as well as pumping blood throughout your body. To get a closer look at how cells function, study these few essential bodily functions performed by cells:
- Build bones
- Make hormones
- Sustain breathing
- Muscle growth
- Energy production
For your cells to function properly, you need a balanced diet enriched with all the necessary nutrients. How do your cells get those nutrients? This is where the digestive system plays its role, which is releasing nutrients from the food in the stomach.
Once they are released, your cells can utilize these nutrients in the form of glucose to fulfill your body’s needs. Now, you can imagine the consequences of what will happen without food and nutrients. There would not be enough energy for the cells to perform their function properly, if not at all.
Essential Types of Food
Food can be classified into a variety of types according to their nutrient value.
Carbohydrate (carbs) is one of the primary nutrients for the body, which consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They are the biggest and most important source of energy for the body. Basically, carbs are sugar and starch which are converted into glucose (fuel) by the digestive system.
Carbs are of two types namely simple and complex. The main sources of carbs are bread, milk, beans, grains, vegetable, fruit, corn, cookies, soda drinks, etc.
Many functions are served by carbs and some of which are quite important. They provide energy to the whole body especially muscles, tissues, and brain. They also prevent the breakdown of protein for energy, as well as store the extra energy in the form of fat, a process called fat metabolism.
Carb deficiency leads to:
- Muscle cramps
- Lack of concentration
- Increased lipid content in the blood leading to heart disease
Proteins are organic compounds that contain oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen. They also contain one or more long chains of amino acids.
Proteins are found in a variety of food items but most commonly in chicken, meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, beans, and certain whole grain food.
Body tissues such as hair and muscles are made up of proteins. As such, your body uses proteins for several purposes such as for building and repairing skin, tissues, and bones.
Usually, proteins also act as an energy source for the body. Also, a type of protein called enzyme speeds up the chemical reactions in the body like metabolism. Hormones are also a type of protein which regulates the function of organs and cells by carrying messages from one organ to another.
Protein deficiency can lead to:
- Weight loss
- Low blood pressure and heart rate
- Liver problems
- Muscle weakness
- Hair loss and skin problems
Fats are the third most important form of nutrients in the body. Saturated, monounsaturated and trans fats are the three most common types of fat.
Mainly, fats are organic compounds containing carbon and hydrogen. They are natural substances found under the skin or surrounding an organ. Excess energy in the body is stored in the form of fat.
Fat sources include fish, nuts and seeds, plant-based oils, cheese, meat, milk butter, cream, baked goods, and processed food. Function-wise, they have several roles such as absorbing of vitamins, improving brain function, improving the immune system, regulating of blood clotting hormones, protecting the body by cushioning the injury, helping maintain body temperature, and providing insulation.
Fat deficiency leads to:
- Vitamin deficiency
- Skin problems
- Brain problems like Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease
- Compromised vision
4. Essential Minerals
Essential minerals can be defined as those chemical elements which are necessary so that the body can function properly. Minerals can be divided into two types namely major and trace. Calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc are some of the essential minerals.
Major sources of essential minerals are:
- Calcium: dairy products (milk, yogurt), almonds, pulses, sesame seeds, and spinach
- Iron: apple, apricots, raisins, peas, eggs, lean red meat, tuna, liver, kidney
- Magnesium: apricots, bananas, brown rice, wholemeal bread, milk, yogurt, green leafy vegetables
- Potassium: bananas, strawberries, fresh orange juice, apricots, potatoes, almonds, barley, chickpeas, garlic, ginger
- Zinc: brown rice, whole grain bread, cheese, lobster, duck, turkey, lean red meat
Essential minerals serve various functions like, strengthening bones and teeth, maintaining nerve and muscle systems, regulating metabolism, producing energy, and maintaining the immune system.
Mineral deficiency can lead to:
- Calcium deficiency: decreased bone density, cramping of muscles, and fatigue
- Iron deficiency: anemia, fatigue
- Magnesium deficiency: numbness, muscle cramps, seizures, tingling
- Potassium deficiency: muscle paralysis, irregular heartbeat leading to cardiac arrest
- Zinc deficiency: diarrhea, loss of hair, impotence
Basically, vitamins are molecules required by the body in small quantities, essential to maintaining the bodily functions. There are several types of vitamins which include vitamin A, B, C, D, E, and K. Each of them has its function in the body.
Best vitamin sources include citrus fruits, potatoes, beef, eggs, fortified milk, fatty fishes, carrots, mangoes, vegetable oils, leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, meat, chicken, whole grains, spinach, yogurt, and cheese.
Vitamins perform numerous vital functions from maintaining proper vision and healthy skin to providing blood clotting in case of injury.
Vitamin deficiency can lead to:
- Mouth ulcers
- Bleeding gums
- Poor night vision
- Hair loss
- Red or white spots on the skin
- Restless leg syndrome
In an effort to answer your question, "Why do we need food to survive?", we gave you a brief look at food nutrients and their functions in the human body. Also, we covered what happens when there is a lack of a certain type of nutrient and the problems that might occur.
If a lack of one nutrient can cause this much problem, what will happen in case of no food? As such, even if we say that water can help us survive for a few days, without food, we really cannot function well and won't be able to survive longer than we are supposed to.