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What Is the Relationship between Food Science and Human Nutrition?

By B. Miller
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The relationship between food science and human nutrition is an important one. Primarily, it informs people on how to eat a balanced diet, the variety of foods they need to consume for optimum health, and the way certain nutrients and vitamins work together in beneficial ways. In addition, food science and nutrition can help to determine the way certain dietary supplements or even prescription drugs are developed, and is a significant aspect in biochemistry research and chemical engineering. The study of food science, which also includes methods of preservation and preparation, is important to global population health.

The connection between food science and human nutrition is evident in everyday life. Because researchers have spent time discovering the components of food, such as various vitamins and nutrients and different aspects including proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, consumers can look at food labels and learn exactly what is in the foods they are eating. They can calculate the amount of protein they have consumed in a day, track their calorie intake, and make dietary changes to lose weight or target specific medical issues such as high cholesterol, all because of advances made in food science, nutrition, and the study of its effects on the body.

Another important aspect of the study of food science and human nutrition is the way foods and their components interact with each other. For instance, the body can absorb certain vitamins and minerals more effectively when they are combined with other vitamins and minerals; vitamin D and calcium, for example, enjoy an excellent symbiotic relationship in the body. Other studies may determine how foods change when they are prepared or preserved a certain way. These types of food studies can be very beneficial to overall human health, especially when studying how to apply these principles globally, in order to reduce world hunger and malnutrition.

Yet another application of food science and human nutrition is in the nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical industries, as well as for lawmakers and lobbyists attempting to set nutritional standards in schools or for overall government recommendations. Researchers may study foods with the intent of determining how much of a certain food is healthy and/or detrimental. Critics stress the importance of keeping this research separate from the pressure of big business, and ensuring that food science and human nutrition are actually based on sound science, not on a desire for greater income from certain food producers or drug manufacturers.

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Discussion Comments

By giddion — On Sep 30, 2012

I had always wondered why vitamin D and calcium were always present in the same foods. My orange juice, milk, and cereal all have both of these together, and though I knew they were good for me, I didn't know that they worked better in combination.

By healthy4life — On Sep 29, 2012

@OeKc05 – While I agree with you that eating natural foods for nutrition is ideal, there are some situations in which supplements can be helpful. I think my husband is a good example.

No matter what I do, I can't get him to eat fruits and vegetables. He has a horrible diet, and he relies on vitamins and supplements for nutrition.

I am thankful to food scientists for these inventions, because otherwise, my husband might die of malnutrition. They can keep some people alive longer, so they are useful.

By OeKc05 — On Sep 28, 2012

Food science sure has spawned a lot of supplements. However, even scientists admit that fruits and vegetables have undiscovered benefits that you cannot get in a supplement.

They just haven't been able to capture everything that is good about natural foods in pill form. They may never know exactly what all food can do for you, so it is best to eat a balanced diet full of veggies and fruits.

By shell4life — On Sep 28, 2012

I think that food science has helped tremendously with the school lunchroom menus. Thirty years ago, schools served a lot more french fries and chocolate cake than they do now.

The school that I went to all those years ago now has a salad bar, and I can tell by reading the weekly lunch menus in the newspaper that they are much more health conscious. My niece is getting much more nutrition out of her lunch than I got at her age.

The kids may not be crazy about the changes, but they adapt. You get hungry enough in school that you will eat anything to make the hunger pains go away.

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