45 Years Of Influence
Since 1974, when the first food pyramid appeared in Sweden, triangular or pyramid-shaped nutrition guides have been used by 25 other countries and organizations.
And, up until recently the US and much of the civilized world used a food pyramid to dole out nutrition advice.
Interestingly, a consistent pattern in food pyramids around the globe, from China’s Food Pagoda to Greece’s Food Pyramid, is the appearance of cereals, grains, bread, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates as the base of the diet – and fats near the top of the pyramid, as a “use sparingly” category.
The Problem With The Pyramid
But this type of pyramid can lead to health problems. After all, dietary fat from healthy sources has been shown in studies to actually help to increase weight loss, reduce heart disease risk, lower blood sugars, lower cholesterols and maintain proper brain function (especially in kids).
Let’s just consider the grain section, for example, The largest part of the pyramid.
Most people consume grains in the form of something that contains wheat. Bread, pastas, cereals, cakes cookies. There are 5 reasons why this is so bad for you. And you’ll have to go through my previous workshops or podcasts to get that information. But here’s an overview.
- Wheat today is not in its original form, it’s genetically modified to produce more crop however it is less digestible than what showed up originally in nature.
- Wheat and gluten-containing grains affect blood sugar in a really bad way.
- Gluten-containing foods are addictive, its effects on the brain can have an additive effect
- Wheat is pro-inflammatory.
- Wheat will make you fat: the effects on blood sugar are going to cause you to struggle with maintaining a healthy weight.
But the issues don’t stop with the predominantly “high carb, low fat” recommendations of most food pyramids. Frequent consumption of featured and recommended foods such as commercialized modern whole milk and hamburger has been linked to heart disease…
…dairy is extremely overemphasized – although calcium is important, many vegetable and meat sources contain plenty of calcium with a lower number of calories….
…there is no differentiation between “good proteins” and “bad proteins”, “good carbs” and “bad carbs” or “good fats” and “bad fats”…
and the minimum serving of fruits is 2-4, which is a great way to send your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride all day long if you’re not careful.
Furthermore, when it comes to the American food pyramid, we’ve barely scratched the surface of how food and agricultural institutions can exert lobbying and political power on the USDA to feature and prioritize subsidized industries such as dairy, corn, and wheat as heavily featured or highlighted recommendations (a great book to read more about these shenanigans is “Food Politics“).
A More Ideal Food Pyramid
So what should a good food pyramid actually look like?
I have yet to be convinced that any food pyramid is the best. However, there are some ways to look at food in a way that will prepare you to live a life that is healthy. That will help you maintain a normal healthy weight and has been shown to prevent cancer, heart disease and more.
So, let’s dive in.
First pretty high on the list should be fats. Fats you ask why on earth would fats be high on the list.
The answer is simple, healthy fats, promote fat loss, brain health, fight cancer. If you eat a diet of primarily healthy fats, you’ll move from fat storage mode to fat burning mode.
Vegetables: These are some of the most nutrient-dense foods available. The amount of nutrients per calorie makes vegetables an important staple in your diet. Choose things like sprouts avocado, asparagus, broccoli, and cabbage.
Proteins: The building blocks for your body are found in protein. While it’s not as high on the list, it is vitally important that you have high-quality forms of protein daily. Free range turkey, eggs, beef, pasture raised pork, and wild-caught salmon are great sources of protein.
Grains should be eaten sparingly. But there are some grains that are packed full of nutrients are quinoa, raw seeds, and nuts, sprouted legumes, beans, and lentils.
Fruit can be eating without causing problems as long as you stick the lower sugar fruits, which most berries, mangoes, apples fall into that category
Don’t forget the Sugar
And of course, anything that has lots of added sugar you just want to stay as far away from as you can. Follow those steps and you’ll be on your way to living a very healthy life.
You’ll at least be a lot better off than if you were following that frightening food guide pyramid.
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