The Food Pyramids

By Living Paleo
In Paleo 101
Dec 15th, 2010
5 Comments
12323 Views

The first food pyramid came out in 1992, with the basic advice that people should consume a diet high in complex carbohydrates (bread, cereal, pasta, rice, etc), and low in fats. Not long after the pyramid was introduced, more and more research began showing that the food pyramid provided misleading nutritional guidance for the general public.

The reality was, the 1992 food pyramid over simplified the human diet. Even nutritionists knew that good fats, such as omega3’s where important for good health, yet it still rose to the top of the food pyramid with the recommendation that less is better. The real reason behind this was the fear of high cholesterol, which is associated with a high risk of coronary heart disease. In order to avoid people developing high cholesterol levels, the recommendation was to lower their saturated fat intake, which is not only found in some oils, but red meat as well; the body’s favorite protein, so it also appeared higher up in the food pyramid.

In the early 1990’s though, research began showing that fat is indeed important for good health, so in 2005 a new food pyramid was designed. The main difference within the food pyramids was the promotion of daily exercise, a slight decline in the recommendation of grains and the higher importance placed on including fat within the diet. In addition, a website (www.mypyramid.gov) was designed to obtain a food pyramid recommendation for your personal age, gender and activity levels. Although this provided improvements upon the 1992 food pyramid, it still placed a high emphasis on the importance of whole grains and dairy, and these two food sources are extremely detrimental towards our health.

Grains and dairy products, on the most part have become so processed that they are no longer good for our health. In traditional cultures such as in places such as Africa, Ethiopia and India, grains are fermented for days if not weeks before being prepared into a meal, the quality of grains in these cultures are far from being at the same level of quality that the grains we purchase in a plastic bag at the supermarket are.

Grains contain anti-nutrients, gluten and lectins, all which are harmful to our health. Gluten allergies are one of the most under-diagnosed, yet chronic diseases in society at the moment and is continually on the rise. Coeliac disease is an auto-immune disease, which means that your immune system starts attacking itself, this can affect many parts of your body, including muscles, nerves, hormones and the digestive system.

Although coeliac disease is extremely common, around 4 out of 5 people who do have coeliac disease don’t know they have it. In Australia, around 1 in 100 people have coeliac disease, in America it’s estimated to be around the same.

A similar problem is occurring within our dairy products; dairy is now being over processed and includes many non-human friendly substances, such as growth hormones. If you’re buying milk from a supermarket in a carton, chances are it has been pasteurised which means that the milk is now far from the quality it was when it first came from the cow’s tit. The milk now has been destroyed, the milks protein structure is denatured, the active enzymes and beneficial bacteria have been killed off and the vitamin content has been dramatically reduced.

Oh, and no, dairy is not the only source of calcium, in-fact, it’s probably one of the worst sources of calcium you can consume due to the fact it’s so over processed. Sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, green leafy vegetables and salmon are some foods high in good quality calcium for the body.

Most grain and dairy products are not suited for our genetic composition; our bodies aren’t designed to recognise foods which are processed far from their original form. So how are these foods good for our health and quality of life? Especially if we eat the recommended 8-14 serves every single day of both grains and dairy combined!

The food pyramid emphasises a lot in including these modern day foods, maybe it’s because the billion dollar grain industry created the food pyramid that is why grains are pronounced as such importance towards our health, or maybe it’s just a sheer misunderstanding of nutrition…. Our food pyramid should really run off what we should eat as humans to obtain good health, and what our body needs in order to stay healthy.

This now brings me to the food pyramid for health; it is based off a paleolithic diet.

The paleolithic diet is simple; eat what was available to the hunter gatherer, In other words, eat meat (chicken, beef, etc), fish and seafood, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Research has shown that hunter-gatherers consumed their energy source in a ratio of 65% animal and 35% plant.

These foods are what our bodies have been designed to eat and digest for over fifty thousand years, they are food sources which are available to us without needing to cook or process them. Animal meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds have been our main food source since day one, even before we knew how to create a fire. These are the foods our body strives for, If our bodies where meant to live healthy on a diet full of artificial sugars and chemicals, then nature would have provided that in our food sources, nature didn’t decide to wait thousands of years for our technology to be superior enough to alter food sources, for them to suddenly become healthy.

There are many health benefits associated with a paleolithic diet confirmed by scientific research, including some of the following:

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  • Weight loss
  • Higher insulin sensitivity
  • Lowered Blood Pressure
  • High cardiovascular health
  • Improved glucose tolerance
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Cures Acne
  • Increased life span
  • Reduction in infectious diseases

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5 Responses to “The Food Pyramids”

  1. Rodell DeLeon says:

    I’ll try this not new pyramid guide. To me it is not new since we are going back to the millennia when our ancestor ate this way without bread and other processed food. They eat the food what is available that time (Meat,Fish,Nut,Berries and other fruits). I’ll try it after eating my last bag of whole grain or wheat bread.

  2. colin says:

    A good read. Although I understand your point, but nature does not care what it provides. Good or bad its up to the species to adapt. Once you deviate away from what is best there are consequences. Just look at the Panda, oh and us.

  3. Mike says:

    A great site to educate people, I like it. Your basic hypothesis on your Paleo pyramid is correct & far better than the government recommended pyramid. Probably we can eat anything “natural”.

    If you think about the environment of Paleolithic Man you would understand that in different regions (of the world), available food would be area dependent. Therefore different societies would eat different foods. Inland it might be animals, bird’s eggs & vegetables, people living near seas or lakes would naturally find it easier to catch fish or seafood & maybe eat seaweed. Only some societies would rely heavily on animal foods, probably when there were no easy way to get vegetables in season.

    Most likely eating vegetables with meat/fish at the same meal would not have occurred to people until the society became more highly developed. It would have been more likely that they took the easy way out & gathered whatever edible vegetable matter they could find & whenever animals strayed into their area or they decided to go out of their area to hunt, they ate animals. With no way of keeping fresh meat they most likely consumed it in a few meals on it’s own. When they ran out of meat they most likely relied again on vegetables. Fruit was only a seasonable option, not a year round part of the diet. Nuts may have been a back up food stored against hard times.

    Take all the above as a more likely way that humans ate in the very early days & you will get a mainly vegetable diet with some meat or fish & occasionally some fruit unless you lived in the tropics. Nuts would have been stored for winter back up most likely. But all that would depend on where they lived or roamed & what was available.

    So, in conclusion, our natural, modern, evolved diet (a one size fits all) is roughly 20-25% animal, 75-80% plant food with natural fat coming from them. Most likely we could eat any which way or percentage we feel like & change according to season.

    The reason I believe in what I have written above is that I am nearly 70 years of age & have followed that way of eating for many years. I am very active & still have higher than average physical ability. My blood pressure & resting pulse rate are like a much younger person but the main reason that proves I am following a diet that is ultimate for my species is that whenever I have a blood test analysis it shows that I have all the good & none of the bad stuff (not gonna be technical).

    My wife also eats almost exactly the same diet as myself & although we are different in gender, race & temperament her blood work shows almost identically the same result.

    So my own conclusion of why people have “high” cholesterol, wrong levels of triglycerides, too much body fat, high blood pressure & all the other things the quacks warn them about is simply that they eat modern refined crap instead of natural foods & don’t move away from their TV enough.

    A good general guide to whether food is natural: if you could eat it raw & digest it, then it is natural to eat it. Although generally we do cook meats, eggs & fish & most vegetables we could in fact eat them raw with no ill effect but we would get sick from eating grains, soy beans raw without processing. There’s not much more to it!

  4. Neil says:

    Stumbled across this when doing research. You say that the Paleolithic involves foods that you don’t need to cook. Then point to me the people who eat raw red meat, raw chicken, raw snapper etc. When you cook it, you lose the enzymes and nutrients.Plus you forgot to mention that meat is highly processed too! You mentioned about dairy being highly processed, but what about meat – it ain’t that pretty these days either, its full of all sorts of crap – unless people buy organic. But most people don’t because they don’t care and they won’t pay more. So really your paleo eating plan is still not right in my opinion. Far safer to have people eat a largely plant based diet with a treat of organic meat( if you are to have meat at all), although not essential because as you said, we can get all the calcium we need from plant sources and everything else as well – not a problem. There is no one size fits all plan – it really is environmentally determined as well. If you live in a hot climate you should be gorging on plants and virtually no meat. If you are an eskimo, you aren’t rushing to buy pineapples, right? Even if some were living the 65% animal foods that you say, what has this got to do with a disease free and disability free longevity?

    • Paleo says:

      There are different levels of strictness people apply to the paleo diet, this is a guideline to get started. All of your points are valid, but most people will slowly make the progress to eating the right foods, to then understanding more about nutrition and making further adaptions. As you can see by the length of this article, it is not a book on the subject of eating paleo.

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