How does a food pyramid help individuals eat a healthy diet? The human body is a wonderful machine, which is capable of performing stupendous tasks, both mentally and physically. To explore the full potential of the human body, it is very important to ensure proper nourishment and lifestyle.
The nutritional requirement of the body is as complex as the body itself. It needs lots of macro and micronutrients in appropriate measures and at appropriate times.
Most of the time, when hungry, we eat to satiate hunger. But as we eat, due importance should be given to what we eat and how much we eat of different varieties.
Amongst other things, for a car to perform top-notch, it is very important to focus on what fuel and fuel additives we use for the car.
There are six essential nutrients that a human body needs to have through the diet, to keep itself in good condition, namely;
They are responsible for your immune system, strengthening bones, metabolism, proper, functioning of the brain and nervous system.
Essential for healthy bones, skin, hair, carriage of oxygen, maintenance of blood pressure.
It ensures proper cell functioning, growth, and development of muscles, the formation of hormones and antibodies.
It provides energy, helps cell growth, important for the absorption of minerals and vitamins, maintains the immune system and hormones.
They provide energy to all cells and tissues and essentially are starch and sugars. Very essential for the smooth functioning of the digestive system, immune system and brain, and nervous systems.
Facilitates transportation of nutrients, flushing out toxins, lubrication.
These nutrients are available in various foods and it is imperative to eat them in appropriate quantities. A diet that incorporates all of these nutrients in required measures at every meal is a healthy diet.
A healthy diet not only ensures peak performance of the body but prevents lots of ailments and diseases like heart problems, diabetes, cancer, etc.
What Is A Food Pyramid?
This is a very methodical and scientific plan or guide to a well-balanced diet. It not only tells you what to eat but also suggests the quantity.
The guide is represent pictorially for better understanding and recollection. 1972 saw high prices of food in Sweden and efforts were made by Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare to formulate some plan of diet, which could be wholesome and manageable too.
And the first workable Food Pyramid saw the light of day in 1974, presented by Anna-Britt Angstar of Kooperative Forbundet. ( A Foodchain)
The USA developed its Food Pyramid in 1992 and it has seen few revisions to evolve in the present form, known as MyPlate.
The Underlying Principle Of The Food Pyramid;
- Different food has different nutritional values and hence different food from different groups needs to be consumed.
- The body need different nutrients in different amounts, so amounts also need to be considered. How much of what has to be eaten is based on the research and findings arrived at by the joint team of WHO (World Health Organization) and FAO(Food and Agricultural Organization of UN)
- The percentages of the calorie intake of various nutrients were determined and that forms the basis of the Food Pyramid too. Though variations and allowances have been built into it to accommodate, various age groups, lifestyle, and body structure.
The scientific genesis of Food Pyramid, taking into considerations, differentiating factors, definitely provided a plan and scheme of a complete and wholesome diet, which could suffice the nutritional requirements of the body.
The simplicity and ease of adaptation were the main reasons for its popularity and acceptance worldwide.
Thumb Rule Of The Food Pyramid
- We have a total of six categories.
- The base of the pyramid is the most eaten food category.
- The apex of the pyramid is the least food category of the pyramid.
- From base to apex categories are arranged in ascending order.
The figure in the right side is the Food Pyramid. Here the food groups are shown along with the servings of each group that a person is supposed to have in a day. This pictorial representation immediately reinforces the fact that:
- The largest food group one should have is grains. Carbohydrates are provided by grains. They are essential for energy.
- Large portions of fruits and vegetables. Vitamins and minerals of various kinds are found in fruits and vegetables. Sufficient intake of vegetables and fruits satisfies the need for vitamins by the body.
- Moderate portions of dairy and meat products. The building block of the body, protein, is got from dairy and meat products. They also suffice the need for minerals.
- Very little fats and oils. Fats in moderate quantities facilitate the absorption of vitamins and minerals.
- Plenty of water, clear soup, and fluids. It is the solvent for nutrients on one hand and on the other hand. the carrier of toxins, to be flushed out of the body.
The above group of food manages to provide the basic six types of nutrients needed by the body for healthy living.
Let us decipher the pyramid a little further. For every category, the minimum and maximum serving are mentioned.
- One Serving of grains would be equivalent to
- Bread, 2 slices
- Cooked noodles, 1 and ¼ bowl
- Cooked rice 1 bowl
- One serving of Vegetable would be equivalent to
- ½ bowl cooked vegetable
- 1 bowl raw vegetables
- One serving of fruit is
- A medium-sized apple 1
- Fruit cuts ½ bowl
- Kiwi, 2 small pieces.
- One teal of meat is equivalent to about 40gm of raw meat.
- One serving of milk/dairy
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 2 slice low-fat cheese
- Yogurt, low fat 150 ml.
The serving portions given above would give you a fair idea, about the quantity of each food group.
The Food Pyramid For Adults
The servings mentioned below are for one full day for a normal healthy adult.
- The Bread, cereal group (grains):4 – 9 servings
- Vegetable group: not less than 3 servings
- Fruits group: not less than 2 servings
- Meat/alternative 2- 3 serving (1 serving = 28 gms approx.)
- Milk / alternative: 2- 3 servings
- Sugar/fat: As minimum as possible
6-8 glass of plain water.
The Food Pyramid For Children (6- 12 Years)
- Cereals/Grains: 3 -4 servings
- Vegetable group: at least 2 serving
- Fruits: at least 3 servings
- Meat/alternative: 2 servings
- Milk/alternative: 2 servings
- Fat/oil: Minimum
At least 6 -8 glasses of plain water.
The Food Pyramid For Diabetics
In the case of diabetics, the composition of the food group is changed. Vegetables like potatoes, peas, and corn have high starch content and hence instead of being classified as a vegetable, they belong to the grain group. Otherwise, the food pyramid is similar to the general food pyramid.
The idea is not to have too much starch from different groups.
Care is taken to reduce starch and block fats/sweets.
In the vegetable category, at least half of the vegetables should be green leafy vegetables.
In the fruits category, low glycaemic index fruits like berries, oranges, apples, banana, and pear can be included. High glycaemic index fruits shoot up the sugar levels in the blood. High fiber fruits are welcome.
The milk and milk products should be of very low-fat content or fat-free if possible.
The oils, sweets fat category are recommend to avoided as far as possible.
The suggested servings could be
- Grains: 6 – 11 servings. Effort should be to have as fewer servings as possible
- Vegetables could include broccoli, spinach, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, carrots, cucumbers, and servings could be from 3 -5.
- Fruits like berries, oranges, pears bananas can be included here and 2 -4 servings can be taken.
- Milk: low/zero fat diary: 2 -3 servings per day.
- Chicken, pork, peanut butter, fish cheese, cottage cheese can be in the group of meat/meat substitutes and the servings per day can be 4 -6
- Avoid, fat, sweet and oil.
Avoid alcoholic beverages or keep to it to the bare minimum.
6 -8 glasses of plain water or clear soup would bring up the rear of this pyramid.
Vegan Food Pyramid
With the growing trend of vegan, lots of people around the world have adopted this form of food culture. It advocates a lot of health benefits. The dairy and meat products are barred from the diet.
The Food Pyramid for Vegans has only 4 food categories and it is also called as the” POWER PLATE”
- The first food group is grains.
- The second group is vegetables
- The third group constitutes the fruits
- Legumes are the fourth group
A typical Vegan Food Pyramid would look like:
Even in the case of the Vegan Food Pyramid, the largest portion of the meal comes from the whole grains and 5-8 servings can be had from this group. It is much better to change the grains from one meal to another.
The second-largest food group is vegetable, of which 4- 6 servings can be had.
Fruits form the third group of food and at least 3 servings of fruits are a must.
The last category of legumes supplies the protein and comes as a substitute for meat/dairy products. At least 2 servings of legumes in a day are advised.
6- 8 glass of water is recommended along with all the above food groups.
Ketogenic Food Pyramid
According to the Ketogenic Diet when you consume very little or no carbohydrate, the glucose and glycogen stored in the body get used up initially. Once that is exhausted, the body does need energy.
It looks at the fat as an alternative source to generate energy and starts breaking down fat and converting it into energy. This process is ketosis and in the ketonic diet, maximum fat is consumed.
The liver breaks down the stored fat and the dietary fat and eventually, the fat percentage of the body reduces.
The Ketonic food pyramid, therefore, is very different from the normal Food pyramid, where grains (carbohydrates) constituted the major share of the meal and fats were meager part of it.
In the ketonic food pyramid, fats are the major food group that is consumed and the carbohydrates are completely avoided. And hence the ketonic food pyramid is also sometimes referred to as the inverse pyramid.
The majority of calories (70-80%) come from fats. Animal-derived fats like butter and tallow are preferred as they do provide vitamin k2, which otherwise is rare to get.
The protein food is the second largest segment making up 25 to 30 % of the calories. Keto is a moderate protein diet, hence protein percentage can be a maximum of 30%. All kinds of meat, particularly grass-fed meat and wild-caught meat we will accept as the best meat.
The third category of food in keto is vegetables and fruits. But these fruits and vegetables necessarily have to be low starch, low carbohydrate varieties like avocado, spinach, kale, bell pepper, tomatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant, garlic.
KNOWLEDGE IS A POWER
“EAT HEALTHY STAY HEALTHY”