If you were to take a look at a diagram of the “food pyramid” from the 1970’s, you will see that its base (where the BULK of your calorific intake is suggested should come from) consists of bread, cereals, rice and pasta. The next level up, which is of course a smaller size, is made up of vegetables and fruits. Next is the dairy, meat, eggs, nuts and beans group, and the apex of the pyramid is made up of fats, including oils.
With the latest research, it would appear that some modifications are in order. Why? Well, to begin with, the data that the original pyramid was based on is, of course, out-dated. We now know much more about what the human body requires to function healthily, and, more to the point, we know what it doesn’t need, and shouldn’t have.
Another reason for modifying it, which may or may not be valid, is that there was some controversy (still ongoing to this day) over who influenced the contents of the pyramid. For example, it has been suggested that certain food production organizations may have put political pressure on the USDA to include their products, or at the very least to reposition those products to a place lower in the pyramid (where it would suggest eating more of those products).
Another factor to be addressed was the fact that quantities to be eaten were unclear; for example, it suggested two to three servings from the “protein rich” group. This, however, was a maximum amount, while it recommended two to four servings (why not three?) of fruit, and this was meant to be a minimum. Clearly, there was little logic being used.
Also, in the food pyramid of the 1970’s, fats were almost outlawed, finding their way to the very top, and this was mainly due to the high calorific content of fats (such as vegetable oils and fatty fish).
Today, we now realize that fats are an essential part of a healthy human diet; fats such as unsaturated fats, which can also help with weight loss! While doing this, these fats also reduce heart disease, lower blood sugar and also lower cholesterol. Who knows what other health benefits they may be shown to impart in the coming years?
In America, about 70% of all calories consumed come from the foods at the bottom of the 1970’s food pyramid; that is, wheat based products such as bread, cookies, cereal and cakes (like donuts and brownies). America is also home to the least healthy people on the planet. It’s unlikely that this is mere coincidence.
Professor Loren Cordain is considered one of the leading experts on nutrition and he strongly recommends eating what he calls a “Paleolithic Diet” or Paleo Diet as it has become known.
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What is the Paleo Diet? Simply put, it is what our ancestors ate several thousands of years ago, and a diet that they and their ancestors ate for many thousands of years before them. And no, there are no wheat, rye, barley etc. because they were primarily what are called “hunter gatherers”. In other words, they either hunted and fished for their food, or they dug it up and picked it off of trees and bushes.
Professor Cordain’s theory is that humans haven’t had the time for their digestive system to adapt to the rapidly changing agricultural revolution, and the result is that many of us are not able to process certain things in these foods, such as gluten. People who can’t process this are said to have “Celiac’s Disease”, and the symptoms are quite unpleasant, ranging from diarrhea to constipation, mouth ulcers to acne, and weight gain to chronic fatigue.
If you have any ailments that your current doctor is having trouble diagnosing, you might want to try an elimination diet, cutting out all foods that contain gluten. However, this isn’t as easy as it might sound, because gluten is used in all kinds of foods as an additive. Even if you do successfully eliminate this from your diet, you still might not be enjoying all of the other benefits of the Paleo Diet that our ancestors thrived on.
While it’s true that the life expectancy of our long distant relatives was a lot less than ours today (at least in the western world), they didn’t have access to modern medicine, heating and air-conditioning, and they also had many predators to contend with, let alone other, hostile tribes of people.
Unless you’re the next TV super-chef, it may not be easy for you to come up with tasty recipes that consist only of Paleo Diet foods, however, you can now find plenty of excellent and extremely tasty recipes online, or indeed, from your local bookstore. From hors d’oeurves to mouth-watering desserts, you will be able to satisfy the most demanding taste-buds and keep both you and your guests healthy at the same time.
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gluten-free Hearty Seeded Bread
Image by sierravalleygirl attempt to slash the dough, good luck!
Gluten free, vegan waffles
Image by nyxie Yum! I finally found a recipe that works! www.mmmtasty.ca/2010/04/11/vegan-gluten-free-waffles/
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