Nutrition: Turn it Upside Down

For a truly healthy diet turn the food pyramid upside down.

The food pyramid created by the USDA at the end of last millennium was an attempt to reduce the amount of fat people were eating in order to combat heart disease. Fat was thought to be the main contributor in the development of the disease, and so was given the smallest percentage of daily nutrition allowance. Carbohydrates were put at the bottom of the pyramid representing the largest portion of our daily food intake.

We now know the pyramid was based on some misconceptions about weight loss, particularly its dependence upon carbohydrate. New information about the role of fat in our diet has also cast doubt upon its position in the pyramid.

Inverted Pyramid

The inverted food pyramid was first proposed by Dr. Victor YC Ong in his 2007 book “War on Weight”. Dr. Ong said the problem with the traditional pyramid was that it produced excess calories from carbohydrate which were then easily stored as body fat. The new pyramid promoted a diet that still contained proportionate amounts of fat and carbohydrate, but increased the calories from protein to 50-60 percent. This encouraged the protection and promotion of muscle over body fat, and had the effect of stabilizing blood sugar levels.

So in the new pyramid, fat remains at the top but the broad base belongs to a much healthier spread of vegetables and dietary fiber. A thick slab of protein now sits in the middle, followed by a much-reduced layer of carbohydrate.

While fat is still given the smallest daily allowance, it may become clear in the future that place should be reserved solely for carbohydrate. Sugar is absent because as a nutrient it’s unnecessary, and should be avoided.

So for a more balanced approach to eating that promotes weight management, turn the pyramid (mostly) upside down!


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