We all know that it is important to eat a balanced diet. If we don’t, we get sick easily and don’t have the energy we need to live an active life. However, what makes a diet balanced? That is, what type of foods should we eat each day, and how much of them should we eat to achieve maximum health benefits?
Well, one well-known guide for a balanced diet is the food pyramid. The most popular one was created by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992. I’m sure you’ve seen it before. It presents 6 different food groups in a pyramid-shaped diagram. The idea is that the food group at the lowest and widest part of the pyramid is the group from which people should eat the most servings each day. And groups placed at higher, narrower regions of the pyramid should be eaten in lesser quantities. The USDA placed breads and grains at the bottom of the pyramid, followed by fruits and vegetables, and then on to meat and dairy products, and then to fats, oils and sweets at the very top.
However, this USDA food pyramid has caused some criticism. Some food scientists think that if you follow the food pyramid, you might actually be harming your health. They argue that the Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta Group, which the UDSA says you should eat the most of, are made largely of carbohydrates, which our body basically turns into sugar during digestion. And too much sugar can can cause not only weight gain, which leads to many diseases, but also mild inflammatory responses in the body, and daily inflammation can lead to heart disease.
So what’s the alternative to the food pyramid? Enter the Paleolithic Diet! Also known as the ‘Paleo Diet’ or the ‘Caveman Diet’, the Paleo Diet gets rid of the Bread, Cereal, Rice, and Pasta group entirely! Supporters of this diet argue that grains are actually foods that humans have only been eating for a very short time: only a few thousand years. And because these foods are so new to us, our bodies haven’t had time to fully adapt to them. In some ways, they can be seen as foreign substances.
So what should we eat then? Well, Paleo Diet followers say we should eat exactly what our ancestors ate for several million years in the Paleolithic Era, which was the period from 2.5 million years ago up to the time agriculture was developed, (around) 10,000 years ago. Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers, eating meat, nuts, berries, roots, wild vegetables, and fruits. Paleo Diet supporters argue that our bodies are well adapted to these foods, and that by avoiding bread and pasta, we help keep away many of the modern illnesses that affect our society, especially obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So eat like a caveman, stay slim, and be healthy!
I don’t know about you, but I love a warm piece of bread fresh from the oven, or a steaming bowl of noodles on a cold autumn day. So I don’t know if I could really stick to a Paleo Diet. But I do see the value of cutting back on the amount of carbohydrates I eat each day. Perhaps I should remember my ancient ancestors and think of their eating habits the next time I go shopping at the supermarket.
What do you think? Would you try a Paleo Diet? Do you eat too many carbohydrates? What do you think of the arguments presented here? Let us know…