Food is an aspect that has always been important. However, the foods recommended in a diet have varied over time, and certain products that were considered nutritionally positive have come to have negative connotations for health. Over time we discovered that an inadequate diet could lead to the appearance of the well-known cholesterol, industrial products, and fast food chains dramatically increased childhood obesity, etc. Consequently, the concern for a healthy and balanced diet increased, and this is where the food pyramid became important. Therefore, in this FastlyHealarticle, we explain the food pyramid.
Table of Contents
What is the food pyramid, and what is it for?
The nutritional pyramid, also known as the food pyramid or healthy pyramid, receives its name from the way food is structured in it. The base of the pyramid, the widest part, is made up of foods considered essential in any diet. As the pyramid narrows, those foods that should also be incorporated are indicated to a lesser extent. This means that the perfect diet is one in which all the foods in the food pyramid are mixed in proportion to their importance and nutritional value. It allows us to differentiate which foods we should consume frequently and which we should try to incorporate occasionally. Each part of the food pyramid contains different food groups with different nutritional characteristics. It is essential to note that no food group replaces others, but all are complementary, varying only in the amount and frequency with which they should be consumed.
How the food pyramid is divided
The food pyramid comprises four steps, divided into five food groups. Both the number of servings of each food and the number that a person should consume depend on four factors:
- Physical activity.
Therefore, depending on these factors, a person should consume more or less food from the nutritional pyramid. This makes sense since a person who practices a high-intensity sport regularly will need a more significant amount of food to supplement the burning of calories and replace vitamins and minerals that are lost with exercise. On the other hand, a 6-year-old child will not require the same amount of food as a person whose body has already developed.
Steps of the food pyramid
- The bottom rung is the food base of the pyramid. These foods are composed mainly of complex carbohydrates, which must be incorporated above any other. These foods are bread, cereals, rice, and pasta. These foods are important because they are the primary source of energy. Among its many benefits, this type of food guarantees the proper functioning of the brain and heart.
- The second tier comprises foods rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is divided into two groups: vegetables and fruit. It is usually the tiniest part of the food pyramid in the diet of many people. Vegetables provide vitamins A and C and folate and minerals and are low in fat. Fruits give us the amount of vitamin A, C, and potassium we need.
- The third step is made up of food derived from animals. These are divided into two groups: dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, and meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. The importance of these two groups lies in the contribution of iron, calcium, zinc, and proteins.
- The fourth step, the top of the pyramid, is all those foods rich in fats, oils, and sweets. They are characterized by providing a low level of nutrients and a high amount of calories, so they should be consumed in moderation. These foods are sugars, soft drinks, oils, butter, candies, sweet desserts, etc.
What are the right servings for me?
The amount of each food group that makes up the food pyramid depends on the factors listed above: age, gender, weight, and physical activity. So how much of each group should we consume? Each adolescent or adult person should consume at least the number of servings indicated below:
- Lower scale: 6-11 servings daily.
- Second step: 3-5 servings of vegetables and 2-4 servings of fruit.
- Third step: 2-3 servings of dairy products and 2-3 servings from the meat group.
- Last step or top of the pyramid: there is no regular ratio. They should be consumed in moderation.
- Most inactive women and some older adults need 1,600 calories a day.
- Most children, teens, active women, and many idle men need 2,200 calories daily. Pregnant or breastfeeding women may require this amount of calories.
- Most teenagers, busy men, and some very active women may require 2,800 calories daily.
How do I measure a serving?
Although the number of servings per day for each food group may seem very high, it is not difficult to incorporate it daily. For example, a slice of bread is already considered a portion of the total number of servings from the base of the pyramid, that is, from the group of carbohydrates; a plate of vegetables is a portion of the total of the group of vegetables of the second step, and a piece of fruit is a portion of the capacity of the group of fruits that forms the third step.
What should I do if I want to lose weight?
This answer is much more straightforward than it sounds. People tend to eliminate food from their diet to lose weight, exposing themselves to a lack of some of the components of the different food groups. If you want to lose weight, you should reduce the number of foods that make up the top of the pyramid, those made up of sugars and fats, and exercise more frequently.
Discover the foods that help increase good cholesterol.
Aspects to consider
Some people with certain health conditions may require a diet different from that indicated in the food pyramid. If you suffer from a health problem or are allergic to any group of foods in the nutritional pyramid, go to a specialist to recommend the most appropriate diet.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
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I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.