Food pyramid

Why is there a food pyramid? The food pyramid divides foods into groups and shows which ones we should eat more often and which ones are only conducive to a healthy diet within certain limits. It shows the most important food groups and their benefits for health. Healthy and balanced diet – how to do it? When it comes to the optimal diet, many wonder how to implement it in everyday life.

The pyramid for healthy nutrition is divided into different layers and shows the desired weighting of the different food groups in our diet. The basis is formed by beverages, preferably water – daily we should drink approx. Drink 1.5 – 2 liters of low-energy beverages. © OSD& Wikimedia Commons: Food pyramid of the sge 2005.svg, Swiss Society for Nutrition (SGE) . Click here for a larger image

The food pyramid

The food pyramid divides foods into groups and shows which ones we should eat more often and which ones are only conducive to a healthy diet within certain limits. The base of the pyramid represents what we should eat a lot of, and at the top is what is only good within certain limits.

The colors serve the distinction and give also a first reference point over food quantities. In the foreground is always a balanced diet to meet the need for carbohydrates, protein, fat and all vitamins and minerals. The goal is to eat a varied and, if possible, seasonal and regional diet.

It is important to note that there are no forbidden foods. A healthy diet stands for the combination of foods in the right proportion to each other, a balanced diet is always varied and combines different foods.

The basis: drinks

The lowest level and thus the basis for a healthy diet are liquids, preferably water. Why? Our body consists of more than half water. The younger you are, the more water your organism has at its disposal: While in a baby the proportion of water in the body weight is about 70%, in adults older than 85 years, the proportion is only about 45-50 %. Thus, with age, the proportion of water in body weight decreases. Drinking enough throughout the day is also important in old age, because the elderly no longer have such large storage reserves and need constant replenishment.

Depending on the weather and sporting activity, about 1.5 to 2 liters of fluid per day are useful. Water is ideal because it has no calories (see also the chapter on "Energy efficiency") Water – source of life). Unsweetened herbal or fruit teas are also good sources of fluids. But: sugared or fructose-rich juices, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages do not belong to the base, they have their place at the top of the food pyramid, with the high-sugar foods.

Fruits and vegetables

The second level of the food pyramid includes fruits and vegetables, which are usually low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals. Three to five portions of fruit and vegetables spread throughout the day are ideal, for example a banana, an orange or a small plate of salad in between.

Cereals and potatoes

Grain products and potatoes are on the third rung of the food pyramid. Bread, rice and pasta, also millet, green spelt, barley, oats and oatmeal contain many carbohydrates – they provide energy and satiety. Prefer whole grain products, if possible, because they contain more nutrients (in the bran or the hulls of the grains) than those with milled white flour. But: chips, cookies, cakes, potato chips etc. with a lot of sugar and/or fat do not belong to this group, they are again found at the top of the food pyramid.

Dairy products, meat and fish

On the fourth level of the food pyramid, animal foods come into play. Milk and dairy products, fish and meat as animal foods are good suppliers of minerals and proteins (protein). In addition to the consistent fruit and vegetable eaters, there are also the convinced meat eaters: without meat, a meal is not a sensible meal for them.However, it is also known that most Germans eat too much of it.

Meat is a popular food that is eaten in considerable quantities in this country. ÜA diet rich in fatty acids and meat usually goes hand in hand with an overall unhealthy diet, so that diet-related diseases such as digestive problems, arthrosis or cardiovascular diseases are more common among meat lovers. Even if you love meat, think about reducing your meat consumption – about two to three portions a week should be enough. Please make sure that your food is as lean as possible, as well as poultry, such as turkey or chicken, and especially goose or duck. And please clearly restrain from sausages and prepared meat (canned), here is often a lot of fat, salt and phosphate contained – this burdens and does not promote the bone-healthy diet.

Meat contains many nutrients. It is rich in protein and essential amino acids and therefore belongs together with egg and milk protein proteins with a high biological value. Meat is also a supplier of minerals and vitamins (B1, B6 and B12), although white meat (poultry) is more favorable from the point of view of health than red meat (beef, pork).

And as far as fish is concerned: fish is healthy, it says. According to various nutrition guides, sea fish (i.e. from the sea) should be on the plate at least once a week. Sea fish, because it contains valuable nutrients, such as iodine, selenium and various fatty acids. The most suitable foods are cold-water fish from the sea, such as herring, mackerel or salmon. Here it is above all the fat of the fish, with which they protect themselves in the cold water, which is interesting: the fatter sea fish supply the valuable Omega-3-Fettsauren and support thus altogether the nourishing program. But such a recommendation, also this should not remain unmentioned, of course only applies to fish that come from a clean body of water – due to the increasingly progressive pollution of waters, fish and fish products contain ever higher concentrations of pollutants.[1]

Milk and dairy products also have as suppliers of protein and calcium a great weighting in the food pyramid. However, they are also under discussion with regard to their fat content and the fundamental question of how well milk and dairy products are tolerated by adults (see also chapter" Calcium – ‘Does the milk?’). Low-fat products should be preferred for quark, yogurt and cheese.

Fats and oils

Fats and oils can be important for health. On the other hand, however, also harmful to the body. That makes it difficult. Our body needs various fatty acids, many of which it can usually produce itself. So-called essential fatty acids, however, must be taken in through food and cannot be produced by the body. They are involved in building cell membranes and control many vital processes in the organism with the metabolic products they produce.

When choosing a good oil (which also applies to fats), it is important to consider which saturated or unsaturated fatty acids are contained, the quality of the oil, and the type of oil used. fat and also how it was produced. It may be a little complicated to distinguish between a good oil and a bad one – but it’s worth taking a closer look.

vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower or rapeseed oil are also rich in vital fatty acids or vitamin E

good representatives of essential fatty acids are linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 fatty acid)

On the right measure is what counts: Try to use good oils in the kitchen and, see meat, try to cook with as little fat as possible. And it is the use that counts: in cooking, baking, frying, that knows every housewife, can be lost with some oils with too strong heating the contents materials. Not all cooking oils like heat!

If you enjoy oil cold, z.B. to salad, then go for native or cold-pressed oils respectively. Better yet, also on those derived from organically grown seeds and nuts. Due to the gentle production process, most of the flavors, vitamins and healthy unsaturated fatty acids are preserved.

At the top of the food pyramid: lots of fat and lots of sugar

Less is more: sweets, chocolate, cakes, chips and potato chips are at the top of the nutrition pyramid. They contain few vitamins and minerals and many calories. The same goes for sodas, colas, sweetened juices, etc. and alcoholic beverages. All that you should limit. Only, that does not mean yet that you must do without it completely. The quantity makes it.

Watch your weight and keep moving

Balanced diet and physical exercise (at least 3 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes) go together. With enough exercise and the right body weight, you feel good and promote your health. Because: "Healthy eating and physical activity are two essential components to a healthy lifestyle" – the suggestions of the food pyramid only work really well in combination with sufficient exercise!

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