Which specific foods are vital for long-term health/survival?
Here you go.
There's been a couple updates to that outdated pyramid. There's now a plate, and grains and milk have been reduced, vegetables increased.
What's difficult about these things is how much particular food industry lobbyists participate in emphasizing their industry:
(for instance, milk is always sold as the greatest calcium source, but this isn't true: vegetables are. Also, it's a myth that vegetables aren't complete proteins: celery and iceberg lettuce are complete proteins!)
Consistent with this update, paleolithic diet proponents advocate that you don't really need much grain or milk, and not near as much meat as the USDA claims:
(a paleolithic diet returns us to the diet of our ancestors before modern agriculture)
Of all of the fad diets tested the paleolithic diet came in dead last as far as health goes.
People don't realize that people back then didn't have many edible grains, root vegetables were scarce and too fibrous to eat, limited fruit in season only. Current day vegetables didn't exist.
...according to usnews, sure... but atkins is much worse than the paleolithic diet.
Of course, they do note that a true paleolithic diet might actually be beneficial (so they apparently didn't rate a true paleolithic diet?). In Alaska, for instance, there is abundant access to wild game and plants and the increased biodiversity of wild floura/fauna increase the nutritional benefit of food:
Observational studies demonstrate that tribal peoples still experiencing paleolithic diets have almost no cases of cardiovascular disease or obesity.
But a more substantial criticism of the paleolithic diet is that it's not the contents of modern diet (with respect to grains/milk) but the excess energy associated with them. Caloric restriction, for instance, is shown to upregulate sirt3
which are associated with longevity and health:
Rose G., Dato S., Altomare K., Bellizzi D., Garasto S., Greco V., Passarino G., Feraco E., Mari V., Barbi C., BonaFe M., Franceschi C., Tan Q., Boiko S., Yashin A. I., De Benedictis G. (2003) Exp. Gerontol. 38, 1065–1070
Yang H., Yang T., Baur J. A., Perez E., Matsui T., Carmona J. J., Lamming D. W., Souza-Pinto N. C., Bohr V. A., Rosenzweig A., de Cabo R., Sauve A. A., Sinclair D. A. (2007) Cell 130, 1095–1107
Of course, I want to be clear that I'm not advocating a paleolithic diet, just noting that we've moved towards it our outdated food pyramid, we're reducing the foods that the paleolithic diet eliminates.
Wheats are convenient carbs, milk is convenient calcium. You have to do a lot of food research if you want to supplement your diet correctly without them.
for instance, in review this doctor suggests eating paleolithic 80% of the time:
Dr. Connie Weaver on milk:
"Calcium absorption from milk and other dairy products is about 32%, whereas calcium absorption from vegetables ranges from about 5% in spinach to more than 60% in some brassica vegetables such as broccoli. However, the high bioavailability of calcium from some vegetables cannot overcome their low calcium content. One would have to consume 2 1/4 cups of broccoli to obtain the same amount of calcium absorbed from one cup of milk."
If course, eating 2 1/4 cups of broccoli is not a problem for some people. My personal favorite is kale, one of the most nutrient-dense (and cheapest!) vegetables in the world.
Pyth, thanks for posting the updated pyramid! I'm surprised that so many of those other diets werte listed, most are not healthy.
First problem with the paleo diet, you have to guess that they must mean by early humans, before or after agriculture?
I say, toss the silly diets out and use common sense, based on recommendations such as you posted.
I think you and I are on the same page about eating less processed food. Processed foods tend to contain a LOT of sugar and little fiber. People should learn to cook at home using unprocessed ingredients. Try to avoid hydrogenated fats. Of course this is not always possible, but try to gradually add something homemade in place of non-processed food.
And GO KALE!! I had a friend that decided to eat healthy and he read that lentils were healthy, so he ate nothing bout lentils. I was able to get him to add kale and slowly make rational additions to his diet.
Also, people need to be aware of what foods should and should not go together. Spinach is a good source of iron, but add milk products and the absorption of iron is blocked.
I love this website www.nutritiondata.com, it's very helpful, although they've recently made changes that have made it less helpful, perhaps you need to be a registered user now in order to see the better version.
I agree that putting a name to something and restricting your diet based on it is an activity that should be approached with caution.
Very specifically before agriculture, that is the point. The idea being that we evolved to eat foods that develop in diverse regions. Agriculture does tend to eliminate biodiversity. We actually have farms here that leave weeds in the rows and no pesticides (they have animals that they feed infested crops to, but not a big deal up here). No pesticides isn't just about the chemicals, but increasing the biodiversity of the region. Another problem with agriculture is that people start eating always this one kind of tomato.... or 25% of their diet is corn (exaggeration I hope).
First of all, biodiversity reduces disease in the plants themselves 
Nutrients can vary greatly even with the same breed of plant (and biodiversity is important in diet)
agriculture biodiversity negatively correlated with health and disease 
I think the basic motivation of the paleolithic diet makes a good point, but only as an integrationist; not as an absolutist. I mean... look at what corn is doing to America!
I believe exercising is as vital if not more than the food you eat.
Sedimentary lifestyle is definitely the cause of many health deficits.
Then they's have to know what region was predominant in your family's lineage during some arbitrary time period they decide on. And that was so long ago, it wouldn't seem to make much sense now. A lot of what was eaten back them doesn't actually still exit in it's original form anyway.
Not really... it's not about the specifics, it's about the general concept of biodiversity and wild-grown vs. domestically grown. You can show today that biodiversity is good. Wild-grown plants/animals are more diverse in nutrition and wild-grown plants/animals were the only choice of nutrition before agriculture/horticulture.
The "guess" is that this lack of biodiversity contributes to modern disease (of course, we know there's other contributions like population density... but that's another case of low biodiversity where humans remove themselves from the majority of other metazoan biological systems)
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