Putting aside the fact that the pyramid framework is flawed by design, the guidelines for each of the 5 levels are examined below. One should note while reading that this pyramid framework will be taught to every schoolchild in the country; be present in most doctors practices nationwide, and ultimately shape the health destiny of coming generations of Irish citizens:
Vegetables, Salad Fruit: 5-7 Servings
Fruits and vegetables forming the base of the pyramid is correct, as they should make up the bulk of any healthy diet. However, 5-7 should be increased to perhaps 9-11, or as many as possible.
Louise Light, a nutritionist who worked on the original food pyramid guidelines before
industry and lobbyists had their say, stated that a base of at least 9 servings of fruit an veg a day
Wholemeal Cereals, Breads, Potato, Pasta, Rice: 3-5 Servings
Potatoes and rice, both wholefood carbohydrate sources
, are incorrectly grouped in the same category as processed carbohydrates in the form of pasta, bread and cereal. both contain the 5 key elements of a whole food;
whereas wholemeal pasta and bread, while much healthier than its white counterparts, has lost its phytonutrient content in production. Potatoes and rice should be eaten over wholemeal bread and pasta where possible.
Milk, Yogurt and Cheese:3 Servings
Dairy products are made with cow breast milk. They contain the protein casein, which has been linked to several cancers and is considered to be the most carcinogenic substance we consume
. Milk was once believed to strengthen bones, but no scientific evidence exists to support this health claim
. In fact, the opposite effect has been shown
. With no proven health benefits, and proven negative effects, milk should be excluded from the healthy human diet.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Beans, Nuts: 2 Servings
This level can be considered the "protein level". It incorrectly groups plant protein and animal protein sources together in one. Animal protein is heavily linked to multiple chronic illnesses, including cancer
and type 2 diabetes
. Plant protein is equal to, and perhaps even superior to animal products as a protein source
. The World Health Organisation even classes red and processed meat in the same cancer causing bracket as smoking
. Animal protein sources should be removed from recommendations due to their negative health effects.
Fats, Spreads and Oils: Very Small Amounts
Oil has never been a health food. There is still a common misconception among the public that olive oil (and other vegetable oils) are somehow healthy for the body, despite the fact it is the most calorie-dense nutrient deficient substance we consume and is heavily linked to weight gain and cardiovascular disease
. Clearer instruction is needed on this pyramid level, as it is correctly limiting the consumption of processed fats, but not promoting the benefits from the healthful plant fats. Learn everything you need to know about fat here