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Why are the food pyramids of each country different?

France proposes to take meat, fish or eggs once or twice a day; United Kingdom recommends that this be the food group that we use less, highlighting that let's avoid specially processed meat. However, Spain considers sausages - that is, the same processed meat - as a food that must be consumed several times a week. They were? What should we really eat? Why do dietary guidelines in each country differ so much from each other?

The food pyramid, an old known © Corbis

We could continue with the list of dissimilarities for a while. Germany, for example, Do not even contemplate the products with sugar in your Circle of Nutrition, while in the Swiss guide, enter until alcohol. In Mexico it is advised to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, "preferably drinkable" in a diagram showing a plate; in Japan, the guide is illustrated with a spinning top, and it shows that it is appropriate to take two pieces of fruit a daywhile Canada advises de seven to ten pieces, Between fruits and vegetables.

We return to the same: Why? To get out of this sea of ​​nutritional doubts we have talked with Juan Revenga, author of books like With your hands on the table. A review of the growing cases of food infoxication, professor at the University of San Jorge, part of the team of The Comidista and many other things, all related to food and health.


Because each one is based on some different guidelines. Speaking, Juan Revenga: "All countries would have to base on current scientific evidence to make their recommendations, but it is clear that this does not happen, "he explains.

"As of 1991, when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the first food pyramid, the so-called "food guides" became popular with which, from the use of icons and graphic representations more or less accessible, it was intended to reach the population a series of basic tips on what to eat, in order to establish a pattern of more or less healthy eating"continues Revenga.

"Every five years, the American guides have undergone a series of changes, in order to adapt the knowledge of nutritional issues to the advance of the times, while it was about getting better tools and simpler representations of interpreting by the ordinary citizen, "recalls the nutritionist.

However, this has not happened in the same way in other countries. In Sweden, for example, they check their employers every eight years, and Spain, however, has done it "to jump of kills", in the words of Revenga - and sometimes, according to complaint, with "commercial interests"-. Thus, in 2001 the wine was added to the pyramidwhile in 2002 the oil was placed one step below than it already was (that is, more regular use was recommended). At the same time, during this review, the beer made its entry in the guide, what the teacher describes as "shameful."

Beer is very good at parties, but not so much in food pyramids © Corbis


Already WHO accused the food industry of intervening in an important and negative way in the health policies of many governments, and governments to let themselves be done. He highlighted Revenga in his blog, and they also denounce documentaries such as Fed Up, which put on the table the difficulty of the Obama administration to fight the powerful lobbies of this industry, despite its good intentions (it is focused on the US, but its conclusions may well be extrapolated to the rest of the West).

For the rest, according to the nutritionist, The current national pyramid does not differ much from the one that was first published in 1995 if we leave aside the aesthetic aspect, which has varied a bit. "Are the same outdated knowledge of the 80s", argues Revenga, giving as an example the one that is recommended two to four servings of dairy per day (in his opinion, it should be one at the most) or the fact make the base of the pyramid rest on cereals, "when the evidence says that the best diets are based on fresh vegetables (fruits, vegetables and vegetables)."

This of base the diet on cereals It is advocated by many countries in the world in their recommendations. Why, if it is not the best? The expert thinks that "the fault" is the Dietary Goals for the United States, a series of nutritional guidelines with which it was intended, in the United States of 1977, fight through diet the main metabolic diseases that whipped the population ("the same as in all industrialized countries," qualifies the professional).

Those guidelines, known as "McGovern Report" they suggested, very briefly, some Especially low-fat recommendations, with less cholesterol, less refined and processed sugars, and more complex carbohydrates and fiber. "Most of the consensus in the report focused on increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables and foods made mainly with whole grains, "Revenga explains. However, after the report, the first American guides (now in disuse), which served to inspire those of many other countries (including the Spanish one) they put the highest accent on cereal-made foods before the rest of the food. "

"Why was it done like this?" Asks the nutritionist. "Honestly, I'm not sure, but my opinion is that it could be due to the pressures of the industrial sectors involved. If something characterized that study, it was precisely how the different sectors pressed to change the wording of the final report"This topic by the way, It is clearly explained in Fed Up, as its directors place in the drafting of the Mc Govern Report the first time in history that the food industry clearly won the government, pressing enough to alter virtually the entire content of the work.

Cereals, not as "basic" as they seem ... © Corbis


For Revenga, the most appropriate current guide both in its design and its content is the one of the School of Public Health of Harvard University, which chooses a dish as a visual representation and divides the food groups into four: Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy proteins (here again sausages are out of play).

The first two groups are recommended without fissures ("the more, the better"), cereals, as we see, are reduced to their integral category, and among the proteins, fish, chicken, nuts and legumes are advised. Dairy products appear only in the supporting text ("Limit your dairy intake to one or two servings a day"), consider the oil valid for cooking and advise avoid fats trans.

Sugar is only mentioned to request that its use be avoided to the fullest in coffee or tea, prohibiting practically the intake of sugary drinks. In fact, it is customary to hear your rating lately as "white poison", a group to which many also add flour, salt, rice and milk. But what is true in Are these alerts that drive public opinion crazy about what should and should not be eaten? We review some myths:

Dairy, white poison? © Corbis


You don't have to drink sugar, okay ... Do we change it for stevia?

According to Revenga, it would be best to avoid both sugar and sweeteners (even stevia-based), but the latter can be used safely if they are used rationally to sweeten coffee or tea, for example.

What if we replace it with syrups and syrups?

"Syrups, syrups, honeys and other substances of complacent name with which you think you substitute sugar are, in reality, a strategy of the producers to hide the main ingredient: precisely that of which you intend to flee," writes the nutritionist.

The Spanish food pyramid puts canned fish at the same level as the fresh one… What about the blessed mercury?

It is rumored that canned fish, especially tuna, could be dangerous due to its high levels of mercury ... But it is not true. This is defended by the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition, in which Revenga places its trust. "In general, within a rational consumption, there is no proven danger," explains the author.

Should we fear transgenics?

Absolutely not, according to the professional. "They are the safest foods in the world. In fact, they are considered, according to the EU, Novel Foods, and for that reason they have to overcome strong requirements on the part of the sanitary administrations that the ecological ones do not even face ". In this respect, Revenga releases us a" data bomb "(" that is not new ", qualifies):" Most health alerts are produced by organic food; 10% of the production is organic and, even so, causes 80% alerts. This occurs because the fertilizer is made from excrement; it's natural, yes, but it's impossible for me to reach certain food safety standards. "

Sugar is a bad idea, take it as you take it © Corbis

Should we avoid sunflower oil?

You even hear that it is carcinogenic. Nothing is further from reality. "Sunflower oil, for its nutritional properties, is a perfect food, which, in its" high oleic "variety, surpasses even olive oil in properties such as vitamin E". Another demonized oil that is also perfectly healthy is rapeseed oil, which, although not marketed in Spain due to poisoning in 1981, is present in a large number of dishes prepared under the label of "vegetable oils" or "nabine ".

And palm oil?

"This is a vegetable oil that is not recommended from a nutritional point of view: it has a fatty acid that is closely related to cardiovascular risk," says Revenga. It is carried by almost all industrial pastries (and yes, cookies are also pastries).

Can we trust the advertisements of the food industry?

There are food groups, such as processed meat, which are not recommended in most dietary guidelines and, however, appear as a wonderland in the spots. Revenga and other renowned nutritionists daily face this "scientific publicity that is not backed by scientific arguments", and which has the most impact along with the emotional one. But ... Are there no laws prohibiting such lies? "We have legislation, but we have no one watching. It is also forbidden to drive without a belt, but many people do," he compares. "Here, what is at stake, even if it sounds conspiracy, is big money. The food industry is the most powerful in the world. Neither porn nor petrochemicals ... What everyone wants to do is eat every day. , several times a day, "he concludes.

Up the sunflowers! © Corbis

Video: 10+ Popular Foods That Are Different in the US (February 2020).

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