When it comes to food proportions, food groups and food quantity for humans, I love to use this analogy of a rocket:
A rocket of the kind used during the 4th of July festivities, is an amalgam of various chemicals in certain precise proportions. If we add too much of a one chemical or too little or skip a chemical, the rocket will either not fire or misfire or behave in a less than spectacular manner.
The human body behaves in an identical manner.
Eat food from the right food groups in precise portions and our mind and body takes off and performs in a spectacular manner.
Do otherwise and we feel lethargic, dull and perform in a less than spectacular fashion in fact, there’s a good chance you might have to see a doc or even end up in the hospital. The doctor of course, will prescribe a pill that rectifies the imbalance.
Why do we need food from all food groups?
A scientist will tell you that our body is made of this Earth. To properly function, it needs nutrients from this Earth. These nutrients are found in the produce of the Earth. Unfortunately, the nutrients are evenly distributed in the various foods produced. So to properly nourish ourselves, we need to eat food from all the food groups’ i.e. dairy products, fats, fruits, vegetables and meats.
Naturally comes the question: what if I am a “veggie”? Vegetarians need to over compensate the lack of protein by eating pulses and drinking a lot of milk. Unfortunately, it is not the same thing as eating fish, or meat. Each food from each food group has a unique combination of nutrients. In some cases, these nutrients can only be found in certain foods – vegetables for example, are a rich source of iron (amongst other things). No other food will provide the quality and quantity of iron that you would receive by eating vegetables.
Eating only one type of food or food from a couple of food groups or in proportions that is too less or too much will result in dietary deficiencies.
Our body is complex mechanism that strangely enough, functions in a manner identical to the rocket fired on the 4th of July.
As the chemicals in our body deplete, they need to be replaced because some organ be it blood, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, brain, eyes, arteries, skin, nails, etc will need it. If you don’t replace the chemical through food and a balanced diet, the deficiency shows up as a medical problem e.g. dry flaky skin (lack of vitamin C), goiter (a large Adam’s apple is caused due to lack of iodine), lack of iron results in low oxygen levels in the blood which results in a energy deficit and so on.
The FDA recently upgraded its nutrition advice and came up with the ‘MyPlate’ icon which seeks to provide us information about the kind of food that should be on our plates. Here is the recommended proportion of food we need to eat each day from each food group:
30% Vegetables, 30% pulses and whole grains, 25% fruit, 10% meat, 5% dairy products.