Health education has long been part of the American education system. Ever since Benjamin Franklin, one of the first health class advocates, introduced exercising in school, such classes have been designed to help the young learn how to keep their bodies and brains healthy. However, it appears that not everything we are taught about it is true. Let’s get to the roots of it!
Image Credit: poehealth.org
The key aims of the class are to teach students how to keep fit and what eating patterns should be followed. If you are one of those who attended school in the 90s, you are likely to remember the food pyramid. Back in 1992, it seemed to be based on scientific knowledge, but recent studies debunked the ideas behind it.
According to the pyramid, students could eat up to the whopping eleven servings of rice, bread, pasta and cereals daily. Such an approach can lead to obesity and different health issues, because it does not specify what types of these kinds of food are best to consume. For example, it did not say that whole grains, such as wheat, brown rice and barley must be preferred over refined grains, including white bread, common pasta, etc. It’s really a bad idea to generalize food categories, because unlike whole grains, refined ones lack vital nutrients.
As to proteins, the problem is the same: while nuts, fish and poultry are the recommended sources of healthy proteins, the pyramid suggested eating processed and red meat, which is way less healthy. Eating such unhealthy meat can increase the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
The pyramid implied very limited consumption of oils, sweets and fats. Now researchers say that not all fats are bad, and even saturated fats, which have long been considered a major threat, should not be avoided completely. Oils are not our enemies too: there are kinds of them which are really beneficial, including olive and sunflower oil that contain monosaturated fats which are associated with lowering cholesterol.
By the beginning of the 00s, the pyramid had become unpopular, as it seemed confusing.
In 2005, a new version of the pyramid was introduced. One of the major differences was that it was vertical. Besides, it got even more confusing. Some even claimed dairy and meat lobbies affected the pyramid design, making it imply more dairy and meat consumption than needed.
In 2011, the pyramid was abandoned and substituted with a MyPlate design. To make your dietary pattern healthy, you are supposed to fill a half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. According to it, dairy products should be limited. Sweets and oils disappeared for some reason. The new recommendations taught are also not perfect, as they do not take into account recent studies.
Cholesterol and saturated fats have been considered to be evil for a long time. However, it appears that avoiding butter and eggs is not a good idea, and lack of saturated fats does not benefit the human body. Besides, taking oil out of the nutrition scheme is definitely wrong, as some kinds of oil, including olive oil, are considered very healthy and rich in nutrients!
Health class curriculum is not limited to nutrition only: it covers fitness too. We were taught that regular aerobic exercising is enough, but it appears that modern recommendations are different: they imply a combination of aerobic exercising, strength training, and high intensity interval training.
Besides, there is one more myth: we used to hear that exercising alone can help you lose weight. There is no doubt exercising is a must to become fit, as it helps burn calories, but it also makes you want to get another serving of that tasty potato, so nutrition matters too!