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Ignorance of the Food Groups

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nutritionfactslabel.png
image courtesy of Wikipedia

Over the years it has amazed me how the public has so little knowledge of the three basic food groups, i.e., protein, fat and carbohydrate. Yes, a significant number of the public can name the three basic food groups, but that is as far as it goes and where the confusion begins. The public receives a lot of nutrition recommendations by not only their teachers, physicians, and the government, but also the incredible amount of data on the internet which appears to further confuse everyone. For example, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion lists five food groups in the MyPlate program, while the National Institute of Health proposes the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet lists eight food groups, and Pass My Exams lists seven nutrition food groups. If you google this subject, you will get so many different recommendations on what constitutes the food groups and how many there should be. 

Nutrition Facts Label
However, in most countries in the world, there is now mandated a Nutrition Facts Label that is prominently displayed on food and drink products that can really clear up all this confusion. In the USA, the "label was mandated for most food products under the provisions of the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA), per the recommendations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration." [1] Technically, the Pass My Exams that lists the seven nutrition food groups is closer to what is required for proper nutrition [2], and is true to survive and live healthy one needs all seven food groups listed but technically, carbohydrate is not an essential nutrient since you can obtain glucose, which is an essential carbohydrate nutrient required to survive that can be obtained from protein or fat. [3] Nevertheless, most humans obtain glucose from consuming carbohydrate and you do need the other six food groups and the Nutrition Facts Label can help sort through the confusion.

For example, in the image at the top of this post is an example of the Nutrition Facts Label on a package of macaroni and cheese. The three basic food groups are in bold letters, Fat, Carbohydrate and Protein. Depending on the food or drink item the label may also include other nutrients such as Vitamins or minerals. However, if you note, water is never mentioned as a nutrition since everyone usually knows that water is essential for human survival and to maintain a healthy status, even though most food and drink contains some water. In this example, macaroni and cheese contains mostly carbohydrate (31 gram), fat (12 grams) and protein (5 grams) making a total of 48 grams. If you look at the total serving in this example it is 228 grams. If you subtract the basic three food groups from the total serving size you have 180 grams. So how do you account for the 180 grams? The Nutrition Facts Label acknowledges some of the essential nutrients such as sodium which amounts to 470 mg (less than half a gram). The other essential nutrients listed such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron only take up such a trace amount of milligrams that it is not even listed. Water takes up most of the 180 grams unaccounted for. The label gives you information at the bottom concerning 'daily values' that is supposed to be helpful but can also be very confusing to the average reader, which if you want to clear up this confusion, you will have to do some more research. 

What is the most helpful information about the Nutrition Facts Label is that it lists the three basic food groups, protein, fat and carbohydrate. You can determine the amount or the percentage of each of these food groups. To determine the percentage is simple math. Take our example of macaroni and cheese which contains a total of 48 grams. To determine the percentage of carbohydrate contained in this food serving you simply divide 31 grams into 48 grams and the result is 64.5% which is the total percentage of carbohydrate in a 228 gram serving of this item. This is why the label is so helpful, you can determine what the primary amount or percentage of a food or drink in terms of the three basic food groups. This helps you know how to see what you are consuming each day in terms of these basic three food groups. 

Food Groups, Body Mass and Rosacea
For rosaceans who are concerned about diet triggers, particularly sugar and carbohydrate diet triggers, understanding that the human body is mostly made up of water, protein and fat and how little is comprised of carbohydrate (about 1%) [4], should clear up some of the confusion on how over consuming carbohydrate can be an issue for rosacea sufferers. Using the Nutrition Facts Label to gain proper data on what you are consuming will help you see how your high carbohydrate diet is a factor in triggering your rosacea. [5] You can then decide what you want to do about this using the information you just read. 

End Notes 

[1] Nutrition facts label, Wikipedia

[2] The seven essential nutrients are the following: 
Carbohydrate
Protein
Fat
Fibre
Vitamins
Mineral
Water

Source: Why We Need Food, Pass My Exams

[3] Carbohydrate Not Essential For Human Survival

[4] Carbohydrate Body Mass Percentage

[5] Sugar and Rosacea

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