The first published dietary guidelines were written in 1894 by W.O. Atwater. Atwater initiated the scientific basis for connecting food composition, dietary intake, and health, and emphasized the importance of variety, proportion, and moderation in healthy eating. It is worth noting that at this time specific vitamins and minerals had not yet been discovered.
In 1902 Atwater stated:
“Unless care is exercised in selecting food, a diet may result which is one-sided or badly balanced-that is, one in which either protein or fuel ingredients (carbohydrate and fat) are provided in excess….The evils of overeating may not be felt at once, but sooner or later they are sure to appear-perhaps in an excessive amount of fatty tissue, perhaps in general debility, perhaps in actual disease.”
By the 1950s, nutritional guidelines moved to four food groups known as the “Basic Four” with the focus on getting sufficient nutrients. This concept was widely used for the next two decades. During the 1990s, the Food Guide Pyramid was released. The pyramid conveyed key concepts regarding variety, proportionality, and moderation; Atwater’s words repeated ten decades later.
Lets get back to basics. A diet that is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, fish, and low in fat, high in fibre is cancer protective.