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The dark side of Canada’s new food guide — many Canadians can’t follow it

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With headlines this week about changes coming soon to the Canada Food Guide one haunting fact remains —  many Canadians don’t have the time or the money to follow the national nutrition recommendations.

One possible strategy as old as the food guide itself — providing healthy meals in every Canadian school — was abandoned by the federal government more than half a century ago.

Today, Canada is the only G7 country that doesn’t have a national school food program.

Meanwhile Canada’s food statistics are grim.

Nearly one in every six children is affected by household food insecurity according to research by Prof. Valerie Tarasuk at the University of Toronto’s department of nutritional sciences.

“Food insecurity” is defined as a lack of access to food because families can’t afford to buy it. 

The population needs to be outraged that six other G7 countries do better.— Prof. Sara Kirk, Dalhousie University 

“We’ve got an accumulation of evidence that we’ve got a very significant problem on our hands,” said Tarasuk.

And it’s not because people don’t have jobs. In the majority of households facing food insecurity, someone is earning a wage or a salary. They just don’t make enough money to buy food.

Even when families can afford food, they’re still not able to follow the aspirational goals of the food guide because of time constraints or other pressures.

A modest target — getting kids to eat enough daily fruits and vegetables — isn’t happening most of the time.

One Canadian study showed that 90 per cent of students in Grades 6 to 12 are not eating the recommended daily servings.

It’s an enormous missed opportunity with research suggesting that simply chomping on a few apples and carrots every day could prevent thousands of cases of heart disease and cancer later in life.

‘No single step could be more valuable’

In 1942 when the Canada Food Guide was first introduced, a national school food program was also being planned. 

“No single step could be more valuable for the health of Canadians of the future,” deputy minister of pensions and national health, L.B. Pett, said at the time, according to food historian Ian Mosby, in his book Food Will Win the War, The Politics, Culture and Science of Food on Canada’s Home Front.

Why in a wealthy country like Canada are so many children hungry and malnourished?— Sen. Art Eggleton

But while Canada’s Food Guide has been updated seven times since the 1940s, the national school food program never happened. The idea was rejected by Mackenzie King’s Liberal government. 

In 2017 a UNICEF report ranked Canada near the bottom — 37th out of 41 high-income countries on children’s access to nutritious food.

“The population needs to be outraged that six other G7 countries do better than we do on school food. I’m embarrassed by that,” said Dalhousie University Prof. Sara Kirk who described how a national school food program could be implemented.

Her research has revealed psychosocial and mood problems associated with poor childhood nutrition. Other studies have linked poor teenage diets to depression and suicidal thoughts and other chronic health problems.

Sara Kirk is a professor of health promotion at Dalhousie University. Her research found an association between poor childhood nutrition and various psychosocial problems. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News)

“So why in a wealthy country like Canada are so many children hungry and malnourished?” Sen. Art Eggleton asked last June, as he introduced a Senate motion calling for a “national cost-shared universal nutrition program.”

It’s a recurring theme. In 1997 the parliamentary finance committee recommended a school food program. In 2013 the Conference Board of Canada repeated the call.

Right now there’s a national petition currently gathering names demanding that the minister of health establish an “adequately funded national cost-shared universal healthy school food program.”

‘No plans’ for national school meal program 

But it’s not happening.

“There are currently no plans to implement a national school meal program in Canada,” said Health Canada spokesperson Geoffroy Legault-Thivierge in an email to CBC News.

“The Healthy Eating Strategy focuses on regulatory and policy initiatives that aim to improve the food environment. Improving the food environment will ultimately improve access to nutritious foods for all Canadians including children and youth.”

The federal poverty reduction strategy is probably to the most radical thing the Trudeau government has done.— Prof. Valerie Tarasuk , University of Toronto

Many Canadian students do get some food at school through a patchwork of programs run by some provinces, municipalities and non-profit organizations.

“But there’s huge pockets of this country where none of that exists,” said Diana Bronson, executive director of Food Secure Canada, a pan-Canadian alliance of food activist organizations.

“Seventy per cent of children in Nunavut go to bed hungry. I don’t think we can say that statistic often enough.”

“If you’d asked me what the political priorities would be, it wouldn’t have been legalizing cannabis,” said Kirk. “It would have been investing in school food.”

Valerie Tarasuk is a professor in nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto. Her research revealed Canada’s vast problem of food insecurity. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Tarasuk said there’s another way to solve the problem — increase people’s income. 

“People who are struggling to put food on the table because of a lack of finances, what they need is money.”

 She notes the lack of buzz about Ottawa’s poverty reduction strategy announced last August, which set a target of cutting Canada’s poverty rate in half over the next 12 years.

“It’s quite interesting how everybody is all over the food guide. You can’t say enough about it,” said Tarasuk. “And yet the federal poverty reduction strategy is probably to the most radical thing the Trudeau government has done.”

The bill tabled two months ago would established Canada’s first official poverty line — a poverty threshold that would be measured, in part, by access to food.

“One of the things that I think going forward that will be very important to do is to reconcile that poverty line with the new ideas about healthy eating that are going to be articulated in the new food guide.”

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Herbal remedies: Saw palmetto for hair loss prevention

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(Natural News) Saw palmetto is a small, shrub-like palm endemic to the United States. Known for its medicinal properties, saw palmetto has been used for centuries to treat reproductive issues and hormonal imbalance.

Today, saw palmetto is used as an ingredient in many hair growth products and supplements, as it is thought to prevent hair loss. This could be due to saw palmetto’s influence on the hormones that dictate hair growth.

Saw palmetto for hair loss

There is evidence to suggest that saw palmetto can help treat hair loss and prevent its occurrence. According to a 2012 study, saw palmetto could inhibit 5-alpha reductase (5-AR). 5-AR converts testosterone, a male sex hormone, into a more potent hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Research shows that high levels of DHT can shrink hair follicles and result in hair loss. DHT also makes it harder for hair follicles to grow new hair once the old hairs fall out. By inhibiting 5-AR, saw palmetto blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT.

In another 2012 study, researchers evaluated the effects of saw palmetto supplementation in men with mild or moderate androgenetic alopecia, or male-pattern baldness. One group received 320 milligrams (mg) of saw palmetto every day for two years, while another group took one mg of finasteride, a conventional drug used to treat hair loss.

The results showed that 38 percent of participants who supplemented with saw palmetto experienced improvements in hair growth, compared to 68 percent of those who supplemented with finasteride.

While the experiment showed that finasteride was more effective, the researchers noted that saw palmetto may be less likely to work in people with more severe cases of hair loss. More research is needed to confirm this.

Saw palmetto is available in several forms, including oral supplements and hair care products like conditioners and shampoos.

Due to limited research on the use of saw palmetto for hair loss, there is no official recommended dosage for it. That said, a study published in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery cited a recommended dosage of 160 mg twice daily for saw palmetto tablets. Researchers often use this dosage when studying with saw palmetto.

Take note that saw palmetto has been reported to sometimes cause mild side effects, such as headaches and stomachaches. If in doubt about using saw palmetto, consult a natural health practitioner.

Other natural remedies for hair loss

Hair growth depends on several factors, including a person’s genetic makeup. Still, some home remedies might help prevent hair loss and/or encourage hair growth. These remedies include:

  • Jojoba oil – Jojoba oil helps nourish hair follicles without leaving any residue behind. It also stimulates hair cells to grow faster.
  • Aloe vera – Aloe vera helps get rid of sebum buildup in the scalp. Sebum is a natural oil that helps keep the scalp moisturized. It can build up on the scalp and clog hair follicles due to poor hair hygiene.
  • Garlic – The pungent compounds in garlic help increase blood circulation in the scalp, which stimulates hair growth. These compounds also stimulate the synthesis of collagen, a protein that gives structure to hair.
  • Onion – Like garlic, onions boost blood flow in the scalp for better hair growth.
  • Licorice root – Licorice root helps relieve dry and irritated scalp. It also strengthens weak follicles.
  • Rosemary oil – Rosemary oil has antiseptic properties. It is ideal for treating scalp issues that slow hair growth, such as dandruff and bacterial infections.
  • Coconut milk – Coconut milk helps moisturize a dry scalp, which is a leading cause of hair loss.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar works as a clarifying agent, ridding the scalp of extra sebum and other residues that can clog hair follicles and inhibit hair growth.

Some hair loss is natural. But for mild to moderate cases of hair loss, it might help to use herbal remedies, such as saw palmetto, to strengthen hair or encourage hair growth.

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Scientist that condemned coronavirus lab leak theory admits he squashed it to protect Chinese scientists

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(Natural News) An American scientist who criticized theories that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) might have accidentally escaped or leaked from a Chinese laboratory has admitted that he was denouncing the idea in order to protect Chinese scientists.

Dr. Peter Daszak, the president of the EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nongovernmental organization that conducts scientific and policy research regarding emerging diseases, led an endeavor in February 2020 to quash any kind of suspicion that COVID-19 might have accidentally escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a research and academic institution supported by the Chinese state.

This culminated in a statement published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet that condemned the “conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 doesn’t have a natural origin.”

The Lancet article was written during the very early stages of the global pandemic, during a time when there wasn’t any kind of rigorous research on the origins of the virus.

Daszak further reiterated his support for China in a statement released on Feb. 6, stating that he stands with other scientists to “strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that 2019-nCoV does not have a natural origin. Scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that this virus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging diseases.”

In June, Daszak also wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian titled: “Ignore the conspiracy theories: scientists know COVID-19 wasn’t created in a lab.”

But on Friday, Jan. 15, Daszak’s spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that his statement, which has been used to silence anybody with a dissenting opinion regarding the origins of the coronavirus, was published to protect Chinese scientists from criticism.

The Lancet letter was written during a time in which Chinese scientists were receiving death threats and the letter was intended as a showing of support for them as they were caught between important work trying to stop an outbreak and the crush of online harassment.”

WHO team heads to Wuhan to probe virus origin

The situation surrounding Daszak’s initial statements and his sudden retraction are being compounded by the fact that the doctor is part of an international 15-member team of experts sent by the World Health Organization (WHO)to Wuhan to figure out the origins of the coronavirus.

According to the WHO, the team’s official mission is to determine how, where and when the virus crossed from animals to humans.

Daszak has been tweeting about the mandatory quarantine period he and his team are going through. During day four of quarantine, he said that the day, like the previous days, is “packed” with virtual meetings.

Day 6 of quarantine lockdown in Wuhan & it’s that special time for our friendly health care workers to swab for our PCR tests – they go deep, but they’re very cheerful about it. Xie xie! pic.twitter.com/QvKzgC0Lng

— Peter Daszak (@PeterDaszak) January 20, 2021

Peter Ben Embarek, team leader and WHO food safety and animal diseases expert, said that the team will be granted permission “to move around and meet our Chinese counterparts in person and go to the different sites that we want to visit,” once they’re done with the mandatory quarantine period.

It is unclear whether the WHO team will be looking into the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the theory that the coronavirus was engineered. Embarek has stated his desire to visit the “famous Wuhan market” to try and determine “everything that went in and out” of there in the weeks before the first confirmed cases.

Embarek is referring to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, where many wild animals were often sold. This place is being investigated as a likely setting for the supposed “animal-to-human jump” of the coronavirus, or a place where that jump was accelerated.

“We know the virus originated in bats at some point, and then we know that human cases appeared in Wuhan in December 2019,” said Embarek. “But what happened in between, how many other animal species were involved in between, and where, remain to be found in more detail.”

“We don’t really know what happened in that period of time, and that’s what we are looking out for.”

Questions will remain regarding the role of the institute in the initial outbreak; questions that will continue to linger if WHO team does not conduct its investigation.

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even said that the government has reason to believe that several researchers working for the institute “became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.”

Pompeo said that this calls into question the claims made by Shi Zhengli, the institute’s senior researcher on bat-related viruses, that there had been “zero [COVID-19 or SARS-related] infection” among the institute’s student body and staff.

Pompeo noted that the possibility of an “accidental infection” in a lab is more likely than people might think, especially considering that such an incident has already occurred in China. In 2004, a SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people and killed one originated in a research facility.

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California healthcare workers suffer severe allergic reactions following coronavirus vaccination

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(Natural News) Six healthcare workers suffered allergic reactions after getting a shot of Moderna coronavirus vaccine in San Diego, California. Their symptoms were considered severe and required medical attention.

The doses administered to the six healthcare workers were part of the Moderna Lot 041L20A distributed to 287 providers across the state earlier this month. That batch of shipment, which arrived in California between Jan. 5 and Jan. 12, is composed of 330,000 shots.

Moderna said in a statement that it is cooperating with California’s health department to investigate the allergic reactions.

“Moderna acknowledges receiving a report from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) that a number of individuals at one vaccination center were treated for possible allergic reactions after vaccination from one lot of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine,” the statement read. “The company is fully cooperating with CDPH in investigating these reported adverse events.”

Dr. Erica Pan, California’s state epidemiologist, said Sunday, Jan. 17, that providers should err on the side of caution and stop using the doses until federal, state and company officials finish an investigation.

“Out of an extreme abundance of caution and also recognizing the extremely limited supply of vaccine, we are recommending that providers use other available vaccine inventory and pause the administration of vaccines from Moderna Lot 041L20A until the investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Moderna and the state is complete,” she said.

Monterey, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz have already paused distribution while two Covid-19 vaccine clinics have been canceled in Stanislaus County following the allergic reaction reports.

The delay was a huge blow to California’s vaccine distribution efforts. California currently has the second highest number of coronavirus cases per capita in the United States, with Los Angeles being a particular hotspot.

All cases of apparent allergic reactions occurred at San Diego County’s drive-through mass vaccination site at Petco Park. No other providers have reported allergic reactions to vaccines administered from the same batch of doses.

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