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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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Researchers warn about the severe psychological distress caused by eating junk food

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(Natural News) Does junk food make you sad? While the current state of the American food industry is more than enough to make anyone feel depressed, new research from Loma Linda University demonstrates a link between junk-laden diets and psychological distress. Based on their findings, it appears that what you eat can and does affect your mental health — and that the prepackaged garbage peddled as “food” can have a seriously deleterious effect on your emotional well-being.

Even after adjusting for other external factors, the scientists found this relationship held steady: The more junk food a person ate, the more distress they reported feeling. When you consider the physiological effects junk food has on the body, it is no wonder that people report feeling like they are more distressed: They are in distress, they just don’t know it’s because of what the “food” they’re eating is doing to them on the inside.

Estimates suggest that the average American gets 60 percent of their daily calories from processed or junk food. Junk food consumption is a widespread problem here in the United States. Now, there are questions about whether or not junk food is a driving force in the plague of insanity (and stupidity) striking the U.S.

Scientists link junk food to poor mental health

Published in the journal International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in early 2019, a study from Loma Linda University scientists finds a link between poor diet and poor mental health. Even after adjusting for external factors such as gender, age, education and income level, the association between junk food intake and mental illness remained.

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Study leader Jim E. Banta, Ph.D., MPH, an associate professor at the school, says that their conclusions support the findings of previous research. To conduct their study, Banta and his team looked at data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). The scientists used 240,000 phone surveys conducted by CHIS between 2005 and 2015, and included data on socio-demographics, health status and health behaviors.

“This and other studies like it could have big implications for treatments in behavorial medicine,” Banta said of the findings.

“Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health, because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health. More research is needed before we can answer definitively, but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction,” he added.

The fact that scientists in the 21st century are only now just beginning to even consider the possibility of a relationship between nutrition and mental health is truly disturbing. Natural health practitioners have long been aware of the importance of good nutrition for total well-being, including mental state.

Is poor nutrition turning America insane?

Vitamin D deficiency is a well-known cause of depression. B vitamins, iron, selenium and magnesium also support good mental health and deficiencies in these nutrients can also cause depression and anxiety. There is a growing body of research which strongly supports poor nutrition as a causative factor not only in depression, but in other mental illnesses — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, OCD and more.

For example, Dr. Banta notes that some research has linked high sugar consumption to bipolar disorder, while fried foods and processed grains are linked to depression. There is no ignoring the link between diet and disease — whether it is of the body or of the mind makes no difference.

Nearly 60 percent of the American population’s diet comes from disease-causing food, and it is hard not to wonder if obesity, heart disease and death aren’t the only problems being caused by junk food diets.

Are the increasingly insane leftists just running around in a nutrient-deprived, sugar-spiked frenzy? Whether you’re talking about the inanity of “social justice” score-keeping or the rapid acceptance of censorship to silence conservatives, it’s clear that the far left is missing a few bolts upstairs. A diet of GMOs, pesticides and toxic food additives will do that to you, though.

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Eat healthier to improve your physical and mental well-being

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(Natural News) The physical health and mental well-being of a person depend a lot on nutrition and the food that he eats. Diet also influences the risk of developing chronic diseases. While the relationship between physical health and diet is well-understood, little is known about how diet and its quality influence the development of mental disorders. In a recent study, researchers from the University of Regensburg in Germany investigated the behavioral effects of a Western diet on pattern separation – the process of keeping items distinct in memory. They discovered that a diet consisting of increased amounts of sugar and saturated fatty acids, reduced levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids (Western diet) harms memory. The results of their study were published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness.

The Western diet impairs pattern separation

In this study, researchers investigated the utility of spatial separation – a behavioral process associated with the hippocampus – in the assessment of dietary interventions and the behavioral effects of the transgenerational administration of a Western diet on pattern separation. Pattern separation is the process of keeping items distinct in memory and is mediated by the hippocampus. Previous studies have suggested that there is a relationship between hippocampal function and diet quality in both humans and animals.

To examine the association between them, the researchers used rats, feeding over seven generations a diet containing increased amounts of sugar and saturated fatty acids, reduced levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and an increased ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fatty acids. This diet composition is characteristic of a diet known as the Western diet. The researchers administered it transgenerationally because previous studies have shown that interventional diets need to be implemented over several generations to induce behavioral effects.

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They compared the spatial pattern separation (or local discrimination) performance of these animals with that of rats fed a standard diet. For the test, they presented the rats two locations and allowed them to learn across trials to respond to the correct location. During spatial discrimination training, they designated a location as the correct one and rewarded the rats if they touched the correct location. They reversed the correct and incorrect locations every time the rats successfully got the correct ones nine times out of 10 trials.

The researchers found a separation-dependent difference between the standard and Western diet groups in the number of discriminations performed in the pattern separation task. The rats fed with a Western diet performed fewer discriminations. Rats with lesions in the dorsal hippocampus showed impaired pattern separation when the locations were close together but not when they were far apart. The researchers associated this impairment with hippocampal dysfunctioning. Their results align with previous studies which demonstrated that consumption of a Western diet impaired cognitive functions, damaged brain regions, and contributed to the occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases. Their results confirmed that pattern separation could be negatively affected by transgenerational administration of a Western diet.

The researchers concluded that spatial pattern separation can help detect the effects of dietary interventions and that the Western diet can impair pattern separation.

How to make your diet healthier

A healthy diet can provide many benefits, the most important of which is the prevention of chronic diseases. Here are some things that you can do to make your diet healthier:

  • Eat slowly
  • Choose whole grains
  • Add probiotics to your diet
  • Increase your protein intake
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid frying food and eating fast food
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Try new and healthy recipes
  • Eat vegetables first before every meal
  • Eat fruits instead of drinking them
  • Exercise regularly
  • Stop drinking sweetened beverages
  • Get adequate sleep

Eating healthier and becoming aware of your nutritional needs will not only improve your physical health, but these will also benefit your mental and emotional well-being.

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Apples: Eat them to keep the doctor away – and boost stem cell therapy

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(Natural News) There is some truth behind the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are superfoods, and they are good sources of antioxidants that protect cells from oxidative damage and boost the immune system. They also contain dietary fiber, which is good for digestion and the maintenance of gut microbiota. But there is more to apples than just being healthy, antioxidant fruits. In a recent study published in the journal Nutrition Research, researchers from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea showed the beneficial effect of apple extracts on the proliferation of adult stem cells. They also identified the possible molecular mechanisms underlying apple’s pro-proliferative effects.

Apple ethanol extracts can enhance the proliferation of stem cells useful for tissue regeneration

Tissue regeneration using adult stem cells (ASCs) has significant potential in the treatment of many degenerative diseases. It also provides a promising means of repairing chronic tissue or organ failure due to injuries, congenital defects, and aging. Stem cells are essential in regenerative medicine because they can be used directly in cell replacement therapies. However, studies on their application in clinical settings suggest that age negatively affects the proliferation status and differentiation potential of ASCs. This presents a possible limitation in their therapeutic use.

In the hopes of addressing this limitation, researchers turned their attention to the pro-proliferative activity of apples. Apples are rich sources of valuable phytochemicals that are known to be beneficial to human health. They possess anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and even anticancer activities. These antioxidants can help maintain human cells and protect them from harmful oxidation products. In addition, apples contain metabolites that could ensure longevity and increase the number of human cells in culture. (Related: Apples could hold key for increasing lifespan.)

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Because of this, researchers hypothesized that apple extracts might exert beneficial effects on ASCs. They obtained apple extracts using ethanol as the extraction solvent and tested these on human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADSCs) and human cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells (CB-MSCs). They also used 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide and Click-iT 5-ethynyl-2?-deoxyuridine flow cytometry assays to evaluate the pro-proliferative effects of the extracts.

The researchers found that treatment with apple extracts promoted the proliferation of ADSCs and CB-MSCs. Apple extracts also induced the stepwise phosphorylation of p44/42 MAPK (ERK), mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), p70 S6 kinase (p70S6K), S6 ribosomal protein (S6RP), eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4B, and eIF4E in ADSCs. p44/42 MAPK (ERK) is a signaling pathway involved in the regulation of cell proliferation and differentiation. Inhibition of this pathway results in cell apoptosis. mTOR is a key signaling node that coordinates cell cycle progression and cell growth. p70S6K is a cytokine that regulates cell growth by inducing protein synthesis. eIFs, on the other hand, are proteins or protein complexes involved in translation and protein biosynthesis.

The researchers also reported that apple extracts significantly induced the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in both ADSCs and CB-MSCs. VEGF is a potent angiogenic factor, which means it promotes the formation of blood vessels. VEGF also plays a role in other physiological functions, such as hematopoiesis, wound healing, and development. IL-6 is a promoter of proliferation. The researchers further confirmed that the apple extract-induced proliferation of ADSCs under serum-free conditions is mediated by ERK-dependent cytokine production because when they pre-treated cells with PD98059, a specific ERK inhibitor, it inhibited the phosphorylation of the mTOR/p70S6K/S6RP/eIF4B/eIF4E pathway.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that extracts from apples are potent pro-proliferative agents, and the beneficial effect of apple extract on the proliferation of ASCs may overcome the limitation in their therapeutic use in tissue regeneration.

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