Do you love food and care about how it’s grown, handled and brought to market? We do! As part of staying on top of emerging trends and new research we joined experts in food and nutrition to engage in conversation at the Royal Winter Fair Food and Nutrition Forum. As a Registered Dietitian, Lucia was invited to welcome delegates to a day of learning, getting ‘agricultured’ and celebrating the power of farming, food and nutrition. Inspiring speakers included professors, farmers, authors, dietitians and home economists. Working hand in hand, our passion for wellness and good food united us all!
Here are 5 top learnings from the sessions:
Farmers feed Cities An amazing panel of 3 women farmers shared about their lives and the challenges they face in working on their farms of grain, eggs & beef. Taking care of their land and livestock is a passion and a profession. Their stories showed how deeply they care about the work they do, and how much environmental stewardship matters to each of them. Thank you Jenn Doleman, Tonya Havercamp and Sandra Vos for being the farmers who feed cities!
Taking care of the planet Biodiversity & food production are deeply connected. Dr. Christian Artuso studies grassland birds and found that an important way to preserve their biodiversity is linked to cattle farming. His Grassland Bird studies are part of an award winning conservation movement in South America.
Teach Food and Nutrition to Students Food and nutrition know-how are life skills with significant short and long term benefits. Although healthy lifestyle is a trend, it’s evident that many of today’s young Canadians lack even the most basic food preparation skills. Let’s give kids the best chance possible to nourish their bodies. An important consideration is expanding high school curriculum to include some mandatory food education. The Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) calls on the Government of Ontario to make at least one food & nutrition course compulsory. To support this petition or for more information visit www.food-literacy.ca
Translating the science – how to spot the fake news and alternative food facts. Bestselling Author, Dr Joe Schwarcz shared stories of science misuse. We were reminded that correlation is an easy sway for the scientifically challenged consumer and it does NOT mean cause and effect. His latest book, A Feast of Science is an entertaining read of fact vs fiction. To help you navigate through fake nutrition news reach out to your nearest Registered Dietitian, the experts who can translate the science of nutrition and help you unlock food’s potential to support healthy living.
What’s next? Let’s keep the farm to table conversations going! The more we know about where our food comes from, how it’s grown and handled the more grounded we will be. We also love sharing credible insights and resources! Check out our blogs and writing at N4NN.ca and Contact us about your questions on the power of food and its connection to health.
It’s not always easy to find a nutrition book that’s easy to read and backed by credible research. But Sygo does just that. In Unmasking Superfoods, Sygo separates the truth from the hype behind some of today’s superfoods such as acai, noni, quinoa and the increasingly popular coconut oil.
She also gives a shout out to kiwi, pistachios and mussels, calling them underappreciated superfoods. In another chapter of the book, Sygo offers a sound perspective on beef, eggs, potatoes and other foods which she feels have been given a bad rap.
For each superfood, you’ll learn about the backstory, the nutrition, the science and finally the bottom line. Unmasking Superfoods is a mini nutrition encyclopedia for consumers and health professionals alike. It’s a keeper on our bookshelf.
Perlmutter, a neurologist in Naples, Florida claims that inflammation is the cause of many neurogenerative diseases and disorders such as dementia, diabetes, depression, ADHD, irritable bowel, and Alzheimer’s. The solution according to Perlmutter is to eliminate gluten, follow a low-carb diet and feed your brain a diet that’s high in fat. Fat, he claims will provide the nourishment that the brain needs. The diet involves restricting carbohydrates to 30 to 40 grams a day, followed by a maintenance phase of 60 grams of carbs.
Unfortunately, we find this advice to be unsubstantiated at this time. Much of the evidence cited in the book is anecdotal and based on testimonials as well as the author’s own experience with his patients. The overpromise of health benefits from his diet plan raises another red flag. Plus, science tells us that carbs (more specifically glucose, and not fat) are the preferred fuel for our brain.
The author’s recommendation to increase our intake of fat to 80% of our daily calories warrants discussion. It’s a far cry from Health Canada’s fat recommendations of 20-35% of our daily calories. While it’s true that we could all stand to increase our consumption of healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fats from foods such as fish, avocados and olive oil, it’s not advisable at this point to increase our intake of saturated fats because of their negative effect on heart health. What we also know is that swapping saturated fat for polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats is beneficial to our heart health.
Perlmutter does make some recommendations with which we whole-heartedly agree. For one thing, he recommends that we exercise more and more regularly (he recommends at least 30 minutes, five times a week). Secondly, he advises that we work on getting restful, routine sleep seven days a week. The bottom line though is that Grain Brain is a low-carb diet. Instead of cutting out carbs, our advice is to choose smart carbs like whole grains, vegetables and fruit as part of a balanced diet.
Greenwood, a senior scientist at Baycrest Centre Foundation, has been studying the link between diet and dementia for years. As Greenwood describes it, the brain “has a wonderful capacity to refresh, to renew and to repair itself and to create new brain cells and new connections throughout a person’s life.” The goal of this book is to inspire healthy lifestyle and eating habits to promote successful aging and prevent the degeneration of one’s cognitive function.
To eat your way towards a healthy brain, Greenwood recommends choosing a balanced, high quality diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables (for polyphenols), whole grains and cereals (for fibre), nuts (for monounsaturated fats), spices (such as turmeric and black pepper for anti-inflammatory antioxidants) and fish (for omega-3 fats). Vitamin E, folate and vitamin B12 are important too. These foods and nutrients support the body and brain in many ways:
strengthens our blood vessels, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to reach every cell in our body;
nourishes the parts of our brain that are actively involved in speech, learning and reasoning;
protects our body and brain against inflammation; and
promotes the growth of new brain cells and neural connections.
MINDfull is an easy-to-read cookbook that will appeal to anyone who wants to optimize their brain health. Each chapter of the book features practical nutrition information, tips and science-based references. With over 100 brain-boosting recipes like Sweet Potato Waffles, Indian-Spiced Chickpeas, and Malaysian Fish Cakes, you’re sure to find a few new favourites.
Wheat Belly is one the most talked-about health books right now that continues to fuel the growing anti-wheat movement.
Written by U.S. cardiologist Dr. William Davis, it’s hit the New York Times bestseller list and received mentions from celebrities who are eliminating wheat from their diet.
The claims: Wheat Belly argues that eliminating wheat from your diet can result in weight loss and reverse a broad range of health problems. It also describes changes in wheat over time and devotes many pages to health impacts of wheat hybridization.
Our POV: As dietitians, we are concerned that completely cutting a food group or any food product from the diet will do more harm than good. In an online chat with Davis, he commented that we don’t need to consume any grains which raises yet another red flag for us. Furthermore, mainstream science does not back this type of low-carbohydrate diet as a long term solution for weight loss, and does not support that wheat hybridization has an impact on health. Unless you have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity or wheat intolerance, it is not necessary to follow a wheat-free diet.
Canada’s Food Guide recommends choosing grain products that are lower in fat, sugar and salt. At least half of your grain choices in the day should be whole grains. Grains and whole grains offer nutrients such as fibre, iron, B vitamins, folic acid and minerals. Consider switching from white bread and white rice to whole-grain bread and whole-grain rice for more health benefits rather than cutting out all wheat products from your diet. Also, keep in mind that wheat-free or gluten-free eating is not necessarily healthier. Many of the ingredients that are substituted for wheat – such as rice flour or potato starch – are still carbohydrates.