My Thoughts on the Canadian Food Guide

There was a lot of anticipation for the new Food Guide which was rolled out on January 22nd 2019. Was I sitting on the edge of my seat for the reveal? Not really! In my opinion these guides are very simplistic; while they can be useful in some instances, they can never take into consideration the bio-individual needs of people which are very nuanced based on ethnicity, genetics and health conditions.

For what it's worth here are my thoughts on the 2019 Canada's Food Guide. Some of the things I liked:

Tacit Emphasis on Gut Health:

Gut health is all the rage right now and for good reason.While the guide doesn't straight out mention gut health, but by encouraging people to eat more vegetables, fruits, lentils and legumes it most certainly will lead to a balanced and thriving microbiome. Most of us don't focus on fiber as much as we should which is essential to feed the probiotics, so for me this was a welcome change.

Replacing Milk And Juice with Water:
Milk has made a consistent appearance since the dawn of food guides or 'rules' as they crassly called it in 1942. Eliminating dairy is the most bold change they have made so far. Removing milk from the guide leads us to believe that dairy is not healthy.  Indeed, modern day dairy coming from sick cows and it's subsequent ultra pasteurization and homogenization has led milk to become incredibly inflammatory. I still believe butter, full fat cream, cheese and yogurt coming from healthy cows can be okay in moderation if no known intolerance or reaction is seen. But since it is so hard, not to mention expensive to find high quality dairy products it is best to avoid conventional milk products altogether.

Drinking plain old water has become an after thought for many of us, especially since there are so many colorful, addictive drinks on the market to 'quench' our true thirst for water. Most of these drinks; juice included, are chalk full of sugar and spike blood glucose and insulin to outrageous levels. Glad to see it go!

Beyond Food:
My most favorite thing about the shiny new guide is their emphasis on good eating habits; cooking at home more often, eating with family, discouraging the use of processed foods and motivating us to read labels. I truly believe that health is created in the kitchen and that we can avoid a lot of modern day diseases if we focus on preparing meals at home as a family rather than relying on boxed foods and drive thru-s. The commercial food giants may not have liked this but delighted to see the developers of the food guide held their ground.

Now for the few things that I did not like:

Little Inclusion of Healthy Fats:
The guide doesn't have a portion for healthy dietary fats. It is a very important macro nutrient which in my opinion deserves a portion on that plate! If you observe closely you can identify the inclusion of nuts, seeds and eggs, which will be supplying some of the dietary essential fatty acids but that's not nearly enough.

Now here is what surprised me the most; from 1942-1961 organ meats, cod liver oil and full fat meats were recommended to be consumed on a weekly basis!! I have an extensive post talking about the benefits of including organ meats in the diet here. Come 1971, the recommendations for liver and the like were taken away, as if these foods never existed.  No surprises there, since it's about the same time when the fat-free travesty was beginning to gain traction.

The truth is fat is substantially satiating, keeps blood sugars stable, necessary for brain and proper nerve function, precursor for all our steriod hormones and essesntial for the absorption of all the fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K). Not to forget all our cells are lined with fat (combination of phospholipids, saturated fats and cholesterol) and helps cushion our joints and organs. Don't you think healthy fats like olives, olive oil, avocados, wild-caught fish, butter, coconuts, pasture raised eggs, chicken and meats desereve a place?

Still Pushing Low-Fat Products:
I honestly can't believe we are still buying into the low-fat fad even after witnessing obestiy rates and diabetes sky rocketing. When fat is taken away from things like cheese and yogurt, the milk sugars have no fat slowing the absorption of that sugar down. The subsequent rise in the sugar and insulin levels are harmful for almost every organ in the body, especially if it happens on a consistent basis.

These recommendations are still based on the narrow-minded notion that cholestrol and saturated fat consumption will lead to heart disease. Analyzing isolated LDL markers is not the best way to go when accessing for heart disease. There are various aspects to look at. Listen to this interview of Dr. Jeffry Gerber to understand what other factors need to be assessed for heart health.

All Protein is Not Created Equal:
The new guide promotes eating more plant-based sources of protein which is great because they also provide fiber, B-vitamins, resistant starch (great for feeding some good bugs) and magnesium.  Learning how to prepare them properly by soaking and sprouting them will help to minimize the anti-nutrients (phytates and lectins which can bind to minerals) that come with consuming beans and legumes.

However, I would question the quality of protein plant sources have to offer. Animal meats provide bio-available (which the body absorbs readily) sources of heme iron, B-12, and cholesterol (precursor to steriod hormones) which are all required for strength and vitality. It also contains a better amino acid profile which is crucial for healthy neurotransmitter production. Of course, the quality of meat is absolutely critical. Most studies that implicate meat with adverse health outcomes are either done improperly or have used commercially raised meats in their studies, which indeed are unhealthy and must be avoided. Read the book "The Big Fat Surprise" by Nina Teicholz, if you wish to learn more about this.

My only conern for swapping animal meats for lentils, legumes and beans is that it may lead us to see more fertility issues, iron, zinc and B-12 deficiencies. Otherwise, I personally don't have anything against properly prepared plant based protein options in addition to enjoying moderate amounts of quality protein.

The new guide definitely has evolved for the better but there is more room for improvement. Hopefully in the years to come we shall see the rightful return of healthy fats and a little less fear mongering around saturated fats and cholesterol.


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