Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nutrition Action Healthletter Summer Issue

Centre For Science in the Public Interest

In this summer's issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter, Michael F. Jacobson, Executive Director of the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, discusses the importance of teaching our children to cook (something I've been saying for a while). Not Kraft Dinner, but real food.  Personally, I think focusing on our kids is key because the current generation of adults are too far gone. 

Call me a pessimist, but from everything I read and see, most people who have adopted unhealthy eating practices such as grabbing most of their meals from restaurants, and/or consuming processed foods are unwilling to change.  I really hope we can make some policy changes to our education and food manufacturing systems that will enable the next generation to develop healthier behaviours.

This issue also has a large article on diabetes and heart disease (metabolic syndrome).  Here are some of the factors that can help you decrease your risk of metabolic syndrome:

* If you are a woman, keep your waist below 35 inches, 40 inches if you are a man.
* If you are at risk for metabolic syndrome, get your triglycerides tested.
* Keep your proportion of carbs to 65% or less of your total caloric intake.
* Avoid consuming products with added sugars (table sugar, glucose-fructose, etc).
* Avoid eating too many calories relative to your energy needs, regardless of how 'healthy' those calories are.
* If you are losing weight, avoid losing more than 2 lbs a week.
* Exercise regularly.
* Eat fatty fish such as salmon, herring, sardines, trout, tuna and halibut.  Or take fish oil pills.  Or, if you are vegetarian/vegan, eat sea vegetables full of omega-3 fats.

Other interesting tidbits:

* A major study found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die of heart disease, respiratory disease, strokes, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and various infections, compared with non-coffee drinkers.  This applies to both decaf and regular coffee drinkers.

*A U.S. study found that when people eat at restaurants, they eat almost 300 more calories than if they eat the meal at home.  Learn to cook.  Eat at home.  Make meals from whole foods.

* A meta-analysis by he U.S. Cancer Institute found that breast and colorectal cancer patients are less likely to die if they exercise.

So what can you do?  Assuming you are in the small minority of North Americans willing to make healthy changes to your lifestyle, here are some hints:

Eat fish and/or sea veggies.
Enjoy your coffee...with skim or non-dairy milk and without sugar (lots of alternative sweeteners out there!).
Exercise, exercise, exercise.
Eat at home and cook meals from scratch.
Teach your kids to cook/lobby schools governments to make cooking a fundamental part of the school curriculum.

If you would like a subscription to the Healthletter, visit for the Canadian edition, and for the American one.