Andy the RD | Toronto Dietitian - Food & Nutrition Blog
Andy is a private practice dietitian and nutrition writer/blogger from Toronto, Canada. He holds a Master’s degree in public health nutrition. His blog is full of content ranging from weight loss advice to recipes to critical opinion pieces.
This is an incredibly common question that my clients approach me with a and one that actually has a great of personal relevance to me.
Let me explain…
I dealt with a fair amount of transient digestive issues in my youth, the vast majority of which I was able to resolve through generally healthier eating and some enhanced vigilance of how certain behaviours impacted my GI tract.
One such behaviour, which with time I learned to be quite detrimental, was my penchant for not allotting sufficient time between my last meal of the day and lying down for bed.
With time I was able to observe with myself that the vast majority of stomach pain I dealt with was largely related to eating too closely to bed time.
While this is a purely anecdotal account, I knew that this was a topic of great value and one that I always wanted to explore more closely.
Now many of my clients, and the public at large, are concerned with the question of the optimal meal-to-bed timing primarily as it concerns to weight management.
That’s obviously not what today’s article is about and I am always happy to let them know there may be much more salient concerns at play when it comes to this topic.
Today’s post takes a closer look at the available evidence surrounding meal-to-bed timing and its potential association with negative digestive health consequences.
The vast majority of studies that have looked at this particular metric have done so in the context of GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease.
So let’s take a second to explore what that’s all about.
What Is GERD?
GERD, sometimes also known as acid reflux, is a weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter which increases the likelihood of the stomach contents rising back up into the esophagus.
The esophagus, for those who understandably may not know, is the tube that connects your throat and your stomach.
The most common symptom is heartburn, which is a burning sensation in the middle/upper part of your abdomen that could potentially be easily confused with a “stomach ache”.
In 2005, a study by a group of Japanese researchers published in the American Journal Of Gastroenterologywas the first to provide some level of evidence that those who had a shorter interval between dinner and bed-time (3 hours or less) had a higher risk of suffering from GERD symptoms.
Since then, a pair of studies published looking at the same metrics have come to similar conclusions.
“[M]any of the physiologic changes that occur with sleep favor the development of GERD. These changes include… [a] marked decrease in acid clearance owing to loss of gravitational effects in the supine position…”
In other words, when you are upright gravity and your digestive system are both pushing in the same direction, when you lie down, the aren’t.
For some, this could be a much larger issue if there is a large amount of food sitting in your stomach or upper GI tract ( ie: when you eat right before bed).
Are you one of those people? A closer examination of your symptoms and habits will help you to find out.
Long-Term Consequences Of Eating Before Bed
A 2016 study out of the Medicine ( Baltimore) journal found that eating too close to bed ( <3 hours) and being sedentary after dinner ( ie: not going for a walk) were independently and synergistically linked to an increase in gastric cancer risk, especially among people over the age of 55.
And while this particular topic area is not necessarily flooded with studies and evidence, I think I’ve presented a reasonable enough case that the length of your dinner-to-bed window is at least worthy of your thought and consideration.
The goal of today’s article is to encourage you guys to think more closely about your eating habits as they relate to how quickly to proceed to lying down or going to sleep and whether or not that may be causing you stomach pain.
From a practice perspective, I know that increased awareness around this issue has made an immense difference in my quality of life, and that of my clients as well.
If you are diagnosed with GERD or dealing with transient/unidentified stomach pain upon waking, you may benefit from increasing the window of time between your last bite and bed/nap time.
Three hours may be unrealistic or excessive for most people, but that does not mean you can’t extend that window within your practical limitations.
Just as important to marketability as cost is social acceptance. There is a hesitance toward cultured meat.
Studies into consumer acceptance showed that addressing it as “lab grown meat” returns more negative opinions than addressing it as cultured or clean meat. Opinions toward cultured meat are also more positive the more the person knows about how it is produced.
Caramelization is the oxidation of sugar. It’s responsible for the sweet nutty flavor you taste in browned vegetables or other sugary foods. Through a series of non-enzymic chemical reactions sugars are converted by heat into caramel, making the dish sweeter. Caramelization requires heat, time, and sugar. Caramelization of most vegetables requires roughly 230F or 110 degrees Celsius which means under normal conditions caramelization cannot happen via boiling or steaming, as the maximum heat retention of water is 100 degrees Celsius. This can change due to pressure or dissolved solutes but we’ll run with the assumption you aren’t creating superheated water with the laboratory you keep in your cupboard. All of this is to say that you’ll require a “dry heat” cooking method such as roasting or frying in order to get the most flavor out of your vegetables.
With all this information in mind we can confer that to get the best flavor and most nutrients out of your veggies, specifically brassicas, they should be roasted or stir fried in oil and lightly salted; unless you’re preparing soup in which case the more vegetables you can boil in the stock the more nutritious the broth will be. If you prefer your broccoli boiled then please don’t let this article stop you, just consider using the cooking water for a nice soup broth.
Now go roast some brussels sprouts and enjoy yourself.
“Most people don’t have a lot of knowledge about GMOs. The average person hasn’t spent much time thinking about it. Nonetheless, if they were to see a label about them, they would likely be averse to them. It’s something that seems a little unnatural, and there’s a psychological tendency to desire naturalness in food and avoid some forms of novelty in food. That plays into a psychological bias that we have against them.” Jayson Lusk (2015) – Economist, Distinguished Professor and the Head of the Agricultural Economics Department at Purdue University 1.
This quote certainly seems to at least partially describe the current state of distrust of GMOs in some consumer sectors.
I know this one is probably the post you’ve all been waiting for, and it’s impossible to truly do it justice in the 1500 word limit I gave Lara, but she certainly gave it an honest effort.
In her previous post, Lara explored the tangible benefits of GMO use and shed light on why modified crops are increasingly becoming agricultural staples.
In today’s article, she will explore public fears and misconceptions (justified or otherwise) surrounding the development, growth and consumption of GMO crops and help us to better understand any potential and/or theoretical darker sides of our growing obsession with biotechnology.
Concern #1 – Theoretical Risks to Human Health
One of the primary areas of concern as it relates to the consumption of GMO foods is the potential of unintended negative effects on human health.
Let’s take a closer look at some areas of interest that pertain to this argument.
A prominent worry regarding GMO consumption is the potential development of new allergens through gene-transfer and the creation of what are essentially “new” foods 3.
The top 10 allergens in Canada, as listed by Health Canada, include: peanuts, eggs, milk, mustard, crustaceans and molluscs, fish, sesame seeds, soy, sulphites, tree nuts and wheat and triticale 3.
Allergies can cause atopic reactions, gastric distress or the most severe reaction, anaphylaxis, which may cause death 4.
But are GMO foods more likely to be allergenic?
“The prevalence of food allergies in children has increased considerably over the past 20 years. While this increase is partially coincident with the introduction of GMO foods into the American marketplace, the increasing prevalence of food allergies in children actually began 5-7 years before the introduction of GMOs. Furthermore, the food allergies that have increased the most including peanut, tree nut, egg and milk allergies are foods that are not GMO. The primary GMO foods in the U.S. are soybeans and corn. Corn allergy is and always has been rarely identified. Soybeans are among the most commonly allergenic foods, but no evidence exists to suggest that the prevalence of the soybean allergy has increased over the past 20 years” – Dr. Stephen Taylor(2012), Professor, Food Science & Technology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Antibiotic resistance is a common trait that is selected for the genetic engineering of GMO crops. Concerns antibiotic resistance from gene transfer, has been raised.
Gene transfer is the movement of genetic material between organisms and there has been discussions that antibiotic resistant traits of GMO foods could transfer to humans through the gastrointestinal tract 11.
Although there is theoretically a chance of such an occurrence taking place, no evidence exists to suggest that it has. Also, the WHO (World Health Organization) says that the likelihood of a gene transfer to happen in this manner is very low 11.
Concern #2 – Economic Disparity
The next most common concern as it relates to GMOs is that they may keep the rich, richer and the poor, poorer.
Genetically modified seeds are known to be more expensive than their conventional counterparts, which creates potential pitfalls for the small and vulnerable farmers 7.
One could argue, however, that this higher cost is offset by a higher yield but that certainly depends on the manner in which these private biotech companies operate 2,5.
The higher price point arises primarily due to the seeds being patented, which can lead to farmers getting potentially sued over patent infringement if GMO seeds are not utilized in the appropriate manner, without a license, or if attempts are made to save crop to be re-planted the following season 2,5,10.
It’s not unusual to be exposed to the plight of the common farmers in documentaries that explore agriculture in the wake of this biotechnological take over.
Given the practical limitations of my expertise in this subject area I’m not in the position to draw firm conclusions over the state of this concern in this very complicated arena, but I think it’s safe to say we must always be wary of situations such as these which may put farmers at the mercy of massive organizations.
Concern #3 – The Environment
The next question we must explore is whether or not GMO crops have the potential to negatively impact the environment.
A common case study used to explore this question is Bt corn.
This corn, as discussed in part I of this series, is genetically modified to express a bacterium from soil called Bacillus Thuringiensis.
A laboratory study that was published in Naturediscussed how Bt corn caused unintended harm in local ecosystems of monarch caterpillars 8.
This bacterium is a protective insecticide that supports corn growth and resistance to pests that allows farmers to save money on externally applied pesticides, which have a host of criticisms of their own 8.
The issue, however, is that monarch caterpillars in surrounding ecosystems were dying upon consumption of their preferred feed (milkweed plants) that ended up being covered in pollen from the modified corn.
Windblown pollen from Bt corn onto local milkweed plants in neighbouring fields means that the caterpillars will eat the milkweed plants and die, resulting in long-term consequences for local ecosystems 7,8.
Once again it appears that the jury is still out as to whether or not this phenomenon is pervasive or profound enough to warrant more widespread concern, but it remains pertinent to keep Bt corn in areas that will minimize this potentially damaging effect.
Perhaps the most widespread of all concerns regarding GMOs is at it relates to the herbicide glyphosate, which is a primary constituent of agri-giant Monsanto’s RoundUp weed killer.
RoundUp has been increasingly used in North America over the last decade on crops that have been genetic modified to survive its application including as corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa 9.
However, major health organizations that would be responsible for regulating its use, including the FDA, Health Canada and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have stated that they found no evidence that glyphosate is toxic or harmful to the nervous or immune system based on their evaluations 6.
I am once again in no position to draw firm conclusions, and have provided only a sampling of the argument, but it’s safe to say that observance and vigilance surrounding this topic will not be going away anytime soon.
How To Avoid GMOs? 12
After two articles that helped you understand what GMOs are and why they exist, it was incredibly important to have an open and honest discussion about some of the criticisms and concerns that people harbour about them.
The goal of this article, as I hope you will realize, is not to deter you from consuming GMO foods.
If, however, you desire the empowerment necessary to make that decision for yourself, here are some quick tips that will help:
Eat organic: In foods that are organic, it is prohibited to add genetically modified ingredients.
Purchase foods that have a “Non-GMO” verified label: with this label that companies voluntarily choose to add, it doesn’t mean that the food is always organic. However, a “Non-GMO” label simply means that it does not include ingredients that are genetically modified.
Avoid the common GMOs: Some common crops that may include GMOs are sugar beets, canola, soy, cotton, corn, papaya and Arctic branded apples.
Carefully check the sources of meat, eggs, and dairy: although the animals that produces these sources are not GMOs, they could have been fed GMO feed. For that reason, check organic or “Non-GMO” verified labels.
I am not explicitly or widely prescribing the course of action above, only offering it as a source of education and empowerment.
This last article was, without question, the hardest to write.
The evidence is mixed and conclusions are hard to draw on, but even so we cannot deny the stance of most major organizations responsible for governing the safety of our food.
That does not mean we should remain ignorant or unaware of the science as it emerges, only that we should be vigilant and balanced, as much as we can, of our assessment and not let fear monger or politics deter us from eating the foods we love and have known to be healthy.
Thank you for joining me on this three-part exploration of an incredibly challenging topic, I hope you learned as much as I did!
Fischer, K., Ekener-Petersen, E., Rydhmer, L., & Edvardsson Björnberg, K. (2015). Social impacts of GM crops in agriculture: A systematic literature review. Sustainability, 7, 8598–8620.
Goodman, R. E., Vieths, S., Sampson, H. A., Hill, D., Ebisawa, M., Taylor, S. L., & van Ree, R. (2008). Allergenicity assessment of genetically modified crops–what makes sense? Nature Biotechnology, 26(1), 73-81. doi:10.1038/nbt1343
Herman, E. M. (2003). Genetically modified soybeans and food allergies. Journal of Experimental Botany, 54(386), 1317-1319. doi:10.1093/jxb/erg164
Mosher, G., & Hurburgh, C. (2010). Transgenic plant risk: Coexistence and economy. Encyclopedia of Biotechnology in Agriculture and Food, 1, 639–642.
Pandey, A., Kamle, M., Yadava, L. P., Muthukumar, M., Kumar, P., Gupta, V., Pandey, B. K. (2010). Genetically modified food: Its uses, future prospects and safety assessments. Biotechnology (Faisalabad), 9(4), 444-458. doi:10.3923/biotech.2010.444.458
Samsel, A., & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416/htm
Whether you love the idea of genetically modified foods or not, they have grown to prominence for a reason.
In today’s article, Lara will explore the number of factors that have made genetically modified foods so appealing to the food and biotechnology industries, and the benefits they confer to the public at large.
If you think she is looking at the positive side of GMO, think again. Her next piece will explore some of the arguments AGAINST the use of GMOs and the potential risks (if any) that may be associated with growing and selling crops that have been genetically modified.
Case #1 – Desirable Traits
I do not know about you, but I always spend a couple of minutes picking the best-looking fruit or vegetable. For example, while I am picking apples, I must make sure that they are deep red in colour, have no bruises and are not on the soft side.
A growing trend in the food industry is to sell pre-cut fruits and vegetables 15. Specifically, with apples, when they are sliced, bruised or bitten, they turn brown. The brown colour on a perfectly edible apple makes the apple unappealing to the consumers.
For the brown colour to occur, the enzyme that is called polyphenol oxidase (PPO) initiates a chemical reaction 14. The food industry typically stops the browning reaction from happening by adding antioxidants, such as calcium ascorbate. Although calcium ascorbate acts as an inhibitor, it changes the flavour of the apple.
Okanagan Speciality Fruits, an agriculture biotechnology company, successfully genetically modified Arctic apples to stop them from browning when sliced, bruised or bitten. These apples have done successfully in a test run in select markets in America and will be brought to Canada, however no date is yet announced when they will be brought. Therefore, this is an example of how scientists have solved the browning process from happening – by reducing the PPO content through biotechnology 14.
How does the food industry benefit from GMO Arctic apples?
The benefit of genetically modifying apples can help food companies save money by no longer having to use calcium ascorbate 15.
Worldwide, food waste, especially for fruits and vegetables is a re-occurring problem. In 2016, United States, threw away nearly halfof their produce due to rotting, feeding to livestock or throwing it into landfill. It is also estimated by Tesco, a UK supermarket, that 40% of apples are wasted due to consumers behaviour in 2014. Therefore, turning towards genetically modifying apples might be a solution to reducing food waste 13.
Case #2 – Disease Resistance
Crops suffer from diseases just like humans do. Crops that have diseases can lead to severe economic consequences for the food and agricultural industry.
Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) was found in all areas of the world where papaya is cultivated, including Hawaii and Thailand.
PRSV is spread by aphid species. They are pests that suck the juice of the papayas with their piercing mouth, which then gives rise to the PRSV on the papayas 12.
Before genetically modifying the papayas became an option, the farmers thought maybe the PRSV was due to the Hawaiian island they were planting on. They thought in order to stop the PRSV in papayas, they would need to relocate the crop production to another island in Hawaii.
The virus did not stop. There were also other unsuccessful methods used before, such as using destroying the infected trees or spraying insecticides.
A 2014 study by the Journal of General Plant Pathology revealed that the genetic makeup of papaya included a PRSV gene. Through genetic modification, scientists inserted a PRSV resistance gene into the RNA of the papaya. This process causes a creation of a coating protein that has the papaya protected on a cellular level and safe from any virus attacks, such as from the aphid species.
Case #3 – Nutritional Improvements
You’ve heard of fortified milk, but have you ever imagined the potential that genetically modifying foods has in terms of fortifying crops?
Let’s explore the curious case of the cassava.
Cassava is a staple crop consumed in areas such as Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.
However, the poor availability of vitamin A in this staple crop, combined with the absence of dietary diversity in these areas, can cause vitamin A deficiency which can impair vision and weaken the immune system, which can ultimately cause blindness and even death 6,11.
Cassava’s bioavailability of vitamin A is low because of the extensive thermal processing that it must undergo before consumption due to the safety concerns of the cyanide-related compounds that cassavas contain.
This reality was altered through what is known as “biofortification”, which can be achieved through a number of mechanisms including genetic modification and ultimately results in a vitamin A enriched crop.
Until now we believed that only about eight percent of beta-carotene from cassava could be absorbed by the body. This study shows that it is not eight but 17 percent that is absorbed and then transformed by the body into vitamin A.” If vitamin A deficient populations that eat cassava regularly switched to this new variety, their vitamin A status should improve measurably” – Dr. Erick Boy, Nutrition Manager at HarvestPlus 9.
Case #4 – Feeding A Growing World
“The projections show that feeding a world population of 9.1 billion people in 2050 would require raising overall food production by some 70 percent between 2005/07 and 2050. Production in the developing countries would need to almost double” 3.
-Food and Agricultural Organization of The United Nations
Using GMOs To Produce More Food
Let’s use the example of GMO salmon to explore this concept further.
AquAdvantage salmon is the first fast-growing salmon that was created by Canadian researchers, through the company AquaBounty Technologies 1. The process is done by microinjecting the extracted growth hormone from Chinook salmon and the gene promoter from ocean pout, into the fertilized eggs of the wild Atlantic salmon 1.
It is important to note that the AquAdvantage salmon grows faster and with less feed. As noted by the FDA, “the overall total amount of feed required to produce the same fish biomass was reduced by 25%” 1. This can be beneficial to the fish farmers, as they can get the fish faster to the market, while economically saving from having to feed less. In addition, in terms of consumption and environmental safety, Health Canada and the FDA has approved the GM salmon to be safe 1.
Does Genetically Engineered Fish Benefit the Environment?
Muir (2004) suggests that that genetically engineered farmed fish protects marine fish from over exploitation and reduces the pressure on ocean fisheries 10.
This is obviously a salient concern as the United Nations more recently has reported that 90% of the world’s fish stocks are already depleted, overfished or fully exploited 8.
Fish are a uniquely rich source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, meaning that the use of biotechnology to simultaneously increase the farmed yield and reduce the wild demand is certainly something of value 2 .
I hope you guys enjoyed my exploration of some of the major justifications and uses for GMO technology in plants and animals.
Join me for part III next week when I explore the “darker side” of genetic modification, including an honest account of potential pitfalls that may be associated with an over reliance on biotechnology.
Godfray, H. C. J., Beddington, J. R., Crute, I. R., Haddad L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J. F., Pretty, J., Robinson, S., Thomas, S. M., Toulmin, C. 2010. Food Security: The Challenge of feeding 9 billion people.
Hefferon, K. L. (2016). Can biofortified crops help attain food security? Current Molecular Biology Reports, 2(4), 180-185. doi:10.1007/s40610-016-0048-0
Howe, J. A., Maziya-Dixon, B., & Tanumihardjo, S. A. (2009). Cassava with enhanced β-carotene maintains adequate vitamin A status in mongolian gerbils (meriones unguiculatus) despite substantial cis-isomer content. British Journal of Nutrition, 102(3), 342-349. doi:10.1017/S0007114508184720
Sayre R, Beeching JR, Cahoon EB, et al. (2011) The biocassava plus program: biofortification of cassava for sub-saharan Africa. Annu Rev Plant Biol 62, 251–272
Siriwan, W., Takaya, N., Roytrakul, S., & Chowpongpang, S. (2014). Study of interaction between papaya ringspot virus HC-pro and papaya (carica papaya) proteins. Journal of General Plant Pathology, 80(3), 264-271. doi:10.1007/s10327-014-0523-5
Bold statements? Perhaps, but today’s article will help you understand exactly why I believe this to be the case
Before we get into the good stuff, let’s take a second to appreciate the value of personal training in any form.
Personal training lets people accomplish their fitness goals in less time, with less hassle, all while lowering their risk of injury.
Time is our most precious commodity and a good Personal Trainer can help you accomplish your goals in a fraction of the time it that it might take the average person without one.
But does training need to take place in person?
The Demise Of Conventional Personal Training
Conventional wisdom says that personal training takes place in a commercial gym.
My view, however, is that the utility of this form of training is evaporating before our very eyes.
My view is not a statement on the quality of the trainer in gyms, rather it has everything to do with the differences in how online vs in-person training operate.
A rather archaic system some might say.
Online training, when done right, can replace personal training and become a better solution for you to accomplish your goals.
Let’s explore why.
The Advantages Of Online Training
In order to understand the advantages of online personal training, we have to first understand how it works.
Online Coaching is done in a variety of ways. Some trainers give a “training program” and send you on your way (aka not training).
This is not what I am referring to by online training.
I’ll be using how my version of online training works:
– Most online trainers specialize in a particular group of people. I focus on strength training for women, usually in their mid 20’s to early 30’s, so they can build their confidence both in and out of the gym without feeling like their concerns and questions aren’t taken seriously.
– You pay for the trainer, and it’s monthly payments instead of per session. That’s it. No membership fees. No hidden expenses. It’s almost always cheaper.
– You can connect with your trainer regularly, who gives daily/weekly feedback. This feedback can be sending you exercise videos, instructional graphics, or just leaving you a note to help you improve or tell you what a good job you are doing!
The response from the trainer might not be the same time when you message them, but if you are ok with waiting for a day to get a response, you will be able to get help with your training regularly instead of just at each session.
Not to mention there are no scheduling conflicts, making it more convenient for everyone.
I use Google Sheets to create and share the program. This lets the client keep track of their workout, and I can check how the program is going, along with providing notes to help you along the way!
I also send a check-in form at the end of each week. This lets me know if any changes need to be made and what to change in your program for the upcoming week.
Have I convinced you of the value of online personal training yet?
If you’ve had a bad experience with in-person training or are on the fence of how to proceed with your fitness goals, you need to seriously consider giving online training a shot.
If this sounds like you, keep your eyes peeled for my next article, which will teach you how to pick the right trainer to fit your needs.
Hope you enjoyed today’s article and remember that although In-person training appears to increasingly be turning into a thing of the past, I am confident that online training will pick up the pieces of the fitness industry.
High protein yogurt products actually happen to be one of the foods that I most often recommend to my clients.
Even though yogurt is not a fundamental dietary staple like fruits or veggies, I believe that for those who enjoy dairy, high protein yogurt varieties (such as Greek or Icelandic skyr yogurt) have an incredibly important role to play.
I’ve personally realized the potential of high protein yogurt to be valuable to my clients for a long time.
I will explain why that is in today’s article, which was produced in collaboration with siggi’s yogurt although all views expressed within are my own.
For those that may not know, siggi’s produces a protein-rich Icelandic-inspired yogurt known as skyr.
The company was started in 2005 by Siggi Hilmarsson, a homesick Iceland native living in NYC who was not impressed by the quality of the yogurt offerings available to him.
So, he went ahead and created his own yogurt brand, which has since exploded in popularity south of the border and, as of January 2019, is now available on the Canadian market.
In January, siggi’s launched its Icelandic skyr yogurt in Canada with simple ingredients and not a lot of sugar. (CNW Group/Parmalat Canada)
One of the hallmark’s of siggi’s yogurt is that it does not contain any artificial flavours, colours, sweeteners or preservatives.
It’s also very high in protein, relative to the number of calories it contains.
The 0% vanilla variety, for example, contains 18 grams of protein per 175 gram serving (130 calories).
In the section to come I will explain why this, among other characteristics of high protein yogurt, is a very valuable characteristic.
The Unique Advantages of Yogurt Consumption
Yogurt is an interesting and valuable food for a few reasons, not least of which is that it fits into the dietary patterns of an increasingly vegetarian-inspired population.
1. It tends to be better tolerated than other dairy products by those who are lactose-intolerant, which is an increasingly important consideration as more and more people are in-tune with how their bodies respond to foods.
2. It contains a wide array of probiotic bacteria strains which are not widely available in that many other varieties of commonly consumed foods and are becoming increasingly linked with improved digestive health.
3. It is one of the single richest calcium per volume serving size foods in our food system, which means that, even though you don’t NEED it to get enough calcium, it makes that task very, very easy.
Perhaps one of the most valuable things that yogurt offers, however, is its versatility in facilitating the consumption of other very important foods (such as fruit, nuts and seeds).
I find, for example, the intake of, and overall desire for, nuts and seeds is quite low among my client base.
That concerns me because nuts and seeds are among the most nutrient dense and healthy foods.
None the less, the idea of eating a handful of nuts or seeds at random does not appeal to everyone.
However, my experience is that offering instead a “yogurt parfait” creation and suggesting that food items like fruit, nuts, seeds, granola and even items like dark chocolate be included, makes the consumption of these very important foods much more tolerable.
Now the advantages I’ve described so far above technically apply to most yogurt products (dairy-based or otherwise), but high protein yogurt products (such as siggi’s skyr) offer additional benefits, which I describe in the next section.
The Unique Value of High Protein Yogurt
Among macronutrients, protein is unique in that it’s ability to both satiate you (help you feel full) and to stimulate your body to expend energy to break it downis generally considered superior to carbohydrates and fat.
This is a very, very useful characteristics for those who are trying to manage their appetite, their weight or both.
Recall that a 175 gram serving of siggi’s 0% Vanilla contains a very significant 18 grams of protein for only 130 calories, which is at least double the amount of protein found in non-Greek/non-skyr yogurt varieties.
That is, objectively speaking, a very good protein to calorie ratio.
The satiating effect of protein combined with the convenience and enjoyability of high protein yogurt is very relevant to the average working person (ie: my client base) who needs an easy snack option, and one that will keep them full.
Here’s the other thing though, boosting one’s protein intake also has some potential to aid from a weight management perspective.
Protein Intake, Weight Management & Overall Health
At a time where fad diets emphasizing the restriction and omission of macronutrients continue to appear in popular media, re-shifting the focus onto something more positive, such as increasing or emphasizing protein intake, would be a welcome change.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein is .8 g per day, per kilogram of your body weight.
Protein intake is not a public health concern, most people reach this level of intake.
There are, however, a number of studies which have demonstrated the potential of protein intakes of at least 1.2 g/kg to offer unique advantages when it comes to weight management ( 1, 2, 3).
Now it’s certainly not as simple as “eat more protein, lose weight” but certainly the idea of emphasizing higher protein intake is a positively-framed approach to guide individuals who are trying to pursue what can be a very challenging path of weight management.
Hopefully today’s article has provided you with some valuable insights into the multitude of reasons why I have relied on yogurt as a key food in my private dietetics practice.
Let me be clear in saying that, as could be said for any single food out there, you don’t NEED yogurt to have a healthy diet.
But, for those who choose to include it, it offers a number of practical and physiological advantages.
If you are unsatisfied with the quality or content of your current yogurt selection or want to make the shift to a higher protein variety, siggi’s is a great choice.
You can find their products across Canada at locations including Whole Foods Market (BC), Real Canadian Superstore, Co-op, Extra Foods, Metro, Longo’s, Highland Farms, Commisso’s Fresh Foods, Coppa’s Fresh Market, Al Premium Foods, Adonis, Euromarché, Grand Marché Col-Fax, Mourelatos, and many more.
For updates and more information, please visit: siggis.ca.
Hello everyone, I am so thrilled to be introducing Lara, my first ever dietetic intern.
Lara is a recent graduate from the Nutrition and Food Program at Ryerson University and is currently completing a portion of her independent internship with yours truly.
Among a host of potential topics, Lara decided to broach perhaps the most challenging of them all: GMOs.
I give her great credit for this choice because addressing this highly controversial topic area in a 3-part blog series is no easy task, but alas someone had to do it.
All articles were reviewed and copy edited by yours truly, and feedback was provided to Lara throughout the developmental process to improve her understanding of what is required to write impactful evidence-based content for the web.
With that out of the way and without further adieu I proudly present you Part I of her three-part investigative writing series on GMOs.
So What are GMOs Anyway?
By Lara Malak
The word GMO means different things to different people, but let’s establish a baseline for today’s discussion by starting with the World Health Organizations (WHO) Definition:
“Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.” 4.
The process of genetically modifying food is done through what is known as genetic engineering. This process involves identifying the gene responsible for a trait of interest, then using biotechnology to isolate and insert that gene into the DNA of the desired organism to prepare for the final step of growing the organism 7.
Although we may think that gene engineering is a new phenomenon, farmers have been doing it for centuries 11. Selective breeding, when organisms with desired traits were mated to produce offspring with the intention of combining these traits, has long been commonplace8.
Let’s look at carrots, for example.
Carrots weren’t always orange.
In fact, they were once white, yellow and purple 3.
It wasn’t until the 17th century that orange carrots were developed. The Dutch, also known as the carrot farmers, used the selective breeding process to grow orange carrots in great abundance. This process was very successful that the production of orange carrots surpassed all the other forms of carrots 3. There isn’t much historical evidence to state why developing a great amount of orange carrots happened, but stories that have been passed down say it’s because the Dutch wanted to honor William III of England – widely known as William of Orange for political reasons 3. This is the reason why today we see an abundance of orange carrots in the grocery stores today.
Different Generations Of GMOs
There are three generational classifications used to describe Genetically Modified foods.
The goal of first-generation of GMOs is to reduce the use of agricultural inputs to control pests, such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers 9. An example of this is Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn, which has been genetically modified to produce its own toxin to act as a pesticide.
The process of producing the Bt corn involves in isolating the gene from soil bacterium, which produces the Bt bacteria and inserting it into corn’s DNA 6. The first generation of GMOs are mainly used and found in larger-scale industrial agriculture 1.
The second generation of GMOs aim to improve the properties of the crops. Increasing shelf life, improving nutritional value and/or drought and flood tolerances are just some examples of properties that may be targeted 9.
Golden Rice, which has been genetically modified to have more vitamin A, is a prime example. It has been primarily used to help combat malnutrition in countries, in which rice is a staple food 2.
The third generation of GMOs involves producing plant-based pharmaceutical drugs cheaper and more efficiently. These include vaccines, antibodies and therapeutic proteins. Industrial products, such as plastics, cosmetics, enzymes and epoxies are also involved in this generation 5. An example of this is producing edible vaccines for HIV, tooth decay, Hepatitis B from corn, potato, rice, wheat, barley, tomato and banana 5. Their efficiency in which they can be transported and stored and because they largely consumed are the reasons why these particular crops have been selected 5. Many medicines had to be extracted from blood donors, animal parts or even cadavers before GMO existed. This caused problems such as risk of transmission of diseases, unreliable quality and supply.
What Genetically Modified (GM) foods are grown in Canada?
Corn, canola, soybean and sugar beet are the major four GM crops grown in Canada. Although there are only four major GM crops in Canada, there are roughly 85 GM crops have been accepted to be imported into Canada for consumption since 1994 10.
Is Regulation and Labelling Required for GMOs in Canada?
Before the GM products ends up in the hands of the consumers, the products are regulated by Health Canada. Health Canada studies the safety of consuming the product and the effect it has on the environment. The evaluation is done through a rigorous safety assessment, that can take several years to complete 10.
On the other hand, labelling GM products in Canada is not required by the law, like it is in many parts of the world such as Brazil, China, Australia and Denmark, just to name a few. Although, you may have seen a “NON-GMO” label on foods, this is just the willingness of some food companies to include it 10.
Here are some other reasons why food is GM 8:
To produce more and for cheaper
To have crops bruise less easily
To ripen at a slower rate
To use less agricultural inputs, such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers
To enhance nutritional profiles
Today’s article offers but a brief overview of what GMOs are, why they exist and how they are regulated.
It’s pretty clear that GMO foods appear here to stay, and in my next article I will offer a thorough delineation as to why that is by exploring the benefits they offer to global populations.
The third and final blog, which will follow the benefits piece, will explore the “dark side” of GMOs and ask tough questions about the fears and perceptions of these products effects on our health and the environment.
Hope you guys will join me on my continued exploration of this very hot topic!
Dowd-Uribe, B. (2017). GMOs and poverty: Definitions, methods and the silver bullet paradox. Canadian Journal of Development Studies / Revue Canadienne d’Études Du Développement, 38(1), 129-138. doi:10.1080/02255189.2016.1208608
Dubock, A. C. (2009). Crop conundrum. Nutrition Reviews, 67(1), 17-20. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2008.00137.x
Kim, T., & Yang, M. (2010). Current trends in edible vaccine development using transgenic plants. Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering: BBE, 15(1), 61-65. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12257-009-3084-2
Niederhuber, M. (2015). Insecticidal plants: the tech and safety of GM Bt crops. Harvard University; The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved from http:// sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/insecticidal-plants/
Stewart, P. A., & McLean, W. P. (2005). Public opinion toward the first, second, and third generations of plant biotechnology. In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology. Plant, 41(6), 718-724. doi:10.1079/IVP2005703
Zilberman, D., Holland, T. G., & Trilnick, I. (2018). Agricultural GMOs—What we know and where scientists disagree. Sustainability, 10(5), 1514. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/10.3390/su10051514
It’s not every day that the California Strawberry Commission comes knocking on your door and offers you an opportunity to work with them to promote the consumption of what is, unarguably, one of the healthiest available for human consumption: California Strawberries.
This is probably the most enjoyable article that I’ve ever written, so let’s get right to it.
For many of you reading today’s post, including my fellow Canadians, you are probably quite used to encountering California Strawberries at your local grocer.
This is simply down to the fact that the United States is the world’s biggest producer of strawberries, with sunny California being the state that grows the most. Fresh strawberry season in California stretches from February until November, depending on the weather, so they’re almost always in season for us Canadians!
Oh, and here’s a fun fact for you, there are more organic strawberries grown in California than in anywhere else in the world.
The Nutritional Benefits Of California Strawberries
Although they may not be famous for it, strawberries are a good source of potassium and fibre, two nutrients which can be easy for the average person to fall short in.
They also happen to be low in glycemic index, which may be a relevant consideration for those living with diabetes.
The two things I love most about strawberries though, aside from their delicious taste, are their high vitamin C and anti-oxidant content.
Do You C Me Now?
Among commonly available fruit with high vitamin C content, it’s hard to beat strawberries.
140 grams of California Strawberries (a serving, about 8) contains 82.3 mg of vitamin C.
For reference, this is more than both 1 kiwi (64 mg) and 1 medium sized orange (70mg).
Less than optimal intakes of vitamin C tend to be associated with worse health outcomes and even though vitamin C consumption is not necessarily an overwhelming public health concern, making people aware of the foods that are highest in vitamin C, has become increasingly relevant to my practice as the gradual shift to consuming more plant-based sources of protein (such as lentils, chickpeas, tofu, nuts, seeds and so on) means that the public must be aware that vitamin C consumption specifically aids in the absorption of the iron found in these foods.
You’d be surprised how many vegans and vegetarians (both new and old) are unaware of this important fact.
Antioxidants And Anthocyanins
A is my favourite letter, can’t you tell?
In all seriousness strawberries happen to be particularly rich in a specific group of compounds known as Anthocyanins.
One anthocyanin in particular, Pelargonidin, is found at very high levels in Strawberries and is responsible for their red colour.
So, the next time someone asks you why Strawberries are red, now you know!
Not to get too scientific here, but anthocyanins actually happen to be part of a sub-group of very healthy compounds known as Flavonoids.
You may have heard the term before, as these compounds are present in a variety of forms in commonly available foods such as other fruits, vegetables and even wine, tea and coffee.
As today’s article reflects, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain by incorporating strawberries into your diet.
Again, about 8 California strawberries, which are in season right NOW, represents 1 serving and they go great as a synergistic snack with a handful of nuts/seeds, sprinkled in yogurt, cereal or oatmeal, or enjoyed as is as a healthy after dinner dessert.
If you want to show off your love for strawberries to the world, head over to CaliforniaStrawberries.com and take part in their Get Snacking Challenge.
Until next time,
Andy De Santis RD MPH
Bonus Content – Fun Facts About Strawberries.
1. Strawberries actually contain small amounts of the omega-3 fat alpha-Linolenic acid.
2. The species name for the modern strawberry is Fragaria Ananassa, which actually greatly resonates with me as an Italian-Canadian because the Italian word for strawberry is Fragole.
Have you ever looked at those hard as rock pearl white teeth and wonder why they are such blessed?
It is said that the mouth is the window to your inner health. Your oral health can offer guidance to your inside. And to maintain a nice oral health taking care of teeth is a must.
As a healthy body includes healthy teeth!!!
A Brief Introduction to Oral Region: Mouth and Teeth
By Charles Jameson
Our oral health depends on the total management of lips, teeth, tongue, saliva, etc. All of these together keeps us healthy in general.
In the mouth, we can find the moist mucous membrane and the roof called palate. It is covered in membrane.
In front of the face, we can get the bony structure. It is called hard palate that divides the mouth and nasal cavity.
In the rear is the soft palate. It is fleshy thus soft. It is like a curtain between the mouth and throat. It closes the nasal passages when we swallow is food.
In the mouth, teeth are arranged in our jaws.
Dentists often describe teeth in three major parts:
First comes the root at the bottom of all. It consists of dentin and pulp. The structure is covered with cementum. It helps to anchor the teeth to the jaw.
The root is also the most sensitive spot as it is the most vulnerable part of the teeth. It is comparatively soft and can get injured easily. Also, it can get infected easily.
You can increase the hardness and overall dental health by applying topical fluoride varnish. Fluoride improves the chemical structure of dentin or more specifically from hydroxyapatite into fluorapatite. For more information about fluoride varnish visit Wonderful Dental website and blog posts.
However, if the soft root gets infected it can spread into the bloodstream in rapid speed. And your surrounding jaw and tissues can get infected as well. That is why taking prompt medical care of it is important.
Secondly comes the junction point of the cementum of the root and enamel of the tooth’s crown. The layer of enamel is very thin. And there is a thick layer of dentin. These two protects the root.
And thirdly what we mostly see and refer as teeth, the crown. It is made of minerals like calcium, a thick calcified enamel surface. The dentin layers lie under it.
Saliva or the spit is secreted from salivary glands. They are situated on the walls and floor of the mouth. It helps to moisten the food and down ever more.
Saliva also contains a lot of enzymes that helps in digesting and controlling the bacteria in the mouth. It fights off infection in the mouth. Saliva is used to keep the mouth clean. Also, a dry tongue cannot taste it needs saliva to find out the flavor.
Saliva is very important as it helps to swallow food and also neutralizes bacteria produced acid. Saliva helps to protect the body from invasion of microbial beings and overgrowth.
The function of the Teeth and the Mouth
To get the energy we eat food. It is done with the help of our mouth teeth. To express our needs and emotions we use various facial expression and words. All of it is done with the help of mouth.
There are different types of teeth. They help to obtain food, cut them down in pieces then grinds nicely to help us in swallowing them. Thus teeth helps is digestion.
Lips, tongue, and teeth are essential for our speech too. By bending, folding, touching lips, tongue, teeth, and jaw and controlling airflow we are able to pronounce various sounds. Our facial expressions as well use them to convey various feelings. Teeth provide the profile to our face as well.
Connection of oral health and overall health
Our oral health not only indicates the condition of our inner health it can also affect our health in general.
Testing our saliva can give a clear report about how our body is doing and help to determine treatment. It plays an extremely important role in defining a person’s DNA print. Professionals use saliva from our mouth to identify paternity. It is extremely important for forensic science as well. Our teeth structure also give an impression of our identity as it is unique to each person and reveals a lot about a person like age, health and so on.
Mouth, like any other body part, is filled with bacteria. Most of those bacteria are safe, in fact, we need them for our good health. The habit of everyday brushing and flossing help to keep these bacteria under control.
But if we become lazy or for any reason stop taking care of our teeth and tongue then those bacteria will accumulate and will attract bad bacteria that can harm our mouth thus leading to hurt our body.
If bacteria went out of limit then it can easily lead to infections causing us tooth decay and gum diseases.
Health Condition Affecting Oral Health:
This health condition badly affects oral health.
This condition makes the body extremely vulnerable. Thus putting gums at risk. It is very common to have gum disease if you have diabetes. You for sure will have tooth decay and cavity. Teeth may completely rot away and fall off. Many people wear dentures.
It causes swelling and pain to various body parts. In the mouth, it causes painful mucosal lesions.
A disease of bones tends to make bone weak and brittle including the teeth. Those who have osteoporosis may suffer from periodontal bone and tooth loss.
Also, the drug used to treat this disease bears a minimal risk to the jaw bones.
As Alzheimer progresses oral health also worsens.
Other Negative Effect of Poor Health on Teeth:
Factors like medication can also disrupt the healthy equilibrium of the oral region. Medicines like painkillers, decongestants, antihistamines, diuretics, and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow in the mouth.
Also, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, head and neck cancers, eating disorders, and Sjogren’s syndrome can cause dry mouth. Maintaining dental hygiene is most crucial in those circumstances. If you have tartar or dental plaque remove them with great care with the assistance of an oral hygienist. Your oral hygienist may suggest using prophy paste to remove tartar, plaque or any sort of stains. To know what grain size of prophy paste you will need to visit wonderful dental blog posts.
Diseases Caused Because of Poor Oral Health
These diseases can occur if you have poor oral health.
It is an infection in the inner lining of the heart called endocardium. It typically occurs when you have bacteria growth or other germs in any other part of your body like as your mouth. The infection spreads through the bloodstream and gets accumulated in the damaged areas of your heart.
Some researched have linked heart diseases like artery block and stroke with oral inflammation and infection caused by bacteria.
Researchers have found periodontics to have a link with premature birth and low weight at birth.
As you can see it is a vice versa situation where poor health can affect the teeth and the overall oral health, there as well poor teeth hygiene can lead to various health risks.
That is why we say a healthy body includes healthy teeth and there is no other way. If you want to be healthy and happy overall you have to take care properly.
Go for regular health and dental check-ups. Take necessary measures and live life to the fullest.
About The Special Guest Author
Charles is a medical health and wellness journalist. He writes about responsible preventive care, technology, and childcare in medicine.