Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Why you should read the ingredients

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A couple of weeks ago, a study of packaged foods in the US showed that many of them listing 0% trans-fat on the labels actually still contained trans-fat. Many dietitians said, “No shit”. This is why reading the ingredients is often more valuable than reading the nutrition facts panel.

Many manufacturers use trans-fat in their food products but also use a serving size that allows them to report the amount of trans-fat per serving as being 0%. Until trans-fats are banned, what can you do about this? One, you can read the ingredient list. Look for the words “partially hydrogenated”. That’s your trans-fat. Avoid foods containing any partially hydrogenated ingredients. Two, make your own food. When you make it yourself you can decide what goes into your food. Use as few highly-processed packaged foods as possible. I know that it’s not realistic to expect that everyone is going to start cooking and baking everything at home. Be savvy. Do what you can. Aim for packaged foods with as few ingredients as possible. And remember that while you may be saving time in the short-term by buying frozen dinners, you’ll likely lose time in the long-run.


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Aglukkaq’s winning population reduction strategy

What exactly is the true mandate of the Canadian Health Minister? I would have thought that it would be to improve the health of all Canadians. I must be wrong though because Leona Aglukkaq continues to make decisions that will not only do nothing to help our health, they will more than likely harm our health. First there was the disbanding of the Sodium Working Group, then there was the introduction of a “dialogue” on healthy weights (how about a little less talk and a little more action), and now there’s the end of trans-fat monitoring. Health Canada provides documentation for Canadians on why trans-fats are bad. They also patted themselves on the back for being the first country to monitor trans-fat in foods back in 2007. Instead of continuing to set an example for other nations and continuing to protect Canadians from unhealthy foods, the Health Minister has decided to entirely abandon the trans-fat monitoring program. Perfect, let’s kowtow to the food industry, allowing them to put whatever they please in the foods they make, no matter the known risk to the consumers. Apparently we are no longer citizens of Canada, we are just consumers to be profited from, regardless of the cost.


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Is your diet making you angry?

A recent study published in PLoS one found that trans-fat consumption was associated with increased levels of aggression. In fact, the researchers found that trans-fat consumption was a better predictor of aggressive behaviour than commonly used predictors of aggression. Of course, this was an observational study as it would be unethical to assign people to diets high in trans-fat so we can’t say for certain that it was the consumption of trans-fat that was the cause of the aggressive behaviours. However, there was a strong link between these two factors so it is quite plausible that diets high in trans-fat may increase aggressive
behaviour.

I recall reading a study a number of years ago (which I can’t seem to find a link to) that showed a relationship between diet and risk of re-offending for juvenile offenders. The researcher for this study suspected that a nutritionally deficient diet might be contributing to the criminal activities of juvenile offenders. The offenders were then provided with a nutritious diet whilst in detention and it was found that the behaviours of those fed the healthy diet were significantly improved and following release they were less likely to re-offend.

I find links between behaviour and diet fascinating (my first degree was in psychology and I still love learning about the field). I think it shows that diet affects us in many ways that we are not consciously aware of. It’s commonly accepted that a healthy diet can help to keep our bodies healthy. Beyond that, what we eat may have important implications for our mental health as well.