Posts Tagged "eating"

4Nov

Eating alone may not be good for your health: experts – National

by BBG Hub

Plenty of people eat lunch at their desk or gobble down a takeout dinner between driving their kids to extracurricular activities.

More Canadians are living alone than ever before, too, government data shows, meaning many home-cooked meals are eaten solo.

While attention is often focused on seniors eating and living alone, Kate Mulligan, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Public Health, says the issue affects everyone.

“We see younger people — millennials, for example, or even younger — who are ordering in a lot or may not even have cooking facilities in their apartments,” Mulligan said.

READ MORE: Why aren’t Canadians cooking anymore?

But is eating alone actually that bad for your health? According to research, the harms may outweigh the benefits.

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How eating alone can harm you

“Eating alone is associated with a whole range of poor outcomes, and they’re correlated with similar outcomes for loneliness in general,” Mulligan said.

“When you eat alone, you’re more likely to eat standing up, you’re more likely to eat junk food and you’re less likely to think about mindful consumption.”






Benefits of shopping for your own food


Benefits of shopping for your own food

Because food can be a social experience, missing out on eating with others can make people feel isolated. One study out of Japan found that living and eating alone may increase the risk of depression in older adults.

Canada’s Food Guide also encourages people to eat with others. The guide says eating alone can lead to feelings of loneliness, especially for seniors.

The physical implications vary, but research suggests solo dining habits can negatively impact a person’s health.

One Korean report concluded that eating alone may be a potential risk factor for metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health problems including too much fat around the waist and elevated blood pressure. The condition — which can be caused by poor diet and lack of exercise — increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, HealthLink BC points out.



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READ MORE: Spending time alone isn’t weird or sad — it’s actually healthy

Eating alone can also affect what you eat.

A U.K. study found that older adults were at risk of having a lower-quality diet if they lived and ate alone.

Researchers found that being single or widowed was associated with a lower food variety score, especially for men. The study also found that lower levels of friend contact were linked to eating a reduced variety of fruits and vegetables.

Another Korean study concluded that people who eat alone have a nutritional intake below the recommended amount.






Easy meal prep for students


Easy meal prep for students

According to Mulligan, people may be more inclined to mindlessly eat or snack when they are by themselves compared to when they’re enjoying food with others. This can result in poorer food choices.

“We’re less conscious of what we’re doing when we’re alone or when we’re in a rush or in transit,” Mulligan said.

“With isolated seniors, for example, they often just don’t feel it is worth the effort to go through and prepare healthier foods when they’re alone.”

There’s also the impact on the planet. A recent article published in Quartz pointed out that solo eating can contribute to food waste.

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Research shows that more than half of food produced in Canada is wasted. Furthermore, avoidable food waste in the country produces more than 22 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

How eating alone can benefit you

There are certainly benefits to spending time alone and learning to enjoy your own company.

A recent article published in the New York Times unpacked the ways people can enjoy eating alone and highlighted its benefits: a sense of self-indulgence and needed quiet time.

READ MORE: Men struggle to keep friends — and it’s hurting their mental health

Eating alone while travelling is often unavoidable and can be a great opportunity to connect with others.

Mulligan says for parents with young children, a meal alone can be an enjoyable break.

Still, this doesn’t mean solo dining should be the norm.






10 things you need to know before buying a meal kit


10 things you need to know before buying a meal kit

“I’m sure for some people and in some circumstances, it can be quite joyful to eat alone,” she said. “But that doesn’t make it healthier in the long run.”

To combat the effects of eating alone, Canada’s Food Guide suggests making plans to meet with friends or family members for meals and participating in community celebrations. It’s also a good idea to organize a rotating dinner event where people take turns hosting meals.

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At work, try to eat lunch in a common space with a colleague.

Mulligan puts it this way: “The evidence is pretty clear: in general, eating with other people is good for us.”

[email protected]




© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.






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24Sep

The best foods to eat for an upset stomach – National

by BBG Hub

The first meal after an upset stomach is a tricky one because you don’t want to eat anything that will further aggravate your digestive tract. Luckily, there are some rules of thumb you can follow when picking what to eat.

For registered dietitian Lauren McNeill, the most important thing is sticking to foods that are high in soluble fibre and low in insoluble fibre.

“This is because soluble fibre may be helpful when we are experiencing diarrhea, whereas insoluble fibre can aggravate diarrhea and make it worse,” she said.

“When considering foods that are higher in soluble fibre, we also want to stick to more bland foods. This is because strong smells can make nausea worse.”

“Stick to foods such as bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, crackers and oatmeal.”

READ MORE: Reasons why you may feel sick after eating — and what to do about it

In the hours after a severely upset stomach, it’s important to focus on getting plenty of fluids to “replenish what we might be losing in vomit or diarrhea.”

“Ensuring that you are drinking enough water, herbal teas or warm, broth-based soups is important,” said McNeill.

She also recommends foods that will help you replenish electrolytes.

“This can be as simple as choosing bananas — which are high in potassium — a vegetable soup or avocado on toast with some salt.”

WATCH: Eating healthy a struggle for South Asian immigrants in Alberta — study





However, this does not mean sports drinks, McNeill says, because they’re high in sugar. Sports drinks, along with caffeine, are known to aggravate diarrhea and upset digestion.

Despite the age-old adage, ginger ale isn’t a good option, either. It doesn’t have much actual ginger in it — and that’s the ingredient that helps treat nausea, registered dietitian Amanda Li previously told Global News.

“When it comes to an upset stomach, it’s the ginger component or the actual bio-active compounds within ginger [that help],” Li told Global News. “In [pop], it’s probably just natural flavours that they add to the soda and then a whole ton of sugar and carbonated water.”

READ MORE: Put down the pop — Why ginger ale isn’t the cure for upset stomachs

How much you eat depends on a host of factors, including “the type of gastrointestinal issue you’re experiencing, the length of time you’ve had the issue, your appetite level as well as your likes and dislikes,” said Shahzadi Devje, registered dietitian and host of The Morocco Real Food Adventure.

“What’s important is to keep a close eye on your symptoms [and] eat the suggested foods for nourishment in small amounts to assess tolerance.”

The next time you have an upset stomach, reach for these foods instead.

Spices

Ginger is Devje’s go-to spice when it comes to a sore stomach because it’s been used “for thousands of years for medicinal purposes.”

“We typically know of ginger as the go-to spice to help ease symptoms of nausea,” she said. “It’s thought that specific compounds found in ginger may ease irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.”

Fennel has also been shown to “calm an upset stomach and ease symptoms of gas and bloating.”

WATCH: New trend sees Canadians switch from meat to plant-based diets





Peppermint is one of the most popular remedies for stomachaches, but Devje is skeptical.

“Whilst peppermint has been shown to tame certain digestive issues — like indigestion, gas and bloating — it may aggravate others, like heartburn,” she said.

“Peppermint’s impressive ability to soothe conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and nausea is well documented.”

Fruit

If you’re in the mood for something on the sweet side, there are two fruits in particular that can help soothe your stomach: bananas and apples, when blended into a sauce.

“It’s fair to say bananas offer benefits beyond their potassium content,” Devje said. “With a high fibre content, bananas are a good choice to help manage symptoms of diarrhea.”

As well, Devje says pectin — “the thickening fibre” — has been shown to prevent the over-stimulation of the bowel, thus slowing “the frequency of diarrhea.” Applesauce also offers a high pectin content.

Grains

“Toast isn’t an age-old myth,” said Devje. “Besides bananas and applesauce, rice and toast are included in what’s referred to as the BRAT diet — an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.”

READ MORE: What are stomach ulcers? Here’s what you to know

Devje said the diet is a mix of “nourishing and bland foods” to help ease an upset stomach.

Other plain foods you can add to your list would be potatoes, oatmeal and crackers.

“These types of bland foods are generally easier to tolerate and don’t put added stress on your gastrointestinal system,” she said.

Soup

Soup is a good option, but stick to those with a broth base as opposed to a cream one.

“This will help keep you hydrated if you have low appetite or you’re struggling to keep food down,” said Devje.

“Just remember to keep it plan and simple. Avoid adding any spices or beans or lentils, which may cause further discomfort.”

Probiotic-rich foods

Foods like yogurt may not be your first pick when you have a stomachache, but probiotics could bring relief.

“They can help to restore the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, which can control symptoms of an upset stomach,” Devje said.

“Probiotic-rich foods such as fermented vegetables, kefir, kombucha and sauerkraut decrease the number of bad bacteria — which can cause inflammation and discomfort — in your gut.”

— With files from Laura Hensley

 

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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22Aug

Here’s how eating artificial preservatives can affect your health – National

by BBG Hub

It’s “common” for food to contain artificial preservatives.

That’s because they can “prevent spoilage, improve appearance and texture, and maintain the food’s nutritional quality,” said registered dietitian Novella Lui.

It’s not just fast food restaurants using artificial preservatives, either.

READ MORE: Why aren’t Canadians cooking anymore?

“They’re commonly found in processed foods we purchase at grocery stores,” said Stephanie Hnatiuk, another registered dietitian.

There are also natural preservatives — like salt, sugar, vinegar and citrus juice — but using them usually comes at a higher cost to the food manufacturer.

Artificial preservatives help “decrease the price of that food product for the consumer,” Hnatiuk said.

But alongside these benefits, there may be some health concerns that come along with artificial preservatives.

What are artificial preservatives?

According to Lui, artificial preservatives are chemical substances that get added to food during the manufacturing process.

Some of the most popular are sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).

“Sodium benzoate is a preservative and microbial agent used in tomato products, pickles, sauces, fruits, fruit salads, jams, cider, salad dressing, and some meat and poultry products,” said Lui.

READ MORE: Pizza and chocolate can be just as addicting as drugs and alcohol, study suggests

On labels, sorbic acid is sometimes called calcium sorbate or potassium sorbate.

“[It’s] a preservative used in jams, cold-processed smoked and salted fish paste, concentrate juice (except frozen concentrate juice), minced meat, marmalade with pectin, jam, syrup, pickles, relishes, smoked or salted dried fish, ketchup, tomato paste, tomato puree, margarine and salad dressing.”

BHA and BHT are preservatives with “antioxidant properties,” Lui explained.

“They help fats stay fresh longer by preventing the oils from becoming rancid.”

They’re used in fats and oils, potato chips, dried breakfast cereals, parboiled rice and chewing gum.

Are artificial preservatives bad for you?

Some artificial preservatives, such as nitrites or nitrates used in processed meats, have been shown to be bad for our health, Hnatiuk said.

“Consuming these preservatives has been shown to increase our risk of colon cancer and should be limited in our diets,” she said.

However, others have been studied extensively and proven to be safe.

“It really just depends on the specific ingredient in question,” she explained.

WATCH BELOW: UN report — Changing your diet can help save the planet





Lui agrees, and adds that the quantity of the ingredient also matters.

“Some animal and test-tube studies suggest that BHA and BHT may be harmful as they may increase one’s risk for cancer,” she said. “The use of BHA and BHT is restricted in Europe, [but] Health Canada has deemed these preservatives safe for use in small quantities in foods.”

The Food and Drugs Act outlines the amount and the type of additives that are safe for use in foods sold in Canada.

“Under normal circumstances, if preservatives are only consumed in small quantities, they shouldn’t pose any health risk,” Lui said.

READ MORE: 6 nutrition experts on what they would order at a fast food restaurant

In an effort to avoid artificial preservatives, some people try to use natural preservatives. However, according to Hnatiuk, natural doesn’t always mean healthier.

“For example, alternative preservatives that are ‘all natural’ can include things like sugar and salt,” she said. “We know that excess amounts of these in our diets aren’t healthy for us, even if they do come from natural sources.”

Choosing to use natural preservatives can also be more expensive.

“Consumers are only willing to pay so much for a fast food meal, and it has to taste good in order to sell,” said Hnatiuk.

Should you avoid artificial preservatives?

Actively avoiding artificial preservatives is a personal choice, said Lui.

“When consumed in small amounts, they shouldn’t pose any health risk… but how much is too much to affect one’s health is still debatable,” she said.

“Therefore, it’s best to limit processed and take-out foods, like snacks, sweets and fast foods. Eat more fresh and minimally processed foods, which have fewer to no additives and are more nutritious overall.”

WATCH BELOW: Men with eating disorders face stigma in getting treatment





She also recommends making your own meals at home with whole foods like vegetables and fruits, whole grains, eggs, fish, poultry and legumes.

If you do want to avoid artificial preservatives, you can do so by closely examining package labels.

“These ingredients are usually listed at the very end of the list as they are only used in small quantities,” said Lui.

“For grab-and-go meals from grocery stores and delis, you can check the expiration date on the packaging. To avoid preservatives… choose the ones that are made with 100 per cent organic ingredients.”

[email protected]

 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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15May

Men suffer from eating disorders, too — so why do we ignore them? – National

by BBG Hub

In a recent interview, Twitter CEO and tech giant Jack Dorsey said that he only eats one meal a day during the workweek (dinner) and on weekends, he fasts.

“The first time I did it, like Day 3, I felt like I was hallucinating,” Dorsey told fitness influencer Ben Greenfield.

“It was a weird state to be in. But as I did it the next two times, it just became so apparent to me how much of our days are centred around meals and how — the experience I had was when I was fasting for much longer — how time really slowed down.”

READ MORE: Signs of eating disorders that often go unnoticed — ‘They’re not about food’

Dorsey said his diet allowed him to “feel so much more focused,” and it was widely lauded as the secret to his success.

In some instances, Dorsey’s diet was described as “biohacking,” a practice common to Silicon Valley that promotes the use of restrictive diets and fasts as a way to optimize productivity.

However, critics were quick to point out that Dorsey’s habits sounded a lot like those of an eating disorder. People also took issue with his extreme fasting being spoken about in a positive light.

Dr. Simon Sherry, a registered psychologist who specializes in eating disorders, says these concerns are valid because, oftentimes, men aren’t made aware that their food habits can be a sign of disordered eating.

(Editor’s note: Sherry made it extremely clear that he cannot diagnose Dorsey with any eating disorder, but he is concerned with the narrative around his diet. Dorsey himself has never claimed to struggle with an eating disorder, either.)

READ MORE: ‘Clean eating’ trend has eating disorder specialists concerned

“There is a problem where eating disorders are mischaracterized as female or as feminine… and that’s just not the case,” Sherry said.

According to Sherry, about 0.2 to 0.3 per cent of the male population will have anorexia nervosa at some point in their life. For bulimia nervosa, that number rises to between 2.1 and 2.5 per cent of the population. For binge eating disorders, it’s between one and three per cent.

“This is far from an exclusively female problem,” said Sherry.

Masculine stereotypes

Sherry attributes much of the misunderstanding about male eating disorders to a perceived disconnect between eating disorders and masculinity.

“Since eating disorders are cast as a feminine issue… (they) run counter to masculine gender norms,” Sherry said.

“It’s hard to imagine John Wayne suffering from an eating disorder. You’re silent, you’re tough, you’re independent.”

Sherry says men are taught that they’re not supposed to be sick or struggling — especially not with a “woman’s illness” — and this prevents them from coming forward with their illness.

“We can be especially stigmatizing of men who don’t conform to masculine gender norms,” he said.

WATCH: ‘Clean eating’ trend has eating disorder specialists concerned





Aryel Maharaj, outreach and education co-ordinator at the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), sees this often in his work.

“Boys and men are less likely to seek help,” he said.

“When someone identifies as a male and they contact us on our helpline, for example, we’ll do some extra validation.”

NEDIC operates a helpline for those struggling with eating disorders from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

This can look like extra encouragement or reassurance that the person calling in is not alone in his struggle.

“We even have pamphlets and resources specifically for men and boys,” Maharaj said. “It’s probably been a big fight for them to contact us in the first place.”

The “choice” narrative

According to Maharaj, anyone can have an eating disorder, and it’s a mental illness that needs to be taken seriously.

NEDIC characterizes an eating disorder as “persistent disturbances to eating and eating-related behaviours that result in harm to one’s physical health, mental health and/or psycho-social functioning,” he said.

“People always want to know the causes… but the development of an eating disorder can’t really be contributed to a specific person or event or gene.”

READ MORE: Sophie Grégoire Trudeau opens up about her former struggle with bulimia

Without a clear single cause to blame, eating disorders are sometimes — dangerously — attributed to choice.

Part of the stigma surrounding eating disorders is constructing it in terms of personal responsibility — these are choices that you can or cannot make,” said Sherry.

“To reduce an eating disorder to a question of personal responsibility is a wild discrepancy from what research tells us. Research tells us an eating disorder is a biologically based disorder involving genetic risk factors and high heritability estimates.”

Limits to diagnosis and treatment for men

Securing the funding for research on disordered eating in men is even harder because of the stigma that surrounds it.

“Stigma is driving slower recognition of eating disorder symptoms and stigma is driving delayed help-seeking,” said Sherry.

This appears to be especially true for men who admit themselves to an eating disorder clinic.

“They have a lower body mass index on average and they’re at a higher age on average,” he said. “That suggests that we’ve got someone who’s finally getting help, but they’re older… and they’re arguably suffering from a more severe version of the problem, compared to women, as expressed in their lower body mass index.”

READ MORE: Experts say sharing weight-loss resolutions online can be harmful to those with eating disorders

This stigma is amplified by the stigma of eating disorders more broadly, too.

“There is a heavy stigma surrounding disordered eating for men and for women alike… and it runs deep,” he said.

“To give you a concrete example… in Canada, per person with an eating disorder per year, we spend about $2.41 on someone with an eating disorder. In contrast, for someone with autism, we’re spending about $462.14.”

Education is key

For Sherry, change begins with increased mental health literacy across the board.

“Mental health literacy surrounding eating disorders is very low, and that needs to be corrected on several levels. Practitioners and researchers need more information. The general public also needs more information,” he said.

Sherry is also determined to eliminate the “choice” narrative.

“We have to challenge (people when they) mistakenly admire certain aspects of disordered eating,” Sherry said.

When it comes to helping men specifically, the stigma has to go.

“The stigma often involves a deep and profound sense of shame… We have to start challenging the myths and misconceptions about the data,” he added.

In his work at NEDIC, Maharaj is focused on intersectionality.

“Especially for folks who come from underserved populations — whether that’s queer and trans folks, people of colour or Indigenous people,” he said. “We need to make sure that those people also have a voice at the table.”

READ MORE: Laxative abuse is the eating disorder that’s rarely talked about

Eating disorders are serious, but there are effective treatments available.

That’s why Dr. Allan Kaplan, senior clinician and chief of research at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, believes it’s of the utmost importance to teach men how to recognize the signs and symptoms of disordered eating.

According to Kaplan, there are three major recognized eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

“Anorexia nervosa is characterized by being a low weight, which compromises a person’s physical and emotional functioning,” Kaplan said.

“Bulimia nervosa is characterized by binge eating and purging, usually at a normal weight. (It) has a lower mortality, but it certainly has a high morbidity — it affects people’s quality of life.

“Finally, binge eating disorder generally affects obese people, but they do not compensate — they don’t purge, they don’t starve themselves, they don’t over-exercise.”

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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30Apr

Will eating peanuts dull your child’s allergy? Experts are divided – National

by BBG Hub

Exposing a child with a peanut allergy to a small amount of peanuts over a period of time has long been considered an effective way to lessen the impacts of the allergy, but a recent study has found that oral immunotherapy (OIT) can increase a child’s risk of severe allergic reaction by three times compared to if they were to avoid peanuts altogether.

“We’re not outright saying that this treatment doesn’t work for anyone or that this treatment should be abandoned … but right now this is an experimental treatment,” said Dr. Derek Chu, a fellow in clinical immunology and allergy at McMaster University.

READ MORE: Half of adults who think they have food allergies actually don’t — study

Led by Chu, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 12 controlled studies of peanut oral immunotherapy. Altogether, the analysis involved more than 1,000 patients between the ages of five and 12.

The results were clear: the frequency of anaphylaxis was 7.1 per cent for those on a placebo or practicing avoidance (which is the practice of avoiding exposure to the allergen at all costs).

For those undergoing a peanut treatment, it rose to 22.2 per cent.

An allergy to peanuts is different from other allergies, according to Chu. It’s thought to be lifelong and it’s often associated with severe allergic reactions.

“It’s one of the most common causes of food-induced anaphylaxis presenting to the emergency room,” said Chu.

WATCH: U.S. teen with peanut allergy dies after accidentally eating cookie parents deemed ‘safe’





The severity of the allergy has long perplexed doctors, which is why OIT as a possible way to mitigate those omnipresent and often life-threatening symptoms has excited the medical community.

As both a doctor and someone who has had a peanut allergy his entire life, Chu hopes OIT will one day be an effective way to manage symptoms. However, he is skeptical about the practice as it stands. 

“(OIT) may work for some, but we don’t know who and we don’t know how to optimize that yet. We need to make improvements,” Chu said.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t suffer in silence’ — How to treat your seasonal allergies

Food allergies are extremely common, and peanut allergies even more so.

According to Food Allergy Canada, more than 2.6 million Canadians self-report having at least one food allergy, and peanut allergies affect two out of 100 children in Canada.

Depending on its severity, a peanut allergy can cause a range of symptoms — from hives and nausea to shortness of breath and trouble breathing.

Severe allergies can make everyday activities difficult

Burlington mom Hiromi Okuyama has a four-year-old son with food allergies so severe that they affect her entire family.

“Our grocery bill is much higher than the average family. We hardly ever eat out, (and) fast food isn’t in his vocabulary,” said Okuyama. “We pack his food all the time, we’re nervous about eating at restaurants and travelling is hard.”

Okuyama’s son has anaphylactic reactions to dairy, wheat and eggs so she needs to watch him almost constantly.

“He is so sensitive that he reacts just by touching something with the allergen,” she said. “We have to clean all surfaces before he eats. When he goes to public places and there is carpet, I can see rashes appear sometimes because the carpet probably has food particles in it that he’s allergic to.”

READ MORE: Unvaccinated — Should vaccinations be mandatory for school-aged kids?

For Okuyama, her son’s allergies can be extremely stressful — especially when her family wants to do something relatively “normal,” like join their extended family at a restaurant for a special event.

“We usually bring his own food because we worry about cross-contamination,” she said.

“Some people may think my husband and I are overprotective, but they don’t understand how lethal dairy, wheat and egg is to my son. (They) can have fatal consequences.”

In the view of Dr. Harold Kim, president of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI), OIT could be an effective way to ease some of the anxiety that often accompanies severe allergies.

He believes the treatment could lead patients to a “more normal life where they don’t have to be paranoid about trace amounts of food.”

“Some patients can have quite a lot of anxiety around eating out … I would say, on average, it does have a big impact on quality of life,” said Kim. 

OIT can have positive outcomes

That’s why Kim believes OIT should be offered to patients.

“The science behind it is very good … but, of course, we want to warn people about the potential side effects. You could extrapolate that to any medical therapy that we have,” he said.

“If we use a blood thinner to treat blood clots, there’s an increased risk of bleeding for those patients, but the benefit is that they won’t have life-threatening problems with blood clots.”

Kim believes that Chu’s findings were to be expected.

“(During OIT) we’re giving children the food they’re allergic to,” Kim said. “We warn all patients that there is an increased risk of systemic side effects and milder effects as well.”

Despite these side effects, Kim thinks OIT still helps people with severe peanut allergies lead more normal lives.

More research is needed

The outcomes of OIT treatment can be unpredictable, which worries doctors like Dr. Elana Lavine, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Humber River Hospital.

“I have been avidly following the oral immunotherapy research and I would hope to be able to provide this service to my own patients in the future, but I’m still working on concerns regarding the pragmatics of how to operate in a safe way,” said Lavine. 

Her concerns are mostly about how to provide patients with around-the-clock care in case of an anaphylactic reaction — which can happen, since they’re consuming their allergens on a regular basis.

“The real-life application of this therapy does carry certain risks,” said Lavine. “Parents and patients would have to be given appropriate informed consent before they began this process.”

WATCH: Is it worth it to get a food sensitivity test?





There’s also the chance that OIT could have a negative impact on your quality of life, as it can come with several side effects.

“The most common side effects seem to be discomfort associated with ingesting the food that you’re allergic to,” said Lavine.

This can include but is not limited to stomachaches, abdominal pain and problems with the esophagus. There’s also, of course, the risk of have an anaphylactic reaction. 

Add peanuts to your child’s diet as soon as possible

One way you can reduce your child’s risk of developing a severe peanut allergy is to introduce peanuts at a young age — ideally, between four and six months of age.

For this preventative measure to be effective, your baby should be ingesting peanuts regularly.

This is the official stance of the Canadian Pediatric Society, and it’s one both Kim and Lavine wholeheartedly endorse.

“That’s absolutely something I recommend to all of my patients, and it’s not altered at all by the recent publications about oral immunotherapy,” said Lavine. 

[email protected]

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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30Apr

Will eating peanuts dull your child’s allergy? Experts are divided – National

by BBG Hub

Exposing a child with a peanut allergy to a small amount of peanuts over a period of time has long been considered an effective way to lessen the impacts of the allergy, but a recent study has found that oral immunotherapy (OIT) can increase a child’s risk of severe allergic reaction by three times compared to if they were to avoid peanuts altogether.

“We’re not outright saying that this treatment doesn’t work for anyone or that this treatment should be abandoned … but right now this is an experimental treatment,” said Dr. Derek Chu, a fellow in clinical immunology and allergy at McMaster University.

READ MORE: Half of adults who think they have food allergies actually don’t — study

Led by Chu, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 12 controlled studies of peanut oral immunotherapy. Altogether, the analysis involved more than 1,000 patients between the ages of five and 12.

The results were clear: the frequency of anaphylaxis was 7.1 per cent for those on a placebo or practicing avoidance (which is the practice of avoiding exposure to the allergen at all costs).

For those undergoing a peanut treatment, it rose to 22.2 per cent.

An allergy to peanuts is different from other allergies, according to Chu. It’s thought to be lifelong and it’s often associated with severe allergic reactions.

“It’s one of the most common causes of food-induced anaphylaxis presenting to the emergency room,” said Chu.

WATCH: U.S. teen with peanut allergy dies after accidentally eating cookie parents deemed ‘safe’





The severity of the allergy has long perplexed doctors, which is why OIT as a possible way to mitigate those omnipresent and often life-threatening symptoms has excited the medical community.

As both a doctor and someone who has had a peanut allergy his entire life, Chu hopes OIT will one day be an effective way to manage symptoms. However, he is skeptical about the practice as it stands. 

“(OIT) may work for some, but we don’t know who and we don’t know how to optimize that yet. We need to make improvements,” Chu said.

READ MORE: ‘Don’t suffer in silence’ — How to treat your seasonal allergies

Food allergies are extremely common, and peanut allergies even more so.

According to Food Allergy Canada, more than 2.6 million Canadians self-report having at least one food allergy, and peanut allergies affect two out of 100 children in Canada.

Depending on its severity, a peanut allergy can cause a range of symptoms — from hives and nausea to shortness of breath and trouble breathing.

Severe allergies can make everyday activities difficult

Burlington mom Hiromi Okuyama has a four-year-old son with food allergies so severe that they affect her entire family.

“Our grocery bill is much higher than the average family. We hardly ever eat out, (and) fast food isn’t in his vocabulary,” said Okuyama. “We pack his food all the time, we’re nervous about eating at restaurants and travelling is hard.”

Okuyama’s son has anaphylactic reactions to dairy, wheat and eggs so she needs to watch him almost constantly.

“He is so sensitive that he reacts just by touching something with the allergen,” she said. “We have to clean all surfaces before he eats. When he goes to public places and there is carpet, I can see rashes appear sometimes because the carpet probably has food particles in it that he’s allergic to.”

READ MORE: Unvaccinated — Should vaccinations be mandatory for school-aged kids?

For Okuyama, her son’s allergies can be extremely stressful — especially when her family wants to do something relatively “normal,” like join their extended family at a restaurant for a special event.

“We usually bring his own food because we worry about cross-contamination,” she said.

“Some people may think my husband and I are overprotective, but they don’t understand how lethal dairy, wheat and egg is to my son. (They) can have fatal consequences.”

In the view of Dr. Harold Kim, president of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI), OIT could be an effective way to ease some of the anxiety that often accompanies severe allergies.

He believes the treatment could lead patients to a “more normal life where they don’t have to be paranoid about trace amounts of food.”

“Some patients can have quite a lot of anxiety around eating out … I would say, on average, it does have a big impact on quality of life,” said Kim. 

OIT can have positive outcomes

That’s why Kim believes OIT should be offered to patients.

“The science behind it is very good … but, of course, we want to warn people about the potential side effects. You could extrapolate that to any medical therapy that we have,” he said.

“If we use a blood thinner to treat blood clots, there’s an increased risk of bleeding for those patients, but the benefit is that they won’t have life-threatening problems with blood clots.”

Kim believes that Chu’s findings were to be expected.

“(During OIT) we’re giving children the food they’re allergic to,” Kim said. “We warn all patients that there is an increased risk of systemic side effects and milder effects as well.”

Despite these side effects, Kim thinks OIT still helps people with severe peanut allergies lead more normal lives.

More research is needed

The outcomes of OIT treatment can be unpredictable, which worries doctors like Dr. Elana Lavine, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Humber River Hospital.

“I have been avidly following the oral immunotherapy research and I would hope to be able to provide this service to my own patients in the future, but I’m still working on concerns regarding the pragmatics of how to operate in a safe way,” said Lavine. 

Her concerns are mostly about how to provide patients with around-the-clock care in case of an anaphylactic reaction — which can happen, since they’re consuming their allergens on a regular basis.

“The real-life application of this therapy does carry certain risks,” said Lavine. “Parents and patients would have to be given appropriate informed consent before they began this process.”

WATCH: Is it worth it to get a food sensitivity test?





There’s also the chance that OIT could have a negative impact on your quality of life, as it can come with several side effects.

“The most common side effects seem to be discomfort associated with ingesting the food that you’re allergic to,” said Lavine.

This can include but is not limited to stomachaches, abdominal pain and problems with the esophagus. There’s also, of course, the risk of have an anaphylactic reaction. 

Add peanuts to your child’s diet as soon as possible

One way you can reduce your child’s risk of developing a severe peanut allergy is to introduce peanuts at a young age — ideally, between four and six months of age.

For this preventative measure to be effective, your baby should be ingesting peanuts regularly.

This is the official stance of the Canadian Pediatric Society, and it’s one both Kim and Lavine wholeheartedly endorse.

“That’s absolutely something I recommend to all of my patients, and it’s not altered at all by the recent publications about oral immunotherapy,” said Lavine. 

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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4Apr

It’s not just fat and salt that’s killing us — it’s also what we aren’t eating – National

by BBG Hub


Instead of focusing solely on disease when it comes to risk factors of death, a new study suggests diet is just as important.

According to a recent study published in The Lancet on Wednesday, globally, the number of people eating healthy food and getting enough nutrients was suboptimal in 2017.

The study found globally, one in five deaths (that’s about 11 million deaths) in 2017 were linked to poor diet, with cardiovascular disease being the largest contributor, followed by cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

The study, which looked at 195 countries over a 27-year period is part of the annual Global Burden of Disease report, where researchers track premature death and disability from more than 350 diseases and injuries in those countries, CNN reported.

READ MORE: 5 physical signs your diet needs to change

“In many countries, poor diet now causes more deaths than tobacco smoking and high blood pressure,” lead author Ashkan Afshin told the news site.

“While traditionally, all the conversation about healthy diet has been focused on lowering the intake of unhealthy food, in this study, we have shown that, at the population level, a low intake of healthy foods is the more important factor, rather than the high intake of unhealthy foods.”

Afshi, who is also an assistant professor at University of Washington, added there were 15 dietary risk factors and the highest ones included eating too much salt and not eating enough whole grains, fruits and nuts and seeds. Some of the risk factors lower on the risk scale included too much processed meat, red meat, trans fat and sweetened drinks.

According to the study, the proportion of diet-related deaths was highest in Uzbekistan and the lowest in Israel. The U.K. ranked 23rd, the U.S. 43rd, China 140th, and India 118th. A majority of countries were grouped in categories like tropical Latin America, Southeast Asia, Oceania and southern sub-Saharan Africa. Canada was part of a grouping of “high-income North America.”

CNN noted in Asia, there was a high consumption of salt, while in Mexico, there was a lack of nuts and seeds in people’s diets.

This is ‘not surprising’

Author and registered dietitian Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen said it’s not surprising poor diet was a leading cause of death around the world.

“While I do think it’s hard to tease a lot of these risk factors apart in a lot of cases (that’s the challenge of doing nutrition or health-related population research), we have decades of quality research suggesting that what we put or don’t put into our bodies has an enormous impact on disease, longevity and quality of life.”

And when it comes to risk factors like salt, Sharp said most of us are unaware of how much salt is actually in our food.

“Most of the food we’re eating is no longer cooked from scratch,” she explained. “If we were to make all of our meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks — the way our grandparents did, we would be able to visibly see what salt we’re adding in food preparation and at the table.”

But it’s not just salt that dietitians are concerned about.

“Most of the salt in our diet is coming from packaged foods, processed foods, or fast foods where salt is not only added for flavour, but for preservation purposes,” she continued. “Even the seemingly ‘healthy choices’ in restaurants or the store-bought prepared meals can be loaded with sodium. Food doesn’t have to taste ‘salty’ to have a lot of salt.”

Why aren’t we eating enough fruits, whole grains and nuts?

Health Canada recommends making at least half your plate vegetables and fruits on a daily basis, and varying the type of fruits and veggies you eat from berries to leafy greens to cabbage.

To eat more veggies in general, try pre-bagged veggies for a quick salad or stir-fry or serve raw vegetables like peppers and cucumbers with dinner or lunch. For fruit, replace sugary desserts with fruit salad or oranges, and add frozen fruit to baking.

READ MORE: COMMENTARY: Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive

“I think it’s largely to do with convenience again,” Sharp explained. “Typically, whole grains, fruits, veggies and nuts and seeds are not found in abundance the same way that refined grains like corn, oils and highly-processed meats are.”

She said these foods tend to be a bit more expensive, and restaurants’ or food manufacturers’ “bottom line,” often skimping on some of these more nutritious ingredients in favour of cheaper filler carbs, salt and fat.

Tips to eat healthier

But eating healthier on a daily basis is hard with our busy, stressful and fast lives. Prepping a grocery list and meal planning are good ways to have more control over what you eat, but Sharp said it’s also about focusing on what we need to eat more of.

“Ultimately, by including more of those whole grains, fruits and veggies into our diet, we’re going to edge out some of the more processed, high sodium, low nutrient foods,” she said. “But I find that talking about what to eat more of rather than eat less of is more approachable and palatable to most Canadians.”

READ MORE: Why diets aren’t working for you – or anyone else

Start by including one new whole grain, fruit or veggie, into our meals or snacks. She added by default, we will cut back on other less healthy options. Over time, this can become a habit.

“I think that we really need to invest more pride and love in what we put into our bodies. Food should not just be seen as fuel. We need to prioritize shopping, cooking, and eating food as part of our daily routine, which will reduce our reliance on overly processed, high salt, low nutrition convenience foods.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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5Mar

Pizza and chocolate can be just as addicting as drugs and alcohol, study suggests – National

by BBG Hub

Have you ever opened a bag of chips, only to polish it off moments later?

There could be a scientific reason for that.

According to a new study, pizza, chocolate, chips, cookies and ice cream are the foods most often associated with “addictive-like eating.”

READ MORE: More than half of food produce in Canada is wasted: ‘It would horrify our grandparents’

The goal of the study was to better understand which foods, and properties of those foods, were associated with addictive overeating.

It’s no coincidence that your favourite junk foods (as opposed to fresh produce and other natural foods) top the list.

“The level of processing” is the largest predictor for how addicting a food will be, nutrition expert and study co-author Nicole Avena told Global News.

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Researchers suggest that food with added amounts of fat and refined carbohydrates (such as sugar and white flour) may have qualities similar to those of drugs, like nicotine or alcohol.

These ingredients “have been shown in other studies to activate reward-related regions of the brain,” Avena said.

“The foods we often tend to overeat and feel compelled to eat might have those effects on our behaviour because of something about them is causing addiction-like changes in our behaviours.”

READ MORE: Eight unhealthy foods that aren’t bad for you

During the study, participants were asked to analyze 35 foods and choose which they most associated with addictive-like eating behaviours.

Researchers then used the hierarchy to investigate which food attributes — for example, fat grams — were related to addictive-like eating behaviour.

Other foods near the top of the list were french fries, cheeseburgers, pop, cake, cheese and bacon. Of 35 foods, the ones least associated with addictive-like eating behaviours were brown rice, apple, beans, carrots and cucumber.

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One limitation of the study is that it only included 35 foods, Avena said.

“Larger studies are being planned that include more foods, so we can get a better sense of the different types of foods that people tend to eat, and how they might be associated with addictive eating,” she said.

In addition, Avena admits that it can be difficult to define a “processed food.”

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“We defined ‘processed’ as marked by the addition of fat and/or refined carbohydrate,” Avena said. In the study, “non-processed” foods were considered to be things like bananas, broccoli and apples.

“For the average person out there shopping and trying to decide which foods are more processed than others, those that are shelf stable are likely to be more processed and contain additives and preservatives,” Avena explained. “Fresh foods, like fruits, vegetables, plain nuts, and meats, are better options as foods that are minimally processed.”

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Another trick for knowing if a product is processed is the ingredients list. “When there are many [ingredients] listed, this is usually a sign that the product is highly processed,” Avena said.

But how do you know if you’re addicted to a food? “Negative consequences” are the biggest indicator of food addiction, according to Avena.

“If you are overeating and it causes you to develop diabetes or be unhappy and you still can’t stop, then there may be an addictive process involved,” she said. “Also, needing to eat more and more to feel satisfied.”

READ MORE: Don’t follow J. Lo’s ‘unhealthy’ 10-day no carb and sugar challenge

To be addicted to food is to have difficulty “reducing intake or saying no to eating something,” said Avena.

It’s a chronic issue, not something that happens once and a while. Eating a slice of pie on Thanksgiving (even though you’re full) is not an indication of food addiction.

It becomes an addiction when it negatively impacts your health and well-being.

WATCH BELOW: Why do you feel so bad when you overeat?





In her book Why Diets Fail, Avena provides advice for fighting overeating caused by food addiction. In her view, distraction is key when a craving presents itself.

“When people indulge a little, it can lead to them to eating more than they intend. A hedonic craving (or a craving for something when we aren’t physically in need of calories) will pass in time, so the key is to distract yourself or remove yourself from the cues that are causing the craving,” she told Global News.

Social cues that can prompt a hedonic cravings — such as ads or logos — are pretty much everywhere we go.

“We can’t avoid them, but we can be aware of the powerful effect they have on us.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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19Feb

Nuts are high in fat, but will eating them make you gain weight? – National

by BBG Hub

The key to eating anything is focusing on moderation, even when it comes to nutrient-dense nuts.

Nuts have long been dubbed a healthy snack for those trying to lose or maintain weight, but some experts say some people fear it.

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“Nuts are very calorie-dense and often, people stay away from them if they are looking to lose weight,” said registered dietitian Anar Allidina. “Studies have shown that including nuts in your diet can help with meeting your weight-loss goals.”

READ MORE: Why Canadian scientists say you should add nuts to your daily diet

The problem is portion control

Eating anything in excess can lead to weight gain, so this isn’t about nuts in particular. The tricky part with nuts, Allidina added, is that most people don’t know how to control portions.

“A handful (1/4 cup or 28 grams) is the recommended portion per day for nut intake,” she explained. “Overeating any foods can result in weight gain and this includes nuts as well.”

WATCH: Reach for nuts at snack time




To avoid overeating, measure out 1/4 cup of nuts and portion them into small containers to take with you as a snack or to add to a salad or a stir-fry.

“Keep in mind that portion needs to be accounted for nut butter as well. If your intake of nuts and nut butter during the day is high, then this can potentially lead to weight gain.”

One review of more than 30 studies in 2013 found people who ate nuts did not have an increase in body weight, body-mass index or waist circumference compared to those who didn’t eat nuts, Science Alert reported.

READ MORE: Why are nuts good for us and how many should we eat?

The site added another study found when people repeatedly ate nuts with the goal to lose weight, they lost more body fat compared to those who didn’t eat nuts. Some experts believe one of the reasons nuts won’t lead to weight gain is because our bodies don’t absorb all of the fat. 

Others, like Ryerson University nutrition professor Dr. Rena Mendelson, previously told Global News it’s not that nuts offer nutrients that other foods don’t, but people who regularly eat nuts may eat healthier overall. 

“It’s very likely that people who chose nuts chose them over other treats. Choices are as important as anything to health outcomes and that shows up in study after study. What’s important to recognize is no single food is likely to account for health, but a pattern of eating,” she said.

Choose the right nuts

Dietitian and blogger Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen, told Global News people are still fear fat in general, even in nuts. “But fatty foods can also help us feel full for longer so we don’t over indulge on certain foods and better control our appetite,” she said.

“Eating a handful of nuts each day are also a great snack substitute for less satisfying nutritious foods foods like cakes, chips and chocolate”

Previously speaking with Global News, Cleveland Clinic Canada registered dietitian Jennifer Sygo said nuts are packed with protein, and are rich in vitamins, minerals and flavonoids.

She recommended eating Macadamia nuts, walnuts and almonds.

Almonds are high in vitamin E, magnesium, and are natural antioxidants, she said. Almonds can also help with heart health and healing skin over time.

Allidina said we should also try to stick with unsalted nuts.

READ MORE: Researchers want the world to eat differently. Here’s what that diet might look like.

“The flavoured and salted versions can contain sugar, salt and additional oils that tend to have higher calories,” she said. “If you have nut allergies or work in a nut-free environment, stick to unsalted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds — they offer a similar nutrient profile and make a perfect nutrient-dense snack during the day.”

If your focus is weight loss or maintaining weight, replace your afternoon sugary snack with 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds with a piece of fruit such as an apple, she said.

“The protein, fat, and fibre from the nuts/seed and fruit will keep you feeling full for longer and give you sustained energy for you to power through until dinner.”

Sharp said high nut consumption also has to be paired with other healthy activities.

“It’s not necessarily the high nut consumption, but really just the excess calories that can lead to weight gain,” she said. “It’s more about how we eat a food coupled with a lack of physical activity, and not that the food itself that causes weight gain.”

— with files from Carmen Chai

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.




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