New Canada Food Guide Recommends Water

New Canada Food Guide Recommendations

Surprising Changes for Healthy Eating and Drinking

The new Canada Food Guide which emerged in early 2019 presented some surprising changes for healthy eating and drinking. Rather than state specific serving recommendations, general guidelines are given instead. One of the photos in the new food guide documentation shows a plate with one half of vegetables and fruit, one-quarter protein including lean meat, fish, and protein alternatives, and one-quarter whole grains. More importantly, the Canada Food Guide suggests that people make water their drink of choice.

Eating a variety of healthy foods each day should consist of plenty of vegetables and fruits, protein foods, whole grains, and water as the primary beverage with your meals and during the day. There are more plant-based proteins added along with lean red meat like game. Milk and alternatives and meat and alternatives were grouped in the previous food guide but this time, they are included together in a group. Recommendations for dairy consumption contains lower fat milk, yogurt, kefir, and cheese.

One of the creators of this new Canada Food Guide Dr. Hasan Hutchinson, Director General of the Office of Nutrition Policy and Promotion at Health Canada, describes why he chose to add certain foods to the Canada Food Guide and explicitly cited water as the preferred drink for healthy living.

In this Global News Report, Canada’s new food guide emphasizes eating plants, drinking water and cooking at homethe recommendation for water as the number one drink of choice was clear. The reason for this recommendation is that water not only prevents dehydration but also, it doesn’t contain sugar like soft drinks and juice. “Water supports health and prevents dehydration, without adding more calories to the diet,” said Hutchinson.

Processed foods and beverages that have high sodium, sugar, and saturated fat content “undermine healthy eating” according to the authors of the food guide, so they should be avoided. Examples of these detrimental foods which may cause other health issues include processed meats like hot dogs, deep-fried food, sugary cereals and sugary drinks that will add calories to each meal.

In a recent Statistics Canada report, sugary drinks were declared the top source of sugar ingestion by Canadians, even though sugar consumption has decreased. Instead of unhealthy foods and drink like candy and pop, sugar should come from natural whole sources like fruits, vegetables, and unsweetened milk which includes milk alternatives.

Additionally, alcohol has a high caloric count with “little to no nutritive value” compared to water for example, and it’s associated with an increased risk of numerous cancers, hypertension, and liver disease.

To make it easier for Canadians to follow the food guide, Health Canada brought into law a new food labeling system in 2018 that made it easier to spot foods high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fats.

Along with these food and drink recommendations, it was also advised that Canadians cook more often at home and share good home cooked meals with others. Since home cooked meals support healthy living and as the person who is preparing the food, you know exactly what goes into your meals. Also, you can limit or reduce the amount of sugar and sodium that goes into recipes or use substitutes.

The new Canada Food Guide exemplifies the latest in science-based thinking on what to include in your meals that denotes a healthy diet and it also suggests what to avoid. Furthermore, they did not consult the food industry as stated in this article Canada Food Guide changes: More veg, less meat, and no more eating alone from the Montreal Gazette.

Hutchinson said that this new approach to eating and the recommendations in the Canada Food Guide is supposed to be more “useful” to Canadians where it urges people to eat more of some foods and less of others for the benefit of good health. In a technical briefing, Hutchinson told reporters, “We did a fair amount of research when evaluating the past food guide, and what we heard from Canadians was that it was very difficult and too complicated to deal with recommendations about a particular number of portions of a particular size.”

Previously, it was recommended to eat 4 to 10 servings of vegetables in ½ cup portions depending on your age and the vegetable. Instead, the general recommendation is to have a plate of food, half of which should be fruits and vegetables. “It’s not about portion but about proportion,” clarified Hutchinson “and how to incorporate that into family meals, snacks, and gatherings. To make it real in your everyday life.”

For example, a balanced meal would be a one-quarter plate of whole grains like rice, pasta, or quinoa, and the other quarter should be filled with protein, such as lentils and beans which are plant-based. The reason why plant-based proteins are preferred is due to the fibre content and a lower intake of saturated fat and processed meats which in turn reduces the rate and risks of cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Add foods that are high in unsaturated fat such as avocados and nut butters over saturated fats like meat and cheese.

Much to the dismay of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, the decision to “de-emphasize” dairy products compared to other sources of protein would be “detrimental” to health and to the dairy industry. Although the food guide includes low-fat dairy products like milk and cheese but also include additional options for proteins that are plant-based like tofu and quinoa, their decision is based on a thorough investigation leading to scientific reports since 2006. But this doesn’t include reports that were commissioned by the food industry.

The goal of this new Canada Food Guide is to reduce chronic long term diseases like ischemic heart disease, stroke, colorectal cancer, diabetes, and breast cancer which are all diseases affected by an unhealthy diet. Hutchinson added, “The bottom line is that what we’ve done is to base our recommendations on solid, scientific evidence. That’s it. That’s what drives us. We made a strong commitment to not meet or be influenced by industry or (use) reports funded by industry.”

Health Canada was very thorough in their investigation as they consulted with academics, knowledgeable indigenous experts, provincial and territorial governments, health professional regulatory groups, organizations, and charities.

Due to the shockingly high rate of Type 2 diabetes and obesity in children, the food guide is adamant about children drinking water instead of pop, fruit juice or chocolate milk because, in a recent study by Statistics Canada, sugary drinks were the number one source of sugar for children.

The new Canada Food Guide reflects an openness to accept other forms of plant-based proteins to include in a healthy diet. As well, by paying attention to independent studies and reports, this has enabled Health Canada to go in a completely different direction and not take just the food industry studies into consideration when they designed the new Canada Food Guide.

 

REFERENCE LINKS

New Canada Food promotes more water, plant-based proteins
CTV News London, January 22, 2019

Canada’s new food guide emphasizes eating plants, drinking water and cooking at home
Global News Calgary, January 22, 2019

Canada Food Guide changes: More veg, less meat, and no more eating alone
Montreal Gazette, January 22, 2019

 


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