More than a Few Steps Forward
Canada’s new food guide looks familiar. Perhaps you’ve hear of Dr. Terry Wahl’s. She is the doctor who was diagnosed with MS and confined to wheelchair. She healed herself with diet & lifestyle. Now she helps people do the same. Her food pyramid has a lot similarities with ours:
- More emphasis on quality & less on servings. The old guide would ‘prescribe’ how many servings of each of the four food groups.
- Specific warnings about eating processed and prepared foods.
- Sugary drinks including fruit juice, soda & alcohol are also excluded. Instead Canadians are encouraged to hydrate with water.
- The social element of food is recognized based on research that came out of successes in Brazil: “Be mindful of your eating habits;” “cook more often;” “enjoy your food;” and “eat meals with others.”
Fats or Grains?
The Wahl’s protocol focuses on the importance of healthy fats while leaving out grains. However Canada is still warning us about the dangers of saturated fat & saying whole grains are essential. I disagree.
The research is clear that fats like coconut oil and butter from grass-fed animals are healthy foods. I know from my patient population that most people feel better when they increase healthy fats and reduce foods high in lectins like grains, pea protein powders and legumes. Lectins are hard on the gut lining causing symptoms in many people.
Both approaches suggest eating nut & seeds. These have excellent fats but are also lectins. They can cause irritation in higher amounts or in concentrated forms like nut butters.
What About Dairy & Bread?
Dairy isn’t included on the Wahl’s protocol and has been very side-lined on the Canadian guide. While industrial produced dairy is problematic for several reasons, small amounts of grass-fed dairy is a healthy source of calcium and K2. I recommend goat or sheep dairy for those who are lactose intolerant.
Bread is still on the Canadian food guide. Bread is a highly processed convenience food. Gluten can cross react with dairy and contribute to an immune response. There just aren’t nutrients in bread. It is a filler food.
Overall this new food guide is a positive move for Canadians. I love that we are looking to countries like Brazil to understand what creates happiness and a thriving, healthy population.