Canadian Health Professionals Band Together to Influence Canada Health’s Food Guidelines
In June 2017, Health Canada released proposed changes to the Food Guide that will be announced in early 2018, causing this growing group of health professionals to write a rebuttal to the proposal. The group stated that, while the principles take important steps towards solving some of the most problematic and obvious nutrition problems, like limiting sugar and increasing healthy fats, the recommendations are still full of information not indicative of current science, including the recommendation to limit saturated fats, rather than high carb and insulinogenic foods. Moreover, the proposed changes fail to address the science demonstrating that high carbohydrate diets unfavorably impact chronic diseases, despite the large body of scientific evidence that clearly proves causation.
After receiving a polite but dismissive letter back from Canada’s Health Minister, the group submitted a third letter encouraging the Minister to consider revising their reliance on sources such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee reports of 2010 and 2015, stating “You might think these are based in good evidence, but that has now shown to be incorrect, and we should not be considering those reports when making our own recommendations.” They go on to state that “The recent review on saturated fats by the American Heart Association is an outlier and must be viewed in the context that this organization launched the very first dietary recommendations against saturated fat (and cholesterol) in 1961 and has been vigorously defending this position ever since.”
With uncertainty looming about Health Canada’s intent to revise their stance on the latest changes to the Food Guide, and the resulting health benefits that would be conferred to Canadians, our friend and supporter Dr. David Harper (1) wrote an opinion piece highlighting the science behind a low-carb, ketogenic lifestyle, as well as the impact of high-carb, low fat living. Termed the ‘Axis of Illness’, Dr. Harper identifies three factors that work synergistically to aid in disease development – inflammation, obesity, and insulin resistance. As we age, Dr. Harper explains that “we get fat, inflamed, and insulin resistant, three conditions that all make each other worse. This axis of illness is largely responsible for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Cardiovascular disease is caused, not by fat in our diet, but by inflammation in our blood vessels. Type II diabetes is aggravated by both obesity and inflammation. Alzheimer’s disease, an inflammatory disease caused by an insulin resistant brain, is sometimes called Type III diabetes. The majority of cancers are dependent on glucose, exclusively, as a fuel: something known as the Warburg effect. Cancer cells’ rate of glucose uptake is about 200 times that of normal cells, so high glucose means ample fuel for tumor growth.” We encourage you to read and share his article so as to empower yourself and your loved ones through science-based nutrition recommendations.
A recent study published in Lancet (2) of the self-reported eating habits of over 135,000 people in 18 developed countries over 7 years showed a relationship between high-carbohydrate diets and mortality. People with the highest intake of carbohydrate (77% of calories) were more likely to have died than those with the lowest intake (46% of calories). In addition, those with the highest intake of dietary fat (35% of calories) were 23% less likely to have died than those with the lowest intake of fat (10% of calories).
A 2017 low-carbohydrate diet study conducted at Indiana University and published in the journal JMIR Diabetes, involving 262 adults with Type II diabetes, found that 87 per cent of the subjects were able to reduce or eliminate their need for medication to manage their disease (3). And this happened within a matter of weeks, sometimes even days.
The USDA and HSS are seeking public comments on topics and scientific questions to be examined in the review of evidence supporting the development of the upcoming 2020-2025 edition of the Dietary Guidelines in the US. A public comment period will be open for 30 days, from February 28, 2018 to March 30, 2018. The Departments have posted an overview of the proposed changes to the US’s Dietary Guidelines; after understanding the direction of the The Departments’ guiding principles, we encourage you to write in to make your opinion known. This is a sample letter that may assist you in writing your response to the USDA:
Obesity and diabetes are epidemics in the USA and must be addressed in the new dietary guidelines. There is substantial evidence that Americans are eating too many calories from carbohydrate and that lower carbohydrate intake, especially refined sugars, has multiple health benefits. In addition, saturated fats from whole food sources have been proven to be healthy and should not be discouraged. The new guidelines need to emphasize these important points.
An image of the write in box is pictured below; all comments are due by March 30, 2018.
- Dr. David Harper is an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of the Fraser Valley, a visiting scientist at the B.C. Cancer Research Centre, and a member of the scientific advisory board of the Institute for Personalized Therapeutic Nutrition.
- Dehghan M, Mente A, Zhang X, et al, on behalf of the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study investigators. Associations of fats and carbohydrate intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 18 countries from five continents: a prospective cohort study. Lancet 2017; published online Aug. 29.
- Saslow LR, Mason AE, Kim S, Goldman V, Ploutz-Snyder R, Bayandorian H, Daubenmier J, Hecht FM, Moskowitz JT. An Online Intervention Comparing a Very Low-Carbohydrate Ketogenic Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations Versus a Plate Method Diet in Overweight Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Med Internet Res2017;19(2):e36.