Don’t Dig Your Grave with a Knife and Fork – Part IV

PART IV – What’s Your New Years Resolution? 
By Brent Leung, C.N.

Part iV

If you’re a year round native to the gym, you know January 1st is the ceremonious date for many to make things right in their life. Hordes of long lost gym members embark on a pilgrimage of health with goals to shed their weight, tone or bulk up, and get healthy. The gym is bustling. In tandem with their zeal for physical change are new aspirations in eating habits. They know previous eating rituals, be it the Food Guidelines or some other adaptation has failed them, so they pull out the nutritional compass. It points them to a direction many frequent, The Diet.

This includes prominent brand names like Jenny Craig, the Dash diet, Weight Watchers, Slim-Fast, Nutrisystem, South Beach, and a plenty of others hoping to capitalize on a burgeoning business. In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimated that $30 billion was spent on diet-related programs and products. Twenty-one years later, people are spending $60 billion on these diets. Where is the logic? Where is the common sense? It’s clear diets, like the government’s guidance, has failed as well.

Continue reading Don’t Dig Your Grave with a Knife and Fork – Part IV

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Don’t Dig Your Grave with a Knife and Fork – Part III

PART III – My Plate Versus Your Plate
By Brent Leung, C.N.

myplate_blueIn 2011, the U.S. government scrapped the Food Guide Pyramid for a new visual aid of healthy eating called My Plate. If you’re looking to hang expensive art in your home, print out this new logo and frame it. After all, this Picasso-worthy design cost about two million in taxpayer dollars and took some two years to develop.

Pricey art aside, the new visual aid is equally troublesome as its cousin, the Food Guide Pyramid and accomplishes nothing, if guiding the public to better health is the goal.

Many argue that the plate is nothing more than a reincarnated veil for big agriculture and industry, since its architects include industry-friendly economists and policy advisors. One need look no further then the blue beverage of choice on the chart; it’s not water. Nutritional experts have criticized all aspects the plate, and rightly so.

Continue reading Don’t Dig Your Grave with a Knife and Fork – Part III

Don’t Dig Your Grave with a Knife and Fork – Part II

PART II – The Leaning Tower of Pisa
When Designs are Flawed From the Beginning
By Brent Leung, C.N.

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“More die in the United States from too much food than too little.”

  John Kenneth (1908-2007) Canadian-American economist

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Obesity in the U.S. during the 1960’s and 1970’s remained relatively constant at eight percent. In 1980, everything changed.

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This image or file is a work of a United States Department of Agriculture employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Political influence, combined with the lobbying efforts of billion dollar industries was the driving influences behind the architectural bureaucrats of the first set of established dietary guidelines and subsequent Food Guide Pyramids.

Continue reading Don’t Dig Your Grave with a Knife and Fork – Part II

Don’t Dig Your Grave with a Knife and Fork – Part I

Granny Versus Food Pyramids, Food Charts, and Food Plates

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By Brent Leung, C.N.

PART I – Common Sense is Not so Common

Growing up, visiting my grandparents was always a harrowing experience. Inevitably, I would do something wrong, causing Grandpa to endlessly chase me up and down the hallways with his slippers. Granny would force me to sit and read Readers Digest. There were mandated nap times and Sunday school lessons (even if it was a Tuesday). Contemporary secular music was out of the question, with classical music and talk radio being the dictated choices. Yet, all of this distress paled in comparison to the dining experience.

Liquids were not allowed during dinner. Greens were in overabundance, dwarfing any hint of juicy, succulent meat. Dessert? Forget about it! I remember sometimes sitting for hours at the table refusing to eat my greens, waiting for that golden opportunity when no one was looking to surreptitiously discard contents from my plate into a napkin.

Later in the evening, once the food digestion process was firmly underway, I was finally allowed some H2O (no sodas) to quench my dry mouth. Granted, fruity fortified water had not yet been invented, but I’m pretty sure if it had, Granny would have had some criticism of it. Growing up, my grandmother had strong, but simple beliefs about what should and should not be eaten for vitality and health. This was not an isolated experience, but prevailing wisdom. Dining out, fast food and instant microwave dinners were not yet common lifestyle traits among my friends. Most brought mom-prepared lunches to school and enjoyed home-cooked meals around the dining room table in the evenings.

Fast-forward some thirty years and the diet of my childhood bears no resemblance to the daily fare of today’s youth. Continue reading Don’t Dig Your Grave with a Knife and Fork – Part I

Lunch in B.C. Public Schools

Frankenstein’s Food Masquerades as a Healthy Alternative

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How healthy is your child’s cafeteria food?

According to the B.C. Ministry of Education, very healthy. Boasting strict guidelines on their website, the ministry states that its school lunch program is “designed to maximize students’ access to healthier options and fully eliminate the sale of unhealthy foods and beverages in BC schools.”

Actions, however, speak louder than words, so I decided to investigate the adherence of the guidelines by visiting various public school food vendor websites. Vendors Products of Canada stood out amongst its competitors because it featured a special line of “healthy” foods, called Healthy Alternatives. Perusing their list of available foods, I randomly selected an item to research – a Nutribar Chocolate Brownie snack. Its nutrient profile: Only 100 calories, nine vitamins and minerals, and two grams of fiber. Moreover, it claims that indulging in this snack is “part of a healthy lifestyle.”

Falling under the unique category of healthy alternatives, it’s no surprise this treat appears to meet the Ministry of Educations healthy mandate. That is, until you turn the package over, and take a closer look at the ingredient list, which included components such as: Continue reading Lunch in B.C. Public Schools

Water, a Universal Inalienable Right? – Part 2

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“A vast array of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones – have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.”  ~ CBS News ~

The guidelines for regulating Canadian drinking water identifies roughly 165 microbiological, chemical, and radiological contaminants that need to be reduced or eliminated to ensure the protection and vitality of human health. In the United States, the Safe Drinking Water Act identifies approximately 91 contaminants.

Continue reading Water, a Universal Inalienable Right? – Part 2

Water, a Universal Inalienable Right? – Part 1

Think again! 

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“Would you like a glass of water before takeoff?”

As passengers boarded Qantas Flight 32 in November 2010, departing Singapore for Australia’s outback, the harsh realities of gravity were not firmly etched in their minds. Four short minutes after the pilot took off and retracted the landing gear, and passengers were just getting comfortable, an explosion in the No. 2 engine rocked the cabin, reminding everyone that what goes up must come down.

Thankfully, the story ends on a positive note, with the jumbo A380 aircraft landing safely, but the incident was met with swift response. Qantas, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines immediately grounded their fleet of A380s with Qantas’ CEO stating that their planes would remain grounded “until we are confident that Qantas safety requirements have been met.”

Why was such extreme action taken in response to the averted disaster? The question is of course rhetorical. Airlines would find themselves quickly out of business, investors would reap total losses, and economies would suffer if planes of that magnitude started falling out of the sky. So why then is humanity’s response to water scarcity so apathetic, and virtually non-existent (at least in the Western world)? After all, a “lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every four hours,” according to water.org.

Continue reading Water, a Universal Inalienable Right? – Part 1

Dehydration in the Developed World? It’s more common than you think – Part 2 of 2

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By Brent Leung, C.N.

Slowly Dying from Dehydration

The human body is exceptionally clever and has a spirit for survival that rivals our own conscious desire for life. Given the body has no reservoir for storing water, if it begins to dry up, the body switches to preservation mode or drought management. Its first action—limit any supplementary water loss.

In these initial stages your body basically locks in all its remaining supply, just as a submarine traps everything it inhabitants. Common symptoms include a reduction in urination and sweat as the pores firmly tighten.

Dehydrate the body long enough and it won’t merely thwart fluids from exiting, but the body begins pilfering fluids from less essential regions, allowing hydration to more critical areas. If constipation is something you often labor with, it may be due to dried up, hard feces — a consequence of water being redirected out of the colon.

Continue reading Dehydration in the Developed World? It’s more common than you think – Part 2 of 2

Dehydration in the Developed World? It’s more common than you think — Part 1 of 2

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By Brent Leung, C.N.

Imagine being surrounded by an swarm of medical doctors, first class surgeons, some of the best modern medical equipment money can buy, access to every conceivable medication science has to offer, and then, you die because the best and brightest failed to give you a glass of water. This was the fateful ending for 22-year-old Kane Gorny, who took his last breathe at St George’s hospital in South London. The boy was in such need for a glass of water that he dialed 999 (equivalent to 911 in North America) begging for help.

Continue reading Dehydration in the Developed World? It’s more common than you think — Part 1 of 2