Calcium and milk/dairy allergy

A few more thoughts on yesterday’s post on calcium:

  • While I admit that dairy seems to be some of the most calcium-rich foods, why is dairy pushed so much in the dietary guidelines?
  • Is it a political issue? (i.e., through industry lobbying, economic issues, or something else?)
  • Many people are lactose intolerant (especially many people with non-european backgrounds) so why is milk/dairy listed in such a large amount of foods in many countries’ food guides?
  • While the vitamin D/calcium relationship is well known, does the type of calcium-rich food also matter? Is the calcium from dairy better or worse than from other foods?

Nutrition with food allergies and sensitivities – Calcium

See previous… Nutrition with food allergies and sensitivities

(Update: please also see my further thoughts on this issue here.)

Calcium intake in our diet is a major concern of ours since most of the dietary guidelines push a form of dairy as the primary source of calcium. However, the dietary guidelines do not provide a sufficient variety of foods for those of us with food allergies. Witness Appendix 11 of the recently updated USDA dietary guidelines, published late last year, on the Food Sources of Calcium. I’ve highlighted in pink the foods that we cannot consume.

Appendix 11. Food Sources of Calcium - 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines - health.gov cropped highlighted
(Click on the picture to enlarge)

That leaves us with the following 5 items from the list, with my comments following each item:

  • Fortified ready-to-eat cereals – many of which we cannot eat due to our wheat, peanut and treenut, and dairy allergies
  • Orange juice, calcium fortified – we would have to purchase this, as whole oranges are not at the top of this list
  • Sardines, canned in oil, drained – okay; though some are packed in soy oil, and so we tend to stay away from these products
  • Mustard spinach (tendergreen), raw – I don’t see this in our grocery stores
  • Rice drink – this is suitable; however, many rice drink producers also manufacture almond and/or soy drinks on the same production line, and so we tend to stay away from these products

There are some good resources out there that list calcium-rich foods to incorporate into your diet:

National Institute of Health – Calcium in Diet
National Osteoporosis Foundation – A Guide to Calcium-Rich Food
Dietitians of Canada –Food Sources of Calcium

Also, the USDA provides a great food-nutrient database from which you can search based on nutrient, categories of food, and even through some popular processed foods (Click on Nutrients List in the header).

Here’s a search based on Fruits, legumes and vegetables. (A lot of it is soy-based, which we can’t have, but we can’t remove soy from the search results.)

Nutrition with food allergies and sensitivities

While our son has the majority of the allergies and food sensitivities, we are still nursing him and thus his mother also has to stay away from the many of the same foods. I have no food restrictions, but we plan and cook our meals as a family and we want the food at our table to be all-inclusive. Thus in the interest of creating a safe food space for our son, we’ve decided to restrict our foods within the home such that all (or almost all) of the food we eat is safe and healthy for everyone to eat.

With the food restrictions, we have constantly been concerned with nutrition – how do we ensure that we are all getting a nutritious diet? One guidance document is Canada’s Food Guide published by Health Canada.

Overall the guide seems to be quite reasonable – focus on vegetables, fruit and grain products, some milk and alternatives, and some meat. Limit your oils and fats. However, looking at the page on serving size examples, a lot of it is restricted for us. What I see is illustrated below.

GFAF Canada Food Guide Suggested Foods Serving Restricted

I know that this figure is an example of serving size, and not an example of the foods that are possible in that category. But when I look at that, I see limitations and not possibilities, and it’s very disheartening. What I want to find are possibilities for new or different recipes and foods that we may enjoy, and be healthful.

For example, Dairy and Alternatives is a category unto itself in Canada’s Food Guide; however, with our restriction on soy and milk, what can we do? I think calcium and vitamin D are the main nutrients being promoted with dairy, but how can we get that otherwise? What about grain? Our diet is mainly rice since bulgur and quinoa is difficult to source without contamination.

Over the next few weeks, I hope to explore this more and try to answer some questions we have about nutrition and health in light of our food restrictions. I will also look into food guides around the world to see what they have to say about it.

Conflict of interest?

Marion Nestle on Industry-funded studies:

It’s been 11 months since I started collecting studies funded by food companies with results favorable to the company’s marketing interests.  I’ve now found 135 such studies versus just 12 with results unfavorable.

When the year is up, I will do an overall interpretation of what this collection does and does not signify, but for the moment I will just state the obvious: it is easier to find industry-funded studies with favorable rather than unfavorable results.

Favourable studies are easier to publish than non-favourable – evident in many other areas of science.

Stay tuned.

Snake oil, paleo diets, and what the science says

David Katz on America’s Test Kitchen Radio episode 405 (interview starts at time stamp 17:20).

On calories in vs calories out (22:30):

You get differential disposition of calories depending on what they are from and how that affects physiology.

So for example, calories from sugar will evoke an insulin response, and insulin in turn increases the tendency that calories will be deposited not only in body fat, but body fat in a harmful place right around the middle. If you get your calories from monounsaturated oil or  omega3 oil or high quality protein you’re going to have a different insulin response and those calories will go to different places in your body. So yes, the nature of the calories matters.

The other critical thing here, Chris, and the thing I was about to say this is, the quality of foods that we eat profoundly influences the number of calories it takes to feel full.

On science vs hucksters (30:18):

You maintain, Chris, that the public knows what to do, and that’s a huge part of the problem. See, somebody like me, I really want to empower people with useful information but you ask me any question and I start hemming and hawing, right? There’s subtlety, there’s nuance, but you talk to the hucksters and the charlatans or the fools and fanatics, and they’ll tell you, “Geez you know, Katz is dull as dishwater – he hems and haws.” You talk to a legitimate scientist, we always have doubts, “Well there’s science in favour, science against.” But you talk to dyed in the wool huckster, they know with absolute certainty that just the one simple thing you need to do, “It’s effortless, the pounds will drop off, the years will melt away.” You know, who can resist? I mean, your eyes glaze over, you go into a trance and you start reaching for your credit card.

The takeaway (36:10):

Feet, forks, fingers, sleep, stress, and love.

 

Disease Proof by David Katz

Sports drinks

CBC Marketplace – Sports drinks unnecessary, counterproductive for most people:

Sports drinks promise to rehydrate, provide energy to muscles in the form of sugar and replenish electrolytes lost during exercise. Canadians guzzle more than $450 million in sports drinks every year.

To test how many electrolytes are actually lost during exercise, Marketplace recruited a team of recreational runners and tested their blood before and after a 45-minute run. None of the runners depleted either their glucose or electrolyte levels enough to require a sports drink to replenish them. In many cases, electrolyte and glucose levels increased in the blood. The test revealed that they could have benefited from water alone.

Protein bars are also largely unnecessary.

Watch the video: Farther, Faster, Fitter?

 

On ‘healthy’ food

No food is healthy. Not even kale.

Michael Ruhlman for the Washington Post:

We will be healthy if we eat nutritious food. Our food is either nutritious or not. We are healthy or we are not. If we eat nutritious food, we may enhance what health we possess.

Because, and this is the judgment call, fat isn’t bad; stupid is bad. And until we have better information and clearer shared language defining our food, smart choices will be ever harder to make.

Besides the rant on  word usage errors, the article seems to rally against two main points – the government dietary guidelines and popular ‘healthy’ food fads.

The dietary guidelines have shifted through the years based on the available science; however, I would submit that following our best research into food and nutrition and human health is the best reasonable course we can take. I do understand that industry, politics and other factors influence the shape of the guidelines but the main ideas in those guidelines are pretty sound. It’s not enough of a reason to throw them out the window.

As for fads, in one sense, they can certainly help reduce the costs for people who absolutely have to follow those diets (i.e. gluten free foods are so much more available now and much cheaper) but they also muddy the waters for others. My recommendation is to look at the fads with eyes wide open and healthy skepticism. And eat foods in moderation.