Food as a Hormone


Enlarge image . . . . .

Karen K. Ryan and Randy J. Seeley wrote . . . . . . . . .

Diet has an enormous impact on many aspects of our health, yet scientific consensus about how what we eat affects our biology remains elusive. This is especially true with respect to the ongoing debate about obesity. While many in the scientific community focus on how high-fat diets can lead to increased body weight (1), others assert that we should blame processed carbohydrates (2). Is it possible that this focus on macronutrients (i.e., fats, proteins, and sugars) is misplaced?

Much of the recent public discourse about the interaction between food and metabolic health relies on two basic approaches (see above figure). One is nutritional epidemiology, in which populations of people who eat different foods are compared with regard to indices of health such as body weight, with a goal of determining which diets are more or less “healthy.” The other is biochemistry, in which the goal is to determine how different macronutrients are processed to yield energy. Despite valuable information provided by these two approaches, neither has resulted in a translatable scientific basis for recommending diets that improve metabolic health or reduce body weight for a large percentage of the affected population, perhaps because considering food only in terms of its macronutrient content overlooks the complexities of how food interacts with our bodies.

Nutritional epidemiology and biochemical approaches, focusing primarily on the relationship between macronutrient consumption and metabolic outcomes, have not provided a translatable scientific basis to recommend diets that improve metabolic health for a broad range of people. Alternatively, understanding our diets as a collection of signaling molecules, having hormone-like actions via cell-surface and nuclear receptor signaling, may provide new insights into the relationship between what we eat and metabolic disease. Moreover, this framework may eventually allow us to make dietary recommendations from the bottom up—based on the ability of specific foods to alter relevant signaling pathways.

A growing body of evidence suggests an alternative perspective. That is, circulating substrates derived from food have specific direct and indirect actions to activate receptors and signaling pathways, in addition to providing fuel and essential micronutrients. Ultimately food can be considered as a cocktail of “hormones.” A hormone is a regulatory compound produced in one organ that is transported in blood to stimulate or inhibit specific cells in another part of the body. Hormones exert their effects on target tissues by acting on cell-surface receptors to alter activity through intracellular signaling cascades or via nuclear receptors to regulate gene transcription. Although food is not produced in the body, its components travel through the blood, and nutrient substrates can act as signaling molecules by activating cell-surface or nuclear receptors.

As an example, nutritional epidemiology has touted the benefits of eating omega-3 fatty acids to protect against cardiometabolic syndrome and weight gain (3). Yet simple biochemistry cannot satisfactorily explain why omega-3 fatty acids should lead to benefits compared to other fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids bind to and activate the cell-surface receptor GPR120 (4), which is expressed in important metabolic tissues including adipose tissue and muscle. Reduced GPR120 signaling is associated with inflammation, weight gain, and impaired glucose control in both mice and humans (4, 5). Thus, to generate the full spectrum of beneficial effects on vascular disease risk, ingested omega-3 fatty acids are not simply processed to generate energy, but additionally act via GPR120 in key tissues to improve metabolic endpoints.

Whereas activating GPR120 appears to protect against weight gain, other lipid-activated receptors exert the opposite effect. Peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ (PPARγ), for example, is a nuclear receptor that is activated by a variety of fatty acids and regulates transcription of genes important for lipid and glucose metabolism. Increasing PPARγ activity with pharmacological agonists enhances lipid storage in adipose tissue, and also acts in the brain to cause hyperphagia, dual actions that promote accretion of body fat (6– 8). Consistent with this, reducing PPARγ activity in the brain decreases consumption of high-fat diets, thereby blunting weight gain (6, 8). These studies lay the groundwork for understanding how components of high-fat diets cause overconsumption and weight gain by activating specific fatty acid receptors in the brain.

In addition to acting directly on these specialized fatty acid receptors, there is evidence that some dietary fatty acids also modify the actions of classical hormones. For example, the stomach-derived hormone ghrelin increases food intake and weight gain by binding to its receptor, growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR). However, for ghrelin to signal effectively, a fatty acid must first be attached to the peptide as a side chain. Different fatty acid side chains derived from different dietary fats change the ability of ghrelin to increase food intake (9). These fatty acid side chains come from ingested food rather than from adipose tissue (10). In this way, specific dietary components can exert hormone-like metabolic effects by physical interaction with a peptide hormone.

Fatty acids are not the only direct source of “hormones” in our food; certain amino acids can also activate signaling pathways. The most-studied are the branched-chain amino acids including leucine, which activates the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. mTOR is a serine-threonine kinase that regulates cell-cycle progression, growth, and insulin action (11). Leucine directly activates the mTOR pathway in the central nervous system to reduce food intake and body weight (12, 13).

Food components also interact with gut flora to induce indirect signaling cascades within the body. For example, nondigestible complex carbohydrates, including dietary fiber, are metabolized by the gut microbiota and fermented to short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) end products—mainly acetate, propionate, and butyrate (14). These SCFAs bind to and activate cell-surface receptors free fatty acid receptor 2 (FFAR2) and FFAR3 to alter host metabolism. For example, FFAR2 and 3 are expressed on entero-endocrine L cells that produce the incretin hormone glucagon-like peptide–1 (GLP-1). Stimulation of L cells with SCFA induces GLP-1 secretion, but this effect is diminished in the absence of FFAR2 or, to a lesser extent, FFAR3 (15). Acetate and propionate also activate FFAR2 on adipocytes to increase expression of the weight-reducing hormone leptin. In this way, specific dietary carbohydrates, modified by the gut microbiota, can signal at specific receptors to alter whole-body energy and glucose metabolism.

Viewing food as a hormone could substantially influence how we make dietary recommendations to promote health or treat specific diseases. Rather than using only nutritional epidemiology to identify what healthy people consume, we may be able to design diets from the bottom up—based on their ability to alter signaling pathways in specific tissues that we know are linked to metabolic disease. In addition, this framework suggests that the argument over whether fat or sugar is to blame for the increasing incidence of obesity may be misguided. Macronutrients are classified by their energy-yielding biochemical properties, not by their ability to activate receptors in a manner similar to that of a hormone. It may be more productive to examine the signaling properties of a given diet to understand whether it will promote weight gain or weight loss. Identifying these food- and food metabolite–receptor interactions will provide new opportunities to understand the relationship between what we eat and diseases including obesity.

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine

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Opinion: The Nomafication of New Nordic Cuisine

Eeva Väänänen Moore wrote . . . . . . . . .

René Redzepi changed everything. No one Nordic individual has done as much to capture the attention of food writers and enthusiasts worldwide as Redzepi, who has attracted them to the region in droves since opening Noma in 2003. In the years since, both his name and that of his iconic restaurant became synonymous with “New Nordic” cuisine and the sleek, earthy aesthetic he pioneered.

Over just a handful of years, this vision propelled Copenhagen from a culinary wasteland to a food lover’s dream, and united the region’s individual countries into one gastronomic behemoth. The New York Times called his food inventive and witty, two adjectives that food critics would have been hard-pressed to apply to any pre-Redzepi restaurant in the Nordic region. Noma went on to repeatedly land on top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014); he was declared a “God of Food” by Time magazine in 2013.

But it takes more than one individual, even one as formidable in his field as Redzepi, to redefine an entire region’s cuisine and to generate a sense of cultural unanimity. In 2004, on the heels of Noma’s debut, came the New Nordic Manifesto, the brainchild of Danish restaurateur Claus Meyer (co-founder of Noma) and University of Roskilde researcher and lecturer Jan Krag Jacobsen. They invited 12 Nordic chefs — Redzepi among them — from across the region to draft and co-sign a set of food principles reminiscent of California cuisine’s commitment to local, regional, and sustainable food.

The success of the manifesto, which was released at a symposium in Copenhagen, was soon balanced atop a three-legged stool of government tourism budgets, international food writers, and ambitious chefs hungry to overthrow the old order and willing to break the first rule of being Nordic: Thou shalt not express pride. (The ethos is so deeply ingrained in the Nordic psyche that the Danes and Norwegians even have a name for it, janteloven, the Law of Jante.) Classic Nordic food — overcooked pork and prepeeled potatoes (or, if you were lucky, smørrebrød) for the Danes, and dense bread, mushrooms, and salmon anything for the rest of the region — gave way to reindeer served on a bed of moss and vintage carrots, a testament to the popularity of the manifesto’s seventh tenet: to develop new applications of traditional Nordic foods.

One of the curious effects of New Nordic cuisine is that food enthusiasts the world over now associate Nordic cuisine with a region in a way that its own residents do not. Fueled by social media and food publications, “New Nordic” is considerably more familiar to outside observers than traditional Nordic dishes are, generating a misleading sense of what is authentically Nordic. Redzepi himself credits his cooking style to his Macedonian upbringing and once noted that “Denmark has more in common with Germany than with Finland or Norway, especially when it comes to food.”

Nevertheless, here we all are — Finns, Swedes, Danes, Norwegians, etc. — under one umbrella of Nordic cuisine, putting on a nice face for the world, which, understandably, knows little of our petty, intraregional animosities. Gone are the overcooked potatoes, thank goodness. But gone from popular display are also any dishes that do not fit Noma’s signature aesthetic. And while comparing salmon soup and Karelian pies with haute cuisine is unfair, the French and Italians identify with their high-end cuisines, whether or not they consume them regularly. Nordic people not so much. Yet.

The New Nordic Manifesto’s success was undoubtedly chef led. But 5.4 million euros from the Nordic Council of Ministers, an official consortium of Nordic members of Parliament, to build a tourism industry and cultural identity around it helped. (The council has doled out the money to the New Nordic Food Program since 2007.) This month, Redzepi’s nonprofit, MAD, announced plans to open an educational center in Copenhagen with funding from the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food. And 15 years after the manifesto’s debut, investments continue to pile on from individual countries eager to generate tourism revenue.

“The New Nordic food revolution isn’t a coincidence. It happened for a reason.”

Small-scale culinary tourism has been a mainstay of Finland for decades, thanks to its so-called Everyman’s Rights law, which allows people to forage even on private property. But in the post-Nordic Manifesto world, the monetization of those rights has been kicked into high gear. Sweden has the same Everyman’s Rights law, and promotes it heavily: Visit Sweden, the country’s official tourism board, pushes Facebook and Twitter advertisements encouraging tourists to visit Sweden to forage and cook with Michelin-starred chefs. The advertisements are part of Visit Sweden’s 2017 investment of 40 million SEK, or around $4.3 million USD, over four years into culinary tourism. The sum comprises the majority (but not all) of the money spent on promoting Sweden as a food tourism destination. Contributors to these efforts include the Swedish government, the European Union’s Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and regional tourism organizations.

“The New Nordic food revolution isn’t a coincidence. It happened for a reason,” says chef Titti Qvarnström, who was the head chef at Michelin-starred Bloom in the Park in Malmö, Sweden, until 2017 (and who, I learned later from the ads, is among the chefs you can dine with in a beautiful Swedish forest). “There were many lucky factors that worked together, but it’s been a political agenda to turn this around. It was launched at the right time by the right people.” A 2018 report entitled the Solutions Menu, published by the Nordic Council of Ministers, outlines this process, looking at the politics, strategy, and goals of the New Nordic Cuisine movement: increase healthy living, promote sustainable food consumption, attract tourists, and create a new food identity.

Qvarnström’s hometown underscores just how dramatic an impact this strategy has had. A former shipbuilding town, Malmö suffered a bruising economic downturn in the ’90s. In the aughts, it became known in the region for absorbing an influx of Danes whose non-EU spouses were barred from living in Denmark by the country’s notoriously restrictive immigration laws. It’s not the sort of place you expect to find haute cuisine. And indeed, despite Bloom in the Park’s success, New Nordic has been a hard sell for many locals: “If it’s not for everybody, we don’t want it,” is a refrain Qvarnström encountered often in Malmö.

Restaurateurs in neighboring Denmark are familiar with skepticism from locals. When chef Nicolai Nørregaard opened his groundbreaking restaurant Kadeau on the remote, sleepy Danish island of Bornholm, he encountered his share of Danes looking for a classic dish of meat, potatoes, and sauce, perplexed to find dishes like kohlrabi, black currant, and Nobilis fir, or wood ants on scallops and asparagus with pickled pine leaves. But, unlike Qvarnström, Nørregaard found local skeptics to be more forgiving. “Even Danes who can’t afford it or think it’s a little ridiculous are still proud of what we’re doing,” he says. Which makes sense: Those of us who come from small countries tend to be acutely aware of our countries’ international reputations which, if you’re Nordic, include admiration of our health care systems and designers. Accolades for our food count toward that net positive, and the international attention is undeniable. At Kadeau’s Copenhagen outpost — for which Nørregaard earned two Michelin stars — roughly 80 percent of the clientele on any given night is non-Danish.

Nørregaard, who was among the earlier adoptees of the Nordic Manifesto’s call to arms, credits international media with bringing attention to the region. “I like that people write about it,” he says, “even though it’s sometimes inaccurate.” He notes that the attention has generated an influx of investor money from local accountants and lawyers and, more recently, monied angel investors, putting every talented sous chef in town within arm’s reach of their own restaurant.

Though the buzz may be lost on locals with no ties to the restaurant world, it has fundamentally changed what it is to be a chef in Copenhagen. Anika Madsen, head chef of Kadeau’s sibling Restaurant Roxie in Copenhagen, offers diners dishes like North Sea cod “wasabi” with turnips and grilled beetroots with spelt porridge, gherkin gel, and duck hearts. She began her studies in 2010, dodging Copenhagen’s ’90s restaurant doldrums entirely. She cites the city’s bustling restaurant scene as a reason she chose to pursue a career as a chef. “It’s a playground,” she says. “You don’t have classical techniques like the French. You can’t look it up in a cookbook. You can’t Google it. You have to make your own way.”

Similarly, Qvarnström, who describes her food as focusing on the here and now (a common theme in New Nordic cuisine) feels affection for, but little allegiance to, a Nordic past. She says donkey rhubarb is her favorite wild herb. “It’s not native here, but it’s spreading because it really likes it here.” In other words: A food doesn’t have to be Nordic to be Nordic cuisine. After all, what would Italian cuisine be had the tomato not immigrated to Europe from the Americas?

“I cook classic Finnish food because otherwise it will disappear.”

Not all chefs agree that the past should remain in the past. Helsinki, which, like Copenhagen, had an expensive and disappointingly sparse restaurant scene in the ’90s, differs in that it has a long tradition of fine dining restaurants serving Finnish food. Unlike Denmark, Finland drew its food influences from its neighbors and former ruling powers, Sweden and Russia. Tony Öhman, the head chef of Lehtovaara, a Finnish restaurant that is older than the country itself, is more interested in perfecting and preserving traditional Finnish food than rethinking it (think: pickled herring, smoked salmon, black rye bread, chanterelles cooked into a cream sauce, and elk that’s been stewed, smoked, or dry cured). “I cook classic Finnish food because otherwise it will disappear,” he says. Öhman seems bemused by the notion that seasonal, regional cooking is new Nordic. But even at Lehtovaara, which adheres to seasonal foods and high-quality regional suppliers, the menu is seldom exclusively Finnish; French dishes and techniques makes regular appearances. And although the Finnish fare at its Sunday brunch will knock your socks off, it’s not exactly Instagram friendly.

Juha Harmaala, co-owner and general manager of Restaurant Pelikan in Stockholm, doesn’t see New Nordic as a threat to traditional Swedish foods. Pelikan has been serving meatballs and herring since 1733, and Harmaala says a day doesn’t go by that one of his customers doesn’t tell him that they first dined there as a child with a parent or grandparent. “Somehow classic Swedish food stays in Swedish minds and hearts,” he says. “They always come back to it.”

Perfecting a dish that delights the average local attracts an altogether different type of chef. While Öhman is interested in honoring and safeguarding traditional methods and dishes, Qvarnström, Madsen, and Nørregaard are interested in upturning the old ways altogether. If they had much regard for what came before, they probably wouldn’t have staged a revolution in the first place. And given that 43 percent of non-Danish tourists now cite good places to eat as a reason to visit and 26 percent visit Denmark specifically to taste local food, restaurants like Lehtovaara and Pelikan stand to reap the benefits of that revolution, too.

Unlike the rest of the world, the chefs I spoke with don’t view New Nordic as a type of food, but rather a cultural shift that liberated them to do whatever they wanted in a region where uniformity and modesty were the norm. None see other types of Nordic cooking styles as a negation of what they choose to create in their own kitchens. That mindset tracks perfectly with a key Nordic characteristic: up close there’s regional diversity and cultural richness. It only looks like a succession of Noma plates from the outside, because that’s all our tourism industry wants to sell, and much of what outsiders want to buy.

But with great hype comes a lot of hot air, and Nørregaard and Harmaala both worry that the region’s restaurant scene is experiencing a bubble. The problem with bubbles is no one knows when they will burst, or what comes after. If the ubiquity of California cuisine is an indicator, there isn’t any going back to how it once was, but as soon as another region figures out how to rebrand its cuisine and dethrones New Nordic, paying the bills will depend on a restaurant’s ability to draw locals as well as tourists.

Source: Eater

Opinion: 4 Ways To Reduce Plastics And Other Single-Use Disposables In Your Kitchen

Kristen Hartke wrote . . . . . . . . .

The 40 days of Lent, which began last week, are a time when many Christians around the world decide to voluntarily give up bad habits or luxuries. This year, it might be time we all consider how to give up – or at least reduce – our reliance on disposable products.

A year ago, I decided to create a more environmentally friendly and sustainable kitchen, focusing particularly on reducing my use of disposable products such as plastic sandwich bags, aluminum foil and paper towels.

It’s worth the effort: Americans toss 185 pounds of plastic per person each year while also going through 13 billion pounds of paper towels as a nation. Aluminum foil sounds like a “natural” alternative to a lot of people, but it can actually take a hundred years or more to biodegrade. If composting kitchen scraps or reusing old coffee grounds for a body scrub seems like a step too far, there are a few simple ways to reduce the environmental footprint of your kitchen without sacrificing modern conveniences.

I’m not going to sugarcoat my experience. It takes commitment and a willingness to change long-held habits. In creating my sustainable kitchen, I tried a lot of different alternative products and some plain old common sense; the result, however, has been worth the effort. I’m recycling more and relying less on single-use products. The kicker: I’m saving money too.

Want to reduce reliance on plastics in your kitchen? Here are four steps that I found can stand the test of time:

Invest in alternative storage.

I’m not kidding when I say that I used to really love plastic storage bags, from snack-size to gallon-size zip-top bags — so this was, perhaps, the biggest challenge for me. Switching to reusable storage bags was a financial investment up front, but the cost was reasonable considering that I previously spent at least $100 annually on disposable plastic bags and wrap. My favorites: Stashers, heavy-duty reusable silicone zip-top bags that can go from the freezer to the microwave ($10 to $20 each), and Food Huggers, silicone disks that slip over the ends of cut pieces of fruits and vegetables ($12.95 for a set of five), are functional and durable (except for that avocado-shaped Hugger, which I want to love but it never really fits correctly). Fabrics coated in beeswax are handy for wrapping sandwiches or oddly shaped pieces of food and for covering bowls; variety packs from Bee’s Wrap, Abeego, and Etee all run about $18, while Trader Joe’s has a pack for under $10, but you can also make your own. For packing lunches, consider the highly affordable Japanese bento box, designed with food compartments that negate the need for disposable wraps. The proof is in the pudding: I haven’t purchased any disposable plastic bags for a full year.

Recycle. Really recycle.

Americans are estimated to recycle just 30 percent of the recyclable materials that they consume each day. Plastic and glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans and newspaper are common items that we’ve gotten used to throwing in the recycling bin, but milk, eggs, Tetra Pak cartons, pizza boxes and plastic deli and pet food containers are also items that may be accepted at local recycling centers; check online periodically in your local jurisdiction for recycling updates. TerraCycle offers a pack-and-ship zero-waste box for a wide variety of non-organic kitchen items, from party supplies to silicone or mixed-material food containers. The company recommends getting together a group of friends, neighbors or co-workers to purchase and contribute to the box. (They cost from $130 to $475 and range in size from 11″ x 11″ x 20″ to 15″ x 15″ x 37″, but the largest box — split among a group or sponsored by an employer — can be the most cost-effective.) Once the filled box is returned to TerraCycle, the company will sort the waste into four categories (fabrics, metals, fibers and plastics) that are then recycled, upcycled or reused — depending on the type of material. The company also works with a wide range of manufacturers to offer free recycling of individual hard-to-recycle items, like Brita water filters and Clif Bar energy bar wrappers.

Keep it clean and eco-friendly at the same time.

I’m a clean freak and used to go through an unseemly amount of paper towels on a daily basis, but it’s easy enough to take old T-shirts or towels and cut them up to use to wipe down surfaces. (If you’re cleaning surfaces that have been in contact with raw meat, poultry or fish, throw those towels in the washing machine to get them really clean.) I’m also a fan of bamboo paper towels, which have the look and feel of traditional paper towels, yet are made from a highly renewable source and also break down in landfills in just 45 days. Better yet, they can be reused up to 100 times. I can attest to how sturdy they are because I bought a single roll of bamboo paper towels for $7 a full year ago and still have more than half the roll left, using a single bamboo towel to clean my countertops and stove for a few weeks until it’s worn out (rinse the sheet in hot water, then wring and let air dry). When I consider that I probably spent up to $15 a month on single-use paper towels before, that roll of bamboo paper towels was a huge bargain. As for kitchen sponges, keep an eye out for those made with natural materials, because typical polyurethane sponges cannot be recycled and end up in landfills.

Think before you buy.

In our disposable society, it’s easy to purchase items that are convenient but not sustainable — and more environmentally friendly options are generally available once you know what to look for. Juice boxes that include plastic straws, dishwasher tabs individually wrapped in plastic and coffee makers that use K-Cups are all examples of items that can create additional waste. When grocery shopping, ask yourself if you really need to use individual plastic bags in the produce section for those lemons, potatoes or apples. Consider packaging as you peruse the shelves for your favorite purchases, from cookies to pasta to frozen pizza. For instance, the plastic window on that pasta box may make it convenient for you to see what the pasta inside looks like, but the mixed-material container can be a problem for some recycling facilities. When purchasing bulk pantry or other household items online from companies like Amazon or Jet, ask to have them shipped in as few boxes as possible to cut down on the number of boxes you receive, and if you get a single small item sent in a huge box, let the company know that you’d prefer that it pay more attention to how it is packaging items for delivery.

Source: npr

Opinion: Canadian Food Guide Falls Short for Aging Seniors

Heather Keller wrote . . . . . . . . .

“What do you think of the new Canada’s Food Guide?” is a question I have been asked a lot since Health Canada launched new guidance on how the country should eat. The guide recommends a plant-focused diet, but not to the exclusion of animal products — an approach consistent with the Mediterranean diet that has been studied extensively and shown to promote good health.

The guide is well designed for the healthy among us. That’s good news. But what about those living with chronic illness or frailty? Canada’s Food Guide has traditionally been used to plan menus for hospitals and care residences, despite the fact that it was not intended for this purpose.

When someone is frail, they have poor function in many areas of their life and are vulnerable to bad health outcomes; even a minor stress can result in a crisis. The new food guide is not specific enough to meet the essential dietary needs of aging seniors living with chronic illness or frailty.

What’s the difference?

As we get older, we start to lose our muscle mass because of our sedentary lifestyles and also because of what we eat. Muscles allow us to get out of a chair, pick up our grandchildren, balance so we don’t fall. It is now recognized that older adults need more protein, and specifically quality protein, than other age groups to maintain their muscle and prevent frailty.

So what is enough?

Experts recommend one to 1½ grams per kilogram of body weight per day. So, someone who weighs 80 kg (around 175 lbs.) should have 80 to 120 g of protein per day. But what do I mean by “quality protein”? This is protein that contains the essential amino acids that our body cannot make; it needs to come from what we eat.

Animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and milk products, provide all of these essential amino acids in the right amounts, but not all plants do (an exception is soy). So if you avoid animal products, this means eating a variety of plant sources every day to get the right mix of essential amino acids. This takes education, planning and often cooking your own food; this can be challenging for older adults at risk for frailty, such as those living alone.

For older adults, getting enough of those essential amino acids without blowing their calorie requirements is also a challenge. Most plant sources are not as efficient as animal sources for attaining requirements; we need to eat more lentils, beans and nuts to get the protein we need.

Take the humble egg, with six grams of protein and 70 calories; the same amount of protein from peanut butter will double your calories. A chicken breast with no skin (three ounces) has around 30 grams of protein in under 200 calories. To get the same amount of protein from soy would mean more calories.

Also, some key nutrients known to mitigate frailty (calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids) are more often found naturally in animal products.

We know that menus in long-term care often miss the mark on almost half of necessary nutrients, in part because the 2007 Food Guide was used for planning. A dietitian is the best resource for guiding those who are sick in hospitals or frail in residences.

With malnutrition common in hospitalized patients, many of whom are older adults, this means we need to work toward a standard for health-care institutions that promotes recovery from illness and prevents more malnutrition and consequent frailty. The good news is that the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force with the Canadian Nutrition Society is working towards this goal.

As a Canadian Frailty Network investigator, I have been advocating for some time that dietary reference intakes, which provide specific recommendations by sex and age group for vitamins, minerals and protein, should be the starting point for hospital and residence menus to prevent deficiency and chronic diseases. So, do I like the new food guide? I do. I am, however, waiting for more information on how this guide can be adapted to vulnerable populations, including older adults living with frailty and those living in our health-care institutions.

Heather Keller is the Schlegel Research Chair in Nutrition and Aging and a professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Waterloo. She is also a researcher with Canadian Frailty Network.

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

Opinion: There Is No Such Thing as Breakfast Food

Kat Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Every food is breakfast food. This shouldn’t be a controversial statement and yet, somehow, it is. There are some mornings when I get a hankering for red curry at 9 am. Other days, I want stir-fried veggies, a fish steamed with lemongrass, rice — cravings that a traditional American breakfast, which subsists of things like bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, and toast, could never satisfy. Whatever it is that my stomach’s desiring, I’ve never really felt that there should be a specified time where certain foods are deemed acceptable while others are not. So what if I want spicy seafood spaghetti in the a.m.? Since when it did become inappropriate to devour a plate of fried chicken to start the day?

Breakfast has undergone a lot of changes in its time. In the Middle Ages, breakfast was often skipped and viewed as a sin of gluttony — to break fast was to disrespect God. During the industrial revolution, breakfast was hearty and filling, necessary for providing fuel to undertake a day’s work (which, in the pre-internet, pre-industrial revolution world often meant actual physical labor). “The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century — and the rise of factory work and office jobs that accompanied it — further normalized breakfast,” observed Megan Garber for The Atlantic. We’ve even seen our own fair share of changes from the ‘90s to now, with diet trends promoting low-carb options and low-fat meals to current trendy high-fat keto breakfasts and paleo interpretations.

Despite all the significant evolutions, breakfast is still considered the most important meal of the day. “Breakfast gives you the energy you need to start your day and any time you eat something you are stimulating your metabolism. When people skip breakfast you may end up hungrier come lunchtime and reach for something less healthy than if you were not as hungry,” shares Kassandra Neuendorff, a registered dietitian based out of San Diego. Breakfast is a staple. And though the glorious bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich forever has a spot in my rotation of breakfast delights, we don’t need to limit ourselves to the same 10 options. Even the avocado toast needs a rest sometimes.

“The standard american diet has popularized foods that only make us feel tired, bloated and lacking in essential nutrients. Typical ‘breakfast food,’ such as bagels and coffee, provide little to no nutritious value, thus why I don’t suggest it,” says Talia Vilaplana, a nutritional therapy practitioner practicing out of New York City. “Not to say breakfast shouldn’t be yummy, it completely can and should be, just not in the typical way so many have been socialized to believe — a.k.a full of sugar.”

In place of our traditional American breakfast fare, I am advocating that we allow — and accept — that there is no real thing as “breakfast food,” and that frankly, every food is intended to be breakfast food.

The rest of world appears to agree with me. Globally, the “fuel” needed to start the day looks different than it does in the West. In my native country of Thailand, breakfast looks like rice porridge with garlicky pork meatballs, tom luad moo (which translates to boiled pork blood — and is a protein-rich soup composed of exactly what it sounds like), and lightly sweetened soy milk filled with beans, jellies, and basil seeds. In Japan, breakfast can be grilled salmon, miso soup, fermented soybeans, or simply hot rice with a raw egg cracked over and drizzled with soy sauce. A traditional breakfast in Ecuador may include empanadas stuffed with onions and cheese, plantains, and a variety of tropical fruits. In Turkey, it’s common to have an array of hard cheeses and olive spread with bread, as well as homemade jams. And even though food across the world may look and taste different, we can find commonalities within our breakfasts in terms of what food groups we’re consuming.

“I think that a good breakfast includes carbohydrates — i.e. bread, oatmeal, cereal; lean protein; and some sort of source of fat,” advises Neuendorff. Vilaplana agrees, noting that a proper meal should consist of a balance of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates “no matter the time of day. I gear towards breakfast being higher in fat, simply to feel satiated until lunch and to avoid that mid-day slump.” I wouldn’t say that a stack of doughnuts exactly provides that.

Instead of getting your early dosage of carbs in the morning from waffles and bagels, why not opt for something you haven’t tried — perhaps a dosa or a bowl of warm pho? In place of bacon and sausage, other proteins may prove beneficial, like fish or tofu. And if you’re struggling to get your daily dose of vegetables, “breakfast can be a great time to slip in a serving or two of vegetables. For some it may be hard to get 2-3 cups of vegetables in each day but starting off with some at breakfast can help,” recommends Neuendorff. May we recommend a “breakfast” salad? Throw on some bacon and a fried egg if you must.

Eating non-traditional breakfast foods can also have great financial benefits. Instead of waking up and having to mix-up batter and flip pancakes or whip up an egg sandwich — why not just heat-up yesterday’s dinner? Yes, even the two last slices of pepperoni pizza. This way nothing goes to waste and you don’t have to waste time or precious dollars crafting a breakfast spread. Trust us, it’s much faster to microwave leftover lo-mein than it is to make toast, fry bacon, and scramble an egg.

Besides, we have gone on far too long limiting ourselves and our imaginations to maple syrup and tater tots. Do not take this as a call to banish these items, but as an opportunity to expand our horizons. We should be consuming foods that not only nourish our bodies and provide the nutrition necessary to start the day, but enjoying foods that may provide for our souls. And if that means having a non-traditionally-Western meal for breakfast, then so be it. “I think that as long as you have a good carbohydrate source, protein and some good fat you can eat anything you want at breakfast,” Neuendorff confirmed.

At the end of the day, dishes reserved for dinner or lunch or special occasions don’t have to be consumed in their invented time slots. If you can have “breakfast” for dinner, then why can’t you have dinner for breakfast? The answer is that you can, and you should.

Source: Thrillist