Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 21, 2017
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The healthiest fast food

People complain that dietitians are always changing their minds about which foods are good for you. Yes, but that’s usually due to new research and novel methods of food production and preparation. This means that improved foods make their way into our kitchens every year.

The most famous example is canola oil. In the 1970s, two Prairie scientists
took rapeseed and developed the canola plant using traditional breeding methods. The resulting oil is affordable, doesn’t have any of rapeseed’s undesirable qualities and is one of the healthiest oils around — it’s low in saturated fats, high in monounsaturated fats and a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Another Canadian first was leaner beef and pork. Canadian farmers found ways to reduce fat in the meat that went to market — a few years before their US counterparts. And while they’re comparable now, it’s a reminder that we eat from a different food supply and should, therefore, always look to Canadian nutritional information first.


 

Here are three of this past year’s interesting food developments.

 

Piglet clones The first pig has been cloned at the Macdonald Campus of McGill University in Montreal, QC. This doesn’t mean we’ll be needing “cloned” stickers in the meat section of supermarkets. Rather, these piglets may be used in some very important research. A scientist can genetically modify the pigs, so they will develop human diseases and then study the disease process and possible treatments.


Tobacco to treat IBD Researchers at the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, ON, have found that tobacco plants can be modified to carry the human gene interleukin-10, a protein that reduces the production of substances that cause inflammation. These substances are thought to play a role in the development of inflammatory bowel disease. When mice with inflammatory bowel disease consume the modified tobacco leaves, their health improves and they suffer less inflammation. Imagine a health-promoting tobacco! Tobacco farmers in Canada will certainly be pleased to see a new, healthier use for their crop. The research will continue, so eventually human clinical trials can take place.


Fruit production In British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia, farmers are testing a new type of pear — the Harovin Sundown. The new pear has a longer growing season which, for consumers, means fresh, locally grown pears will be available until late December. You’ll not only get your servings of fruit and veggies, you’ll eat locally.

In BC, the Agriculture and Agri-food Canada Research program has developed at least 12 new varieties of cherries in the past 10 years. Recent arrivals, the Sovereign and Sentennial, also ripen late. Another new player on farms in Southern BC and Ontario is the Asian persimmon — a new crop, it may take a few years before we see it in stores.

Scientists are also working on better ways to transport fruits and vegetables to market as well as more environmentally-friendly packaging.

Kim N. Arrey is a dietitian/nutritionist in private practice in Montreal as well as an active member of the Dietitians of Canada. She regularly takes part in continuing education and has obtained her Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management from the American Dietetic Association.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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