One more reason you should start eating right

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: VALENTINA_G / THINKSTOCK
Students should be cautious of what they eat because too much junk food can have lifelong implications. Fresh fruits and vegetables are just one of the food groups you should be eating more of.

Poor diet is associated with major health problems, especially heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and hypertension.

In 2013, the Fox Creek Times published a Canadian Community Health Survey estimate that more than one quarter of Canadian young adults get about 35 per cent of their total calories from fat only. A similar survey in 2014 stated that 5.3 million adults were obese while about two million adolescents and adults were suffering from diabetes. However, the rates are ever rising making it a public health concern.

Interrobang sat down with Susan Brush, professor of Food and Nutrition at Fanshawe College who had a lot to reveal on this topic.

When asked about the right eating patterns, Brush expressed concern about the increasing incidences of obesity and type 2 diabetes among adolescents and young adults and cautioned parents to teach children about healthy diets rather than blame the system.

“The key is to nurse the inside. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables have more benefits than taking pills or supplements,” she said.

Brush also called for caution on the use of food preservatives stating that three quarters of food colourings have been banned in Europe, but not in Canada.

“If you cannot pronounce a word, you shouldn’t be eating it. I would rather see something spoil than [let it] live forever,” she explained.

Brush also gave safe food preparation tips, suggesting that vegetables should not be boiled but steamed or grilled if the juice is not needed, and that salt should be used sparingly. She also discouraged frying and listed boiling, roasting, grilling or steaming as better options.

“Food preparation is simple but the media made it difficult,” she said.

On the contrary, Emelie Josiane, first year student of International Business Management at Fanshawe London Campus and founding partner of the Face of Humanities, noted that fries are better prepared through shallow frying. She however agreed that boiling vegetables simply wastes the nutrients.

“Fried foods are quite delicious but quite harmful to the health,” she explained.

To this, Brush noted that too little saturated fat is no good while excess is harmful. “Three ounces of meat is all we need while trans-fat wreaks even more havoc,” she said.

With the misleading absorption and bioavailability claims on food supplements, Brush stressed that they are only needed in exceptional cases, such as in pregnancy or Crohn’s, if taken with no actual need, one risks toxicity. “Vitamin C is in oranges for goodness’ sakes.”

According to Brush, tough policies should be implemented on food labelling and people should be educated on how to read them properly.

“Most active and healthy people should consume between 2,000 to 3,500 calorie diets. Twelve hundred calories is hogwash. You can’t survive on that,” she said.

“I have to be honest, I am a chocoholic,” Brush said when asked about junk foods. “Our body likes to preserve itself, so it will try to astound us if we keep indulging in harmful things.”

Citing instances in which genetically modified organisms (GMOs) helped to reduce the incidence of childhood blindness in China, Brush expressed optimism that more benefits can be derived from GMOs but equally called for caution against altering all species.

More so, Brush advised that ovens should be used for heating and not for cooking because of radiation. “The scientists believed they had minimized any negative effect but they taught trans fat was a good idea too,” she said.

Brush and Josiane differed on the level of students’ activeness.

According to Brush, we are far too sedentary. “It’s not even about going to the gym but doing the simple things like cleaning your house,” she said.

Josiane however argued that not all students are sedentary with the volume of study and shuffling around the campus they get to do every day. She added that it is one reason why caffeine is overused.

Brush shared similar views on caffeine use. “You don’t need that many cups in a day to feel well,” she said. “Eat properly and get enough sleep.”

In Brush’s closing words, she said that people can’t eat just anything to look great. “Even, models have trainers and dieticians,” she said. “We all have different genetic makeup. Be happy, alive and appreciate your body.”

Josiane, being a model, couldn’t agree more.

The Food Guide posits that maintaining healthy eating habits will help Canadians meet their nutrient requirements and energy currency that the whole human machinery is all about. Therefore, it is high time we became proactive about our health. Fitness is not limited to regular gym visits. It begins with diet.