research notes

Leftover pasta and potatoes may be healthier than the original meal!

Leftover pasta and potatoes may be healthier than the original meal!

The BBC News recently ran an article on the effects of cooking, cooling and reheating on how our bodies digest potatoes and pasta.  According to the article, cooking and cooling makes these carbohydrates healthier. Carbohydrates like potatoes and pasta are broken down in the gut and absorbed as simple sugars.  This results in a spike in blood glucose, followed by a spike in insulin to bring the glucose level back to normal.  This rise and fall in blood glucose can make you feel hungry right after a big meal.  However, cooking and cooling makes them resistant to the enzymes that normally break the carbohydrates down…the result is a slower release of glucose into the body.  It turns out that reheating makes them even more resistant to enzymatic breakdown so that the spike in glucose is even slower.   For the full article go...

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Research using menu planning for type 2 diabetes

Research conducted by the group led by Drs. Chan and Bell will be published later this year in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes.  The study, led by Master of Science student Diana Soria Contreras was a small, pilot study of 15 individuals with type 2 diabetes.  The study participants were advised to follow a menu plan very similar to PPEP, complete with handy tips and recipes.  The participants also met individually with Diana up to 6 times over the three months of the study, beginning with weekly sessions.  The most important outcome of the study was blood sugar, which is measured using a component in the blood called A1c, and a statistically significant decrease in A1c was detected, meaning participants had better control of their sugars.  Other outcomes included a small weight loss and an increase in high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol.  Most people reported using the menu plan 5 days per week and attended 2/3 of the counseling sessions.  We concluded that use of the menu plan combined with counseling was a feasible way to help people with diabetes achieve better health outcomes.   Publication details:   Diana C. Soria-Contreras, MSc, Rhonda C. Bell, PhD, Linda J. McCargar, PhD, RD, Catherine B. Chan, PhD.  Feasibility and Efficacy of Menu Planning Combined With Individual Counselling to Improve Health Outcomes and Dietary Adherence in People With Type 2 Diabetes: A Pilot Study.  Published Online: August 28, 2014. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjd.2014.03.009     Although not part of the published study, focus groups were held at the end of the study to find out what people liked and didn’t like about the menu plan.  Learning to use the menus was challenging for some, cooking “from scratch” was challenging for others, but most people found a variety of ways to use them.  For example, some people continued with their usual breakfasts and lunches but used the menus and recipes for suppers.  Others used menus as a guide but substituted their own recipes.  Many people reported buying healthier foods and snacks to have around the house.  People found the positive feedback of better blood sugar control to be motivating to continue with the menus.  Some of the features that people liked, that we incorporated into PPEP, were things like creative use of herbs and spices to enhance flavour, delicious soup recipes, and easy-to-find ingredients.  However, the participants did find that at first they had too much food on hand and so had to adapt their buying patterns and adjust the menus to fit their own family size and...

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What weight loss diet is “the best”: low carb or low fat?

What weight loss diet is “the best”: low carb or low fat?

It turns out….either….provided you stick to it.  Research conducted by Dr. Geoff Ball from the University of Alberta and other researchers from across Canada led to this conclusion.  The researchers did a study called a “systematic review and meta-analysis”, which, like it sounds, identifies all the research on the topic that meets a predetermined criteria, then uses special statistical methods to combine and compare results of all the studies.  In this case, the 48 studies included several “fad” diets from recent decades, like South Beach, Atkins and Ornish, as well as “branded” diets like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig.  After 1 year, the results were amazingly similar between diets, around 7.5 kg average weight loss.  The researchers concluded that the biggest factor in success was an individual’s ability to stick to the diet.   This is in some ways consistent with our PPEP philosophy: pick something you can stick with.  It’s important to remember that you don’t need to adopt low-fat or low-carb in order to lose weight.   Although PPEP is not specifically designed for weight loss, it advocates a balanced diet with familiar foods prepared in healthful ways, for example minimizing highly processed foods and ingredients, and being mindful of portion size.  Another aspect of PPEP is that it uses foods that are readily available in most regular grocery stores, doesn’t rely on specialty items, and tries to highlight locally available foods that may even be less expensive than imported foods.  These characteristics should help people stick to a healthy eating pattern for years.   The full reference for this publication is: Johnston BC, Kanters S, Bandayrel K, Wu P, Naji F, Siemieniuk RA, Ball GD, Busse JW, Thorlund K, Guyatt G, Jansen JP, Mills EJ.  Comparison of weight loss among named diet programs in overweight and obese adults: a meta-analysis.  Journal of the American Medical Association. 2014 Sep 3;312(9):923-33. doi:...

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The Nutritional Profiles of Pure Prairie Eating Plan Recipes and Menus

Each menu and recipe in the Pure Prairie Eating Plan has been analyzed to provide a summary of the carbohydrate, fat, saturated fat, protein and fibre content.  The source of most of this information comes from the Canadian Nutrient File, which is published by Health Canada and updated regularly to account for changes in food formulations and new foods.  The most recent version was published in 2010.  It’s a computerized database that lists up to 150 nutrients (vitamins and minerals, in addition to carbs, fats, protein) for more than 5,800 foods.   Health Canada also publishes a short form of the database that lists 19 nutrients for about 1000 of the most commonly eaten foods in Canada.  Take a look and see what you’ve been eating:  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/fiche-nutri-data/nutrient_value-valeurs_nutritives-eng.php   Another great way for consumers to check out the nutritional profile of foods and their own home recipes is to use the Dieticians of Canada tool called eaTracker, which has a handy, easy-to-use recipe analyzer:  https://www.eatracker.ca/recipe_analyzer.aspx.  We used this tool to compare the nutritional composition of homemade vinaigrette to commercial Italian dressing.  We found out our homemade dressing had less than 10% as much sodium as regular commercial dressing!   Regular Italian dressing – 15 mL Homemade dressing*– 15 mL 43 calories 64 calories 4.2 g fat 7.1 g fat 0.7 g saturated fat 0.5 g saturated fat 246 mg sodium 17 mg sodium 1.6 g carbohydrate 0.1 mg carbohydrate 1.2 g sugar 0 g sugar   * Our recipe – 30 mL canola oil, 15 mL vinegar, 15 mL water, 5 mL Dijon mustard, 5-10 mL herbs, 1 mL black...

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Acculturation, Dietary Acceptability, and Diabetes Management among Chinese in North America

Feiyue Deng, Anran Zhang and Catherine B. Chan Abstract: Immigrants to a new country face many challenges when diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease with a complex treatment involving both medical and behavioral interventions. These challenges will depend upon the extent to which the patient has adapted to the new country’s social and cultural norms, as well as individual factors such as age, education, and gender. This adaptation is termed acculturation. With respect to nutritional interventions for type 2 diabetes, uptake and adherence over the long term will depend upon overall health literacy, the cultural acceptability of the recommended diet. This review has focused on acculturation and its effects on diabetes management in ethnic Chinese in North America as an example of one populous minority and the challenges faced in adopting nutritional recommendations. Research directions and practical considerations are suggested. The complete article is available online at:...

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Collective knowledge: using a consensus conference approach to develop recommendations for physical activity and nutrition programs for persons with type 2 diabetes

Tanya R. Berry, Catherine B. Chan, Rhonda C. Bell, and Jessica Walker Abstract The purpose of this consensus conference was to have a lay panel of persons with type 2 diabetes (T2D) work in collaboration with an expert panel of diabetes professionals to develop strategies designed to improve dietary and physical activity adherence in persons with T2D. Lay panel participants were 15 people living with T2D. The seven experts had expertise in exercise management, cardiovascular risk factors, community-based lifestyle interventions, healthy weight strategies, the glycemic index, exercise motivation, and social, environmental and cultural interactions. All meetings were facilitated by a professional, neutral facilitator. During the conference each expert gave a 15-min presentation answering questions developed by the lay panel and all panel members worked to generate suggestions for programs and ways in which the needs of persons with T2D may be better met. A subgroup of the lay panel used the suggestions created from the conference to generate a final list of recommendations. Recommendations were categorized into (1) diagnosis/awareness (e.g., increasing awareness about T2D in the general public, need for lifelong self-monitoring post-diagnosis); (2) education for the person with diabetes (e.g., periodic “refresher” courses), professionals (e.g., regular interactions between researchers and persons with T2D so researchers better understand the needs of the affected population), and the community (e.g., support for families and employers); and (3) ongoing support (e.g., peer support groups). The recommendations from the conference can be used by researchers to design and evaluate physical activity and nutrition programs. The results can also be of use to policy makers and health promoters interested in increasing adherence to physical activity and nutrition guidelines among persons with T2D. The complete article is available online at:...

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