London News & Search
Canada’s Food Guide has four well-known food groups — meat, fruits and veggies, grains and dairy — but it ought to have one more, a London researcher says.
Probiotic scientist Gregor Reid is out to make fermented fare the fifth food group, or at least get the tangy cuisine on Health Canada’s radar.
The federal agency is in the midst of a multi-year review of healthy-eating guidelines and just finished its second round of public consultation Aug. 14. Reid has submitted recommendations he’s hoping will get Health Canada’s attention, and get fermented foods on the guide.
“Of all the food groups that have health benefits, it’s hard to see one that’s better than fermented foods,” said Reid, director of the Canadian Centre for Human Microbiome and Probiotic Research at the Lawson Health Research Institute.
“The category of fermented foods is feasible and should be created.”
Reid said foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut contain live microbes that often make health-boosting compounds called probiotics. Certain probiotic strains have been shown to improve human digestive function or help the human immune system.
“If you drink a glass of milk, there are benefits to that milk. But if you get a glass of fermented milk, like yogurt or kefir, there are more benefits because the microbes have utilized things in the milk and produced these compounds that help our health,” Reid said.
Though not all fermented foods are certified probiotics, with every last compound categorized and tested for their health benefits, Reid said just including the fare in your diet is a good idea more consumers should consider.
And if it were given a place on Canada’s Food Guide, or at least given an honourable mention by Health Canada, Reid said more people might give it a chance.
Yogurt is one of the most readily available fermented foods and even has brands that are marketed for their probiotic benefits. Some people like to dig into the tart milk-based drink kefir, too.
But for people who don’t like dairy, there’s no shortage of ways to get your fermented-food fix, Reid said. Kimchi, Korean fermented cabbage, kombucha (slightly fermented sweet tea), nut and seed “cheese” and sauerkraut are all increasingly popular options.
“When you look at kombucha and the other things people are now taking, they would never have done that even three years ago, five years ago,” Reid said. “It’s not just a trend that’s a fad. I think it’s a trend that will continue.”
Canada’s Food Guide overhaul will unfold in two phases.
The first, due out early next year, will be a report for health professionals and policy makers with general healthy-eating recommendations. In early 2019, Health Canada will release its new dietary policy with details on healthy-eating patterns, recommended portions and types of foods. Reid hopes fermented ones will make the cut.
“We’d be the first country in the world that would have it on the food guide,” he said. “Canadians would become more aware that fermented foods are good for their health.”
London News & Search