Pushing an improvised catwalk at a modest Trenton Central Hospital, Dr. Barbra Allen Bradshaw says that she told a crowd of army nurses, doctors and nutritionists that “Canadian nutrition guide makes you sick.”
According to her, a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat, as suggested by national food experts, is not the way to a healthy heart or physique. "This is bad advice."
Allen Bradshaw, a pathologist from Abbotsford, DC, is part of a group of doctors from across the country who were on a crusade to change how Canadians are offered to eat.
For the past two years, she and her colleague Dr. Carol Loffelmann, an anesthesiologist from Toronto, have spent most of their free time traveling around the country, calling on colleagues and ordinary Canadians to eat less carbohydrate than the government recommended and to eat fat from sources such as steak and cheese – even if it contradicts the generally accepted opinion.
That's all they can do, waiting for the Canadian Department of Health to listen to the messages of their massive campaign.
Since 2016, women who have established Canadian therapeutic nutrition clinics, a national non-profit organization, have lobbied the government with letters, a rally in Ottawa, and a parliamentary petition signed by almost 5,000 Canadians to revise the dietary guidelines that they believe are made up by the Health Canada. According to a Canadian Department of Health representative, the next issue of the Product Guidelines is scheduled for release in early 2019.
Allen Bradshaw and Loffelmann, working at St. Michael's Hospital, say that some of the new recommendations may not be based on the most current and relevant scientific data and may still result in Canadians being overweight, drug dependent and suffering for diabetes, liver obesity and metabolic syndrome.
In an e-mail addressed to Star, Health Canada announced that when the new council is finalized, it also updates its evidence base to reflect on the latest scientific developments in the field of nutrition and will be published in early 2019.
“The food guide has benefited from the participation of many stakeholders,” the email said. "We take into account all reviews."
For coffee last morning in the center of Toronto, women who met on the Internet said that the next recommendations, which are partly based on reviews of evidence published by the Department of Health of Canada in 2015, are likely to tell Canadians to limit added sugar and encourage them. eat whole, not processed food. These are good things, they said.
But, according to them, Health Canada continues to firmly adhere to evidence that is outdated and incomplete. For example, they said that some studies show that diets low in saturated fat from sources such as beef and butter are linked to heart disease.
But the scientific jury is still thinking about the full effect of saturated fats on health, and therefore, according to women, in these and other cases, the Nutrition Guide should remain “silent”. Or conduct a thorough independent review of research. ,
The crusade of women began several years ago with their own, quiet struggle for weight loss.
After giving birth to her second child, Loffelman dutifully followed the nutritional advice given by the Nutrition Guide, which she learned in medical school. She ate whole grains, replacing the white pasta with whole grains, and moved away from the butter. Listening to the deeper advice of the guide: move more and eat less, she took up a high-intensity exercise. But over time, her waist expanded.
At the other end of the country, Allen Bradshaw, who was on the same diet, struggled to lose weight and overcome gestational diabetes during his third pregnancy.
Regardless, the two women began searching for answers, delving into the scientific literature. They found that most of the recommendations of the Food Guidelines were not supported by the most up-to-date science.
And they began to experiment. Eating the opposite of the country's nationally authorized councils, indulging in fatty yogurt and throwing bowls of rice and pasta, they both lost weight. And he stopped feeling hungry all the time.
They went online, sharing their successes with a small group of moms across the country who, to their surprise, were receptive. A small group grew when women shared their results. Over time, they heard from doctors throughout Canada who began prescribing the same type of anti-food diet to their patients.
“Suddenly, doctors see their patients refusing medication, losing weight, their disease rates are declining, and their disease disappears,” said Allen Bradshaw.
It was a turning point for women.
Armed with a letter signed by 190 doctors, in 2016 they sent him to the Ministry of Health of Canada, which stated that in the 35-odd years that have passed since the government came to the country's cuisine, the population has become fat and sick.
Their letter calls for bureaucrats who at that time relied on evidence from 2014 to review the latest available research. The letter added: “Stop using any language, suggesting that sustainable weight control can simply be controlled by creating a calorie deficit.”
The answer was a letter form. The women responded to this with a more detailed version of their initial correspondence, this time with reference to ongoing relevant research signed by 700 medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists. They received a deeper response from Federal Minister of Health Jeanette Petitpas Taylor.
She said her ministry relied on "high-quality reports with systematic reviews of food-health links" from federal agencies in the United States and around the world. And it continued to follow up on additional evidence.
After another coup, the doctors were invited to Ottawa to meet with the Ministry of Health of Canada.
It was a warm May morning this year when women, along with three others, including Dr. Andrew Samys, a resuscitator and a stroke from Kingston, Ontario, stood outside the parliament building, which houses the headquarters of the Health Canada. They took a deep breath. A few minutes later they were sent to the meeting room.
Within two hours, they explained their position, including, according to Samis, that the science of saturated fats remains incomplete and the government should review the evidence it uses, and how it evaluates what evidence to use for its recommendations.
He also told bureaucrats, including Hassan Hutchinson, the director general of the Canadian Department of Policy and Nutrition Promotion of the Health Canada, that Canadians, as a multicultural site, should be provided with several food options, not just one size that fits all. To varying degrees, he said, the study supports five legitimate diets, including vegetable-based, low-fat, Mediterranean, ancestral paleo — fruits, vegetables, and plenty of protein — and keto, which means low carbohydrate levels, high levels fat Samis said: "We felt that they were really listening."
But shortly after the meeting, Samis heard Hutchinson on the radio, who connected the old, tired council. “It was disappointing,” he said.
The group's latest attempt to convince the legislators was a parliamentary petition, signed by 5,000 Canadians and presented to the House of Commons on September 26, urging lawmakers to conduct an external review of the evidence before distributing new, potentially harmful advice to the public.
With this, the doctors remained to wait. And spread their messages in webinars and conversations, large and small across the country.
At CFB, Trenton, Allen Bradshaw, who spent 14 years in the Canadian Army as a medic, drank in the atmosphere and enjoyed the nostalgia of his time in the reserves, where she helped army doctors look after wounded soldiers. According to her, the crowd ate their anti-diet advice, especially the decree that society should stop blaming patients who follow the Nutrition Guide and cannot lose weight, she said. "This is not their fault."
Michelle Henry is an investigative journalist from Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @michelehenry