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Are We on the Same Page?

June 7, 2012 by Kenton Delisle

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Are We on the Same Page?

In response to readers’ interest, here are the rest of the questions from the BC Medical Association’s article from the May 18th blog entry, Doctors and Dietitians on the Same Page.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but merely a snapshot of the most common questions about food and nutrition at Dietitian Services at the time of the collaborative article. Trends, research and perceptions change all the time and so do the questions being asked. So feel free to ask us more questions at, or email or call a dietitian at Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC (8-1-1). Here are the rest of the questions and answers (adapted) from the BC Medical Journal* article Nutrition facts vs fiction: What are your patients asking? A continuation from Doctors and Dietitians on the Same Page (where you can find four more frequently asked food and nutrition questions).

Is there a danger of infection using powdered infant formula?
While there is always a risk of foodborne illness with food, including powdered infant formula, you can take steps to decrease the risk. Specifically, E. sakazakii bacteria have been found in powdered formula (Formula concentrate and ready to feed formula are sterile until opened but can be much more costly). Follow the steps in the HealthLink BC File, Formula Feeding Your Baby: Safely Preparing and Storing Formula to minimize the risk.

We have allergies in my family. Should I delay introduction of peanuts, tree nuts, fish and eggs to my baby?
Most health professionals no longer recommend delaying the introduction of peanuts, tree nuts, fish and eggs to prevent food allergies in children who are at high risk for food allergy because of family history. Research has shown earlier introduction of these foods, between 4-6 months, may be protective.  
For health reasons other than the prevention of allergic conditions, Health Canada recommends waiting until six months of age beforeoffering solid foods. At six months of age you may introduce peanuts, tree nuts, fish and eggs to your baby in age appropriate textures, if you wish. For example, you can start by offering some peanut and tree nut butters that have been thoroughly mixed into infant cereal until smooth.

Are there risks of pesticides in food in Canada?
Pesticide use is regulated by Health Canada. All foods available in Canada have minimal or low pesticide residue with some data showing little difference between organic and conventionally produced foods.

  • In 2006/07, 99% of Canada’s home-grown fruits and vegetables and imported foods tested were well below Canada’s pesticide residue limits.
  • In 90% of Canadian fruits and vegetables and 89% of imported foods tested, no residue was found.

Washing all fruits and vegetables is always recommended to reduce pesticide contamination as well as other contaminants such as bacteria.

Is sodium really an issue?
Eating a low-sodium diet has been shown to help prevent high blood pressure, help keep bones strong and may lower the risk for getting kidney stones. Increased blood pressure has been linked to several chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Aim to consume 1500 mg of sodium daily and to stay below the upper tolerable intake of 2300 mg per day. Reducing intake of processed foods and including more fresh fruits, vegetables and meat, fish and poultry are ways to achieve that goal.

What are the differences between a gluten-free diet and a wheat-free diet?
A gluten-free diet excludes wheat (including spelt and kamut), barley, rye and triticale, along with their derivatives and is followed by someone with diagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. People with celiac disease are also advised to avoid oats because they’re contaminated with wheat during growing, harvesting and processing. However, most people with celiac disease will tolerate moderate amounts of “pure and uncontaminated oats”, which are available through special producers.

A wheat-free diet excludes wheat and wheat derivatives. It’s recommended for anyone with a diagnosed or suspected wheat allergy.

Reading food labels and ingredient lists is an essential part of knowing what foods are safe to eat on each of these diets.

Is it true that goat milk is a good alternative for children with a cow-milk allergy?
No, children with milk allergy are also likely to have an allergic reaction to goat milk and goat milk products.

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