Caruso's Health Blog
Find natural approaches to conditions, herbal use and supplements, recipes, fitness inspiration for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Avocado Cups with Mexican Salad Recipe To all our avo lovers, this recipe is for you! Avocado Cups with Mexican Salad Recipe is perfect for an easy weeknight meal or entertaining guests at a BBQ party. These cups of avocado, seasoned with cilantro and lime, will be the perfect appetiser for any occasion. Benefits of Avocado Rich in healthy fats Rich in antioxidants Good source of vitamin C, E & K Serves: 1 Ingredients 1 avocado 4-5 olives finely diced 1 cucumber peeled and finely chopped ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes or chili powder ½ red capsicum finely diced ½ cup parsley – finely chopped ¼ pumpkin seeds ½ lemon juiced Method 1. Slice the avocado through the middle to create 2 halves. Remove the seed and remove just a little bit more of the centre flesh and place into a bowl. 2. In the same bowl place all the additional ingredients and vegetables and lemon juice. Toss gently and then scoop the salad mix back into the centre of each avocado.
Are you riding the blood sugar roller coaster? Do you often give in to cravings for a mid-morning sugar hit, or find yourself snacking on sweets throughout the day? There might be more behind why you struggle with food cravings than just lack of willpower. Sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods are high in energy, so that intense craving you feel mid-morning for a piece of chocolate cake or a cookie, is your body looking for a quick energy fix.Every cell in your body, especially your brain, needs a constant supply of energy. The source of this energy is your blood sugar, which circulates around your body in the form of glucose. Sugary, starchy foods can be converted into glucose quickly, so they cause your blood sugar to quickly rise. Your pancreas responds by releasing insulin which sends the glucose into the cells of your body for energy, or to your liver for later release. However, there’s a tendency, even in healthy people, for slightly too much insulin to be released by the pancreas. This can cause blood sugar levels to drop down quickly, leaving you feeling jittery, irritable, and low in energy again. Cue another sugar craving... and you’re riding the blood sugar roller coaster. Riding a roller coaster all day, every day, is exhausting...and to make it worse, sugary snacks like cake or chocolate are often high in fat too, so after a while the calories really start to add up. The benefits of a stable blood sugar level A concentration of 60 to 100 mg/dL of glucose in blood plasma is generally recognised as a normal range for blood sugar level in healthy people. A stable blood sugar level means not having spikes or huge drops above and below that range. The amount of carbohydrate in your diet has the greatest effect on blood sugar levels. By eating regular meals and spreading your intake of carbohydrates out evenly throughout the day, you can maintain your energy levels and avoid large spikes or drops in blood sugar. Exercise also helps regulate your glucose levels. Exercise needs energy so it uses up glucose which helps your body better manage the level of glucose in your bloodstream. Keeping your blood sugar stable and within the normal range as much as possible lowers your risk factor for health complications such as type 2 diabetes. It may also help you maintain a healthy weight by minimising the drops in blood sugar that can lead to cravings for unhealthy, high calorie foods.
How To Boost Your Microbiome There is nothing like getting the best value for your dollar, right? Beneficial bacteria (and prebiotics) have that type of value. Whilst, many may assume that good bacteria (which are live microorganisms that live in harmony with their host) are only located in our digestive system and may only help with gut health. There are, in fact trillions which live within and on us as humans. It is now known that probiotics are not only important for our gut health, but for our whole body and organ systems from our immune system to our brain. Their role is truly unbelievable and extensive. So, if you want the best value for the biggest impact, why not try probiotics!How can we find them?Beneficial bacteria, also known as friendly or good bacteria are microscopically tiny. It is thought that our digestive system may contain over a 1000 species of beneficial bacteria and the microbiome can weigh up to 2kgs. A microbiome is an ecosystem within our body where our good bacteria live. A microbiome environment is an evolving and changing ecosystem, which many factors affect it to change. These may include: medication, illness, diet, surgery, chronic inflammation, mental health, stress and aging. As we grow and age our good bacteria change within us. We know that we have our own unique blend of beneficial bacterial species, which is unique to each of us, but the volume and new ones may come and go. Your unique beneficial bacterial make up is like your own finger print, special to you. We can consume many types of bacterium and viruses on a daily basis. Some of these types of microorganisms may be of help to us, whilst others are a hindrance. What are the best food sources of beneficial bacteria?Beneficial microorganisms can be found in many food types and they can be eaten on a daily basis to help increase or support your own beneficial bacterial colony. Many countries around the world have their own fermented foods types. Fermented foods naturally contain probiotics and can be found in foods such as: yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, miso, natto, amazake, tempeh, apple cider vinegar to name a few. Whether, you include a small amount occasionally or eat these types of foods daily, you will be aiding your beneficial bacteria and its microbiome. Super boost your MicrobiomeWhilst fermented food products are traditionally the best way to get your daily dose. Let’s look at other food items which are newbies on the block!Probiotic Tea and coffee– These have been developed by the University of Singapore using special strains in the right environment to help them flourish and decrease their susceptibility heat damage. Food manufacturing companies are now using patented probiotic strains, which are added to the end of the manufacturing process. As tea is often drunk hot, these special patented probiotic strains are heat resistant and stable. Snack foods with probiotics- Food manufacturers are getting on the probiotic brand wagon. Whilst the amount of probiotic may vary somewhat, they are using a special strain, which can withstand commercial processing, heat and the addition of high sugars which may destroy natural beneficial bacteria content. We can see this emerging market in muesli bars, crackers, chocolate, cereals and “healthy” crisp. Remember, these items may have added probiotics but what about the unhealthy processed oils and sugar content that goes into making these snack foods? Kombucha- this is a classic probiotic “tea”. Traditionally known as a fermented tea and often drunk cold, it is a slightly fizzy and sour drink with an acquired taste. Looking at the whole pictureWe know that probiotics are important, but there is a bigger picture to consider. We must look at the environment in which they live in, the microbiome. Probiotics flourish in a healthy and vibrant microbiome. Again, including certain foods that can help our probiotic colony to stay around and benefit the rest of our body. Prebiotics are the missing link to having healthy gut flora and keeping the microbiome in good working order. Prebiotic foods include different types of fibres such as soluble and insoluble fibre. These prebiotics slowly break down and ferment their way along the digestive tract as they nourish the microbiome. They contain special fibre structures such as: inulin, fructooligosaccarides (FOS), beta glucan, arabinoxlyin oligosaccride (AXOS) and pectin to name a few. These prebiotics are found in foods such as: apples, watermelon, garlic, leeks, asparagus, chickpeas and other legumes, grapefruit, almonds, Slippery elm powder, wheat bran, oats and psyllium husks… the list can go on. Primarily, fruits, vegetables, herbs, some nuts and wholegrains are important for the microbiome and our friendly probiotics to thrive. Keeping it real!Stick with what you know and what you like. You may not like every fermented type of food out there, but find one you do like. If you really can’t stomach any of them, then consider taking a probiotic in a capsule or powder. Get one with strains that are suited to your health needs, whether it be your current health status or perhaps your age. The verdictSo, what is the verdict? Do you need to take a probiotic all the time?To be honest, it depends on your circumstances. The answer may be yes, if you are unwell, have a complex health history, poor diet or a family history of poor health. You may wish to just look at some food sources that contain probiotics and prebiotics. It’s always best to start to look at what you feed your body. Diet and nutrition are always important, remember to start slowly by introducing one or two types of foods first. Or perhaps, you are fit and well with no health issues. Then maybe taking a probiotic once or twice a year, or perhaps you already include beneficial bacteria containing foods into your daily diet. These microscopic friendly bacteria just may be your missing link to better health and wellness.
A child's health begins in the bowel The key to your child’s good health begins in the bowel, and a healthy bowel is one with a good, healthy balance of friendly bacteria. Your child’s digestive system simply can’t function at its best without an abundance of good bacteria. They're nature’s internal healers. Your child's body is thriving with trillions of microorganisms, many that live inside their digestive system. Together, they create a population of friendly bacteria known as the intestinal microbiome. There is a mutually beneficial relationship that occurs between our body and our intestinal microbiome. This is called a symbiotic relationship; we help out each other. Friendly bacteria are not limited to just the digestive system, they also live on our skin, in our nose and mouth, and in our reproductive and urinary systems. These internal healers are acquired in the very early stages of life and stay with us for the rest of our days. They are invisible to the human eye, but they are there, trillions of them. So, let's dive deeper into this amazing world of probiotics and why they are so important to your child's health. We used to think that a baby was born into the world, with an almost sterile microbiome. However, research has recently revealed that some colonisation of friendly bacteria begins in the uterus. If you are pregnant, your diet, environment and the use of medication during pregnancy can also affect the microbiome of your unborn baby. Your baby is further exposed to a large proportion of good bacteria through the birth canal during a natural delivery. As a mother, you can enhance your new baby’s gut microbiome by breastfeeding and skin to skin contact within the first few days of birth. The colonisation of your baby’s intestinal microbiome develops over a period of about two years. Science has also discovered that the microflora of an infant is different to that of a child or an adult. An amazing world exists within your child’s digestive system; it contains over one thousand species of beneficial bacteria which make up their microbiome environment. Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus salivarius are two species which have been found in breastmilk and therefore the gut of breastfed babies. Interestingly, Lactobacillus salivarius is also found in the mouths of children born via natural delivery. These two species may help support and stimulate your baby’s immune system function and help establish a healthy immune response. Up to 80% of the immune system can reside in a child’s gut. Immune cells and good bacteria in the digestive tract help prevent the over growth of bad bacteria and microbes which may be ingested along with food. Your child’s gut microbiota plays an important role in the way they absorb their nutrients, immune system development and overall health. The natural biome can be affected by health conditions, medications, diet, physical and emotional health. In order to help nourish a healthy biome it is important to ensure that children are provided a diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and fermented foods such as good quality yoghurt. Children today are exposed to many more environmental contaminants via fast food, air pollution and stress, more so than in the past twenty to thirty years. Often parents or carers are working, which often results in more children attending daycare or after school care. Children are spending more time indoors on electronic devices and often less time outdoors. The increased exposure to classmates, often in larger classes can see them picking up ills and chills, leading to more days off sick and a depleted immune system. Don’t forget your child’s diet! They will not simply “eat better when they are older”, by then it may just be too late. A child’s good eating habits start from the time they start solids. Lead by example as a parent, what they see you eat and do, they will naturally want to copy. A variety of flavours and textures will help to expand your child’s taste and encourage a diverse range of friendly bacteria that will develop in their system, creating a happy tummy and healthy immune system. Remember, if they do not like something straight away, do not disregard it, try again at another time or perhaps try to prepare it in a different way. Some probiotic species (such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Lactobacillus paracasei and Bifidobacterium lactis) can actually help to support the immune system and help reduce the number of sick days by shortening the duration of an illness. Supporting and feeding your child’s microbiome can help maximise their health and help support and maintain their immune and digestive systems. The microbiome protects them against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins. As a child’s microbiome is diverse and ever changing, and probiotic species do not exist alone, taking a probiotic supplement can help to enhance or restore health to their gut microbiome.
The Importance of a Balanced Diet in Children’s Growth & Development The early years of life involves not only a period of rapid physical growth but also significant cognitive and behavioural development. Bones, muscles and organs, not to mention hair, skin, nails and brain matter, all need a constant stream of nutrients to function. A healthy, balanced diet is essential to provide these necessary nutrients to facilitate this growth and development, not only in the early stages of life but also to ensure resilience into the future. Behaviour surrounding food and eating habits begins early in life and evolves as children grow. Outside influences including the eating habits of family and friends can strongly impact the choices children will make around food as they go on to develop their own habits and preferences, potentially setting the stage for lifelong habits. Bad habits established early can be hard to shift later in life. Providing children healthy food and encouraging good dietary habits early on is a gift which will continue on giving well into their adult years, potentially lowering their risk factor for chronic health issues as they age. Starting life with healthy food sets your body on the right path, health wise. Good food builds healthy, strong bodies which are more resilient towards future health problems. Babies are born with an innate preference for sweet foods and an aversion to bitter tasting foods, this is thought to be an evolutionary way of attracting us to foods high in energy producing sugars and directing us away from unpleasant tasting and potentially harmful substances like poisons. This is often thought to be why most children prefer the sweet taste of fruit rather than the bitter taste of leafy greens. Some young children may need some encouragement when it comes to eating a healthy diet. Children don’t begin life with a taste for salty, unhealthy foods, it’s an acquired taste, so it’s best to try and steer clear of these kinds of foods and encourage children to enjoy the natural flavours of foods for as long as possible. It’s not always just the type of food that we need to keep an eye on, but also the portion size which can tend to increase if we are not mindful. Try to keep to appropriate portion sizes, don’t let children mindlessly eat out of a packet. Place the food in a bowl so they are able to get a good sense of what a healthy portion looks like. Perhaps have a fruit bowl within reach or healthy snacks like cut up fruit and vegetable sticks in the fridge for quick, easy snacks. Fussy Eaters Once they reach school age, children start to become more aware of the eating habits of others around them. This may not always prove to be a positive influence, so it is important to educate children early as to why it is important to make those healthy food choices in the first place. Children who understand more about how food affects our body may be more inclined to make better choices. Perhaps ask older children to read out the ingredients on food labels so they become more aware of hidden nasties and additives. Younger children may be better suited to help out with selecting fruit and vegetables at the grocery store, or organise a trip to a local farm and pick your own fruit. Don’t forget that often parents are often the best role models, so make sure that you practice what you preach and lead by example. Children who are constantly exposed to a variety of healthy options may tend to be less fussy and more willing to try new foods. Eating away from home, such as at school camp or dinner at a friend’s house can be quite stressful for children who are less adventurous or have limited food preferences. While eating a variety of food is ideal, fussy eaters may tend to favour one or two foods or drinks and tend to stick to these. Pasta or milk are often popular and children may fill up on these and claim to be too full for anything else. Gently encourage a new food item each meal, but try not to make a fuss. Make every bite count by making meals nutrient dense. Try adding avocado to a wrap or toast, cheese or hummus to a sandwich or perhaps a pasta sauce made with pureed vegetables. The number of people who follow a plant based diet is on the rise. Carefully balanced plant based diets can be suitable for all ages, however when it comes to children, careful planning and preparation is of the utmost importance to ensure that all their nutritional requirements are met. Vitamins and minerals are important, but so are macro nutrients such as protein which are needed for growth. A diet with a variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and tofu will provide all the nutrients that a child needs, however a paediatric dietitian will be in the best position to offer advice best suited to your child and their individual circumstances. Kids in the kitchen These days, it seems as though we never have enough hours in a day and takeaway for dinner can often feel like an easy option at the end of a long day. Home cooked meals don’t need to be complicated and stressful, try to find healthy, child friendly recipes that the whole family can enjoy or perhaps get creative and try to sneak some grated veggies into the family’s favourite recipes. Finely chopped mushrooms, grated carrot or zucchini can be added to spaghetti bolognaise, they’ll never know it’s there. Homemade food is generally best as you know exactly what goes into making it, plus it makes life a lot easier when it comes to catering to personal tastes and keeping the whole family happy. Kids often love to help out, so try to allocate age appropriate jobs if you have a child who is eager to help. Cutting mushrooms with a child friendly knife or whisking eggs may be suitable jobs for little hands or simply helping to wash the vegetables can help children explore new colours and shapes and perhaps spark their interest and curiosity. If you have a vegetable garden, try to get the kids involved. Perhaps they can help to pick out which vegetables they would like to grow. Give them their own little basket and let them pick the produce for themselves. If you don’t have the space for a vegetable garden, try growing herbs in a pot or colourful container and check your local nurseries for varieties which have been specially propagated for pots and smaller areas. The early years of life involves not only a period of rapid physical growth but also significant cognitive and behavioural development. Bones, muscles and organs, not to mention hair, skin, nails and brain matter, all need a constant stream of nutrients to function. A healthy, balanced diet is essential to provide these necessary nutrients to facilitate this growth and development, not only in the early stages of life but also to ensure resilience into the future. Behaviour surrounding food and eating habits begins early in life and evolves as children grow. Outside influences including the eating habits of family and friends can strongly impact the choices children will make around food as they go on to develop their own habits and preferences, potentially setting the stage for lifelong habits. Bad habits established early can be hard to shift later in life. Providing children healthy food and encouraging good dietary habits early on is a gift which will continue on giving well into their adult years, potentially lowering their risk factor for chronic health issues as they age. Starting life with healthy food sets your body on the right path, health wise. Good food builds healthy, strong bodies which are more resilient towards future health problems. Babies are born with an innate preference for sweet foods and an aversion to bitter tasting foods, this is thought to be an evolutionary way of attracting us to foods high in energy producing sugars and directing us away from unpleasant tasting and potentially harmful substances like poisons. This is often thought to be why most children prefer the sweet taste of fruit rather than the bitter taste of leafy greens. Some young children may need some encouragement when it comes to eating a healthy diet. Children don’t begin life with a taste for salty, unhealthy foods, it’s an acquired taste, so it’s best to try and steer clear of these kinds of foods and encourage children to enjoy the natural flavours of foods for as long as possible. It’s not always just the type of food that we need to keep an eye on, but also the portion size which can tend to increase if we are not mindful. Try to keep to appropriate portion sizes, don’t let children mindlessly eat out of a packet. Place the food in a bowl so they are able to get a good sense of what a healthy portion looks like. Perhaps have a fruit bowl within reach or healthy snacks like cut up fruit and vegetable sticks in the fridge for quick, easy snacks.
IN SEASON NUTRITIONThe Importance of a Balanced Diet in Children’s Growth & Development
A healthy, balanced diet is essential to provide these necessary nutrients to facilitate this growth and develop...Read more
Evolving Diets & It's Impact On Nutrition The way we eat and what we eat has changed radically over time. Remember when you were a child and what you ate was whatever was placed in front of you at dinner time? These days we are inundated with new food options including hybrid vegies, nut ‘mylks’, green smoothies, plant based meat alternatives and even plant based ice creams! We also have numerous ways to get our food delivered, whether it be junk food, ready to eat meals or even meal kits delivered to our door, we’ve definitely moved on from the meat and three veg type dinners of old. To see how far we’ve come in regard to how our food habits have changed, let’s look at where we began. Hunters and gatherers The discovery of ancient tools along with the remains of human settlement tells us that early hunters and gatherers existed as far back as 2 million years ago. Most hunters and gatherers lived in small groups which ensured that there was enough food and supply for everyone. As they hunted and gathered their food, there would be times when they would have more than enough for everyone, particularly after a big kill or a change in season when edible plants were more abundant. There were also leaner times when food wasn’t as easy to come by. These were hard times when food was seen as a source of energy, eaten purely to fuel the body to help carry on for another day, no one could afford to be picky. Neolithic Revolution The Neolithic Revolution is often referred to as the birth of agriculture, when early humans began to harness the environment for their own gains, moving more toward agriculture and settlement and away from the unpredictable and often unreliable ways of hunting and gathering. This transition, changed human existence by encouraging larger populations and providing people with the chance to accumulate food stores. A more reliable source of food meant that some people now had the time to spend on other activities besides hunting, such as creating tools, crafts and other items of value, leading to the early beginnings of trade and markets. Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution saw enormous changes in how foods were produced along with the increased efficiency in overall manufacturing processes. Large scale machinery now enabled farmers to grow much more than ever before, synthetic fertilisers and chemical pesticides were introduced resulting in better food security and increased food diversity. Food was now easier to access and required less effort to obtain it, resulting in lowered food prices and better availability. Refined and processed foods Unfortunately, not everything about the industrial revolution was positive, along with the factories and machinery came far reaching changes to the production and consumption of food. Along with improved efficiency in food production came refined grains and more heavily processed foods. These new versions of foods were often lower in vitamins and minerals than what was consumed previously. Food became cheaper, often easier to access and in most cases, more calorie dense. The way we ate also changed, breakfast became a normalised meal meant to give energy to those who were heading off to work in the factories. Lunch became a packed meal as most workers worked far away from home and needed to take food with them as they were unable to eat at home as they had in the past. Lunch rooms, food carts and restaurants soon became the norm as the world began to change in response to new labour developments and technology. While changes in economic development, food security and improved living conditions have made life significantly easier for most of the world, it has also come with its own burdens. Generations ago, the average person would obtain the majority of their daily calories from vegetables, grains and if they were lucky enough, meat. Industrialisation has seen this basic diet veer towards a more convenient and highly processed and unfortunately, often nutrient deficient one. It’s no secret that people are getting larger, the average person weighs much more today than they did one or two hundred years ago. Overnutrition is a form of malnutrition which has arisen over the years as our food habits have changed. The overconsumption of nutrients leading to weight gain and associated health issues has escalated as we move further away from food in its natural form, favouring the fast, convenient options we have become accustomed to in modern times. Many factors have swayed our modern day eating practices including new cultural influences, food intolerances and allergies, trends, social media influencers and the list goes on. What hasn’t changed are the nutrients that the body will always need to keep healthy and functioning at its best. Macro and Micronutrients Our bodies require a constant stream of nutrients to help keep us operating efficiently. These nutrients can be classified into two groups called macronutrients and micronutrients. Both groups are important for various health reasons. Macronutrients are those that help provide us with energy while micronutrients help to keep us healthy and enable us to digest the macronutrients. Micronutrients Micronutrients are simply the vitamins and trace minerals that are needed to fuel the body, they are necessary for many functions including energy production, immune function and many other processes carried out by the body every day. We only need small amounts of micronutrients, which is why they are generally measured in milligrams or micrograms. These nutrients are those which are not naturally produced within the body and therefore they must be obtained through the diet. Micronutrients are one of the major groups of nutrients required by the body and can be further classified into two vitamin groups, water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins are those such as B vitamins which are easily lost through bodily fluids and may need to be replenished daily. Fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A,D, E and K may be stored in the body and drawn upon as the body requires them. Good sources of water and fat soluble vitamins are green leafy vegetables, fruit, lean meats, dairy products, nuts and seeds. Good sources of minerals can be found in foods such as nuts, seeds, seafood, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, eggs, tropical fruit such as bananas and mangoes, green leafy vegetables and avocados. Macro ingredients While micronutrients are nutrients which are only required in small amounts, macronutrients are needed in relatively larger amounts in order to keep the body functioning in good health. Macronutrients provide the body with energy in the form of calories and are known as fats, proteins and carbohydrates, generally making up the bulk of the calories and fibre from the foods that we eat. It is important to have a balanced intake of all three vital nutrients as each is as important as the next with vastly different roles. Protein Protein is made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids which are joined together forming long chains. The body needs protein to grow and maintain tissue which naturally builds up and breaks down as normal part of the functioning of the body. Different stages of life may require an increased need for protein such as during pregnancy, illness or injury, or for athletes or the elderly. Protein is required for digestion, energy production, blood clotting, muscle contraction and also plays a large part in our immune system. Some proteins such as keratin, collagen and elastin help to provide structure to cells and tissues such as hair, skin, nails, and bones and ligaments. Protein rich foods tend to help keep us fuller for longer and good sources of protein include lean meat, fish, eggs, seafood, nuts, beans and tofu. Carbohydrates Carbohydrates are an essential part of our diet, in fact much of the world relies on carbohydrates as their major source of energy, rice and potatoes are good examples of this. The body uses carbohydrates to produce glucose which is the body’s preferred energy source. The brain requires glucose as its main source of fuel. The body is able to store excess glucose as glycogen within the liver and muscles. The body then draws on these stores when needed. Ideally, the carbohydrates in our diet would come from wholegrains, beans, fruit and vegetables. These complex carbohydrates contain vitamins, minerals, fibre and other important plant nutrients needed to maintain health. Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, soft drinks and sugary snacks are often easy to digest and generally low in nutrients and fibre, providing calorie dense options with little to offer in terms of nutritional benefits. Try to get your carbohydrates from good food sources such as brown rice, quinoa, oats and of course, plenty of fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Fats Fats are vital for the healthy functioning of the human body in many ways. Fats play an important role in keeping us warm, protecting our organs and providing us with energy. Fats also enable the body to store fat-soluble vitamins A,D,E and K which are stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Fats are also used to build and insulate nerve tissue, without fat our body could not communicate messages from the brain to the rest of the body effectively. Fats form a structural part of the cell membrane which allows the exchange of nutrients between the cell and the fluid outside of the cell. The integrity of the cell membrane is important to ensure that the cells works efficiently. The saying ‘you are what you eat’ is particularly applicable in regard to what type of fat you eat. Fats which are beneficial to the body can be obtained from foods such as oily fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, these fats are classed as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of fats will help to maintain healthy cell membranes. Trans fats are detrimental to health and should be avoided or at least limited as much as possible. Trans fats are primarily found in processed foods made from partially hydrogenated oil, think of foods such as fried foods, junk foods and packaged foods, avoid these foods where you can, they are not conducive to good health. Water Don’t forget the importance of water. Water makes up between 60-70% of our body. The human body contains roughly 32 trillion cells which require water to keep them all healthy and functioning properly. The body needs water for many functions including the regulation of body temperature, the transportation of oxygen around the body and lubrication of joints to ensure that they are able to move freely. Water also plays an important role in digestion and the transportation of nutrients, without water chemical reactions could not occur and waste products would build up to toxic levels. Keep healthy To ensure that you get adequate amounts of both micro and macronutrients, be sure to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat, whole grains, nuts and seeds and plenty of fresh water. Food is the best way to get all your nutritional needs, although this is not always possible for various reasons, if you suspect that you may need further information regarding your particular dietary requirements, please don’t hesitate to seek advice from your health professional.
How to stop emotional eating Stop! Are you looking for just a little something sweet to help you through your day? How many times have you used this excuse, to turn to food to make you feel better? Well, you may be an emotional eater! Food represents so much more than what it is. We use food to provide connection, social interaction, rewards, punishment and attachment. However, food is just food. Food provides our body with nutrients to help us live, grow and thrive. Many of us Live to Eat rather than Eat to Live. From a young age, many of us learn that food is connected or linked to our emotions. How many times does a parent or carer give a child, chocolate as a reward or restrict food, as punishment? These types of associations can instil in us, a negative emotional relationship with food which can affect us greatly later in life. What is emotional eating? There are many reasons why we develop emotional attachments to food. Some of these reasons may include; stress, trauma, grief, self-sabotage, conditioned behaviour and the list can be endless. Emotional eating, is using food to create a positive response in our body to negate or attain a better feeling. However, using food does not fill an emotional need, it will not replace the feeling you are trying to achieve, but can potentially compound a problem, because you may also feel guilty later that you over ate. When you are upset, stressed or low in mood, there is a decrease in the good feeling brain chemical, serotonin. To make you feel better an increase is needed. Foods that are high in sugar/carbohydrate can temporarily increase serotonin production in the brain, unfortunately, the effects are short lived. We may feel better or have a sense of elation for only just a short moment, but we cannot replace long term problems with instant gratification. The negative long term effects occur when dependency develops, when we may be chasing that “good feeling rush” and we increase in weight or other health problems occur as a result of the regular intake of eating high sugar/ carbohydrate foods. Am I an emotional eater? If you are not sure if you eat food to help you fill that emotional void, then try answering the following questions: Do you eat when you are upset or stressed? Is food your comforter or friend? Do you reward yourself with food? Do you eat to make your feelings go away, or to make yourself feel better? Do you feel out of control when you eat? Do you eat when you are not hungry or over eat? If you answered yes, to three or more questions, then you may be an emotional eater. How can I stop my emotional eating? This can be a loaded question! If you think your emotional eating is long term and connected to more traumatic emotional issues, then consider: Getting professional help - Seek professional help from a counsellor or support groups like, Over Eaters Anonymous if you feel that you have more deep seated emotional issues. Eat only when you are hungry- Listen to your body and only eat when you are hungry. Our satiety centre is located within our brain not our stomach! Our body produces a hormone called leptin to tell us when we are full and no longer require food. Listen to your body when it signals that it’s had enough. Mindful eating – When you do eat, make it more of a ritual and sit down to eat. Eating with good company, friends and family can make your meals more meaningful. Keep a diet dairy – Record what food you eat in a day, this may help you to identify what foods you are eating and you can also record how you feel when you eat certain foods or what feelings are triggered when you eat. Self-care- Often a difficult one for many to do. Try being kind to yourself. Do something for yourself, that you haven’t done in a long time or take some time for yourself. You deserve it! Exercise- Is the serotonin elevator! Being active and moving, helps to increase your ‘feel good’ factor. Do something that will be fun and that you enjoy. Need Comfort – Get some comforting words from a friend or a family member. Ring a friend who will listen, understand and has time for a chat. Meditation and relaxation – Learn to do mindful meditation. Meditation can really help to calm the mind and evoke a sense of relaxation and control. Incorporate deep breathing in your meditation, trying to maintain a daily practice, will help minimise stress and clear the mind. Happy rewards – If you feel like you need a reward, then give yourself one. Reward yourself in other ways, rather than with food such as: Treat yourself to a new book, a massage, meet up with a friend or go on a shopping trip. Whilst, you may think that food has control over you, it does not. Remember food has no emotions, it cannot talk, hug, support or fill that emotional void. Follow some of these ideas to help you on the road to being emotionally free from food. Health Disclaimer: Seek professional help, from a counsellor or a support group who may help with long term emotional or traumatic issues.
Magnesium for children The role of magnesium in the body is an important one, for both adults and children. It’s vital for a broad range of bodily functions, in fact it’s involved in hundreds of reactions taking place in the body every day. The human body can’t produce its own magnesium, therefore it’s important to ensure that we get enough magnesium either through our diet or through supplementation. Why is magnesium especially important for children? Magnesium is essential for the healthy growth and development of the body, including the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Did you know, that in adolescence, a large percentage of the body’s bone mass has already been reached, eventually peaking at about 18- 20 years old?  This highlights the importance of ensuring that children receive adequate levels of magnesium from an early age, to help give them a strong start in life. Magnesium affects many areas of our lives, without adequate magnesium levels our heart couldn’t keep a steady beat, our muscles wouldn’t be able to contract and relax properly and our energy levels would be very low. Magnesium also helps us get restful sleep and plays a role in maintaining our blood sugar levels. It may also help in soothing the nervous system and may help relieve the symptoms of stress and mild anxiety, which is particularly important for anxious or nervous children. Emotional stress can increase our requirements for magnesium, so it’s vital that we have an adequate intake of magnesium to help us deal with daily stress and emotional tension . According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, between 2011 and 2012, one in three children aged over two years, did not meet their dietary requirements for magnesium . Constant growth and development means that children need a continuous intake of magnesium to keep up with the high demands of a growing child. Magnesium deficiency signs Early signs of magnesium deficiency may include; loss of appetite, fatigue, muscle tension, cramping and even mood changes. Clinical trials have been conducted, supporting the connection between magnesium nutritional status and behaviour . Magnesium helps to convert glucose from the food you eat, into energy for your body. Without adequate levels of magnesium, your cells can become less sensitive to insulin, therefore potentially disturbing healthy blood sugar levels, which may result in altered mood and energy levels. Occasional tantrums and challenging behaviour are normal for growing children, however if the episodes become more frequent or intensify, be mindful of their diet and make sure that the episode isn’t a result of a sugar crash or a nutritional deficiency. Diet While magnesium is readily available in food, children who are fussy eaters may tend to be more prone to magnesium deficiency. Allergies and food intolerances may also mean that some children may not be reaching their daily recommended magnesium intake. Farming practices and the processing of foods have seen a decrease in the amount of magnesium found in some foods. Foods such as fruit and vegetables grown in nutrient depleted soil may no longer have the magnesium levels they once had. Highly refined foods such as white bread or pasta contribute very little to the dietary intake of magnesium and therefore the consumption of these foods should be limited. Try to eat wholegrain versions where possible. The way that we cook and prepare foods can also affect the magnesium content in food, for example boiling vegetables can increase the loss of magnesium in food, while steaming can help to retain nutrients. Processed foods are high in salt and sugar and can increase magnesium loss in the body, they generally offer minimal nutritional value and are best left on the shelf. However, it’s not only foods that can affect magnesium levels, soft drinks and sports drinks contain high levels of phosphoric acid which can affect magnesium absorption. Water is the best option for children. Remember children often mimic what their parents or carers do, so try to lead by example and have plenty of fresh water within easy access, or pack water bottles when away from the home. Activity Magnesium is easily lost through body fluids such as sweat, so children who are frequently active or involved in extracurricular sport activities, may require more magnesium than those children who have more sedentary lifestyles. Illness can also influence magnesium levels, diarrhoea and vomiting may leave the body depleted of magnesium due to fluid loss. Dietary sources Magnesium is an essential part of chlorophyll, which gives plants their green colour. This would explain why green leafy vegetables are so full of magnesium. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale top the list for magnesium content, however broccoli, avocados, pepitas, wholegrains, nuts and legumes are all great sources as well. Sources of magnesium: Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale Pumpkin seeds, Flax seeds, Brazil nuts Whole grain bread Avocados Bananas Snack ideas for a magnesium boost: Smashed avocado on wholegrain toast Fruit smoothie with baby spinach Almond or peanut butter on whole grain crackers Remember, if you are in any way concerned about your child and their health, seek the advice of a health professional who can give you a personalised health plan, specific for your child’s needs. References1. www.bones.nih.gov/health-info/bone/bone-health2. Schwalfenber, GK. (2017). The Importance of Magnesium in Clinical Healthcare. Hindawi, doi.org/10.1155/2017/41793263. www.abs.gov.au4. Black LJ et al.(2014). Low dietary intake of magnesium is associated with increased externalising behaviour in adolescents. Public Health Nutrition, 18(10), 1824-30.doi: 10.1017/S1368980014002432
Pathway International* lobby Osteoporosis Australia for recognition of Vitamin K2 as important for bone health RE: NATIONAL STRATEGIC ACTION PLAN FOR OSTEOPOROSIS 2019The initiative led by Osteoporosis Australia and backed by the Department of Health is a great step forward in addressing the various challenges and financial burden around Osteoporosis, and educating the public about awareness and the focus on prevention at all stages of life. A nationally coordinated and government backed Strategic Action Plan allows Australians to begin taking those necessary steps in the right direction. The plan calls for input from a wide range of partners, including public and private healthcare sectors, researchers, academics, and industry. Pathway International’s involvement is from industry and extends to include clinical data from researchers and academics. Pathway’s focus is on the first part of the challenge - Priority 1: Increase awareness and education with a focus on early prevention. This is where an education focus on vitamin K2 is required. Vitamin K2 puts calcium into balance by directing calcium to the bones. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7) together with calcium and vitamin D3 is an optimal combination for bone health. Supplementation at an early age and throughout the life cycle is vitally important. Vitamin K2 offers key benefits for bone and heart health and the Western diet lacks this essential vitamin. There are many clinical studies on K2 over the last 20 years.There are currently more than 60 complementary medicines available on the market from many recognised brands, yet the public awareness for K2 is way behind that of D3. This is the perfect time for Australia to take the lead in this area by including Vitamin K2 as another key ingredient in the “increase awareness and education with a focus on early prevention” part of Priority 1. While the Action Plan only includes Calcium and Vitamin D3, Pathway International’s Wayne Coote has highlighted the importance of the emerging science around the perfect pairing of Vitamins D3 and K2 which together help regulate the calcium balance and utilisation in the body. “Caruso’s Natural Health has a K2 + D3 softgel capsule product, and there are a few other brands in market. It would be timely for healthcare professionals to be made aware of, and educated around the benefits of Vitamin K2, either alone or in combination with D3, in order to recommend their customers and patients to take K2 in addition to calcium and/or D3” Mr Coote said.*Pathway International is a privately owned Australian company that was established in 1995 to supply key ingredients to the complementary medicine, personal care, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and veterinary industries in Australia and New Zealand. Pathway International supplies specialty healthcare ingredients to vitamin and supplement sponsors such as Caruso’s Natural Health for their Vitamin K2 and D3 formula amongst others.This medicine may not be right for you. Read the label before purchase. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your health professional. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
NUTRITION WELLNESSPathway International* lobby Osteoporosis Australia for recognition of Vitamin K2 as important for bone health
The initiative led by Osteoporosis Australia and backed by the Department of Health is a great step forward in a...Read more
Should I Be Doing a Detox? 'Detox’ is a loose term that is used quite frequently amongst the health-conscious, but what does it actually mean? Our bodies are already well equipped with the appropriate mechanisms to filter out waste. The liver and kidneys are the two major organs involved in detoxification. The body’s largest organ, the skin, also helps to eliminate waste products through perspiration. So what makes us think that we might need a detox?While our bodies generally do a great job eliminating waste products from our system, we may still feel like we need a little help from time to time. Modern lifestyles, stress and poor dietary choices can take a toll on our body, and our natural elimination channels may become sluggish and need a little help now and then. How do you know if detoxing is for you? Detoxing isn’t about starving yourself or depriving your body of food. A healthy detox is about taking the load off your digestive system by nourishing it with healthy foods and eliminating those foods that put a strain on our system. Healthy eating is the key to a healthy body, every cell in our body is made up of all that we eat and drink on a daily basis. We all know that in order to build a strong, well functioning body, we need to consume a nutritious diet, however, sometimes it may feel that even though we are eating healthy foods, getting enough exercise and drinking enough water, we just don’t feel as healthy as we should. Social engagements, work commitments or stress can use up our time and energy and our diet may begin to suffer along the way. Sometimes our body may give us subtle signs that it needs a little attention, or perhaps even a detox. Digestive symptoms are often a telltale sign that we may benefit from a detox. Bloating after meals, reflux or excess wind can be indicators that the digestive system is not quite working effectively. When food is not thoroughly digested, it can stay in the gastrointestinal tract longer than it should, encouraging a buildup of gas and waste which may cause pain and discomfort. Constipation may be another sign that our digestive system is not functioning at its best, chronic constipation can also upset the delicate balance of good bacteria in our gut, often creating further digestive symptoms. The condition of our skin can often be a visual indicator of how well our elimination channels are working. Persistent breakouts, dry, oily or rough skin can often be an indicator that we may benefit from a detox. Good gut health is important for great skin and our skin often reflects what’s going on inside, so if our skin isn’t looking as good as it should, chances are our insides may need a little help. Can anybody do a detox? Although everybody can benefit from improving their diet, detoxes aren’t for everyone. If you have current health issues or are on medication, it’s best to consult your health professional before you start. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, this is not the time to detox, speak to your health professional about dietary advice that is suitable to your needs.
Are you eating too much sugar? What a contentious word, “sugar” is. Is there someone you know on a sugar-free diet, has no sugar or is addicted to sugar in some way? How many types of sugar are there? Which is the best one and how much sugar on a daily basis, is ok?Sugar is a carbohydrate that can be added to foods and is also found naturally in vegetables, fruits and dairy products.Sugar has been a valued commodity for thousands of years and whilst it was not an essential food product, it was a highly demanded luxurious one. The sugar cane plant is originally from south east Asia and it reached Europeans in the 12th Century. However, the main manufacturer at the time was India and Indian Commonwealth colonies, which due to demand, drove the sugar slave trade to erupt a few hundred years later. Sugar production expanded to other areas of the world including Australia.Today, sugar production and manufacturing is now industrialised and mechanically operated. It is the third-ranking crop in the world that requires and consumes the highest land mass for growth. Brazil is the largest sugar producer in the world, whilst America is the largest consumer.The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the consumption of “free” sugars should not exceed more than 10 percent of the total energy intake per day (50grams = 12teaspoons). This recommendation is to help prevent weight gain and dental cavities. Free sugars are sugars that are added to foods during the food manufacturing process or added to foods and drinks by the consumer, such as: glucose, dextrose, fructose, sucrose (household sugars), maltose (malt sugar) and also fruit juice, fruit juice concentrates, honey and syrups (corn, maple, agave etc).In Australia, over half of the population, consumes more than the WHO recommends. The highest consumers of sugar are adolescents (14-18 year olds), who consume an average of 92grams per day (22 teaspoons).Can sugar harm your health?Sugars come in many forms and have many names. Although it is no longer an item of luxury, it is used extensively in the production of commercial food and eaten daily in many forms. High sugar consumption may contribute to a number of health complications, both in the short and long term.Sugar metabolism in the body is regulated by the hormone, insulin. Our bodies break down sugar into glucose which is transported into the cell, by insulin. This natural process can be easily disrupted if the intake of sugar is continuously high.Let’s look at some ways excessive sugar intake can affect your health.1. Weight gain and Liver healthWhen you eat sugar, the hormone insulin, picks glucose up from the blood stream and instructs the liver, muscle and fat cells to use the glucose as energy. If the intake of glucose is excessive, this action can become compromised, forcing the excess amounts of glucose to be stored as fat.However, cells have a maximum capacity to store glucose as fat and when there is too much glucose to store this can result in, fatty liver, enlarged fat cells (weight gain and obesity) and fat storage within the muscles.2. Mood ImbalancesWhen “free” sugars are consumed, insulin needs to act quickly to move the sugar out of the blood stream. However, if we eat sugar regularly and often, this will lead to frequent episodic elevations of glucose in the blood stream, causing constant fluctuations of insulin. These frequent fluctuations can play havoc on your health, leading to mood swings, fatigue, headaches and a craving for more sugar.These highs and lows of glucose in the blood can also lead to detrimental metabolic issues relating to insulin control such as insulin resistance.3. Immune health and InflammationThe consumption of sugar can also effect other areas of the body too, such as immune health. Circulating glucose levels which are not regulated by insulin can raise immune inflammatory cells in the body. The ingestion of free sugars can also decrease the function of immune fighting cells (phagocytes) which engulf bacteria and viruses. Excessive and frequent sugar consumption may exacerbate inflammatory conditions such as joint and skin conditions and lower immunity.Telltale signs you are eating too much sugarSigns to look out for that you are eating too much sugar: Low energy and fatigue Skin breakouts or redness Swollen, sore and inflamed joints Repeated infections or poor recovery from illness Needing a “pick me up” and reaching for sugary type foods Dental cavities and poor gum health Moodiness, irritability and brain fog Poor sleep Struggling to lose weight or gaining a “middle tyre” 6 Tips on how to reduce your sugar intake? Here are some handy tips to help decrease your overall sugar consumption: Read the labels – If you buy anything in a packet, make sure you read the label. Anything ending in “ose” is a sugar. Hidden sugars can even be found in bread, both white and brown! Avoid fruit juice and “healthy” smoothies – They are often laden with hidden sugars. Even if they claim to be “healthy” they often will have a high sugar count. Read the nutritional profile on the bottle for the carbohydrate and sugar content. Avoid processed foods – They will have obvious and hidden sugars. You will even find prepackaged savoury meals and snacks have some form of sugar. Fruit- Get your sweet fix from fresh fruit. Fruit contains fibre and a natural sugar called fructose. The fibre will help release the natural sugars slowly, helping to minimise the blood sugar fluctuations. Limit your serves to 2 or 3 a day. Protein and fats- Consume healthy fats (such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds) and clean proteins (unprocessed meats and fish). They can help make you feel fuller for longer and decrease your cravings for sugary foods and drinks. Home cooking and baking – Try making your own foods and meals from scratch, at least you know what goes in it. If baking is your passion, then look at alternative sugars such as; stevia, erythritol and monk fruit sugar, which does not affect insulin levels and has zero calories. Whilst it may not seem easy to reduce your hidden sugar consumption. Take small steps to begin with and start with your kitchen cupboard and fridge. Read the labels on all your food packages and make a commitment to begin buying fresh foods and making your own meals. A little effort can take you a long way!Reference: Australian Government Department of Agriculture and water resources, 2017 Policy context relating to sugars in Australia and New Zealand www1.health.gov.au Horton, M et.al, 2015 A history of sugar- the food nobody needs, but everyone craves. The Conversation, Academic rigour, journalist flair
What is K2+D3 & Why It's Important For Your Bones Did you know that bones make up only 3-5 % of your body? Bones are vital and important structures to keep us sturdy and upright. Our bones are made up of about 65% calcium, a mineral found throughout the body, however mainly in the bone.However, calcium is not the only nutrient that your bones need.There are other nutrients your bones need to help keep them strong and sturdy such as vitamin K2 and vitamin D3.Vitamin K2This is a fat-soluble vitamin that is often overlooked for bone health but plays such a critical role. Vitamin K2, is a member of the Vitamin K family. There are two primary nutrients in the vitamin K family, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is not to be confused with vitamin K1, which is found in dark green leafy vegetables and plays a role in blood clotting.Vitamin K2 has a different role altogether, by supporting calcium absorption in bones and supporting healthy cardiovascular system function. It is also known as a menaquinone of which there are two derivatives, MK-4 and MK-7. Vitamin K2 is naturally found in fermented foods which are often part of Asian or Eastern European diets but not commonly eaten in Western-style diets. It can also be found in animal foods and to a certain extent, vitamin K2 can be produced by the bacteria in our gut.Vitamin D3Vitamin D3 (Colecalciferol) is also a fat soluble vitamin like vitamin K2. Vitamin D3 is lovingly known as the “sunshine vitamin” because your skin produces vitamin D in response to sunlight. However, like vitamin K there are a few substrates which include vitamin D1, D2, and D3. Your body’s ability to produce vitamin D greatly depends on a number of factors. The earth tilt and latitudes either below or above 33° diminish the skins ability to produce any vitamin D. The addition of sunscreens, aging and darker skin tones also hinders your ability to produce vitamin D via the sun.How do these vitamins help with bone health?Vitamin D helps with calcium and phosphorous (another mineral important for bone health) metabolism by increasing absorption of these minerals in various ways. Firstly, via enhancing dietary absorption in the digestive system, secondly via increasing kidney re-absorption (calcium) and finally by activating bone reabsorption.In the bone tissue vitamin D3 stimulates osteoblastic cells (cells which develop in bone tissue) to produce osteocalcin. Osteocalcin is a protein which binds calcium and incorporates it into the bone. Osteocalcin is dependent on Vitamin K for its activation.In simple terms, vitamin D help stimulate osteoblastic cells to produce osteocalcin, Osteocalcin is then activated by Vitamin K2. The activated osteocalcin then forms a complex with calcium which is transported and incorporated into the bone matrix. Vitamin K2 and Vitamin D3 therefore work together to increase the metabolism of calcium in the bones, enhance bone mineralisation, promote bone mass density and improve bone health.So, now we can see that calcium does not work alone and whilst, we may think we can easily increase our bone health by eating or drinking more calcium dense products, we need to think of calcium’s vital co-factors to support optimal bone health - it is more than just about calcium!
How To Meet Your Calcium Needs Without Dairy Calcium is an essential mineral for all living beings. Not only do we need calcium for healthy bones and teeth, but it’s also important in many other areas such as nerve transmission, muscle contraction, clotting blood and cardiovascular health.Calcium is the most abundant mineral found in the body with about 99% of it stored in bones and teeth, the remainder can be found in blood and tissues. The bones act as a reserve of calcium, when we don’t get enough calcium from our diet, the body will start to draw upon the calcium stored within the bones, impacting bone health as we age.Our bones undergo continuous remodelling during our lifetime. Our skeleton is constantly being broken down and replaced with new bone tissue. As we age, the process of bone breakdown can begin to overtake the bone renewal process, which is why it is important to ensure that our calcium intake is adequate.Research conducted by CSIRO and the University of Adelaide found that one in six Australian adults avoid milk and dairy foods. The vast majority of participants reported their reason for avoiding dairy was to avoid the gastrointestinal symptoms they associated with dairy foods1.When we think of how to get more calcium in our diet, we often think of dairy products such as milk, cheese or yoghurt. Calcium is more concentrated in dairy foods than any other food groups, however, calcium also occurs naturally in a wide variety of delicious foods that aren’t dairy. The recommended dietary intake (RDI) of calcium for Australian adults is 1000mg, which is generally achievable with a daily serving of yoghurt, a glass of milk and a serving or two of good cheese.But what about those people who can’t tolerate dairy or those who avoid dairy products for ethical reasons? Are they still able to keep up their calcium intake through food? Well the answer is ‘yes’. There are plenty of delicious foods that can help to keep our calcium levels up and they’re dairy-free!Leafy greensThere are a variety of vegetables which are a great source of calcium, however, they can be high in oxalates which may inhibit calcium absorption, so try to get your calcium from a variety of sources, not just vegetables. Great vegetable sources of calcium are: Spinach Kale Broccoli Bok choy Nuts and SeedsMany nuts and seeds are naturally high in calcium and make a great snack or addition to salads or muesli. Those especially high in calcium are: Chia seeds Almonds Sesame seeds Walnuts FishFish with edible bones are a healthy source of calcium. The canned variety are super convenient and are a tasty addition to green leafy salads or simply atop your favourite cracker. Salmon Sardines Beans and LentilsThere are many varieties of beans and lentils which are not only extremely versatile but great sources of dairy-free calcium. Try a spicy chickpea curry or a lentil burger with homemade hummus. Chickpeas Lentils Red Beans White beans So, if dairy isn’t part of your diet, don’t panic, you’re not destined to a life of brittle bones. There are many healthy choices available when it comes to non-dairy sources of calcium, try a few of the suggestions above and eat your way to healthy, strong bones!References:Yantcheva B, et al. (2015). Food avoidance in an Australian adult population sample: the case of dairy products. Public Health Nutrition (19)9, 1616-1623. doi.org//10.1017/S1368980015003250Nutrient Reference Values – National Health and Medical Research Council
Fermented Food & Beverages To Boost Digestion & Overall Health Although fermented foods and beverages have long been part of many cultures, some as far back as 2000 years, we are only now really seeing a big increase in popularity and consumption of these here in Australia. Whilst they may seem just like a trend to some, fermented foods and beverages have a whole host of benefits that you can reap with regular consumption. The myriad of health benefits of fermented foods and beverages is largely due to the production of beneficial bacteria and acids produced during the fermentation process. Why ferment foods and beverages? Fermentation of foods and beverages dates back to the time before we had refrigerators or electricity to store our food and beverages and had to rely on other methods to stop food from spoiling. Fermentation is an anaerobic (without oxygen) process that converts carbohydrates (such as sugar) into either alcohols and carbon dioxide or to organic acids. The process involves the presence of bacteria, yeast or a combination of the two. The bacteria and yeast are responsible for converting the carbohydrates into bacteria strains that are beneficial probiotics. This increase in beneficial bacteria or probiotics helps us in many ways including gut health and assisting to reduce bloating, indigestion and poor bowel function. There is sufficient evidence to suggest a strong connection with gut health and brain function, including focus, clarity and energy levels. Fermented Foods & Beverages – Immune Health Supporting a healthy digestive system is essential for maintaining immune functions, and vice versa. The gastrointestinal system is a passageway between the external environment and internal systems, being a means of access for harmful pathogens such as bacteria or viruses. The intestinal mucosa and microbiota have natural protective mechanisms which are regulated by the immune system. Around 70% of our immune system is found in our gut. Microbiota, also known as microflora is a community of trillions of live micro-organisms such as bacteria, mostly residing in the gut. The immune system and the healthy microflora of the gut have a synergistic relationship. The microflora signal to the immune system via chemical messages to receptors on immune cells that line the gut wall. These signals can elicit immune responses to various stimuli including pathogens and food sensitivities. Various factors of the modern lifestyle may cause an imbalance in the microbiota (dysbiosis). Dysbiosis can interrupt cross-talk between the immune and gastrointestinal systems, causing immune dysregulation, altered immune responses and increase susceptibility to pathogens and infections. Fermented foods and beverages consumed through our diet help to maintain healthy gut microbiota. The fermentation process increases the level of nutrients and so these foods become nutrient powerhouses containing probiotics, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The probiotic cultures found in fermented foods help the gut to restore healthy microflora balance and support the growth of healthy intestinal microbiota. Research displays that probiotics have beneficial effects on intestinal health and microflora balance. This supports healthy cross-talk between the immune and digestive systems and therefore helps to support immune health and function. So, what are some of the popular fermented food and beverage options? Kombucha Kombucha’s popularity has been growing rapidly with this drink now being available almost anywhere, from health food stores to cafes, restaurants and even convenience stores. Homebrewing has taken a shift with many people now brewing kombucha at home, in a relatively simple fermentation process. You may actually be surprised to learn that kombucha is not a new creation, but in fact, has been consumed for approximately 2000 years. It is believed to have started in China or Japan. Kombucha is a probiotic and nutrient-rich drink that is made from adding a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to green or black tea and fermenting with sugar. The good news is that the sugar is needed in the fermentation process and the majority of it (around 90%) is actually utilised during this process so the end product is actually a low sugar drink. (Do keep an eye on the label however as some mass-produced products may have sugar added to the drink to help with flavour). What is SCOBY? SCOBY is the living culture that is added to the tea and sugar, often referred to as “The Mother” as it is responsible for turning the tea to “kombucha”. SCOBY is a blob-like disc that covers the surface of the liquid and provides a seal to prevent air from entering the liquid, ensuring the fermentation happens in an anaerobic environment. Benefits of Kombucha? Apart from the wonderful probiotic benefits of this drink already discussed, kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants which assist us in fighting free radicals that may damage our cells. When kombucha is made from green tea, it will contain the powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols. Polyphenols have long been documented as important antioxidants. Another wonderful benefit of consuming kombucha is that it is high in acetic acid due to the fermentation process. Acetic acid may kill potentially harmful microorganisms in our gut, further assisting gut health. Kefir Kefir’s popularity may not be as widespread as kombucha in Australia; however it is very popular in the Middle East and Europe with its numerous health benefits make this cultured, creamy product a great addition to your diet. Another great thing about kefir is it can be cultured from dairy and non-dairy making it suitable for most people. The milk-based kefir is generally well tolerated by most, even those with sensitivities to lactose as it contains the lactase enzyme needed for proper digestion of the often-troubling lactose. Kefir is similar in texture to drinking yoghurt, with a tart, slightly effervescent refreshing taste that has been long used throughout the Middle East, Eastern European and Russian cultures. Like kombucha, kefir is naturally high in probiotics, but also has a broad spectrum of yeasts making it very nutritious and a beneficial addition to your diet. Like any fermented product, there are specific bacterial strains needed to produce individual products. In kefir’s case, it is the kefir grains that are used to create it. These grains contain both bacteria and yeasts, in white/yellow grain-like clumps. The grains are what is needed for the milk to ferment, and the beauty of these grains is that once the fermentation process has finished, they can be strained from the mixture and reused to make new batches. Sauerkraut Sauerkraut translates to “sour cabbage” in German and is a fermented cabbage dish that has been widely consumed throughout Central Europe for hundreds of years and is widely known, even here in Australia. Sauerkraut not only provides beneficial probiotics and antioxidants, but it is also a great source of fibre and is low in calories. Keep in mind, however, it can be high in sodium as salt is one of the main ingredients in this dish, so stick with smaller serving size, having it as a snack or a side dish.
Top Benefits of Probiotics & Prebiotics- Nature’s Internal Guardians Probiotics are the new "power word" for health. Whilst, we have known about probiotics for over 25 years, in recent years more research and studies have been conducted into their health benefits.So, what are probiotics?Probiotics is a collective term used to describe bacteria or another micro-organism that dwell in a microbiome (environment) which promotes the health of the host in which they reside. We also now know that probiotics require the right environment to survive and flourish.The microbiome of the intestinal system is promoted or enhanced by the right environment. It is the role of prebiotics to do this job. Prebiotics are soluble or non-soluble dietary fibres that help encourage the growth and development of probiotics. They are truly probiotics best friend!Did you know that probiotics work beyond the scope of your digestive system?Probiotics are a significant contributor to your whole immune system. Your digestive system harbours about 70-80% of your immune cells, so it is really important that you have a healthy gut to support your immune system. There are in fact, many species of probiotics and some have been extensively researched for their specific action on the immune system and for the benefit of some health issues.Top benefits of Probiotics and Prebiotics:1. Provide a barrier to harmful pathogensWe live in a non-sterile world and your body and digestive system is the same. Daily, we come into contact or ingest foreign pathogens which challenge our own immune system. Sometimes, our immune system can recognise certain invaders and quickly deal with the fall-out to help us stay healthy, whilst some other invaders may be new and more difficult to contain. Probiotics are our own microbes which live all over us to protect us. They can be found on our skin, mouth, nose, bowels and of course in our digestive system. One great job that our friendly microbes can do is provide a barrier to these invaders. They can crowd out harmful pathogens and prevent them from sticking around, they arrest and inhibit invaders from causing harm and can expel them out through our digestive, respiratory or urinary system. Leaving our immune cells to deal with more important jobs in our body.2. Keep a healthy balance of good bacteria in our gutPrebiotics are really our probiotics best friends! Prebiotics provide fibre as a food source for our probiotics to grow. Prebiotics contribute to keeping the right balance of probiotics in the gut. If we have the right balance of probiotics, then pathogenic invaders cannot dominate. Often foreign invaders can cause disruption by disturbing the environment in our digestive system and the colonies of good bacterium.3. Keeping a healthy colonyProbiotics have a unique ability to look after themselves. It is often the job of certain probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus brevis to name a few, to help support their probiotic colonies by maintaining the environment and the function of fellow probiotics species.4. Direct Immune supportThere are many species of probiotics which can have a specific action. Bifidobacterium bifidum and Bifidobacterium infantis provides a direct barrier to foreign invaders and can support the immune system in reducing the frequency and duration of illness. Bifidocbacterium lactis although has similar actions to its fellow family strains, it can also increase specific immune cells, immunoglobulin IgA and serum IgG. Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Lactobacillus paracasei support the immune system by stimulating anti-inflammatory cells response and activating gut immune cells. Lactobacillus casei can support immune system health by increasing the production of lymphocyte cells and Natural killer (NK) cells. Both components of our innate immune system.Probiotics have many actions and just like our immune system, are extremely complex. Support your immune system by supporting your gut health to keep your body strong and resilient.
NUTRITION WELLNESSTop Benefits of Probiotics & Prebiotics- Nature’s Internal Guardians Read more
3 essential herbs to support your immune system Used by ancient healers through to modern-day herbalists, herbs have always played an important role in building resistance and supporting healthy immune systems, particularly through the cold and flu season. Many herbs which were popular centuries ago are still as popular today. Below are just a few herbs that may help to keep your immune system strong and keep those cold and flu symptoms at bay.Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata)Andrographis paniculata, a traditional Ayurvedic herb, is highly valued in India for its medicinal properties. Because it grows so abundantly in hedgerows and gardens, the plant is commonly used as a household remedy by locals. Often referred to as ‘the king of bitters’ the herb has also gained popularity in both Western Herbal Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for its affinity for the immune system. When used in TCM, Andrographis paniculata, may help to reduce excess chest phlegm and coughs, similarly, in Western herbal medicine the herb is used to aid in reducing the symptoms of common cold and ﬂu, while also supporting over all immune health.While it has a wide array of traditional uses, Andrographis paniculata is now recommended and used widely in modern times to aid in the treatment of common colds & flu, helping to relieve the severity of symptoms such as cough, runny nose and fevers. Taken at the first onset of symptoms, Andrographis helps to improve the immune response and shorten the duration of common colds and flus, helping you to get back on your feet sooner.Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)Astragalus membranaceus is one of the most important herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. There are many species of Astragalus, over 2,000 in fact, however most herbal supplements utilise the species Astragalus membranaceus. The root of the plant is used as it contains the majority of the active plant compounds responsible for the medicinal actions.Used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the herb’s main benefits are centered around immune support and vitality. Modern Western herbal medicine still uses the herb for such indications, including relieving the symptoms and reducing the duration of the common cold. It is also a highly regarded herb used to assist with recovery after illness.Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)Not only are mushrooms known for their culinary uses and nutritional value, some have been used for their medicinal properties throughout history and across many cultures. The most valued medicinal mushrooms generally come from Asia. Ganoderma lucidum is a species of mushroom which grows throughout the world and is typically found growing at the base of living trees. With its kidney shaped caps and fan-like appearance, it can be found on its own or in small colonies.In China, Ganoderma lucidum is known as ‘Lingzhi’ and has been prized for its immune enhancing properties for over 2000 years, this popularity quickly spread throughout the world. Today, it is commonly known as Reishi mushroom, a name given to the mushroom by the Japanese. Ganoderma lucidum naturally contains many active compounds which are responsible for enhancing the body’s natural immune response.Enjoy the changing seasonsThese are just a few of the many herbs offering immune support to keep us strong through the colder months. Find a herb that works for you, eat well and exercise and rug up to enjoy the cooler months ahead.
10 fruit & veggies to support your immune system Our most powerful weapon against infection is a strong, healthy body. Our bodies are amazing with their own inbuilt defence systems that go into to battle for us automatically, but it is up to us to provide our bodies with the nutrients to keep these systems operating at their peak. Our bodies require a constant supply of nutrients to fuel each cell in our body, enabling our immune system to operate effectively. The best source of nutrition comes from a diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables. We are lucky to live in a country where fresh fruit and vegetables are in constant abundance. The first step in supporting your immune system should start with improving your diet and a trip to your local farmers’ market or the grocery section of the supermarket. On your next trip, toss a couple of these deliciously healthy fruit and veggies in your basket, or perhaps all of them.GarlicIt’s no secret that garlic is well known for its use in supporting the immune system and for fighting infections. Its natural sulfur containing compounds make it a perfect addition to the diet, not only for flavour, but for its medicinal value too. It makes a great addition to homemade salad dressings, marinades or rubbed over slices of toasted baguette before adding chopped tomatoes for a tasty bruschetta. Try crushing some fresh garlic over your next batch of veggies prior to roasting them, add thin slices to a simple pasta dish or add chopped garlic to your next stir-fry.GingerGinger is full of natural antioxidants, perfect for keeping the body healthy. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties which makes a great addition to hot drinks when we feel that first little tickle in our throats. Try making a soothing, warm drink by adding a few fresh slices of ginger along with some lemon slices and raw honey in a mug, sip slowly and enjoy. Fresh ginger also makes a great addition to fresh juices, try adding celery, carrots, beetroot and a knob of ginger for a powerful punch of goodness!Garlic and Ginger also make cracking additions to a big bowl of homemade chicken soup. Add a bunch of green veggies and parsley for some extra vitamin C and you have a hug in a bowl!Citrus fruitOranges and lemons are full of vitamin C and delicious in so many ways. Vitamin C degrades quite quickly once the fruit is cut, so fresh is best. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of common colds so keep some fresh lemons or oranges on hand. A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice is delightful and jam packed with vitamin C but a warm drink, such as the ginger, lemon and honey drink mentioned above is great when you are feeling a little under the weather and in need of a vitamin C boost.BlueberriesLike most deep hued fruit, blueberries are jam packed with nutrients such as antioxidants. Antioxidants play an important role in our body, particularly when it comes to immune health. Fresh blueberries are fun to eat and freeze well so that they can be enjoyed all year round. Throw some in an antioxidant filled smoothie with your favourite fruit, add a handful to a fruit salad for an amazing colour burst or include them in your next pancake batter for a burst of flavour with each bite.BroccoliThere’s no doubt a lot of parents have told their kids to ‘eat your broccoli’ at some point and with good reason. Broccoli is bursting with antioxidants and other nutrients which make it a nutritional powerhouse. Broccoli is part of the brassica family which also includes Brussels sprout, kale and cauliflower, these vegetables naturally contain an array of plant compounds which have demonstrated benefits for the immune system. Broccoli can be enjoyed lightly steamed, added to stir fries or for something a little different, try adding broccoli to your next tray of roast vegetables.Pomegranates Like blueberries, the brilliantly coloured pomegranate can attribute its amazing jewel colour to its powerful antioxidant content. Full of natural compounds called polyphenols, pomegranate provides more antioxidants than red wine and green tea. To get the most out of your pomegranate, cut the fruit in half and give a slight squeeze, gently easing out the ‘jewels’ or seeds. These make a beautiful addition to salads, couscous dishes, juices or simply enjoyed on their own.Green leafy vegetablesLeafy greens are a valuable addition to any healthy diet. The darker, the better as the deep colour generally accompanies a denser concentration of nutritional compounds. A large percentage of our immune health is reliant on good gut health and because green leafy vegetables are also a fantastic source of fibre, they ensure that the digestive tract continues to function properly. Leafy green veggies are best eaten fresh to retain their nutritional value, however, they are still beneficial lightly steamed or quickly stir fried. Why not try a handful of spinach leaves in your next smoothie or juice?AvocadosAvocados contain one of the highest levels of the super antioxidant, glutathione. Glutathione has been extensively researched and shown to help in the prevention of some diseases. Avocados are also high in health promoting monounsaturated fats, or ‘good fats’ which also gives for its smooth and creamy texture. Use avocados to replace butter on your sandwiches, toss a few cubes over your salad or enjoy a homemade guacamole with veggie sticks for any easy snack.Plant proteinPlant based protein from sources such as chickpeas, beans and lentils are full of health giving nutrients. Our immune system relies on protein so a good, clean source of protein is essential for good health. Chickpeas, beans and lentils are also super convenient as they are extremely versatile in recipes. Dried or canned, they made great additions to casseroles and curries, yet they are also tasty as an ingredient in salads and dips. Try making your own hummus from chickpeas or a spicy lentil curry to help keep your immune system in great shape.TomatoesTomatoes come in all shapes, colours and sizes, but they all contain an abundance of immune boosting goodness. Tomatoes are naturally full of antioxidants, including beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E which all help to protect our cells against oxidative damage. It’s easy to incorporate tomatoes into your diet, they make a great base for sauces, soups and casseroles, not to mention an essential addition to salads. Try dicing a few different coloured tomatoes and tossing with a little extra virgin olive oil, torn basil and a sprinkle of salt to make a tasty, healthy salsa full of immune boosting nutrition.
The health benefits of seasonal eating The best part of eating seasonally is that you get the best tasting, healthiest food available at that particular time of the year. While Australia produces a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetable crops all year round, there are some products which may only grow for a few months of the year. In these circumstances, growers may keep excess produce in cold storage so that consumers are able to purchase Australian produce all year round. The reality is that much of the produce that ends up on your kitchen tables may have been already stored for months. When purchasing fruit and vegetables which are not in season you need to consider how the produce was manufactured, for example; was it picked unripe, put into cold storage or gassed to ripen? If the produce was purchased from a supermarket, then the answer will almost surely be a resounding ‘yes’.The experts believe that the nutritional value is likely to be unaffected, however any change in taste and flavour may put this belief up for debate.Most fruit and vegetables reach their nutritional peak and perhaps their best flavour profile when they are ripe and ready to be harvested. For example, the redder a red tomato is, the more beta-carotene it contains.When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. If you’ve ever tried to buy cucumbers in winter or oranges in summer, you’ll know what I mean.When you purchase fruit and vegetables in season you will be surprised at the variety that each season brings.Winter:Winter is the time for oranges, however there are other fruits and vegetables available such as: Custard apple, grapefruit, mandarin, lemons, quince and tangelo. Winter also has a great variety of vegetables for winter warmer meals such, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, leek, potatoes, radish, rhubarb, spinach and turnips.Spring: In spring you will find delicious fruits such as: Bananas, blood orange, grapefruit, mango, lemons, papaya and pineapple. A variety of colourful, nutritious vegetables such as artichoke, asparagus, broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, leeks, mushrooms, , peas, silverbeet, spinach, and beetroot.Summer: In summer you won’t be able to resist: Bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, melons, nectarine, passionfruit, pineapple, raspberries. The variety of vegetables for summer salads include asparagus, beans, capsicum, celery, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, radish, squash, zucchini and zucchini flower.Autumn: Autumn is the best time for: Apples, bananas, figs, grapes, kiwifruit, lemons, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums and quinces. Autumn vegies include Asian greens, broccoli, , beans, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, ginger, lettuce, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, turnip and mushrooms.So next time you are choosing which fruit or vegetables to buy, try choosing those that are in season, remember they’re generally the cheaper ones found at the front of the store and you’ll be supporting your local farmers as well.
Healing & Health Benefits of Olive Oil "Published studies show that no other food comes close to Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease”- Senior Research Dietician and Associate Professor of Medicine Mary Flynn, Brown University.Recently, some members of the Caruso’s Team and I had the privilege of being taken on a tour of the Cobram Estate olive groves which lie on the flat plains of regional Victoria, just south of the Murray River. The Australian Olive Industry has gained an international reputation for producing some of the freshest and finest quality Olive Oils in the world. A great achievement for local business!It was a fantastic day that started with a drive through the groves to watch the fascinating process of olive oil manufacture from harvesting through to pressing and vatting. An unrefined and uncomplicated procedure done in the absence of heat or chemicals, which can take as little as four hours and produces the freshest of oils.Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil is rich in Vitamin E, squalene, the monounsaturated Omega 9 Fatty Acid known as Oleic Acid, and many antioxidants and phytosterols unique to olive oil. You can taste the antioxidant content as a peppery sensation at the back of your throat. “Extra Light” or “Pure” Olive Oils do not contain these valuable constituents and are therefore much less likely to convey all of the health benefits associated with the use of fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil.Extra Virgin Olive Oil is actually considered to be the “juice of the fruit” and when consumed at its freshest, doesn’t leave an oily residue or taste in your mouth. Rather, good quality olive oil should taste clean and fresh and remind you of the smell of freshly cut grass, citrus or tomato bush.Not only did we gain insights into how olive oil is manufactured, but we were also introduced to the team working in the Olive Wellness Institute. The Institute has dedicated itself to compiling high-quality evidence that shows the myriad of health benefits conveyed by fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The main constituents conferring these health benefits are the antioxidant phenols, phytosterols, squalene and Oleic Acid.Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil contains over 30 different antioxidants - more than any other mainstream cooking oil - which is important, not only for protecting the valuable Omega 9 Fatty Acids found in Olive Oil but also for helping to combat free radical damage to body cells. Interestingly, one of olive oil’s most potent anti-inflammatory compounds - oleocanthal - is ONLY found in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It is formed during the olive oil manufacturing process and is not present in the olive itself. Oleocanthal has been shown to have a mild anti-inflammatory action similar to that of some over the counter products for inflammation. Oleocanthal gives a slight bitterness to Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil which you can often feel on the sides of your tongue.The antioxidant phenols and the phytosterols in fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil have been well researched and have been shown to improve the LDL/HDL (Good Cholesterol/Bad Cholesterol) ratio, reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease), maintain healthy blood pressure and confer some antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiviral activity.The squalene content of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is amongst the highest of all foods. Squalene is another type of antioxidant that is often used in cosmetic products as it may help to protect the skin. Often, squalene is sourced from sharks which are killed in order to obtain the squalene. Extra Virgin Olive Oil provides a “cruelty-free” alternative to most commercially available sources of squalene.Oleic acid has been shown to benefit cardiovascular disease by helping to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Around 20mLs each day of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is enough for you to reap the health benefits. Get some on your salad, or your bread, or your roasted veggies, or your eggs, or your beets, or your avocado on toast, or your tomatoes.Did You Know?Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil is safe for use in cooking. The large antioxidant content of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil adds stability to the oil and will protect the valuable Fatty Acids from break down when exposed to high temperatures. When oils are heated, they produce substances known as “polar compounds”. The more polar compounds that are produced when the oil is heated, the more degraded and less beneficial to your health the oil has become. Recent studies have shown, that Fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil produces less polar compounds when heated than any other mainstream cooking oil. For further information visit Olivewellnessinstitute.org
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Using Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for its health benefits isn’t a new concept, it’s actually an ancient remedy that’s been around for thousands of years. Long ago, some clever people discovered that if you fermented apples using a little yeast, then added a touch of good bacteria, eventually the end result would be a liquid, rich in acetic acid. Acetic acid is not only responsible for the distinct sour smell and taste that we associate with ACV, but it also provides the many health benefits that it is known for. How to use Apple Cider Vinegar (AVC) To fully benefit from ACV, look out for the organic and unfiltered kind, the bottle will often have ‘with the Mother’ or similar on the label. The ‘Mother’ will look like little threads or sediment that sinks to the bottom of the bottle, so best to give it a good shake before you use it. Gut power – Fermented products can boost your gut health. By providing nutrients to your gut microbiome, it may help manufacture vitamins and minerals in the gut. ACV is a fermented product; it can help boost your gut microbiome, by adding it to your daily diet. It can go a long way. Place a few drops into a glass of water and sip before you eat any foods. Bloating and wind - Low stomach acid can often result in bloating or wind. This often occurs because the food is unable to move through the digestive tract in a timely manner, the longer it remains in the system, the more gas it will produce. Taking ACV before a meal may help to improve stomach acid levels which in turn helps the food to breakdown easier and be digested effectively, providing your body with vital nutrients from the food. Banish fungus – ACV may have the power to get rid of fungal & bacterial infections. Bacterial and fungus are unable to thrive and grow in an acetic environment. You can place toes and/or finger nails into a solution of water and ACV to stop the spread and growth of fungal infections. Skin boost- ACV may act as a skin cleanser or toner and act as a barrier to unwanted microbes. Using a few drops into water as a skin wash, may help to cleanse the skin and create the right levels of acid or pH on the skin. It also has healthy bacterial properties to help with any nasty spots. Just a word of warning, it is an acid, so be gentle on your skin as too much may sting broken or damaged skin. House cleaning – Vinegar has been used as an easy chemical free house cleaner. Wiping surfaces or cleaning your fridge with vinegar gives household surfaces a clean and fresh smell. Using ACV as your household cleaner has added antibacterial benefits. Best to use ACV in a spray bottle with a dilution of water and fresh lemon juice or some lemon rind for that clean spring smell. Weight loss –There have been a number of scientific studies to show that ACV may in fact aid weight loss in a number of ways. Appetite suppressor -ACV may have the ability to suppress the appetite by working on the satiety centre of the brain, keeping you fuller for longer. If you are fuller for longer then you may be inclined to eat less. Balance blood sugar levels – Research studies have revealed drinking ACV before meals results in lower blood sugar surges. It helps to stabilise blood sugar levels in the blood and helps to prevent sugar drop after eating. Researchers believed that ACV may prevent or reduce the absorptions of some carbohydrates and starches when eaten. Cholesterol health – It is important to keep your cardiovascular system healthy and keep your cholesterol levels in check. ACV may just help you to do that! A special antioxidant compound found in ACV, polyphenols called chlorogenic acid may inhibit oxidating LDL cholesterol. Boost your salad – ACV is a great addition as a salad dressing. Add flavour to any salad, mixing it with a little olive oil and dried herbs. So, what is the Mother and why would you want it in your vinegar?The Mother is a complex colony of helpful bacteria and acids which are similar to the SCOBY found in the fermented drink Kombucha. The Mother is said to be beneficial for health, however, these benefits are soon lost when the vinegar is filtered or heated, so stick to the unfiltered, organic kind. Leave the filtered vinegar for cleaning or preserving food. How can you use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to boost your health? Good gut health is vital for a strong and healthy body and mind. If our gut health is poor, how can the rest of our body be functioning at its best? You could have the cleanest organic diet possible, but if you have poor gut health, that all means nothing. Your gut is where the nutrients from your food are digested and absorbed, giving your body the nutrition that you need. Not only this, but a large part of your immune system actually resides in your gut.Good and bad bacteria inhabit the gut in a harmonious balance, however, when the gut function is impaired, this balance may become disturbed and an overgrowth of the bad bacteria may occur. This imbalance may result in the immune system becoming less than effective. ACV may also help to lower the levels of bacteria associated with a number of bowel problems, thereby helping to support the body’s natural immune balance.Low stomach acid can often result in bloating or wind. This often occurs because the food is unable to move through the digestive tract in a timely manner, the longer it remains in the system, the more gas it will produce. ACV before a meal may help to improve stomach acid levels which in turn helps the food to breakdown easier and be digested effectively, providing your body with vital nutrients. So, it makes sense that a healthy gut is conducive to a healthy immune system. Is there anything that Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can’t do? Don’t forget it is an acid, so teeth beware! Numerous dentists have reported a surge in interest in ACV that people are visiting their dentist more often with enamel erosion. Acid will make teeth enamel porous and can erode tooth enamel. So, try drinking it through a straw or mix into food and on salads. Ouch, stingy! If you are using it on skin, make sure it is in dilution of water. Do not apply ACV to broken or raw skin. Again, it is an acid and will sting. More is not better. ACV is taken in only small amounts. Excessive consumption for longer periods of time of ACV can lower potassium levels and may increase bone loss. Irritated throat. Consumption of ACV may irritate your throat lining, so make sure you have it with water or something else to disperse the acid content. Whether, you may wish to take ACV for your gut health, skin or use it for cleaning it is certainly versatile!
10 Gut Healthy Tips Did you know that your gut or digestive system is much more complex than once thought? The power the gut has on your whole body is amazing! Beside digesting and breaking down your foods, it also has the ability to produce hormones which signal the brain and produce immune cells which influence the immune system. Some studies have revealed that the microbes that live in the gut have an impact on heart health and blood sugar metabolism.So, learn to love your gut and how you can keep it in tip-top condition.Here are 10 tips to help keep your gut healthy1. Cheers! Do not eat and drink togetherEat and drinking for a merry occasion is common practice. However, it is not recommended for promoting good gut health. Eating and drinking at the same time can dilute your digestive enzymes and decrease your body’s ability to break down food. It can also contribute to indigestion and flatulence.2. Focus on your foodHow many times have you eaten food and not remembered it? Walking, working or talking while eating distracts your ability to concentrate on your food. It can also contribute to an increase in weight. When you sit down to eat, be conscious of what you eating. Be present and acknowledge your food as it will give you a greater sense of satiety. Take the time to sit and eat.3. Inhaling food!Often when hunger is rampant you feel that you are inhaling your food! However, it is vital that you actually chew your food thoroughly. Good digestion starts in your mouth, by chewing your food properly first. Remember there are no teeth in your stomach! So, if you gulp your food, it can lead to ingestion, bloating and abdominal pain.4. Fabulous fibreFibre comes in many forms and is often a suggested remedy for constipation. But let’s look beyond the obvious. There are basically two forms of fibre, insoluble and soluble. These fibre types help to set the right type of environment within your gut. You need the right environment in your gut to help your good bacteria to survive. These forms of beneficial fibre which promote good gut bacteria are called, “prebiotics”. Some of the best ones are: slippery elm powder, linseeds, leeks, garlic, barley and oats to name a few.5. Bitter is betterI see you wince! But bitter foods are wonderful foods to help promote good gut health. Bitter foods naturally stimulate your own digestive juices to break down foods. Some of the best bitter foods are: dandelion greens, arugula (or rocket), radicchio, chicory, endive, bitter melon and white asparagus. Introduce a few of these vegetables into your daily diet.6. Bowel motionsHow many times do you go to loo to do a number two? This is a question asked all the time by Naturopaths to their clients. Whilst it may cause you to blush, it is so important to know how many times you do move your bowels in a day. Constipation is epidemic in our western culture and often you don’t realise it. Ideally, moving your bowels three times a day is normal! Yes, moving your bowels after each meal. However, most may go to the toilet once or twice a day, if lucky. It is so important that you excrete unwanted matter from your digestive system daily. If not, then flatulence, abdominal bloating and pain can set in. Good bowel motions rely on a good diet such as clean proteins, complex fibres and good oils to keep your whole gut functioning properly.7. Power of probiotics'Probiotics' is the current buzz word of good gut health. They are very beneficial not only to your gut health but your whole body. Although, we have known about how good they are for some time. We now know there are many trillions of strains and some specific stains which can influence many types of health conditions. Probiotics can be found in many fermented foods such as kefir, yoghurt, kimchi, miso and sauerkraut to name a few. 8. FastingIs simply the abstinence of eating food. Generally, we fast every day from sleeping to waking hence we have the meal “breakfast” to “break” our overnight fast. However, prolonged fasting has been shown to be of benefit to the digestive system too. Not only does it provide rest for our body from breaking down and assimilating foods, some studies have revealed it may help to balance blood glucose metabolism and aid in weight management. There are many types and styles of fasting and for different lengths. Seek advice of a health professional before considering any type of fasting.9. ExerciseMovement and exercise are important for your whole body. But more recent research has revealed that exercise can have a positive effect on gut health. Exercise can improve the gut microbiome by encouraging the growth of friendly bacteria, which then helps to support healthy digestive function and overall health and wellbeing.10. Stressed outWe often underestimate the power of stress and its effect on our gut. Stress often leads to physical, emotional and hormonal responses. Whilst we have stress hormones which are produced to respond to stress, we also have a digestive hormone response as well. Sure, you may have vented or heard the saying, “I have a bad gut feeling” in response to an unpleasant situation. If you are in a constant state of upheaval, stress or anxiety, your digestive system will have difficulty functioning and the constant hormone surges can lead to altered gut function. Another prominent area of gut health which can be directly affected by stress is your gut microbiome. Our friendly gut bacteria are very sensitive to changes in our environment and how we respond to stress.Optimal gut health is vitally important to our general health and wellbeing. Following these few tips can help facilitate healthy gut function and keep it in great condition.
How to revitalise your digestive system One of the topics currently getting the nutrition and medical world excited is gut flora, also known as the gut microbiome. These are microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and viruses living in your gastrointestinal tract, otherwise known as your gut. We all have our own unique colony.Why all the interest in a bunch of bacteria in our digestive systems? We are learning that the gut microbiome has an influence on many aspects of our health, ranging from digestion to immune function to mental health. It is responsible for: Protecting against harmful bacteria by lining the gut and making antimicrobial compounds. Making vitamin K and a variety of B group vitamins. Digesting carbohydrates such as fibres in the colon that would not be otherwise broken down, like resistant starch and insoluble fibres. This produces short-chain fatty acids and gases that are beneficial for the health of the colon and in some cases protective against colon cancer (e.g. butyrate) Producing chemicals that enter the bloodstream and ‘talk’ to other organs like the brain and liver Aiding digestion and bowel function. Disruption of gut microbiota may also have an influence on conditions such as obesity, non-alcoholic liver disease, anxiety and depression, but the method is still not understood. How to change your gut flora?One of the most exciting parts is that we can make positive changes to the gut flora and its function with the way we eat. You can quite quickly change your gut colony – changes have been seen in a number of days when people change from a high animal-based diet to one that is plant-based.Feed it with fibreWith the right food, your gut flora will flourish - just like fertilising your garden plants at home. In particular, the good bacteria in your guts feed on certain types of dietary fibre. The Australian dietary guidelines recommend eating at least 25 g of fibre per day for women, and 30g per day for men. Dietary fibre is found in plant foods, and many of these contain a combination of fibre types, so stock up on those fruit and veggies, wholegrain breads and cereals. Here is where you can find the fibre types you need: Insoluble fibre: This type of fibre helps bulk up stools and keep you regular. You can find it whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and the outskin of fruits and vegetables. Soluble fibre: This slows the breakdown of carbohydrates, keeping you feeling full and preventing blood sugar spikes. To get soluble fibre, eat fruits and vegetables, legumes and oats. Prebiotic fibre: This is a type of soluble fibre that feeds gut bacteria that help absorb certain nutrients and stimulate hormone production. It is found in cereal grains, vegetables (including asparagus, onions, garlic and cabbage), legumes (like chickpeas and lentils), fruit (such as bananas and nectarines) and nuts. This is an exciting area of research, but we still need to learn more. Resistant starch: This is formed when you cook some carbohydrate foods (for example potatoes and pasta) and let them cool. It is also found in underripe bananas and overnight soaked oats. The starch is resistant to digestion in the small intestines and passes to the large, where it stimulates bacteria to produce butyrate gas. This helps keep the colon lining healthy. To maximise your gut microbiota with dietary fibre, aim for the simple nutrition message of 'two and five' - two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day. Throw in a handful of nuts, some wholegrain breads and cereals and legumes and you might have the best looking 'gut garden' around.Prime it with probioticsAnother ingredient for gut health is probiotics - introducing some good bacteria to your gut to help improve the balance. This is particularly important after a course of antibiotics, which can wipe out lots of gut bacteria. Generally, for a health benefit, you need to pick a bacteria strain that is specific, for example, looking for immune benefits or bowel regularity. You can find various types of probiotics in foods like yoghurt (check the quantities of probiotics as some can be low), milk drinks like kefir, and other fermented foods like kombucha (be careful if making your own –you only want beneficial strains of bacteria!), kimchi, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut (only if not pasteurised, as this will kill the bacteria) and sourdough bread.About the authorSimone Austin is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Advanced Sports Dietitian. She is currently president at Sports Dietitians Australia, dietitian of Hawthorn AFL football club and has previously worked with the Australian Men’s Cricket Team, Melbourne Storm Rugby League and MelbourneCity A-League soccer teams
My 9 secrets to maintaining a healthy bowel & living a long, healthy and vibrant life! Some people I’ve spoken to believe its normal to have one bowel movement every 3 days. After reading over 50 books of bowel health and natural living over the last 38 years, in my opinion, one bowel movement every 3 days is definitely not ok. I do believe that the normal range of bowel movements should be 1 to 3 a day for maintaining a healthy bowel and for optimum health. Here are my 9 secrets to maintaining a healthy bowel and living a long, healthy and vibrant life1. Dietary fibreIncrease your dietary fibre intake to 35 grams a day for men and 30 grams a day for women. Below I have listed a few common fruits and vegetables and the amount of fibre they contain. It’s important that you calculate the total amount of fibre you are consuming from your foods.Please read the labels of all packaged food you buy to ensure they contain a good amount of dietary fibre. Start by reducing the number of refined foods you purchase and introduce more whole foods to your weekly shopping list such as multigrain/wholemeal breads and pasta, brown rice, raw cereals etc. You can see by this list that it doesn’t take much to add up to your recommended daily dietary fibre intake. Fibre content of foods Apple 1 medium = 4 grams Peach 1 medium = 2 grams Pear 1 medium = 5 grams Avocado 1 medium = 10 grams Kiwi Fruit 1 medium = 1.2 grams Fig fresh 1 large = 2 grams Banana 1 medium = 3 grams Passion Fruit 1 medium = 2 grams Orange 1 medium = 3 grams Nectarine 1 medium = 2 grams Papaya 1 cup = 3 Mango 1 cup = 3 Pineapple 1 cup = 3.5 Broccoli, fresh, cooked 1 cup = 2 Zucchini, Fresh, cooked 1 cup = 1 Brown rice, cooked 1 cup = 3.5 Cereal, bran flakes 1 cup = 5 Oatmeal, plain, cooked 1 cup = 4 Wholemeal pasta 1 cup = 6 Chickpeas 1 cup = 12.5 Lima Beans 1 cup = 13 Lentils 1 cup = 10 Flax seed 1 tablespoon = 12.5 Chia seeds 1 tablespoon = 2 Ref: healthline.com.au In addition, you could take 2 tablespoons of Caruso’s Quick Fibre Plus every morning. Not only does it provide you with 10 grams of dietary fibre (1/3 of your daily allowance) but also an abundance of Omega 3, 6 & 9 essential fatty acids (EFA’s), protein and complex carbohydrates. 2. Drink waterDrink 2 litres (8 glasses) of pure water daily. Drinking at least 2 litres of water throughout the day is essential for bowel health. Particularly when consuming 30 grams of dietary fibre daily. It’s also important that you don’t consume 2 litres at once and rather over an 8 to 12 hour period during the day. Try and not drink water or fluids during mail meals. Best to drink an hour before meals and 30 minutes after main meals.3. ExerciseExercise 20 minutes every day. Moderate exercise stimulates your bowels, helping your intestines do their job and increase bowel movements. Exercising 20 minutes a day reduces the risk of developing chronic disease dramatically! Certain yoga poses increase blood flow to the digestive tract and stimulates your intestines to contract. In my opinion the best exercises that help stimulate the bowels are totally functional, bodyweight exercises that focus mostly on your stomach (core) muscles. To view my 20-minute bodyweight workout video please clink here; 20 minute workout video4. Don't overeatMost people overeat their main meal. Even overeating of nutritional food can cause constipation and upset your digestive system. Your digestive system needs time to properly digest the food that you eat and to unitise all the goodness that these foods provide. So by eating five smaller meals daily rather than three large meals takes a huge load off your digestive system. As an example, you should have a good wholesome breakfast which includes fresh fruit, unprocessed cereal, almonds and seeds. Its important that you ensure that breakfast provides you with at least 1/3 of your daily fibre intake. By mid-morning you could eat 2 pieces of fruit, a hand full of raw nuts or seeds. Lunch/midday grilled chicken/tuna salad and pine nuts (with or without whole grain bread), mid-afternoon another 2 pieces of fruit and hand full of nuts, and evening you can have a wholesome meal with a fruit salad afterwards for dessert. If you get a little peckish later at night please have another piece of fresh fruit of raw nuts (almonds or cashews). These are easy to digest!5. Don't eat too lateMany people I talk to who have digestive problems eat just before going to bed. Please don’t eat too late at night or 2 hours before going to bed. Eating just before bed may slow down digestion, may cause unpleasant side effects such as: problems sleeping, nightmares, indigestion, gas just to name a few. Studies have also shown that when food is consumed late at night — anywhere from after dinner to outside a person's typical sleep/wake cycle — your body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy,6. Eat and chew your foodEating slowly and chewing your food probably is essential for good digestion. When consuming main meals its really important that you chew your food slowly and properly before swallowing. The physical process of chewing food in your mouth helps to break down larger particles of food into smaller particles. This helps to reduce stress on the oesophagus and helps the stomach metabolize your food. When you chew each mouthful properly, you also release a lot of salivae, which contain digestive enzymes which break down starch. This goes a long way in preventing digestive problems and preventing constipation.7. Avoid eating processed foodPlease try and reduce the amount of processed food that you eat on a daily basis. Most processed food contains little fibre and even less nourishment. As a result, it robs your body of the opportunity to receive the nutrition it so desperately needs from whole foods to maintain optimum health and wellbeing. It’s what I call a diet saboteur. It's blamed for our nation's obesity epidemic, high blood pressure and the rise of Type 2 diabetes. You can reduce your chances of developing chronic disease dramatically by just reducing processed food from your diet.8. Taking ProbioticsIf you have taken antibiotics at any time I would strongly recommend you take probiotic supplements for about 3 months.Antibiotics are medicines used to treat infections or diseases caused by bacteria. However Antibiotics not only kill off the ‘bad’ bacteria that are causing an infection, but they can also wipe out some of our good essential bacteria – particularly in the gut.With the reduction in ‘good’ bacteria, the body finds it harder to maintain good gut balance, and this may result in some unwanted symptoms such as constipation, poor digestion, wind, stomach cramps and even possibly diarrhoea. This is because the “good bacteria” also assist with the digestion of food!However, this imbalance may be assisted by taking a probiotic every day during your course of antibiotics and for at least 3 months after the course is finished. This way you can replenish your friendly bacteria on a daily basis before your digestive system is upset by a longstanding microbial imbalance.9. Eat to liveMost people living in the western world today live to eat rather than eat to live. It’s not rocket science. Eating an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, raw seeds and nuts, whole grains and whole foods daily is undoubtedly going to not only reduce your chances of developing chronic disease but improve your quality of life I promise you that if you embrace the principles of healthy living, you can live a long, healthy and vibrant life. If you make time for good health you will always have enough health for a good time.Yours in Vibrant health,
Kombucha- The 2000 Year Old Superfood Although fermented foods and beverages have long been part of many cultures, some as far back as 2000 years, we are only now really seeing a big increase in popularity and consumption of these here in Australia. Whilst they may seem just like a trend to some, fermented foods and beverages have a whole host of benefits that you can reap with regular consumption. The myriad of health benefits of fermented foods and beverages is largely due to the production of beneficial bacteria and acids produced during the fermentation process. Why ferment foods and beverages? Fermentation of foods and beverages dates back to the time before we had refrigerators or electricity to store our food and beverages and had to rely on other methods to stop food from spoiling. Fermentation is an anaerobic (without oxygen) process that converts carbohydrates (such as sugar) into either alcohols and carbon dioxide or to organic acids. The process involves the presence of bacteria, yeast or a combination of the two. The bacteria and the yeast are responsible for converting the carbohydrates into bacteria strains that are beneficial probiotics. This increase in beneficial bacteria or probiotics helps us in many ways including immune and gut health. Over 70% of our immune system resides in our gut and relies on a balance between the beneficial bacteria and the bacteria that may lead to poor health. There is sufficient evidence to suggest a strong connection with gut health and brain function, including focus, clarity and energy levels. Not to mention general functioning of the digestive tract, such as reduction in bloating, indigestion and poor bowel function. So, what are some of the popular fermented food and beverage options? Kombucha Kombucha’s popularity has been growing rapidly with this drink now beingavailable almost anywhere, from health food stores to cafes, restaurants and even convenience stores. Homebrewing has taken a shift with many people now brewing kombucha at home, in a relatively simple fermentation process. So, what exactly is kombucha? You may actually be surprised to learn that kombucha is not a new creation, but in fact has been consumed for approximately 2000 years. It is believed to have started in China or Japan. Kombucha is a probiotic and nutrient rich drink that is made from adding a SCOBY (a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) to green or black tea and fermenting with sugar. The good news is that the sugar is needed in the fermentation process and the majority of it (around 90%) is actually utilised during this process so the end product is actually a low sugar drink. (Do keep an eye on the label however as some mass produced products may have sugar added to the drink to help with flavour). What is SCOBY? SCOBY is the living culture that is added to the tea and sugar, often referred to as “The Mother” as it is responsible for turning the tea to “kombucha”. SCOBY is a blob-like disc that covers the surface of the liquid and providesa seal to prevent air from entering the liquid, ensuring the fermentation happens in an anaerobic environment. Benefits of Kombucha? Apart from the wonderful probiotic benefits of this drink already discussed, kombucha is naturally high in antioxidants which assist us in fighting free radicals that may damage our cells. When kombucha is made from green tea, it will contain the powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols. Polyphenols have long been documented as important antioxidants. Another wonderful benefit of consuming kombucha is that it is high in acetic acid due to the fermentation process. Acetic acid may kill potentially harmful microorganisms in our gut, further assisting gut health. Kefir Kefir’s popularity may not be as widespread as kombucha in Australia; however it is very popular in the Middle East and Europe with its numerous health benefits make this cultured, creamy product a great addition to your diet. Another great thing about kefir is it can be cultured from dairy and nondairy making it suitable for most people. The milk-based kefir is generally well tolerated by most, even those with sensitivities to lactose as it contains the lactase enzyme needed for proper digestion of the often-troubling lactose. Kefir is similar in texture to a drinkingyoghurt, with a tart, slightly effervescent refreshing taste that has been long used throughout the Middle East, Eastern European and Russian cultures. Like kombucha, kefir is naturally high in probiotics, but also has a broad spectrum of yeasts making it very nutritious and a beneficial addition to your diet. Like any fermented product there are specific bacterial strains needed to produce individual products. In kefir’s case it is the kefir grains that are used to create it. These grains contain both bacteria and yeasts, in white/yellow grain-like clumps. The grains are what is needed for the milk to ferment, and the beauty of these grains is that once the fermentation process has finished, they can be strained from the mixture and reused to make new batches. Sauerkraut Sauerkraut translates to “sour cabbage” in German and is a fermented cabbage dish that has been widely consumed throughout Central Europe for hundreds of years and is widely known, even here in Australia. Sauerkraut not only provides beneficial probiotics and antioxidants, but it is also a great source of fibre and is low in calories. Keep in mind however, it can be high in sodium as salt is one of the main ingredients in this dish, so stick with a smaller serving size, having it as a snack or a side dish.
The Truth about breakast cereals Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not only does it give you energy to start a new day, but breakfast is linked to many health benefits, and improves performance. Eating breakfast is important for everyone, but it’s especially so for children and adolescents. Children who eat breakfast perform better in the classroom and on the playground, with better concentration, problem-solving skills, and eye-hand coordination. Do you know what you are really eating? Most people start the morning with a bowl of cereal, but do they know what they are really eating? Some cereals are full of sugar and some may contain as much salt as a serve of potato crisps. Most cereals are packed in bright coloured boxes, some with cartoon characters and the endorsement of games designed to appeal to kids. But are they really good for them and you? Fibre deserves a place in the Nutrition hall of fame for its ability to promote fullness; it increases growth of friendly bacteria in the body, promotes bulky bowel movement and may assist with cholesterol health. Processed cereals are bad for you… Just ask your waist line Processed cereals are made from highly refined grains that are low in fibre. These cereals are digested quickly, causing blood sugar levels to spike and decline, leaving you feeling hungry an hour or two later. This process increases your risk of ill health, and weight gain. Remember that label claims don’t always tell the truth about what’s actually in the box. So when you are choosing a cereal, choose cereals with at least 3 to 5 grams of fibre. However be sceptical of claims like “40 percent of your daily fibre,” which is a sign that the fibre isn’t the natural kind. There are easier ways to include fibre in any cereals you choose to eat. Simply adding other ingredients which contain high fibre content such as half-cup of raspberries, psyllium husk, flaxseeds and chia seeds are great alternatives. The good news is there are so many healthy choices When looking for breakfast foods, choose real foods that are not processed. Good breakfast choices include high quality, organic eggs, eaten raw in smoothies or cooked. Eggs can be cooked as delicious omelettes, soft or hard boiled with vegetables and cheeses. Another delicious, nutritious breakfast is porridge or breakfast grains such as oats soaked overnight in almond milk mixed with berries, sultanas and apple, then in the morning just add plain yoghurt. The overnight soaking releases nutrients and breaks down the phytic acid of grains helping with digestion. Porridge eaten with butter and raw milk increases the nutrient density of this breakfast. If in a hurry, a smoothie made with raw pastured eggs, yoghurt, raw coconut cream, coconut oil, organic frozen berries/veggies and other preferred super foods can be taken to go. Raw pastured milk, yogurt, kefir and cheese are other quick, nutritious breakfast options. Fresh organic vegetable juices can also help jump start your day. Don’t be fooled by what is advertised on the front of the box. Read the ingredients of your cereal before you buy and don’t be afraid to try a different variety of breakfast options.
Sweet Solutions – Is there a better option than sugar? We are constantly being bombarded with labels claiming to be low in sugar, sugar free, natural sugar, no added sugar and the list goes on. One of the hottest topics at the moment is whether to use sugar or one of the many sugar replacements available for you and your family. One of the most popular sugar replacements is stevia. So what really is the difference between sugar and stevia? What is sugar? What we call table sugar, cane sugar or white sugar is actually sucrose. Sucrose is a naturally occurring carbohydrate that is made up of two molecules glucose and fructose. Sucrose or ‘sugar’ is found in most plants but in higher levels in sugarcane and sugar beets. It can also be synthesised in a laboratory. The over consumption of sucrose can cause weight gain and has been linked to a variety of ill health effects. What is Stevia? Stevia (Stevia rebaundiana) is a sweet tasting herb from the Asteraceae family native to Paraguay. The native Guarani Indians called it Kaa He-He meaning ‘sweet herb’. It has been used in many parts of South America for centuries. Sweetness/Taste Stevia is much sweeter than refined sugar, in fact it is approximately 300 times sweeter! It does however have an aftertaste when too much is used that may take some getting used to. Calories, Sugar RDI and Glycemic Index Sugar contains 15 calories per teaspoon, where Stevia contains 0! So if you are trying to cut down on calories, swapping from sugar to Stevia will help. The RDI (recommended daily intake) of sugar is 90g. Each teaspoon contains 4g of sugar. Just think, if you are having two sugars in your tea or coffee that is just under 10% of your sugar RDI in just one drink! The Glycemic Index is a number given to foods containing sugar and their associated impact on your blood glucose levels. The higher the number, the more of an impact it will have on your blood sugar. Sugar/Sucrose does affect blood sugar where stevia has zero effect! Make Stevia a common alternate to sugar if you are following a low-GI diet. Interchangeable with cooking Stevia is an excellent alternate to sugar in teas, coffees, cereals etc. but just be sure to try it in smaller quantities first due to the sweetness of Stevia. When cooking with Stevia it will not caramelise like sugar does and it is non-fermenting so when baking you will not get the same rise on your breads as it will not provide a food source for the yeast. So if you are looking at reducing you and your family’s sugar consumption, grab yourself some Stevia and have a play around with ways you and your family can use it and enjoy the benefits of a natural sweetener with zero calories!
Eating healthy when you’re pregnant With a baby on the way and future lifestyle changes arising, every mother to be can be confused about what dietary changes they should make for themselves and their growing baby. One thing to remember is the health of your baby is going to be directly associated to the food that you put into your mouth. If you eat well it will have a direct positive influence on the nutrient supply to the baby. So what is eating right? Women cannot provide essential nutrients for their child if they are deficient themselves. There are many factors which may influence the mother’s nutritional status during her pregnancy before conception and her health during pregnancy. During pregnancy your body needs more nutrition During pregnancy your body has an increase of nutritional needs; you require more macronutrients such as calories from proteins, and micronutrients such as calcium, folate, iodine and iron. To ensure that you are obtaining the necessary nutritional needs, you need to enjoy a variety of foods from the five food groups. This will also ensure that you are obtaining the necessary macro and micronutrients required by you and your baby. Vegetables –Vegetables are not only a great source of fibre, protein and Iron but a source of Folate which can be found in asparagus, spinach and broccoli. Folate is a B vitamin found naturally in green leafy vegetables, fruit and legumes. When this vitamin is added to food or used in dietary supplements, it is known as folic acid. Folate is recommended during pregnancy to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in babies. Consume 3-4 servings a day of a variety of different types of fresh vegetables. Fruit – consume at least 2 servings a day. Fresh fruit is not only a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C, it is also a great way to satisfy your sweet craving. Fruits such as strawberries are naturally high in essential pregnancy nutrients such as folate - hence food cravings are often good indictors of what our body may need! Grains- Not only are grains a good source of fibre during pregnancy, grains are packed full with nutrients like iron, selenium, and magnesium. They’re also a good source of the B vitamins such as B1, B2, folic acid, and niacin. You just need to be mindful of any gluten content, if this is an issue. Lean meats, poultry and fish -This particular food group is a great source of protein which is needed to aid with healthy foetal development by providing the basic building necessary for the formation of enzymes, antibodies, collagen and muscle. Lean meats and poultry provide a great source of Iron. The need for Iron in your diet significantly increases during the second and third trimester of pregnancy. At this time the amount of blood in your body increases to meet the needs of your placenta and the growing baby. Fish is a great source of Omega 3. Omega 3 aids in the optimal formation of the brain and eyes. To ensure you get enough Omega-3 in your daily diet during your pregnancy include two to three oily fish meals per week such as salmon, sardines and mackerel. Try and eat two servings of legumes a week and at least 2 servings of red meat and 2 servings of white meat a week. Dairy – Milk, yoghurt and cheese are all great sources of calcium. Calcium is needed to aid in building healthy bones. It is especially more essential throughout the third trimester of pregnancy. Calcium during pregnancy can be absorbed efficiently from your diet, so your growing baby’s needs are met. The recommended dietary intake for calcium during pregnancy and breastfeeding is 1000mg per day. The recommend dietary intake of calcium can be provided by 3 to 4 serves of dairy foods each day. One serve is equal to: A glass of Full cream milk (250mL) A tub of Full cream yoghurt (200g) 2 slices of cheese (40g) The health of your baby is directly related to the food you eat As a future mother, ensuring that you are consuming a nutrient rich diet is just as important to you as it is to your baby. When you consider the principle that ‘you are what you eat’ it’s quite easy to see that the health of your baby is going to be directly connected to the food that you put into your mouth. Remember fresh is best and to ensure you are including food products from the five food groups in your diet.
How to get the most out of your foods? With such an array of fresh meat and produce in Australia there is so much opportunity to obtain a variety of vitamins and minerals from your food. However, one of the main concerns with vitamin and minerals found in foods is that some of the nutrients are destroyed in the process of cooking. Some cooking methods can also leach the minerals and nutrients out of the foods. The majority of minerals in food are not affected by heat. Whether cooked or raw, food has the same amount of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iodine, zinc, iron, selenium, copper, manganese, sodium and chromium. The only exception is potassium which is not directly affected by heat; however it escapes from foods into the cooking juices. Some great sources of minerals found in foods are listed below: Calcium - Cheese, salmon and sardines, yoghurt, milk, tofu, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables and tahini Chromium - Whole grains, liver, beef, mushroom and legumes Copper - Liver, shellfish and oysters, tomato paste, chestnuts, almonds, cashews, olives, walnuts, beef, mushrooms and legumes Folate - Green leafy vegetables, lentils and other legumes Iodine - Cod, yoghurt and seaweed Iron - Liver and organ meats, red meats, green leafy vegetables, tomato paste Manganese - Wholegrain flour, raisins, brown rice, pineapple, barley, buckwheat, blackberries, raspberries, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts Magnesium - Whole grains, green leafy vegetables, muesli, almonds, cashews and legumes Potassium - Bananas, tomato paste, vegetables, fruits and their juices, legumes, dried apricots and dates Selenium - Brazil nuts, poultry, whole grains, shellfish and fish, cashews, eggs, garlic and broccoli Zinc - Oysters, shellfish and fish, red meat, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds walnuts, almonds, muesli, tomato sauce and paste Many vitamins are sensitive and easily destroyed when exposed to heat, water, air or cooking oils with the exception of vitamin K and vitamin B3 which are stable in food. Great sources of vitamin rich foods are: Vitamin A - Organ meats, cod liver oil, poultry, cheese, egg yolk and cream Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) - Rice bran, wheat germ, oat bran, pork and wholegrains Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) - Liver, beef, fortified cereals, poultry, dairy and soy milk Vitamin B3 (Niacin) - Liver, red meat, fish, poultry, pork, peanuts and legumes Vitamin B5 (Pantothenate) - Peanuts, organ meat, avocado, hazelnut, mushroom and sunflower seeds Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) - Muesli, liver, tuna, sunflower seeds, lentils, kidney beans, avocado, banana and nuts Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) - Liver, kidney, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and soy milk Vitamin C - Red capsicum, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, mango, oranges, broccoli, cabbage and strawberries Vitamin D - Salmon and sardines, eggs and butter Vitamin E - Soybean oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews, avocado and brown rice Vitamin K - Cauliflower, liver, tomato, spinach, green beans, soybeans and broccoli So what methods can you use while cooking to try and reduce the loss of vitamins? Leave the skin on vegetables as most of the vitamins and nutrients in vegetables are found in the skin and outer leaves. So try and leave the skin on your potatoes and carrots. Just gently scrub them with a brush and some water to keep the vitamins intact. Steaming: Can be used for cooking anything from fresh veggies to fish fillets. This form of cooking allows proteins and produce to stew in their own juices and retain all their natural goodness. Shorter cooking times for your vegetables help maintain their nutrients and colour. Tip: When steaming only add the vegetables once the water has begun to boil and steam is present. Cut your vegetables into large pieces: This helps reduce vitamin loss, because there is less surface area exposed when they are cooked. Grilling: In terms of getting maximum nutrition without sacrificing flavour, grilling is a great option. It requires minimal added fats (such as butter and oil) while keeping meats and vegetables juicy and tender. Obtaining adequate essential vitamins and minerals from your food is beneficial for general health and wellbeing. So when making a meal ensure you’re choosing foods with the right amount of vitamins and minerals for your needs as well as considering the best cooking method for those food types.
Super Foods for Healthy Blood Circulation Your body’s circulation system is responsible for sending blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout your body. When your blood flow to a specific part of your body is reduced, you may experience the symptoms of poor circulation. But don’t be afraid because there are a lot of foods that you can add to your diet to aid in improving blood circulation. Blood Circulation SUPER FOODS Blueberries: Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants. The antioxidants in blueberries strengthen and protect capillaries and larger blood vessels which are beneficial in aiding in strengthening blood circulation. Oranges: We all know that oranges are a great source of Vitamin C to aid with immunity but did you know that the high Vitamin C content in oranges can aid with blood circulation too? Vitamin C has a natural blood thinning ability which may aid in increasing circulation and strengthening capillaries. Watermelon: Watermelon is rich in lycopene which is a natural antioxidant linked to improving circulation. It also contains a great source of Vitamin C which is beneficial in Blood circulation. Garlic: Garlic boosts circulation by aiding in thinning the blood and preserving the elasticity of arteries and capillaries. Onion: Onions are a rich source of flavonoids, which are substances known to provide protection against cardiovascular disease. Onions also contain sulfur compounds, which improve red blood cell function and lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Cayeen pepper: Known for both flavour and health benefits, cayenne aids the circulatory system by adding strength to blood vessels and arteries. Ginger: Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory by improving circulation while inhibiting the release of prostaglandins a hormone that promotes inflammation and pain. Cinnamon: Cinnamon has been used for many years in western herbal medicine to promote circulation in the peripheral areas. Dark chocolate: Having one piece a day of 70-90% cocoa dark chocolate can aid in blood circulation. Cocoa contains flavonoids which is naturally found in plants and fruits and has been well linked to improving blood circulation. Salmon: Salmon is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which has shown to be beneficial in increasing blood circulation. Try these nutritious circulatory foods and watch your body warm to it by thanking you. *If you are taking any pharmaceutical medication consult your doctor before introducing these foods in your diet.
Are You Being Exposed to Harmful Pesticides in Your Fruits and Vegetables? Most of us know that choosing organic is good for our health and better for the environment; however the cost often prevents many of us from even considering it. This is where the ‘The Dirty Dozen’ and ‘The Clean Fifteen’ lists can come in handy. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an American environmental organisation that specialises in research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands, and corporate accountability. EWG is a non-profit organisation whose mission is “to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment”. Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases these lists to help you decide which fruits and vegetables to purchase based on pesticide residue detected. Those found with the least pesticide residue are categorised as ‘clean’ and those with the most as ‘dirty’. The EWG is an independent United States health and environmental research organisation based on the United States farming practices, however much of the findings are applicable in Australia. Using the EWG’s lists as guides when shopping will help us to reduce our exposure to pesticides as much as possible. By choosing more from the ‘Clean Fifteen’ list and if the budget allows, buying organic alternatives from the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list you can potentially reduce your pesticide exposure. However eating conventionally grown produce (non-organic) is still better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all. It is recommended to eat foods from the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list over processed products that are high in unhealthy fats, sugars and additives. A fruit and vegetable rich diet provides health benefits that outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. The Dirty Dozen 2016 Strawberries Apples Nectarines Peaches Celery Grapes Cherries Spinach Tomatoes Capsicum Cherry Tomatoes Cucumbers The Clean Fifteen 2016 Avocados Sweet Corn Pineapples Cabbage Sweet Peas Frozen Onions Asparagus Mangos Papayas Kiwi Eggplant Honeydew Melon Grapefruit Rockmelon Cauliflower If you are able to purchase organic products, not only do you reduce your exposure to pesticides, but you support environmentally-friendly farming practices that protect workers, reduce soil erosion and care for water quality and wildlife. Look for ‘certified organic’ on the label as well as the logo of the certification association as the word ‘organic’ in Australia is often misused. It is an expensive and long process for farmers to reach “certified organic” standards. The strict guidelines that need to be followed include prohibition of artificial fertilisers, pesticides and genetically modified components. Certified organic eggs and meat includes humane treatment of animals that are raised on organic food and prohibits the use of hormones and antibiotics. However not everyone has access to certified organic food or can afford it so please take a good look at the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and the ‘Clean Fifteen’ lists above to help make the healthiest choices from conventionally grown produce. Remember though, the ‘Dirty Dozen’ produce is still cleaner than processed and unhealthy foods!
Sugar Detox Recipe: Grilled Salmon and Zucchini Noodles Ingredients: 125g Salmon 100g zucchini (grated into thin strips) Lemon Dill (handful) 1 teaspoon sesame seeds Olive oil spray 1 tablespoon olive oil Method: Lightly spray pan with olive oil spray. Grill salmon until half cooked and flip and cook through. In a separate pan heat olive oil and add zucchini strips, cook for 3 minutes over high heat or until cooked through. Serve the salmon on top of the zucchini noodles, sprinkle with sesame seeds, dill and lemon. Serves 1
NUTRITION WELLNESSSugar Detox Recipe: Grilled Salmon and Zucchini Noodles Read more
Healing Benefits of Manuka Honey Manuka honey has been used for centuries by the Indigenous people of both Australia and New Zealand as part of their traditional medicines. More recently, Manuka honey has made quite a name for itself, with laboratory studies being conducted in Australia and New Zealand to determine the healing properties of Manuka honey, and to better understand this wonderful natural healer. More and more people are switching to Manuka honey for its long list of reported health benefits. These health benefits range from assisting wound healing, boosting the immune system, soothing digestive complaints and reducing inflammation. Even the medical field has picked up on Manuka honeys healing properties, with it now being used in some hospitals and burns wards to promote wound healing and to assist prevention of infections. Manuka honey is not only gaining attention from the medical field, but is also gaining interest in the beauty world, with more and more beauty products containing Manuka honey for its long reported healing and anti-inflammatory actions. It can also provide a barrier which may assist in preventing wounds from becoming infected. Manuka honey has a rich, earthy, herbaceous taste making it nice and easy to take. Here are some ways to try it! Straight off the spoon for soothing the throat and upper respiratory tract. Mix with water and fresh lemon juice and drink to assist boosting the immune system. Mix with water and cinnamon powder to assist with the digestive tract. Apply a thin layer directly to a wound and cover with a bandage for wound healing. Use in place of regular honey such as in foods and drinks for general health. As Manuka honey is heat stable, you may add it to your hot drinks without impacting on its activity too much. So what is Manuka honey? Manuka honey is a special variety of Australian or New Zealand honey made from bees that pollinate the native Manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium). This native plant is commonly known as ‘Jelly bush’ in Australia. How is it different from regular honey? All honeys naturally contain hydrogen peroxide, which has antibacterial properties, however it is not very stable and is greatly diminished by heat and storage. Where Manuka honey is different is that it not only contains hydrogen peroxide, but other antibacterial agents that are much more stable than hydrogen peroxide. This ‘Non Peroxide Activity’ is then rated and its score placed on the label. Things to watch out for when buying Manuka Honey! UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) – The trademark grading system that appropriates the natural markers ensuring quality and purity. The potency of the ‘Non Peroxide Activity’ is: 0 – 4 = Not detectable 5 – 9 = Low levels detected 10 – 15 = Useful amounts detected 16+ = Superior/High levels detected To guarantee you are getting a good quality Manuka honey, ensure the front label has a Trademarked UMF and number, and that it is sourced from Australia or New Zealand. The higher the UMF the higher the healing properties. Why not swap to Manuka honey? Using a natural antibacterial such as Manuka honey is likely to add value to your home remedies kit and your kitchen pantry. Not only will you reap the benefits of this wonderful, natural product, it also does not damage any of the beneficial bacteria found in your gut. So next time you are out buying honey, why not swap over to Manuka honey and enjoy the vast uses and health benefits this wonderful honey can give you and your family.
Dietary Fibre and Metabolic Syndrome A Natural Approach Backed Up by Science Metabolic Syndrome is not an actual disease. It is a group of risk factors that occur together in the same person. A person has “Metabolic Syndrome” if they have any three or more of the following conditions: Central or abdominal obesity – excess fat in and around the stomach or abdomen High blood pressure (hypertension) High blood triglycerides (Cholesterol) Low levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL) – the ‘good’ cholesterol Insulin resistance Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of developing Cardiovascular Disease and Type 2 Diabetes, so it’s increasing incidence in Australia and worldwide is a cause for concern. Poor diet and lifestyle choices have been identified as a primary cause of Metabolic Syndrome. However there is some very strong evidence emerging for the beneficial role that dietary fibre plays in helping to manage this group of conditions – a relatively simple fix! Dietary fibre is defined as “the edible parts of plants…that resist digestion and absorption in the small intestine, with complete or partial fermentation in the large intestine”1. In other words, they pass through our intestines almost untouched, helping to facilitate the process of digestion by influencing the absorption and transit time of the foods that we eat. There are two different types of dietary fibre: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fibre refers to those types of plant fibres that act like a broom in the intestines. They attract water to help provide bulk to and soften the stool making it easier to pass. Insoluble fibre may have a role to play in maintaining the health of the good bacteria in our small intestines as well, further enhancing the digestive process. Soluble fibre retains water to create a gel like substance. This increases the thickness of the stomach and intestinal contents, slowing down stomach emptying and nutrient absorption and providing a feeling of fullness after we eat. Each type of fibre has its own individual benefits in relation to the management of the conditions of Metabolic Syndrome but the general consensus is that a mixture of each type in the diet is optimal as most foods contain a combination of both in different quantities. Good food sources of fibre include fruits and vegetables; however the best sources of both types of fibre include whole grains (particularly oats and rye but also wheat and brown rice) and legumes (beans, lentils etc). What is most important is that these grains need to be consumed in their unrefined state. This means that your best choice at the supermarket when keeping fibre in mind is to go for the brown stuff! Whole wheat pasta, brown rice, and whole grain breads contain much more dietary fibre than their white counterparts. In fact, a meta-analysis of 6 population studies has shown that increasing your whole grain intake by as little as two servings per day may decrease your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by as much as 21% due to its high fibre content1. Fibre may help to regulate and maintain healthy blood sugar levels by bulking and thickening up the foods in the stomach and intestines, thereby slowing down the digestion and absorption of sugars from the foods you have consumed. This creates a “slow release” mechanism for the delivery of sugar into the bloodstream, minimising the negative effects of blood sugar spikes such as high insulin levels, lowered insulin sensitivity and energy crashes.3 Healthy cholesterol, HDL and LDL levels are thought to be maintained by the ability of fibre to increase bowel regularity. The liver will naturally help to regulate cholesterol levels by adding it to bile which is secreted into the small intestine, incorporated into the stool and later excreted when you go to the toilet. By making defecation more regular, fibre may help to reduce and then regulate healthy cholesterol levels in the body1. Fibre exerts its beneficial effects on obesity by promoting a feeling of fullness or satiety. It helps to slow down the digestion and movement of food through the stomach and intestines, thereby helping you feel fuller sooner and for longer. This action has shown in numerous long term clinical trials involving high numbers of participants to contribute to weight loss and reduce the chance of weight gain3. The recommended daily intake of fibre for adults is around 30gms daily to maintain healthy digestive function; however, according to a survey done in Australia in 2016 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians are falling extremely short of getting this amount each day. Less than 4% of us are meeting the recommended guidelines for the consumption of fruit, vegetables and legumes each day. Two thirds of recommended grain serves are coming from highly refined grains rather than the wholemeal, higher fibre sources. And one third of the fruit serves we are consuming come from juice which contains little to no fibre at all2. It seems almost absurd to think that one of the most concerning metabolic conditions facing us today can be managed by some very simple and for some of us relatively small changes to our diets. Diseases of lifestyle kill more Australians each year than anything else and some small, simple steps may be all it takes to slow the progression of the conditions associated with Metabolic Syndrome. For more information, take some time to chat to your Naturopath or other Healthcare Professional and take control of your health! 1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC2903728/ Gastroenterology 2010 Jan; 138(1): 65–72.Dietary Fiber Supplements: Effects in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome and Relationship to Gastrointestinal Functions. Papathanasopoulos, A. M.D. and Camilleri, M. M.D.2 http://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/subscriber.nsf/0/12E8766EBAB492B0CA257FAF001A3CFD/$File/43640do002_20112012.pdf3 Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2008; 19: 71-84. Effects of dietary fibres on disturbances clustered in the metabolic syndrome. Galisteo, M, Duarte, J and Zarzuelo, A