Sugar has become the new baddie in the nutrition wars, and not without good reason. There is increasing evidence that the increase in processed food consumption is linked to the increase in obesity and type II diabetes.
The UK has just introduced a tax on sugary drinks to help combat childhood obesity, a move which Australia is still against. The World Health Organisation has recommended that we limit our daily serve of sugar to 6 teaspoons a day. Here is a quiz you can take to find out how "sugar-wise" you are. It reveals how much sugar is in a bowl of weetbix, orange juice, jam and other commonly eaten foods. Good Luck!
Australians are getting behind their farmers in buying branded milk over supermarket brands to help Australian dairy farmers keep from going out of business. The milk rush comes after The Project‘s co-hostWaleed Aly this week begged Australians to eat more cheese and support local dairy farmers.
Pretty much all brands of milk will support farmers, as even if the company is foreign (Anchor and Mainland are NZ-owned, Great Ocean Road is Canadian and Pauls is Italian) as the milk is still being supplied by Aussie farmers. Scroll to the end of this post for a list of milk brands you can buy to help our farmers.
And there is good reason to have more dairy if you aren't lactose intolerant. A new study finds the dairy fats found in milk, yogurt and cheese may help protect against Type 2 diabetes, reported NPR.
"People who had the most dairy fat in their diet had about a 50 percent lower risk of diabetes" compared with people who consumed the least dairy fat, says Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, who is also an author of the study.
The research, published in the journal Circulation, included 3,333 adults. Beginning in the late 1980s, researchers took blood samples from the participants and measured circulating levels of biomarkers of dairy fat in their blood for over the next two decades.
"For a long time we've had this notion that saturated fat [the kind found in dairy products] is always bad for you," says Mark DeBoer, a pediatrician at the University of Virginia. But this assumption is being questioned.
DeBoer has studied the connection between dairy fat and children's body weight and found that children who have a higher intake of whole milk or 2 percent milk gain less weight over time, compared with kids who consume skim or nonfat dairy products.
And there's some evidence that dairy fat may help adults manage weight as well. Researchers in Sweden found that middle-aged men who consumed high-fat milk, butter and cream were significantly less likely to become obese over a period of 12 years compared with men who never or rarely ate high-fat dairy.
It's possible that "the fat in dairy makes you less hungry to eat some other foods," says DeBoer.
And there's evidence that "when people consume more low-fat dairy, they eat more carbohydrates" as a way of compensating, says Mozaffarian. Many high-carb foods such as cereals, breads and snacks that contain highly refined grains are less satiating and can prompt people to eat more calories. Check out a previous blog post which supports this idea.
Now that Easter is behind us, it's time to talk chocolate, or more specifically, the difference between cocoa and cacao (besides the spelling).
Raw cacao is unheated and unprocessed cacao beans._ Typically, you’ll find raw cacao available in powder form – or as nibs. Raw cacao nibs are cacao beans that have been ground into smaller pieces. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing cacao beans. Because raw cacao isn’t taken through a high-heat processing, it’s packed with antioxidants, fiber and important minerals like magnesium and calcium.
Cocoa, on the other hand, is raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures. After being roasted, the beans are cracked, crushed, ground into a paste, and slammed with a large hydraulic press to create a powder. This processing substantially reduces the antioxidant content, and many of the nutritional benefits are lost. Dutch-processed cocoa powder is cocoa that has been further processed with an alkalized solution, making it less acidic. As you may expect, alkalization reduces cocoa’s antioxidant content.
Cacao is definitely the superior product when it comes to packing in the good stuff, for instance, it has over 40 times the antioxidants of blueberries. For vegetarians and vegans, cacao has the highest plant-based source of iron known to man, at a whopping 7.3mg per 100g. This compares to beef and lamb at 2.5mg, and spinach at 3.6mg. Note the iron in cacao is non-heme (as is all plant-based iron), so to get the maximum benefits you'll want to combine it with some vitamin C like oranges or kiwifruit. Yum, what a classic combo!
And we all know this - chocolate makes you happy. Cacao is a great source of four scientifically proven bliss chemicals - serotonin, dopamine, anandamide and phenylethylamine. These neurotransmitters are associated with cosy feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and can even alleviate depression.
For a quick pick me up, try a raw cacao hot choc.
2 teaspoons raw cacao
1 teaspoon natural sweetener like honey or coconut sugar
pinch of cinnamon
Add all this to 1 warm cup of plant-based milk (dairy products block the absorption of antioxidants and calcium in cacao). You can make the same thing cold, but dissolve the cacao in some warm water first.
Naturally-fermented food are suddenly the hottest kid on the block, with kimchi pancakes and kefir milkshakes on the menu at the trendiest cafes.
The idea is not new, these fermented foods are teeming with friendly bacteria that can help keep your gut healthy, especially if you get symptoms like bloating, irritable bowel, constipation or diarrhea. An unhealthy gut flora also seems to be linked to inflammatory conditions like arthritis as well as ADHD. Here is a list of food you can try, but remember you only need a tablespoon or two a day.
While it is convenient to get yoghurt from the supermarket, it is really easy to make your own. All you need is a an insulated chiller bag, food thermometer, a few spoons of good-quality unsweetened yoghurt for your starter and any type of milk. If buying, make sure the yoghurt contains the L acidophilus strain and preferably does not have a lot of sugar.
This is a traditional food from the Causasus region in Europe. Kefir is very similar to yoghurt in taste, although it tends to be runnier, more like a yoghurt drink. You can make it at home but first you will need to get kefir grains (they look like lumps of cauliflower). The grains contain a mixture of friendly bacteria and yeast, and will grow in size the more you use it.
This is probably the easiest pickle to make, all you need is cabbage, salt and a jar! There is natural bacteria on the cabbage that will ferment it, but for the best results, use filtered/spring/boiled water instead of tap. You can also get creative and flavour your pickle with dill seeds, mustard seeds or add colour with carrots and beets.
Korea's most famous export, kimchi is a variation of the same pickling method as sauerkraut but with a different flavour profile. It can be mild or fiery, vegetarian or not. It's a great one to always have in the fridge as it brightens up any meal.
Tempeh is a hero to vegetarians and vegans - it is a pressed, fermented soybean square and has a meaty taste. A palm-sized serve of tempeh contains half the amount of protein in a piece of steak the same size. It It is also rich in calcium and iron. Originally from Indonesia, you can get it in natural health food stores and larger supermarkets. If you are trying it for the first time, I recommend the ones that are marinated in soy.
A Japanese staple, miso comes in many varieties depending on what it is made from. It can range from pale and sweet (shiro miso) to dark and funky (brown rice or barley miso). Health food stores would probably have versions of miso made from non-GMO soybeans and do not contain MSG. Always add miso as the last ingredient in soup, as you don't want to kill all the good bacteria with excessive boiling.
Weight loss advice tends to be one of two things : Fewer calories in, more calories out or do more exercise. However, we are ignoring something that can cause results to vary vastly - our brain.
Psychologist and novelist Michael Graziano writes in the Aeon that hunger is like a mood. He says: "Hunger is a process that’s always present, always running in the background, only occasionally rising into consciousness. When it slowly rises or eases back down, even when it’s beneath consciousness, it alters our decisions. It warps our priorities and our emotional investment in long-term goals. It even changes our sensory perceptions – often quite profoundly."
For instance, when you are hungry, the burger on your plate looks tiny, already, you are thinking of having another one. But when you are full, the same burger may look enormous. Dr Graziano, who is a professor of neuroscience at Princeton University, says: "It isn’t just the food itself. Your own body image is warped. When the hunger mood rises, you feel a little thinner, the diet feels like it’s working and you can afford a self-indulgence. When satiety kicks in, you feel like a whale."
Ironically, the very act of trying to lose weight makes us more likely to put weight on. We may have enough self control to eat smaller main meals, but we forget how much we snack. And the same goes for exercise. If we've done a big session at the gym, we might whisper to the chocolate chip muffin, yes I've earned you today.
Dr Graziano writes: "The obesity epidemic is not an issue of calories or willpower. I began to suspect that our problem with obesity is a problem of poisoning the normal regulatory system. We possess a system that’s intricate and beautifully calibrated. It evolved over millions of years to be good at its job. It should work in the background without any conscious effort, but for more than two-thirds of us it doesn’t. "
For over a year, he experimented with his own diet and lost over 20kg. He noticed that 3 bad habits appeared to consistently boost his hunger. He calls them the super-high death-carb diet, the low-fat craze, and the calorie-counting trap.
He said: "The super-high death-carb diet has become normal US fare. We get up in the morning and eat a croissant, or pancakes with syrup, or a muffin. Or cereal and milk. The cereal is all carbs. Then comes lunch. Suppose I’m unhealthy and eat a fast-food, McDonald’s lunch. We think of it as greasy food, but beyond the grease the burger has a bun and the ketchup is sugar paste. The fries are all carbs. The large soda is sugar water. The grease is only a tiny part of the meal. Maybe you feel morally superior and prefer a ‘healthy’ lunch, a deli sandwich that’s mainly French bread. And chips. And a Snapple. All carbs."
A low-carb diet makes you lose weight because you eat less. Or (perhaps more accurately), the ridiculous, super-high death-carb diet stokes up the hunger mechanism and your eating goes out of control.
As numerous studies have now established, fat reduces hunger. Take it away and the hunger mood soars. It’s not a simple relationship, and the effect is gradual as the hypothalamus learns associations over time.
But the most insidious attack on the hunger mechanism might be the chronic diet. The more you try to micromanage your automatic hunger control mechanism, the more you mess with its dynamics. Skip breakfast, cut calories at lunch, eat a small dinner and you poke the hunger tiger. All you do is put yourself in the vicious cycle of trying to exert willpower and failing.
Dr Graziano said: "In some ways, the hunger system is like the breathing system. The brain has an unconscious mechanism that regulates breathing. Suppose that system got shut down so that it was up to you to consciously control your own breath, adjusting its rate and depth depending on factors such as blood oxygen, carbon dioxide level, physical exertion, and so on. What would happen? You’d die in about 10 minutes. You’d lose track of the necessities.
"The intellectual, conscious mind is not really good at these matters of regulating the internal environment. It’s better to leave the job as much as possible to the dedicated systems that evolved to do it. What you can do with your conscious mind is to set the general parameters. Put yourself in a place where your automatic systems can operate correctly. Don’t put a plastic bag over your head. Likewise, don’t eat the super-high death-carb, low-fat diet. Don’t micromanage your brainstem by counting every calorie. You might be surprised at how well your health self-regulates."
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 5 years, you've probably seen, heard or eaten chia seed. Chia seed is an ancient Mayan and Aztec superfood and is enjoying a renaissance in food circles right now.
Its benefits include
this should have formed a gel or thick goo which you can drink first thing in the morning to gently "scrub" your gut. Alternatively, soak chia seeds together with oats and apple juice to make a bircher muesli base. You can add in fresh fruit or nuts/seeds when serving.
If you eat chia seeds that haven't been pre-soaked, be sure to have an extra glass of water. Otherwise, the chia will absorb the water in your intestine and give you bloating or constipation instead!
If you still need convincing, how about this recipe - dreamy chocolate chia pudding?
Author: Minimalist Baker
Recipe type: Dessert, Breakfast
Cuisine: Gluten-free, vegan friendly
Many people believe soft drinks labelled sugar-free are completely safe for teeth, but unfortunately we’re finding these aren’t much better than the sugar filled versions because of their potential to cause erosion of dental enamel. The Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre in Melbourne tested a range of sugar-free drinks and lollies on extracted human teeth.
"The majority of soft drinks and sports drinks we tested caused softening of dental enamel by 30 to 50 per cent."
Both sugar-containing and sugar-free soft drinks (including flavoured mineral waters) produced measurable loss of the tooth surface, with no significant difference between the two groups. This is because sugar-free drinks are often high in citric acid (ingredient number 330) and phosphoric acid (ingredient number 338) to make them taste better.
Consumers should also be wary of sports drinks, which contain citric acid for tanginess. When you’re doing vigorous activity, it’s easy to become dehydrated. Saliva is protective and if you have a dry mouth and sip on a sports drink, you provide an environment that helps erosion along, according to researchers. Water is just as good at rehydrating.
Fluoridated tap water is always the best option for teeth, but be aware that bottled water doesn’t have the same benefits, particularly for children. Plain milk is excellent because it’s not erosive at all.
Photo: Getty Images
It is well known that dairy is a good source of bone-building nutrients such as calcium to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, but what if you can't tolerate it? These 4 other surprising foods can positively affect bones.
Human studies have found that post-menopausal women eating about 100g of prunes a day (about 10 prunes) plus daily supplements of 500mg calcium and 400IU (10mcg) vitamin D have improved bone mineral density. It seems the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of prune polyphenols reduce osteoclast production. But if 100g of prunes affects your bowel function too much, 50g a day may be more practical. Prunes also contain small quantities of the following bone nutrients: calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, boron and vitamin K.
Animal studies reveal tea polyphenols, especially from green tea, have positive effects on bone: higher bone mass, increasing bone formation and inhibition of bone resorption, all resulting in greater bone strength. Short-term clinical trials in postmenopausal women indicate 500mg green tea polyphenols (equivalent to about 4 cups of green tea a day) boosts alkaline phosphatase, a bone formation biomarker. As with prunes, it may be tea’s antioxidant or anti-inflammatory effects that impact on oxidative stress and bone formation.
A lack of oestrogen postmenopause is one cause of reduced bone mineral density and increased osteoporosis risk. Soy isoflavones supplements, at 75—80mg or more a day, and soy foods such as tofu, soy milk and fermented soy beans, appear to have benefits on bone. Soy foods are naturally low in calcium but rich in phosphorus so look for calcium-precipitated tofu or calcium-fortified soy beverages.
4) MEDITERRANEAN DIET
The Mediterranean diet is rich in olive oil, fish and nuts and these have unexpected impacts on bone health.
Olive oil polyphenols may help prevent bone loss by increasing the deposition of calcium in bone. Having 5 to 7 fish meals a week has been seen to significantly increase vitamin D intake and bone mass. Nut intake may also be associated with bone health, but results are mixed. Oily fish is a source of fat-soluble vitamin D and nuts contain a number of bone-building nutrients including protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and zinc.
Bacon, sausages and smoked meat are as bad for you as smoking, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It placed cured and processed meats in the same category as asbestos, alcohol, arsenic and tobacco, due to its causal link with bowel cancer.
After deliberating for a year, experts from WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that each 50-gram (1.8-ounce) portion of processed meat eaten daily increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. WHO also ranked red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Eating red meat has been linked to pancreatic and prostate cancer.
Cancer Research UK analyses these figures further - Out of every 1000 people in the UK, about 61 will develop bowel cancer at some point in their lives. Those who eat the lowest amount of processed meat are likely to have a lower lifetime risk than the rest of the population (about 56 cases per 1000 low meat-eaters)... Among 1000 people who eat the most processed meat, you’d expect 66 to develop bowel cancer at some point in their lives – 10 more than the group who eat the least processed meat.
It doesn't matter whether the salami is organic, home-made or commercial, it's the processing of the meat, or chemicals naturally present within it, that increases cancer risk. For those of us enjoying the new fad in smoked meats and American BBQ meals, this comes as a great blow! So what should we do?
If you find it hard to give them up completely, the first step is to reduce the amount of processed meat you consume. Also, substitute other white meat or vegetable protein instead of processed or red meat. Hot-smoked salmon, for instance, is delicious! The rest is common sense: Eat plenty of fibre, fruit and vegetables, exercise, limit your alcohol intake, and don't smoke!
Protein supplements offer few real performance benefits beyond the glossy packaging, according to website The Conversation. While you do need protein as the source of the amino acid building blocks for new muscle growth and repair, most of us get enough in our diet anyway. Here is a snippet:
However, if you do decide you need a protein supplement because of time constraints or travel, the best option is simply chocolate milk! Chocolate milk contains a good mix of carbohydrates (to promote glycogen restoration and stimulate insulin release) and high-quality whey and casein dairy proteins, which are absorbed quickly.
All entries complied by osteopath Dr Wei Chua unless otherwise stated.