Category Archives: Diet

Paleo diet information

‘Demonised’ pasta may actually be key to weight loss

Pasta is no longer off the menu, after a new review of studies suggested that the carbohydrate can form part of a healthy diet, and even help people lose weight.

For years, nutritionists have recommended that pasta be kept to a minimum, to cut calories, prevent fat build-up and stop blood sugar spiking.

The low-carb food movement spawned such diets as the Atkins, Paleo and Keto, which advised swapping foods like bread, pasta and potatoes for vegetables, fish and meat. More recently the fad of swapping spaghetti for spiralised vegetables has been championed by clean-eating gurus.

A new study has found that eating three pasta meals a week can help people lose weight.

EAT PRAY LOVE

A new study has found that eating three pasta meals a week can help people lose weight.

But now a meta-analysis of 30 studies by Canadian researchers found that not only does pasta not cause weight gain, but three meals a week can help people drop more than half a kilogram over four months. The reviewers found that pasta had been unfairly demonised because it had been lumped in with other, more fat-promoting carbs.

“The study found that pasta didn’t contribute to weight gain or increase in body fat,” said lead author Dr John Sievenpiper, a scientist with the St Michael’s Hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Modification Centre in Toronto.

“In weighing the evidence, we can now say with some confidence that pasta does not have an adverse effect on body weight outcomes when it is consumed as part of a healthy dietary pattern.

“In fact analysis actually showed a small weight loss. So contrary to concerns, perhaps pasta can be part of a healthy diet. The new review reassessed evidence from 30 randomised controlled trials involving nearly 2,500 people who ate pasta each week, alongside a low glycemic diet – a food plan, which prevents the blood sugar from spiking.

Those involved in the clinical trials on average ate 3.3 servings of pasta a week instead of other carbohydrates, one serving equalling around half a cup. They lost around half a kilogram over an average follow-up of 12 weeks.

Unlike most refined carbs, pasta has a low glycemic index, meaning it is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly and so does not cause high blood sugar levels.

The authors concluded that pasta could form part of a low-glycemic diet, which is often recommended for people who are trying to lose weight, or who suffer chronic illnesses such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Naveed Sattar, Professor of Metabolic Medicine at the University of Glasgow said: “I tend to agree. I eat pasta regularly and if consumed in modest amounts then no reason for it to cause weight gain.

“So it’s nice to see this evidence. In the end, weight gain occurs with overconsumption of calories and so portion size matters.

“Regular portions of healthy pasta can be part of a healthy balanced diet and this work supports this view.”

The research was published in the journal BMJ Open.

Geeta Sidhu-Robb, founder of Nosh Detox, the clean eating home delivery service whose clients include Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow said: “Simple-carb foods are those that your body breaks down quickly and easily, including sweeteners such as sugar and honey or refined grains like pasta.

“Because these carbohydrates are broken down so quickly, they cause spikes in our blood sugar levels.”

 – The Telegraph

How much junk food can you ‘get away with’ and still be healthy?

If you want to enjoy junk food once in a while, take a look at your overall health habits to see how much of an impact it might have on your body.

A client recently asked me, “How often can I get away with eating junk food?”

She knows that my nutrition philosophy is the “80:20 rule”: Eat healthy foods as often as possible (at least 80 percent of the time), but also enjoy the occasional less healthy food (less than 20 percent of the time), if that’s what you really want.

I’ve seen this approach work well with my clients who were previously chronic dieters yet hadn’t been able to lose weight. Once I give them permission to have “forbidden foods”, those foods lose their power and they’re able to make healthier choices the bulk of the time.

There is some evidence that “cheat meals” (although I hate that term) can help boost fat loss and mental health among dieters. Yet I wanted to give my client a more quantifiable answer. Could a few days of junk food or even a single fast food meal make a difference in your overall health?

READ MORE:
What happens to your metabolism after a junk food binge
* Is healthy food really more expensive than junk food?
New Zealand’s favourite junk foods

JUNK FOOD AND FAST FOOD DEFINED

What is “junk food”? Essentially any food that is highly processed, high in calories and low in nutrients. Junk food is also usually high in added sugars, salt and saturated or trans fats. Some evidence points to junk foods as being as addictive as alcohol and drugs.

“Fast food” is food that is prepared quickly and is eaten quickly or taken out. Although there are a growing number of healthier fast food options, most fast food can still be classified as junk food.

LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF EATING JUNK FOOD

Eating a poor quality diet high in junk food is linked to a higher risk of obesity, depression, digestive issues, heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and early death. And as you might expect, frequency matters when it comes to the impact of junk food on your health.

A review of studies on fast food and heart health found having fast food more than once a week was linked to a higher risk of obesity while eating fast food more than twice a week was associated with a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and death from coronary heart disease.

This is disturbing considering nearly half of American adults eat fast food at least once a week.

SHORT-TERM EFFECTS OF JUNK FOOD

It’s human nature to think about benefits and risks over the short term rather than considering the impact our choices have over the long term. So how does consumption of junk food affect your body over the short term?

A FEW DAYS OF JUNK FOOD

Just a few days of junk food could change your metabolism. A small study of 12 healthy young men found eating junk food for just five days led to a reduced ability of their muscles to turn glucose into energy, even though they didn’t eat more calories as part of the study. Over the long term, this change could lead to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes.

Another effect of just a couple of days of junk food is poor digestion. Because junk food lacks fibre, eating too much of it could lead to constipation.

ONE JUNK FOOD MEAL

That single fast food meal can narrow your arteries, leading to an increase in blood pressure.

And the quick spike in your blood sugar from eating junk foods high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars can cause a surge in insulin, leading to a quick drop in blood sugar. That leaves you feeling tired, cranky and hungry for more.

Just one serving of junk food can increase inflammation throughout your body. Further, an Australian study suggests that in people with asthma, a fast food meal high in saturated fat can increase inflammation in the airway, potentially making an asthma attack more likely. So it seems the quick hit of junk food, while fleetingly rewarding, does carry short-term risks.

THE GOOD NEWS: EVERY HEALTHY MEAL HELPS

The amount of inflammation and oxidative stress your body will experience after eating occasional junk food seems to be a function of the “big picture” of your choices over time.

If you want to enjoy junk food once in a while but are concerned about the impact on your health, take a look at your overall health habits. Do you smoke or overdo it on alcohol? Are you exercising regularly and eating plenty of nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, fish, nuts and seeds, and whole grains?

When it comes to your health, it seems you can “get away with” the occasional junk food more easily when you follow a healthy lifestyle most of the time. So think about your ratio of healthy to less healthy foods. Are you achieving 80:20 or is there room for some improvement?

When you’re making the choice between a healthier option and junk food, consider that just one healthy meal a day worked into a typical diet could reduce overall stress and inflammation in your body. Every meal is an opportunity to positively impact your health.

Based on the current research, my advice to my client essentially remains the same: Once you’re aware of all of the short-term and long-term impacts of junk food and you still really want some, have it less than once a week and really savour it. Then get right back to enjoying nourishing, nutritious foods.

Christy Brissette is a dietitian, foodie and president of 80TwentyNutrition.com. 

Setting long-term goals and behaviour patterns

Top Australian nutritionist Susie Burrell has revealed that she believes looking at long-term goals and behaviour patterns are the best way to ensure this success.

To help you make 2018 your healthiest year yet, Burrell has revealed to the Daily Mail’s FEMAIL her top five tips for creating better long-term habits and achieving your weight-loss goals – for good.

1. Keeping track

Burrell suggests keeping yourself accountable and having an awareness of how much you’re eating and how often you’re moving.

“Being mindful of our day-to-day food and activity habits and incremental changes in body size is a crucial aspect of long-term weight control,” she told FEMAIL.

She also added that banishing scales from your home isn’t necessarily the best idea.

“Keeping an eye on our weight via regular check ins with the scales reminds us to pull back when we see those numbers start to creep up.”

2. Allow yourself small indulgences

While most of us believe in order to lose weight we need to cut out everything unhealthy, Burrell explains that this method doesn’t lend itself to long-term success.

Instead, she recommends practising moderation rather than complete restriction for two reasons:

Firstly, people are hardwired to enjoy eating treats and food that tastes good. Restricting certain items can encourage binge eating.

The second reason stems from a psychological point: Restriction impacts blood glucose regulation, which can cause cravings for the very foods we’re trying to avoid.

3. Change your environment

Keeping treats out of your home altogether is the best way to avoid indulging your naughty cravings.

Burrell explains: “If we can see the lollies, we will eat double the amount we would if we could not see them.

“The larger the plate, the more we will eat. Working backwards this simply means if you do not want to eat it, do not buy it, and simply serving yourself less is a powerful weight control technique that we have 100 per cent control over.”

4. Planning is key

“Planning is the key to dietary success,” Burrell says.

She also adds that falling into the trap of eating whatever is most convenient is detrimental, both long and short-term.

“How many times do you travel, go to a conference or to a social function and find yourself eating poor quality, high-calorie food because you have nothing else on hand and are hungry?”

In order to avoid this, Burrell suggests having a supply of foods with you in order to make sure your food choices align with your long-term health goals.

5. Be consistent

Before you go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back for having a healthy work week – and turning a blind eye to a treat-filled weekend – Burrell says aiming to be “good” all the time is better than aiming for a “good” week or day.

“It does not matter if it is Christmas, a birthday or if they have been ‘good’ in the week, individuals who control their weight keep their basic dietary intake consistent,” she states.

She added: “Just as exercise consistency is the key to success so too is dietary consistency.

“So no more taking the weekend off, or starting again Monday, just start now, with your very next meal or snack choice.”

The diet is dead. But is the ‘wellness’ movement and ‘clean eating’ trend any better for us?

Is 'clean eating' simply dieting dressed up as 'wellness'?

Ihor Pukhnatyy

Is ‘clean eating’ simply dieting dressed up as ‘wellness’?

Diets don’t work. If they did, there would be a lot more skinny people walking around – as many as there are fad diets.

And if you’ve been thinking about eliminating sugar or gluten or dairy, don’t bother. Although it might look great on Instagram and may have worked wonders for a friend of yours, “clean eating” is just dieting dressed up as “wellness”. True wellness doesn’t entail depriving yourself of things you love.

You won’t lose weight or be any healthier if you drastically restrict the amount you eat or cut out whole food groups. Of course, focusing all your energy on not eating is a waste of your time on Earth. But if you really want to lose weight, there are better strategies than going on a diet.

Diets, which rely on willpower, will always fail in the long run.

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Diets, which rely on willpower, will always fail in the long run.

For now, let me explain that dieting is dead. Clean eating, although popular, needs to die, too. And the answer to eating healthily is not to be found in the new superfoods section of your supermarket.

In 2015, Professor Traci Mann published a summary of more than two decades of research on dieting from her Health and Eating Laboratory at the University of Minnesota. In Secrets From The Eating Lab, she identifies why so many people constantly try dieting and fail. It’s because nobody has enough willpower. So diets, which rely on willpower, will always fail in the long run. In fact, they may even make you fatter.

Coconut oil has been touted as “healthy”, but it’s still oil.

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Coconut oil has been touted as “healthy”, but it’s still oil.

Despite the New Year’s resolutions you make, your body already has its heart set on an ideal weight. In The New York Times, neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt explained that this “set point” is “determined by genes and life experience”. If you suddenly start to lose a lot of weight, your brain’s weight-regulation system will coordinate a neurological, hormonal and metabolic response designed to protect you from starving. On a diet, your brain is more likely to notice food, which will seem more tempting and eating will seem more rewarding. Your hormone levels change so that you feel even hungrier and less full, and your metabolism slows so your body stores more fat.

Professor Mann says that in the first six to 12 months of a diet, even a crazy diet, most people can lose about 10 per cent of their weight. And they’ll think this means the diet works. In the long term, though, most will regain the weight. But rather than blaming the diet, they’ll blame themselves.

Mann estimates that about 5 per cent of dieters do manage to keep weight off – by devoting their entire life to living like a starving person.

Dietitian Jessica Moulds says inexpensive vegetables, such as broccoli, are just as nutritious as pricey “superfoods”.

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Dietitian Jessica Moulds says inexpensive vegetables, such as broccoli, are just as nutritious as pricey “superfoods”.

THE BIG CON

In light of these facts, the diet industry looks increasingly silly at best, and wilfully misleading at worst. Of course, there are myriad wacky diet pills, cleanses and teas that use caffeine or laxatives to mess with your body’s normal processes. But you don’t have to venture into the fringes of a Facebook banner ad to be conned. To walk through the average supermarket is to be assailed by a bewildering number of health claims.

There are “low-fat” yoghurts that have as much sugar as ice cream and “iron man food” cereals with as much sodium as a packet of chips. There are expensive “alternatives” like Himalayan pink salt (mined in Pakistan) and agave syrup, which, because they have negligible trace elements of minerals or vitamins, we are seemingly expected to regard as health foods. There’s coconut oil, which is still oil and will still raise your cholesterol if you have too much of it. And coconut sugar, which is still sugar, and therefore something to be minimised.

In the next five years, the global market for food intolerance products is expected to grow by 7 per cent. This could be because foods labelled “free from”, intended for those with allergies, are often assumed to be healthier, when that’s not necessarily the case. Look at almond milk, which is about 2 per cent almonds and 98 per cent water. And coconut yoghurt, which is great if you’re lactose intolerant, but high in saturated fat and low in protein, with little to no calcium to promote healthy bones.

And don’t get me started on the new health foods section in my local New World. Here you can buy a cacao mint bliss ball that contains 24g per 100g of sugar (the recommended maximum daily intake for 7 to 10-year-olds) and costs $2.99. For one measly bliss ball. Turmeric is suddenly everywhere, it’s healthfulness suggested rather than claimed, since the pigment in turmeric that has widely touted anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (cucurmin) is very poorly absorbed and rapidly eliminated.

The cumulative effect of all these bogus health claims can be mind-boggling. Researching this story one night, I read about the alkaline diet (invented by a convicted fraud, espoused by actress Kate Hudson) which stipulates that, because our blood’s pH level is slightly alkaline, we should eat foods that are alkaline, or risk making our bodies too acidic.

This theory neglects to account for the fact that everything we eat goes through the stomach, which is highly acidic.

Dietitian Jessica Moulds stresses that eating well doesn’t have to be expensive.

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Dietitian Jessica Moulds stresses that eating well doesn’t have to be expensive.

I laughed at this and even read parts out loud to my family. But the next morning in the supermarket, I caught myself hovering on impulse over some “low acid” tomatoes. Hadn’t I read somewhere that low acid was good for you?

Jessica Moulds, a Christchurch-based dietitian, stresses that eating well doesn’t have to be expensive. “Things are being sold to people as ‘superfoods’, when actually, basic leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, some dairy and lean meat and fruit are all superfoods,” she warns. “You don’t have to have hugely expensive things like acai, goji berries and cacao to be healthy. I’d rather buy three big broccolis, which are cheaper but just as nutritious.”

It’s not just food marketers who are leading us up the garden path. We’re easily swayed by Instagram posts of rainbow-coloured salad bowls and smoothies. Rather than taking advice from dieticians with degrees, we would rather hear some influencer’s personal story of redemption through “clean eating”.

But, Moulds points out, “often they’re not telling the whole truth. They’re sharing that they lost all this weight and feel great and have all this energy, but they’re not sharing that they’re out on the weekend having a wine and feeling guilty about it.”

Clearly there is something deeply seductive about clean eating, with its 35 million boring Instagram posts and its promise of freedom from allergens and unspecified toxins. I wonder if we’re suggestible because we’re confused and anxious about where our food comes from and what might be in it. Deep down, we’re scared our food is making us sick.

As a population, there is some basis for this. In the last half-century, portion sizes have become bigger and the Western diet has become more sugary, salty, fatty and oily, with more meat and fewer vegetables. Diabetes, obesity and heart disease are on the rise. Parts of the clean eating message – to side-step dangerously moreish, highly processed foods and eat more vegetables – make perfect sense.

But it’s not just our food that’s making us sick.

Aro-Hā retreat near Glenorchy is part of the fast-growing wellness tourism industry, for which Asia-Pacific is a hot ...

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Aro-Hā retreat near Glenorchy is part of the fast-growing wellness tourism industry, for which Asia-Pacific is a hot destination.

It’s everything. The stressors of technology, social media, increased working hours, and even threats such as global warming and terrorism combine to cause insomnia, anxiety and a longing for peace of mind. The forces that made clean eating popular are also behind a large-scale interest in wellness, in all its guises.

Don’t get me wrong: people still care about looking their best. But punishing gym workouts and counting calories are beginning to feel a bit quaint and 80s. Life is punishing enough. These days, we want to do things that make us feel calm, grounded, and nourished, not starved.

Wellness practices that were once considered a bit fringe and hippie – yoga, meditation, organic food, natural skincare – have entered the mainstream, becoming billowing billion dollar industries, with glamorous connotations and selling power.

In New Zealand, yoga has exploded, growing by 500 per cent in the last 10 years. Although it’s often associated with wealthy young white women, yoga is actually popular across all socioeconomic backgrounds, performed by nearly 30,000 of our 65 to 74-year-olds, and even embraced by the All Blacks.

Alongside yoga, meditation is growing, too. In the past five years, several peer-reviewed medical journals have published studies concluding that mindfulness meditation has a demonstrable effect on anxiety, depression, stress and burnout. In the US, Google, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America offer mindfulness training to employees, as does Air New Zealand and Wellington City Council.

Wellness tourism is growing nearly 50 per cent faster than global tourism. Asia-Pacific is now the world’s second-largest market, and Tourism New Zealand says high-end retreats offering yoga, Pilates and meditation alongside the usual spas and massages have become primary destinations. Aro-Hā, a wellness retreat near Glenorchy, offers five nights in “Zen-inspired luxury”, hiking, doing yoga and meditation, getting massages, and eating “Paleo friendly, gluten free, dairy free, and enzymatically active” vegetarian food, for $5575 per person. And Te Aroha now has Te Atawhai, a new retreat where you can enjoy four days of wellness activities (including a tour of Hobbiton!) for $2200.

In the beauty industry, which has long relied on synthetic ingredients, natural skincare brands now outsell traditional products by two or three times, and New Zealand entrepreneurs are among the vanguard.

Nearly 10 years ago, New Zealander Imelda Burke opened one of London’s first natural skincare shops, Content Beauty, and last year published a book explaining her holistic take on skincare: tuning in to your skin’s needs, simplifying your routine and letting your body find its own balance.

Emily L’Ami launched her wellness company Bodha from Wellington five years ago, before relocating to Los Angeles. Originally a yogawear brand, Bodha now makes high-end products to complement yoga and meditation – aromatherapy eye pillows, luxuriously scented Japanese incense and essential oil blends – as well as natural, therapeutic perfumes. (This is yet another market which, like essential oils, is forecast to experience 7 per cent growth over the next seven years.)

In New Zealand, yoga has grown in popularity by 500 per cent in the past decade.

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In New Zealand, yoga has grown in popularity by 500 per cent in the past decade.

In publicity for a scent she created for a designer fashion label, L’Ami describes her morning routine – misting with a calming spray, drinking apple cider vinegar, meditating. Typical wellness stuff. But she also describes how the rationale for these rituals also helped her to reshape her career, and gave her life a sense of purpose. When she decided to “start following what felt good, no matter how big or small”, she slowly began to feel happier and more confident, which flowed into her business.

It’s a good example of wellness “mission creep” – how easily a bit of yoga can turn into a liking for meditation, which can deepen into a whole new way of thinking about your life, your career, your relationships and everything in between.

Last year, business news site Quartz argued that, in America, the wellness industry now amounts to an “alternative health-care system” – built by privileged women and riven with dubious claims, but worth taking seriously as “a direct response to a mainstream medical establishment that frequently dismisses and dehumanises women”.

New Zealander Imelda Burke opened one of London’s first natural skincare shops, Content Beauty, nearly 10 years ago.

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New Zealander Imelda Burke opened one of London’s first natural skincare shops, Content Beauty, nearly 10 years ago.

Bridget Delaney, a Guardian writer who investigated wellness in her 2017 book Wellmania, sees it as a replacement for traditional religion. “The wellness industry… has found a way of monetising elements of spiritual practice from a variety of different traditions,” she writes.

Whether you see wellness as alternative medicine, a secular religion, or just today’s answer to the tennis and bridge my grandmother played with her besties, it’s clear that it has the economic potential to revitalise any market. Its core principles of self-care and mindfulness, of shutting out distractions and tuning in to what feels good, can be applied to almost anything – even eating.

“I’m a huge believer in that mindfulness stuff,” Moulds says. “Also, thinking every day about a couple of things you’re grateful for can change your whole mood – and your mood drives your eating actions, a lot of the time.”

Nicola Jackson, a registered nutritionist, says relying on a 
set of food 'rules' might sell books, but it also ...

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Nicola Jackson, a registered nutritionist, says relying on a set of food ‘rules’ might sell books, but it also generates fear.

Nicola Jackson suggests anyone habituated to following diets looks into something called “intuitive eating”. Connected to mindfulness, this involves giving up the dieting mindset and learning to tune back into your body’s hunger, fullness and satisfaction cues. “Some people feel that if they don’t have rules, they’ll just eat everything and anything, but ironically, it’s often trying to control food with rules that leads to feeling out of control,” she says.

Many dietitians will tell you to stop worrying about your weight. Shane Gosnell, a Wellingtonian who lost 60kg over two years without dieting, says he stopped weighing himself early on. “It was just kind of a mindf… and I realised that it’s not a linear process,” he says. (Gosnell, who blogs about his transformation at 127kgs.co.nz, made small, incremental changes – one less sugar in his coffee, getting off the bus one stop earlier.)

And while brands such as New Zealand’s own Lonely lingerie are building successful campaigns around body-positive messages, you don’t have to “love your body” either. Just try to accept it and treat it well.

Shane Gosnell lost 60kg over two years without dieting.

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Shane Gosnell lost 60kg over two years without dieting.

“Hating your body is not a great motivator for change,” Nicola Jackson says. “Kindness is a much better driver of self-care behaviours.”

Besides, it’s quite common to make healthy changes and feel better without losing weight.

In Studies from the Eating Lab, Professor Mann notes that young women’s diaries from the 1890s tended to fret about things like being kinder, working harder, being less frivolous. A century later, our thoughts are consumed with how to look better and what we can buy to accomplish it. Opting out of this mindset doesn’t mean letting yourself go, Mann writes.

Lonely markets its lingerie with normal-looking women – including Girls creator Lena Dunham, left, and actor Jemima Kirk.

Zara Mirkin

Lonely markets its lingerie with normal-looking women – including Girls creator Lena Dunham, left, and actor Jemima Kirk.

“It just means not letting our bodies become our primary life projects.”

Raw water: the problem with the latest heath craze

The “raw water” movementromanticises the idea of drinking water that contains the things they say nature intended without the chemicals, such as chlorine, often used in urban water treatment processes.

In some areas of America, especially the West Coast, it has become a high-dollar commodity – water captured in glass bottles and sold straight to you.

But by shunning recommended water safety practices, experts warn, raw water purveyors may also be selling things you don’t want to drink – dangerous bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make you sick.

READ MORE:
Carbonated water: Is it healthy to drink?
Are all soda waters the same?
Sugar tax debate: how could we tax fizzy drinks?

“We’re glad people are so interested in water quality and the value they’re placing in safe water,” said Vince Hill, who heads the Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch at the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“But I think it’s also important for people to know where their water comes from, what’s in it, how it’s delivered and whether it’s safe to drink.”

Where water comes from, how its treated and what it’s bottled in, has long been the subject of heated debates.

Could demineralised water be bad for you in some circumstances? What about using plastic bottles? And, of course, do some water systems have dangerous levels of lead? Many communities reject adding fluoride to drinking water, even though it strengthens teeth and is safe at low doses.

Michelle Francl, who chairs the chemistry department at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, said truly raw water, which is simply hydrogen and oxygen, is fine to drink – as long as it’s clean.

“Water pulled from a spring or water that comes out of the tap – the water molecules are identical,” she said. “So the only difference is what else is in there and some of those things might be innocuous like the minerals, some of them might be not so innocuous – things like Giardia and bacteria have been found in springs.”

The trend shuns treated drinking water, which experts say isn't a good idea.

SUPPLIED

The trend shuns treated drinking water, which experts say isn’t a good idea.

“The lack of clean water kills hundreds of thousands of children a year,” said Francl, who is also a scholar at the Vatican Observatory. “So this notion of raw water is crazy.”

That’s why, experts say, it’s imperative to know what exactly you’re putting into your body.

The cleanliness of the water, they say, depends on things you can’t see – like whether herds of elk or moose or caribou have relieved themselves in a stream that you’re drinking from and left it full of parasites. Or whether there has been groundwater contamination from naturally occurring elements such as arsenic, radon or uranium, or from agricultural pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals.

But all in all, “we have an incredibly safe and reliable water supply” in the United States, said David Jones, professor of history of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

US law requires the Environmental Protection Agency to put in place certain standards to ensure that tap water is safe to drink. The US’s Food and Drug Administration regulates water that is bottled and sold to consumers.

But raw water is really up to you.

“In some respects,” Jones said, “the fact that people are worried filtration is removing necessary minerals is really an extreme case of one of these First World problems.”

Experts say raw water may contain minerals, but you can get the minerals you need from a healthy diet – and the risk of harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites is not worth any benefit from trace minerals.

Water treatment is intended to remove harmful bacteria such as E.coli, Salmonella and Giardia, a common parasite that causes a diarrheal illness called giardiasis and can be contracted by drinking “untreated or improperly treated water from lakes, streams, or wells,” among other ways, according to the CDC.

Until a couple centuries ago, waterborne illnesses were much more common – before people knew to or were able to separate sewage from drinking water. Jones, at Harvard Medical School, said in the late 19th century in response to epidemics of cholera, a bacterial disease that spreads in water, cities made massive investments in water treatment processes, including sand filtration.

Once communities were able to separate sewage from the drinking water and then filter that drinking water, cholera nearly disappeared from cities in Western Europe and North America.

“These kinds of changes are likely largely responsible for huge improvements in human life expectancy,” Jones said. He added that life expectancy increased by some 30 years from 1900 to 1970.

“Clean water has made such a difference in people’s life expediencies in the United States and other industrialised countries, so I can’t imagine why you would want to drink water that wasn’t and thereby endanger your health,” Francl said.

Doug Evans, who said he subsists on an organic, plant-based diet, said he has been drinking raw water for nearly two decades now.

“If you have heavily processed water with chemicals in it that are designed to kill bacteria, then I think it can really materially alter the body,” he told The Washington Post. “The springs that I will drink from have all been tested – and the closer you’re drinking it to the source, the safer it is. So I think that if you’re drinking from a natural spring at the source, it tastes better. And I feel good drinking it.”

Evans, an entrepreneur who founded the now-defunct juicing company Juicero, said that when he can’t get his own water, he buys it from Live Water, a raw water business based in Oregon. The company claims on its website that “all other bottled, filtered, tap, and even spring waters are sterilised with ozone gas, irradiated with UV light, and passed through a submicron filter” and that “blasting water with ozone changes its molecular structure”.

Live Water did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Francl, the chemist, said ozone gas is used to remove bacteria and other things from water and then the ozonised contaminants are strained out, leaving clean water. She also said that ozone does not change the molecular structure of water, as Live Water claims; if it did, the liquid would no longer be considered water.

Evans said others should make their own decision about what to drink.

“You want to drink tap water, drink tap water. You want to go buy water that’s been filtered and put in a plastic bottle, I think that has environmental consequences, but I’m not going to protest,” he said.

“The pundits will say water is H2O, but I think as you break it down, there’s a lot more to it. And I feel very vibrant on its consumption.”

 – The Washington Post

This is what sugar does to your brain

The part of the brain that senses hunger is also integrated into the rewards system.

The part of the brain that senses hunger is also integrated into the rewards system.

To tell the story of what sugar does to your brain, you have to start with the thought that triggers your need for a hit of sweetness.

It often happens in the afternoon when your brain, which runs on sugar, starts to get hungry.

To satiate the craving your brain activates a string of neurons, often referred to as the reward pathway, which pump the chemical dopamine into your brain.

The prefrontal cortex acts as the brain's “brakes” but it's weakened by too much sugar (and fat).

FAIRFAX AUSTRALIA

The prefrontal cortex acts as the brain’s “brakes” but it’s weakened by too much sugar (and fat).

All of a sudden you need a chocolate bar or that sweet pastry you saw at lunchtime.

Nicotine, alcohol, sugar – the desire for them is also linked to the part of the brain that registers fear and stress.

Nicotine, alcohol, sugar – the desire for them is also linked to the part of the brain that registers fear and stress.

If you act on that craving, the reward pathway then switches mode, pumping chemicals such as beta-endorphins into your brain, generating feelings of pleasure.

Your brain thanks you for the sugar hit by making the chocolate bar literally taste sweeter, says Dr Zane Andrews, a scientist at Monash University who studies how our brains regulate control of our diets.

But if you respond to the brain’s need for sugar too often, the reward pathway can develop tolerance to the stimulus.

In animals, and men and women, a high-sugar diet seems to impair the hippocampus, which controls memory.

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In animals, and men and women, a high-sugar diet seems to impair the hippocampus, which controls memory.

“That means we need to eat more to get the same feeling. That’s a classic feature of addiction,” Andrews says.

CRUMBLING WILLPOWER

You do possess the ability to resist cravings – it’s called willpower.

That ability to stop yourself comes in part from a network of neurons called inhibitory neural circuits. These circuits occur throughout your brain, but are particularly concentrated in the parts involved in decision-making, impulse control and delaying gratification.

“They are kind of like the brain’s brakes,” explains RMIT sugar scientist Dr Amy Reichelt.

But if you find you can’t resist that craving for a chocolate bar don’t be ashamed – you may be able to blame it on the sugar.

In world-first research using rats, Reichelt has shown that high-sugar diets can alter decision-making and the ability to control behaviour.

Her studies revealed that rats fed on high-sugar diets suffered a loss of those willpower neurons.

“When you’re consuming these high-sugar diets and you’re told to stop consuming them, you’ve made alterations to your behavioural control – and that can lead to your diet falling apart,” she says. “You’re literally unable to resist that cake.”

Much of the research, though, on sugar’s impact on the brain has yet to be replicated in people.

In another study conducted last year, a team led by Professor Richard Stevenson from Macquarie University asked a group of volunteers to rate how much they wanted to eat several snack foods when they were feeling hungry versus when they were sated.

They found that the volunteers who regularly ate a high-fat, high-sugar diet were much more likely to crave snack foods even when they weren’t hungry.

A pyramidal neuron in the brain of a rat fed a normal diet.

ARNAULD BELMER/QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

A pyramidal neuron in the brain of a rat fed a normal diet.

The scientists suggest the high-sugar and fat diet was actually impairing the ability of the brain to block food cravings.

CAN YOU GET HOOKED ON SUGAR?

Let’s say you manage to use your willpower to get on top of your craving for that chocolate bar. But the feeling does not go away.

A pyramidal neuron in the brain of a rat that has been bingeing on sugar for 10 weeks. Photo: Courtesy Dr Arnauld Belmer, QUT

ARNAULD BELMER/QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

A pyramidal neuron in the brain of a rat that has been bingeing on sugar for 10 weeks. Photo: Courtesy Dr Arnauld Belmer, QUT

Your mouth runs dry. You can taste the first bite. Your work performance drops. It’s just like … (you think wistfully to yourself) … craving a cigarette.

Maybe the similarities run deeper than that.

In world-first research, Queensland University of Technology neuroscientist Professor Selena Bartlett claims to have found evidence that high-sugar diets act on the brain in very similar ways to tobacco, alcohol or other physically addictive substances.

The green flecks are new immature neurons in the hippocampus of a mouse but their number has been reduced by chronic ...

ARNAULD BELMER/QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

The green flecks are new immature neurons in the hippocampus of a mouse but their number has been reduced by chronic sugar consumption.

Her work targets the basolateral amygdala, a small region in the brain that is linked to fear and stress, and the prefrontal cortex, which sits at the front of the brain.

She found that mice who had binged on sugar had far fewer links between the neurons in these regions and looked a lot like animals addicted to alcohol.

More remarkably, when her researchers gave mice a medication used to treat nicotine addiction, they stopped eating as much sugar.

The amount of newborn neurons (green) is much higher in the brain of a mouse fed a normal diet.

ARNAULD BELMER/QUEENSLAND UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY

The amount of newborn neurons (green) is much higher in the brain of a mouse fed a normal diet.

“What we discovered in the last five years is that sugar is as addictive as alcohol. We nailed a very specific set of circuits in the brain that alcohol and nicotine bind to,” Professor Bartlett says.

“We showed sugar using the same protocols could change the brain in exactly the same way as alcohol and nicotine do, which labels it into the addictive pathway.”

In a hotly contested field, claims about sugar’s addictive qualities are among the most fraught.

“When we look at obesity, we’re not finding those addictive qualities at all. Where’s the evidence for that?,” says Professor John Dixon, a researcher with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute.

“More than any other disease, people believe they know what causes obesity. They don’t.”

Even University of NSW Professor Margaret Morris, one of the leading proponents of the theory that sugar can damage the brain, says the evidence for actual addiction is weak.

“We did a review of the evidence and we had to conclude, on the balance of evidence, that there was no strong evidence for sugar addiction in humans.

“We’re all prone to try to excuse our behaviour by claiming we’re addicted. Which is rubbish.”

I CAN’T FORGET BUT I DON’T REMEMBER WHAT

Most research on sugar’s impact focuses on a small horseshoe-shaped region in the middle of the brain, about level with your ear, called the hippocampus. It is responsible for memory formation and navigation; to do that, it needs to be continually building new neurons or rewiring existing pathways.

This role makes it vulnerable to external stresses – potentially such as diets high in sugar.

In animals, the research is fairly clear: sugar damages their ability to make new memories.

The first person to confirm that effect in humans was Professor Richard Stevenson, leading a team at Macquarie University, earlier this year.

He had volunteers spend a week eating a high-fat, high-sugar breakfast. After just four days, their performance on memory tests fell dramatically.

“Sugar seems to adversely impact the hippocampus and longer-term brain structures that are involved in decision-making and pleasure,” he says.

The University of Sydney’s Dr Kieron Rooney once did a quick study – largely for a lark – on a small group of people who signed up to a popular quit sugar diet. He was surprised to find that their memories had significantly improved by the end of the diet.

Morris has spent more than 20 years putting rats on high-sugar diets. She says the results are consistent and repeatable. “Weight gain and a cognitive decline – it’s quite a large effect,” she says.

Obesity is characterised by low-grade inflammation throughout the body. The theory, Morris says, is that with excess sugar and fat in the diet inflammation also appears to affect the hippocampus, impairing its function.

High-sugar diets also reduce the levels of a chemical needed for new neuron formation – which is crucially important to the hippocampus’s job of creating new memories.

The most prominent and studied impact of sugar on the hippocampus is navigation. We use the hippocampus to build an internal map of our surroundings.

Morris found that navigation for rats fed a high-sugar diet is significantly impaired.

She also makes it clear though that her research on sugar’s effects on the brain has not been replicated in people, so the link to how humans will react is not definite.

“It’s probable but it’s far from confirmed,” Morris sums up.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

So, what can you do to protect your brain from sugar?

Beyond trying to eat less of it, not much, experts say.

To deal with the addictive powers of sugar, Bartlett suggests meditation exercises to build focus and willpower.

Omega-3s, the fats contained in fish oil, have shown potential neuro-protective effects in some trials, plus the ability to bolster hippocampal function. Morris suggests using them to supplement your diet.

But ultimately, Morris says, the only magic pill is exercise and following the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which recommend limiting your intake of added sugars.

“There is no question that there is some ability of the system to reset. If people adopt a healthy diet, that could go some way to reversing the effect.”

 – The Age

Water diet ‘the most dangerous weight loss regime ever’

Nutritionists have expressed concern over a dangerous new fad diet which bans everything but water, tea and coffee.

Water Fasting involves trying to lose weight by eating no food and only taking in the three beverages.

The trend has become popular on social media with thousands of people using the hashtag #waterfast to document their progress and encourage others to take part.

But critics have warned it could be “the most dangerous diet ever” and said that it was taking the trend for cleansing way too far.

Eating disorder expert Joanne Labiner likened Water Fasting to conditions like anorexia and said it should be avoided, especially at a time of year when people are considering slimming down after Christmas.

She said: “It can be so bad for your organs. That’s why people with anorexia can die of a heart attack. Their body feeds on their heart.

“Our body thinks it’s an emergency and tries to prevent that fat storage from being used up, and it feeds on the muscle”.

On social media site Twitter dieters claimed that the Water Fast left their skin looking “amazing”.

Others said that they got the “best sleep of my life” once they started it.

On Christmas Eve one dieter wrote: “Day 9 of my 21 day #waterfast and it’s going very well. Amazing results. #Weightloss 2 warts cleared up. Back acne gone. Visible abs. More mental focus”.

One man claimed to have set out to do it for 47 days and, whilst he initially felt energised and focused, said he was forced to stop after 28 days.

Another dieter, who lost 23kg, said that he was forced quit because he was so tired he could barely get out of bed.

Yet others were still convinced it could work with one writing: “Here goes……!!! Back at it again, #waterfasting time.

“Anyone who wants to join me and go threw this pleasurable pain and suffering with me is more than welcome 2 because its a lot easier when you got somebody you know who’s suffering with you lol (sic)”.

Kidney specialist Dr Jason Fung, said that short-term fasting worked but only for certain patients.

He suggested that water fasts were appropriate for clients who are obese or have Type 2 diabetes – but only under the supervision of a doctor.

He said: “It can be done, people do them, but they have to be done safely.

“I don’t think it’s the safest thing to do, but if you’re obese, it’s not the most dangerous thing, either. If you’re relatively slender, it’s more dangerous”.

Dr Fung, who wrote a book called The Complete Guide to Fasting, added: “The longer you (fast) the more risks you take”.

The keto diet burns 10 times more fat than a standard American diet

The keto diet burns 10 times more fat than a standard American diet – even without exercise, research suggests.

Researchers studied people who have or type 2 diabetes or were at risk of developing it. They found that those following the low-carb plan advocated by the diet saw the most health benefits compared to those on a typical diet, whether the latter carried out physical activity or not, reports the Daily Mail.

The controversial ketogenic plan is relatively high in fat and advocates moderate protein – the most well-known being Atkins and Paleo.

Fans of the diet – said to put the body into an ‘optimal’ fat burning state – include celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Rihanna.

Those following it saw significantly better results in terms of their weight, body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI), blood sugar levels and ketones which break down fat.

Additionally, their resting metabolic rate – the rate at which your body burns energy when it is at complete rest – was more than ten times than those who ate a standard diet.

KEY FINDINGS

Researchers from Bethel University in Minnesota studied 30 women and men between the ages of 18 and 65. All had previously been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, or type 2 diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome is the medical term for a cluster of conditions – increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels – that occur together, increasing your risk the heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Their BMI was greater than or equal to 25 (or waist circumference above 37 for men and 31.5 for women) and body fat percentage above 30 per cent.

They were randomly placed into three groups, in the order they signed up for the study.

For ten weeks the first group consumed a diet of less than 30 grams of carbohydrates per day and did not exercise.

The second ate their normal diet and also did not exercise.

The third ate their normal diet but exercised for three to five days per week for 30 minutes a session.

After ten weeks, the results showed that while ample evidence indicates that exercise is beneficial, the health benefits produced were not as strong as following a ketogenic diet.

The authors wrote: “All variables for the ketogenic group out-performed those of the exercise and non-exercise groups, with five of the seven demonstrating statistical significance.”

The findings were published in the journal Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.

WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET AND HOW DOES IT BURN FAT?

A ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy.

It’s also known as a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) plan and the most famous include Paleo and Atkins.

Meat, fish, poultry and eggs are all allowed, as are non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens. Dairy, organic, full-fat is recommended for keto diets.

It involves limiting added sugars and white, refined carbs and only a small amount of fruit is allowed.

Eating high carbs causes your body to produce glucose and insulin. Glucose is the easiest for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source, it is believed.

Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body. Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored.

By lowering carb intake, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis, a natural process that helps us survive when food intake is low.

This makes us produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.

The goal of the keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state – essentially it’s a type of starvation but not of calories but carbohydrates.

However, some experts say low-carb diets bring heart and cancer risks from eating too much fat and protein.

Sugar is Addictive and Fuels Disease

How toxic is sugar?

A CHEAP ADDITIVE IN EVERYTHING

SUGAR IS ADDICTIVE AND FUELS DISEASE

Sugar and fructose feed the pleasure center of the brain. We feel good when we eat some sugar. Is a little bit okay? Sure. But how many people stop at just a little bit?

A huge proportion of processed foods contain sugar and its substitutes such as high fructose corn syrup. We consume far more sugar now than we ever have, and it’s taking a toll on our health.

This report from 60 Minutes talks about the consequences of our society’s addiction to sugar, and how the researchers are responding to their own findings.

How much protein is ‘right’ for you?

If there’s one claim that’s almost certain to boost sales of a food these days, it’s to say the item is high in protein.

Consumers cannot seem to get enough protein – they often turn to it because they’ve shunned carbohydrates, and also associate it with increased muscle mass. While many nutritionists say eating extra is usually harmless – if it’s part of a balanced diet and doesn’t all come from animal sources – and small increases can indeed help with weight control by increasing satiety, others are not convinced, citing the lack of long-term research on high-protein diets.

They’re especially uncertain about how the body reacts to or uses processed protein isolates and powders, which have skyrocketed in popularity.

A growing body of evidence suggests that some segments of the population should be cautious about hopping on the high-protein bandwagon, infants and young children in particular. Some studies have linked high protein intake in early childhood to a risk of obesity later in life. Researchers are still trying to understand what accounts for that link.

Pregnant women, meanwhile, are commonly advised to boost protein intake. But in a recent study of a group of women who consumed relatively high amounts of protein, children born to the mothers who consumed the most during pregnancy were shorter at birth and through mid-childhood than children of mothers who consumed the least protein.

Karen Switkowski, lead author of the study, said that “while it’s important for women to eat enough protein to support the growth of their baby, they might want to be cautious about going far beyond the recommended amounts.” (She said there’s not enough data yet, though, to set specific pregnancy-related recommended levels, adding, “I think that more research needs to be conducted in this area in different populations before translating the findings into any guidelines.”)

Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, extends that caution to people of all ages, citing protein’s role in cell multiplication. He explains that protein – especially from animal sources, and in particular from dairy – boosts a growth-promoting hormone that makes cells multiply faster, which is vital early in life but not necessarily later on in life.

“Overly rapid cell multiplication is one of the underlying factors for cancer,” Willett said. “It seems pretty clear that we don’t want to have our cell-growth accelerator to the floor from the day we’re born until the day we die.”

Some studies on later-life protein consumption, meanwhile, have raised an important concern.

One preliminary study, which evaluated the self-reported diets of more than 100,000 women between ages 50 to 79, appeared to find a significantly higher rate of heart failure among those who ate a lot of animal protein than among those who ate less of it.

Older adults are often told to seek out extra protein, largely to help them maintain muscle mass, which deteriorates as one ages. Willett said that’s not bad advice, but not to go overboard. “Having some hormonal boost from protein sources may not be a bad thing. It may be good – although the most important way to maintain muscle mass is resistance training,” he said.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN SHOULD WE BE EATING?

Most nutrition experts are reluctant to cite a single number because individual needs are so variable, but Willett offers some guidance – along with a few qualifications.

“I think a range for total protein between about 12 to 20 percent of calories is okay; pushing higher, especially with protein supplements, is certainly not necessary and has potential long-term hazards,” he said.

“I am particularly concerned about adding protein supplements, such as whey protein, which has a strong effect on cell multiplication,” he said, then added some practical advice: If protein is taking the place of foods high in sugar or refined starch – white bread, for example – it will benefit the body. But if it’s replacing foods rich in whole grains and healthy fats, it won’t.

John Swartzberg, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, said certain groups definitely should ignore the increase-your-protein message.

It has long been known that too much protein is harmful for people with chronic kidney disease. (Kidneys are responsible for eliminating the products of protein metabolism, and those products accumulate in the blood when kidneys don’t function well.) But it can also exacerbate damage to kidneys that someone may not yet know are already impaired, before clear evidence of poor kidney function is apparent.

Swartzberg said some studies show that about 1 in 9 Americans have impaired kidney function, many of them unaware of it. For such people, following the high-protein trend will accelerate a decline in kidney health. “It’s an asymptomatic problem until it’s mid-stage kidney disease,” he said. People who want to assess their kidney status, he advises, can request a blood test for creatinine for initial screening.

Even for those with healthy kidneys, Swartzberg urges caution about excess protein. While some nutrition experts say there’s no evidence suggesting eating even twice the recommended daily allowance for protein, Swartzburg says there isn’t enough long-term data to conclude that such a high number is either good for you or safe. He suggests an amount somewhere between 100 and 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance, which is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight; that translates to between about 54 grams and 82 grams of protein for an adult who weighs 150 pounds. “I certainly would not eat excessive protein. I would never take any protein supplements. And I wouldn’t advise my children to, either,” he says.

Preventive cardiologist Stephen Devries, the executive director of the nonprofit Gaples Institute for Integrative Cardiology in Deerfield, Illinois, recommends avoiding or only eating only minimal amounts of animal protein; he is also cautious about what he calls “artificially enhanced protein,” such as protein powders, even ones derived from plants. He recommends getting your protein instead from beans, lentils, nuts and tofu. “These are terrific sources of protein, and they’re the ones we should concentrate on, rather than the artificial sources, whether they come from animals or plants.”

Some people think the benefits of extra protein give them a free pass to simply eat more – but protein calories are still calories.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said, “If you eat a lot of extra protein, you’re either breaking it down for energy or you’re turning it into sugar and into fat – one or the other.”

Her general advice is for people to stop obsessing over protein. “It is most definitely not a nutrient of concern. Most people get twice as much as they need without thinking about it,” she said. “My nutrition pet peeve is calling foods ‘protein,’ as in ‘Would you like some protein with that salad?’ If the salad has beans or grains or cheese, it already has protein.”

 – The Washington Post

Gluten – The real deal

OPINION: I think we’ve all experienced this: Sitting at a restaurant with a group of friends, everyone orders, meals arrive, but there’s a problem. One of your friends has innocently ordered the chicken, only to find it’s not gluten-free when landing in front of them. To the embarrassment of the table the meal gets returned.

So, what’s the deal with gluten and why all the fuss?

Gluten is a complex protein found in wheat, barley and rye and testing shows that up to 70 per cent of people have an immune reaction to it. One study showed that gluten increased inflammation in everybody that ate it. When I say ‘inflammation’ think aches and pains. For many people reducing gluten in their diet and going gluten- free helps hugely to reduce this.

An example of this is my neighbour, a salt of the earth hunting/ fishing/ welding machine in his forties – the trouble is he’s worn out his knees and needs to take daily medication for pain control. Three months later on a gluten-free diet, gone are the pies and beers associated with his lifestyle – and gone is his knee pain. Another side effect of the new diet? He’s lost 17kg and is feeling years younger.

In fact, being gluten-free is now becoming so commonplace that some might say the end of the croissant nigh.

I hear you saying: “Hang on Ben, the croissant is sacrilege, haven’t we been eating wheat and gluten containing grains for years? How come it’s only become a problem in the last couple of decades?”

 


Nutritionist Ben Warren.

Well, yes, we have been eating these foods for thousands of years, but the modern-day wheat most of us eat now is different. Why is this? It can be traced back to Norman Borlaug, an incredible biologist and humanitarian who led the hybridisation of wheat to give us the high yielding, highly disease-resistant, dwarf varieties of wheat we now have.

Unfortunately, unknowingly to Borlaug, in making disease-resistant wheat the lectin levels in each grain were concentrated 10 to 100-fold, depending on the variety of wheat. Lectins are a molecule that plants make to protect themselves from the environment. These lectins have now been implicated in causing serious damage to our gut, which leads to gluten intolerance and the resulting immune reactions and inflammation associated with its consumption.

The bottom line is that the bread we are eating today is nothing like the bread your grandmother ate.

Not only is the bread different to grandma’s, but just about every aspect of the food we now eat is different. We are consuming more simple sugars than any other time in history. These simple sugars feed unfriendly strains of bacteria and yeasts in the gut that throw out the delicate balance of our gut biome, where beneficial bacteria help control our immune responses to food. We are also exposed to more environmental chemicals than ever, which alter our gut biome and negatively impact our immune responses.

On top of this, we are eating foods that are nutrient deficient due to the proliferation of processed foods and depleted nutrients in our soils, resulting in key nutrient deficiencies that control our immune system, notably zinc, vitamin A and D.

OK, I hear you now saying, “Ben, this doesn’t make sense… What about the French paradox?”. I hear you. The French paradox talks to the fact that the French eat a lot of bread. Baguettes, croissants and pastries are the norm, yet they have very good health outcomes for a Western world. There are a lot of factors that contribute to the French paradox, but it’s interesting to note that the French have generally not adopted the new modified varieties of wheat. French bakers are still using the traditional Duram type varieties. This is why when you buy proper French bread it goes off (and rock hard) by the afternoon. These traditional varieties also have much lower lectin and gluten levels than modern wheat, resulting in a lower immune response to the food. Voila.

So, the next time you’re in France by all means grab a croissant. But until then, if you have any health concerns at all, I recommend you go gluten-free. And if there’s nothing wrong with you, well then I don’t mind you having just a little bit.
Ben Warren is a clinical nutritionist and holistic health expert. He is currently completing his phD in nutrition and mental health.

Gluten Free and Diabetes

Popular gluten-free diets increase diabetes risk – research
Those with the least gluten in their diets had a slightly higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes over a few decades, according to Harvard University School of Public Health.

“We wanted to determine if gluten consumption will affect health in people with no apparent medical reasons to avoid gluten,” Dr. Geng Zong, a Harvard University research fellow, said Thursday at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Portland, Oregon.

Gluten-free diets adopted by rising number of consumers enhance risk of Type 2 diabetes: Harvard study http://ow.ly/nEGM309MyFm 

The Harvard team examined 30 years of medical data from nearly 200,000 patients. Over this period, just under 16,000 participants developed Type 2 diabetes. Wong’s team looked at people’s gluten intake and found that participants who ate the least gluten had a higher risk of development diabetes over time.

Most people consumed no more than 12 grams of gluten each, (equivalent of two to three slices of wholemeal bread) with the average being 6 to 7 grams. Those in the top 20 percent for gluten intake were 13 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to the bottom 20 percent who typically ate 4 grams of gluten each day, the findings showed.

Zong’s team took into account other factors including people’s exercise habits, weight, typical calories intake and family history of diabetes. Lower gluten intake was still tied to Type 2 diabetes risk.

That faddish gluten-free diet may be raising your diabetes risk http://bit.ly/2lIXXUM

Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Gluten-free diets are crucial for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease where the gluten-containing foods cause the immune system to attack the small intestine.

Gluten-free diets, however, have become a new nutrition fad with many people not suffering from celiac disease dropping gluten over claims it is healthier and less fattening, ideas promoted by bloggers and celebrities.

A recent study found the number of Americans who say they’ve gone gluten-free tripled between 2009 and 2014.

“Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fiber and other micronutrient [such as vitamins and minerals], making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more,” said Dr. Zong.

The study found that those who eat less gluten also tended to eat less cereal fiber, a substance known to protect against diabetes.

There are critics to the study’s findings, arguing the study does not prove that limiting gluten somehow causes diabetes.

“Unless you have celiac disease… focusing on the quality of your carbohydrates, rather than gluten avoidance, is the way to go,” Lauri Wright, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told WebMd.

She advises eating vegetables, fruit and fiber-rich whole grains, as opposed to refined carbohydrates.

“But be aware of the portion sizes… and be careful about what you add,” Wright said.
Cream sauces and butter are examples of “additions.”

Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Low carb, higher fat diets

What are the hardest things about switching to a low carb, higher fat diet for the sake of weight loss and better glucose control?

For the people who trialled the eating plan that forms the new Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) low-carb diet, cutting their alcohol intake was one. But it wasn’t just having less of something that was hard – eating more high fat foods like avocado and nuts was a big adjustment for some people, says senior research dietitian Pennie Taylor, co-author of The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet.

“Even though the message to eat a balance of healthy fats has been around since the early 2000s in Australia, some people are still wary of foods like nuts because they’re high in fat,” she says. “But rather than worry about how much fat we consume, we need to think about the quality of the fat we eat.”

It’s the definition of healthy fat that makes the CSIRO’s low carb higher fat approach different to low carb diets that embrace saturated fats like lard, butter, duck fat and coconut oil. Instead, the CSIRO takes a cautious approach to saturated fat and suggests keeping intake low.

“We acknowledge that there’s a debate about the health effects of saturated fat. Although past evidence suggests saturated fats have a role in heart disease, more recent evidence suggests the relationship may not be so strong – but there are still questions that need to be answered,” Taylor says.

But dairy fat may be an exception.

“Although it’s a saturated fat, research has found that full fat dairy foods don’t increase the risk of heart disease – it may be that the package of nutrients in dairy foods as a whole is protective. Although we recommend low fat dairy products in the diet, that’s because reduced fat versions are higher in calcium than full fat dairy and we were conscious of reducing kilojoules,” she adds.

Good fats, like those found in certain types of nuts, slow down the rate at which digested food leaves our stomach.

So, for now, the good fats this diet promotes are mono unsaturated fats (in avocado, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts and peanuts and olive oil) and polyunsaturated fats (in oily fish, walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, sunflower and flax seeds).

What makes them so good, says Taylor, is that they slow down the rate at which digested food leaves our stomach – and therefore help keep blood glucose levels steady and help control appetite improve levels of blood fats like cholesterol and triglycerides make us feel full and prevent overeating – and increase the pleasure of the meal.

The rationale behind this low carb diet that combines just 50 to 70g carbohydrates daily (the equivalent of three to four and a half slices of bread) with higher intakes of protein and fat is the CSIRO’s 2012 to 2014 study comparing the effects of two diets on a group of overweight or obese people with diabetes. One group ate the low carb diet high in healthy fats; the other ate a healthy high carb, low fat diet.

After 12 months of combining these diets with an exercise plan, both groups lost 10 kilograms. But there were extra benefits for the low carb group: healthier levels of blood fats, better blood glucose control and a significant reduction in diabetes medication.

Still, Taylor is the first to say that there’s no one best diet for everyone and this low carb approach is designed for particular people such as those who are overweight (that’s more than 60 per cent of us), those with type 2 diabetes, people with insulin resistance – and should be combined with support from a dietitian and regular health checks.

But before we all slash our carb intake, the debate about how much carbohydrate is best raises some issues, says dietitian Matt O’Neill, who recently convened a webinar Low Carb Diets – Fad or Future? with Taylor and nutrition scientist Dr Tim Crowe.

One issue is that the long-term effects of following low carb, higher protein diets beyond about two years are unknown.  Another is that if we could stick with healthier lifestyle habits throughout life we might not need to cut carbs so dramatically.

“There’s a case for a low carb approach but it’s also a bit like a sledgehammer – yet if we’re prepared to set as a priority doing more exercise, making sure we get more sleep, reducing stress and taking a mindful approach to eating then maybe we can afford to eat more good quality carbohydrates and still manage blood sugars,” he says.

“Perhaps we also need to look at two sets of dietary guidelines for the future – a lower carb version for people who are overweight and at risk of type 2 diabetes and a regular carb version for those who are lean and more physically active and who use other lifestyle measures to maintain a healthy weight.”

The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet by Associate Professor Grant Brinkworth and Pennie Taylor is published by Macmillan RRP AU$34.95.

Watch what you eat for a productive work day

Do you have days at work when you feel energetic, inspired and productive, while on other days you feel tired, busy and stressed, with almost nothing to show for your efforts at the end of the day?

When you spend several hours a day at work, it pays to make those hours healthy ones for both body and mind.

Making some simple, smart choices throughout your workday can help boost your creativity and productivity while reducing fatigue and minimising stress.

1. FUEL RIGHT

Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats will provide you with a steady source of energy throughout the day while offering the nutrition you need for long-term health. Many fast-food or takeout lunches contain sugar, salt, white flour and low-quality fats and proteins, which can leave you feeling bloated and sluggish now while gradually eroding your health and expanding your waistline.

2. DON’T IGNORE HUNGER

Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats will provide you with a steady source of energy throughout the day.

When you’re busy, it’s easy to push rumblings of hunger to the back burner, if you even notice them at all. When you finally come up for air midafternoon – or worse, on your way home – you realise that you’re ravenous and ready to eat whatever’s handy and filling, regardless of taste or nutrition. Over time, ignoring hunger cues can dim them, making it harder to figure out if you’re actually hungry even during more relaxed times.

3. TAKE YOUR LUNCH BREAK

Consciously disconnecting from work in the middle of your day can give you an energy boost and make your afternoon go more smoothly. If possible, eat lunch somewhere other than your desk – preferably outside, weather permitting, where you can get a dose of sunlight and fresh air.

4. EAT MINDFULLY

If you must lunch at your desk, try to refrain from checking your email, doing work or talking about work. Take a few deep breaths, then eat slowly and savour your delicious, healthful meal. While the volume and composition of your meal help you feel satisfied, so do the sensory aspects of eating – taste, aroma, texture, colour and temperature. If you quickly inhale your lunch without noticing it, you deny yourself the full eating experience, which can leave you feeling like you need to nibble.

5. MANAGE THE WORK FOOD ENVIRONMENT

If you work outside the home, you spend a huge chunk of your day in the workplace, which makes that your second most important food environment (after your home). It’s also an environment that can be unpredictable in what temptations it sends your way – especially treacherous if your job is stressful, and stress makes you want to eat. Packing your own nutritious and appealing lunch and snacks can help inoculate you against less-nutritious offerings from the vending machine or co-workers. If you buy your lunch, placing your order in advance instead of waiting until you are already hungry can make it easier to make a healthful choice.

6. STAY HYDRATED

Even minor dehydration can cause headaches and make you feel tired and unable to concentrate, which isn’t good for your productivity or your well-being. As there are no hard-and-fast rules about how much to drink, it’s best to let thirst be your guide. In the habit of ignoring thirst? Aim to drink at least six to eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day, more on days you exercise. One way to tell: If your urine is clear or very light, you’re probably doing just fine.

7. MOVE OFTEN

Our bodies are meant to move frequently, and that includes more than just planned exercise. If you sit at a desk all day, make a point to move at least every hour. Get up to fill your water glass, go talk to co-workers instead of emailing them, do a few stretches right at your desk, or step outside to take a short rejuvenating walk.

8. BREATHE

Deep breathing is your body’s built-in energiser and stress reliever. Simply taking a few deep breaths can help you feel calmer, but if you have more time, sit and focus on your breathing for a few minutes. Try this at least a few times during the day to relax and recharge, more often if you notice you’re feeling stressed or tense.

9. DON’T MULTITASK

​You may think you’re being super productive, but you’re not. Studies show that multitasking wastes more time than it saves. Even worse, it reduces our brain function over time. When you allow yourself to focus on a task or project without distractions (email, social media, open browser windows), you’ll complete it better and faster – and then have the satisfaction of checking it off your to-do list.

10. HONOUR PERSONAL BOUNDARIES

Establishing at least some degree of balance in your universe is important to help you function at your best at work and home. Allowing work to bleed into your off-the-clock hours on a regular basis will ultimately make your performance suffer in both spheres. It’s important for your health and well-being to spend quality time with friends and family, as well as quality personal time to exercise, prepare nourishing meals and simply relax.

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Your body is made in the kitchen

Your body is made in the kitchen, so the saying goes. But what of working out?

Our sedentary lifestyles are considered largely responsible for the obesity epidemic. Physical activity is also prescribed as part of many weight loss programmes.

We know how good exercise is for our health: it reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer as well as improving mental health and mood. But weight? Well, exercise is useless for weight loss, a growing body of research shows.

One new study followed young adults, tracking their activity over the course of two years.

At the end of the study, the researchers found that those who met the physical activity guidelines of two and a half hours of moderate exercise (eg brisk walking), had gained more weight than those who hadn’t.

“Our study results indicate that physical activity may not protect you from gaining weight,” said lead author Lara Dugas of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

A separate new study, of mice on running wheels, found that their energy expenditure plateaued at a certain point and did not increase even when the intensity of exercise was upped.

“Together, our experiments support a model in which the transition from sedentary to light activity is associated with an increase in daily energy expenditure, but further increases in physical activity produce diminishingly small increments in daily energy expenditure,” the paper’s authors said.

It doesn’t make much common sense. Surely we work harder, we burn more, we lose more weight, right?

Not exactly. But why?

“Although there are hardly any long-term trials, exercise alone seems to have limited potential for rapid weight loss in the short-term,” says Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis of the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre.

“The main issue here is that for rapid weight loss there is a need to create a substantially large negative energy balance (more calories burned than calories taken in).

“Which means that in the absence of dietary restriction, very large amounts of exercise are needed. In a way it’s like a ‘chicken and egg’ situation, large amounts of exercise are needed  but obesity makes exercising difficult. ”

There is also a difference between “physical activity” and “exercise training”, Gordon Fisher, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has pointed out.

“While this may seem like a minute point, it is critical” when talking about the impact of physical activity or exercise on weight, Fisher said.  “There are many studies that demonstrate the benefits of physical activity on energy balance and the prevention of weight gain.”

But we tend to overestimate how much energy we’re burning when we work out anyway, Alexxai Kravitz, a neuroscientist and obesity researcher at the National Institutes of Health, told Vox.

“In reality, it’s only around 10 to 30 per cent [of total energy expenditure] depending on the person (and excluding professional athletes that work out as a job),” he said.

More likely, if we want results, it’s not looking at just diet or just exercise, but being aware that the two are “a dynamic and adaptable system” that feed off each other.

“For sustained weight loss in the long term a combination of diet and increased physical activity is  necessary, otherwise sooner or later weight will be regained,” Stamatakis says. “Weight loss can be futile if not sustained in the long term.”

Regardless of its impact on weight however, Stamatakis reminds that we were born to move for a reason and we suffer when we don’t.

“Before we rush to dismiss exercise as part of the solution to the obesity epidemic, we should not forget that physical inactivity causes twice as many premature deaths compared to obesity,” he says. “Yet, the focus is on obesity but  there is hardly any serious discussion about solving the ‘inactivity epidemic’.

“Besides, a physically active lifestyle is linked to preventing over 40 physical and mental health chronic conditions as well improved wellbeing and independence into older age.

“While obesity is a serious problem that needs to be tackled through multiple measures, we also need a serious long-term strategy to help individuals to lead a physically active lifestyle and make the active option the easy and convenient option in everyday life (e.g. prioritise active travelling and public transportation over private cars).”

How do fizzy drinks affect your health?

Are fizzy drinks really that bad for children? What are the short and long term impacts of too much sugar? Our dietitian tells all…

The truth about fizzy drinks

Fizzy drinks have been making headlines recently, linked with rising tooth decay, obesity and even being blamed for early onset puberty in girls. So, what impact is too much free sugar having on our bodies?

What happens to your body when you drink a fizzy drink?

When we eat or drink free sugars there is an initial surge of energy in our body and a hormone called insulin is secreted to control this sudden supply. This burst of energy is very short lived and is followed by a rapid drop in energy levels. This peak and trough pattern can affect hunger and is believed by some to affect behaviour and concentration. This is often seen in the classroom mid-morning if children have had a high sugar breakfast as their energy levels plummet at this time.

What are the long term effects?

It is well documented that sugar is strongly linked to dental issues – a third of five-year-olds and almost half of eight-year-olds have some decay in their milk teeth. There is also emerging evidence that a high sugar intake may be linked to early puberty in girls resulting in an increased risk of breast cancer. Further studies into this area are required however, before a strong association is made.

How much sugar should my child have?

Some health experts believe that sugar intake is driving obesity levels in children and fizzy drinks are a major contributor to this. There are up to nine teaspoons of sugar in a can of fizzy drink, which equates to 36g sugar – exceeding the daily recommendation for children.

Age

Daily recommendation

Teaspoons

4-6 year olds

 19g

5

7-10 year olds

 24g

6

11 year olds

 30g

 8

The latest figures show that on average sugar makes up 13% of children’s (15% of teenagers) daily calorie intake, which is well above the recommended 5%. This is the driving force behind the introduction of the Sugar Tax, due to be implemented from April 2018.  In essence, this is a levy on soft drink companies who will be required to pay a charge for drinks containing added sugar of more than 5%.

The rise in obesity

As healthcare professionals, solely linking sugar to the rise in obesity levels is a bold move, as the causes are multifactorial. There are three other significant influencers for the recent rise in obesity; the lower overall nutritional quality of diets, increased average calorie intake and decreased levels of physical activity. It is important not to forget these factors when talking about the health of our children.

Top tips to reduce sugar in your child’s diet

  • Dilute a small amount of fruit juice with sparkling water, rather than giving fizzy drinks.
  • Cook from scratch as often as you can. Batch-cooking and freezing at the weekend often helps.
  • Choose porridge, granary breads or eggs in the morning, instead of high sugar cereals.
  • Use the half and half approach – add a low sugar or wholegrain cereal to a higher sugar option as this will make it easier to reduce your child’s reliance on sugar in the morning. As their taste buds adjust, gradually use less and less of the sweetened varieties.
  • Encourage positive associations with fruits and vegetables by playing up their good qualities.

Use sliced banana, cheese or avocado on toast rather than honey, jam or marmalade.

Do you want to check out how good your sugar knowledge really is? Try our fun, interactive quiz to see if you have your sugar facts in shape…

Why we eat junk food

YOU may love a chocolate biscuit with a cup of tea, a handful of lollies after lunch or a sneaky packet of chips with a glass of wine after work.

Whatever your choice of snack food is, chances are you know you would be better off without the extra fat, sugars and calories. Yet, in Australia we eat a lot of junk or “discretionary foods”. Now, new research from Benjamin Schuz from the University of Tasmania has looked at why we find it hard to stop eating.

Published in the eating behaviour journal Appetite, the study investigated the factors that specifically influenced the eating and drinking habits of 50 adults. Their moods, social behaviour and eating prompts were tracked across a 10 day period.

When it came to both eating meals and snacks, the results were clear.

1. FOOD AVAILABILITY

When food is available, we will eat it. Forget willpower — the mere presence of food means we are highly likely to eat it.

This means if you buy the food, even if it is only for guests or for special occasions, or have a biscuit tin or lolly jar or fundraising chocolate box at work, you are significantly more likely to eat whether you are hungry or not.

If you really don’t want to eat it, do not buy it. Keep food out of sight in any environment you spend a lot of time in.

2. SEEING OTHERS EAT

Just being in a food court can make you want to eat.
Just being in a food court can make you want to eat.Source:Getty Images

It appears that seeing others eat, whether you are hungry or not, immediately gives us permission to eat too. This behaviour is commonly observed at food courts and airports when a significant number of people are eating at any point in time, whether it is a meal time or not. This finding confirms that of the Framingham Heart Study, which in a 30 year analysis found that we basically become like the people we spend our time with. When it comes to overeating and weight gain, this finding suggests that the more those around us eat, the more we will eat and as such the healthier the environments in which we spend our time, the healthier we are likely to be. For most of us this means we need both our homes and our workplaces to be as healthy as possible if we are to control our weight.

3. NEGATIVE EMOTIONS

Although not as powerful as having food available, or seeing others eat, indeed feeling sad, depressed or just down is enough to drive eating behaviour, particularly when it comes to snacking. For those of us who eat to self soothe, keep in mind that this is often learnt behaviour, taught to us as children or via media channels when we are encouraged us to eat certain foods to feel better; or to buy a packet of Tim Tams when we are watching TV alone at home. As such, the only way to control emotional overeating is to identify when we are feeling sad or down and learn to self soothe in other ways, or if you must eat, choose portion controlled treats.

4. KEEPING BUSY

Not surprisingly one key factor found to help control food intake was the simple act of keeping busy.

Engaging in activities other than eating was a key factor that resulted in both fewer meals and snacks being consumed. This is also likely to somewhat explain why we eat more at night when we are sitting at home, perhaps not overly engaged. It also suggests that keeping busy, without tempting food stimulus is a key factor in managing our food intake on a daily basis.

5. BEING WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY

In contrast to the observation that saw study participants eat more when others were eating, in this study being around friends and family actually significantly decreased the consumption of snacks.

This finding suggests again that simply being engaged with others appears enough to limit our intake of extra foods and control our eating when we are enjoying meals. For this reason seeking out the company of others when we are due for a snack or a meal appears to be another simple way to help control the amount of food we consume.

Gluten Free Mistakes

Gluten-free foods have become commonplace in grocery stores, restaurants and cookbooks. For those who suffer from celiac disease, this is a huge win, because there are now so many options to choose from. And for those who feel extraordinary benefits from decreasing gluten because of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, inflammation or their own personal nutrition journey, living a gluten-free life is quite doable.

On the flip side, gluten-free living has become quite the trend. People are unnecessarily cutting out a lot of foods from their diet, spending a lot of money on other foods, living in extreme ways and potentially causing more harm than good.

When deciding to follow a gluten-free diet, it is important to ask, “Why am I doing this?” and “What is the best way for me to live gluten-free based on my needs?”

If you are trying to lose weight, going gluten-free may not be necessary, but rather avoiding processed carbohydrates and sweets.

Let’s discuss some of the common mistakes made by many who are eating gluten-free and assist in understanding why one would make this choice.

READ MORE:
Which is the best gluten-free bread brand?
Five myths about gluten
Why the ‘gluten-free movement’ is less of a fad than we thought

ASSUMING A GLUTEN-FREE DIET IS A HEALTHIER DIET

Many folks go on a gluten-free diet because they think it’s healthier. They happily buy all the gluten-free products in the markets, thinking these products are a healthier choice solely because they’re gluten-free. They’re thrilled with all the gluten-free cookies, cakes, treats, and sweets out there because they are shopping with one rule: “Buy gluten-free.”

Avoiding gluten is not necessarily a guarantee of improved health. Gluten is what makes food have great texture, bounce and fluffiness. Have you tasted some of the gluten-free breads out there? Not so fluffy. When food manufacturers remove the gluten, they usually have to add a lot of ingredients and fillers – all gluten-free, mind you – to make the food tasty.

If you think eating gluten-free is going to help you reach your health goals, go for it. But you’re going to have to add some other rules when grocery shopping. A gluten-free cookie is still a cookie, and if it’s filled with dozens of processed ingredients to improve texture, it might be unhealthier than a “normal” cookie. Take some time to decide what other rules you want to add to your plan so it will help you reach your goals. Also, take time to read the ingredients of all foods you buy. Are they in line with what you want to put in your body?

NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO HOW YOUR BODY FEELS

Many join the gluten-free world because of inflammation and energy issues. In health and wellness circles, gluten-free diets are often recommended for these reasons. People start eating gluten-free hoping it will fix their ailments, but they’re not considering the bigger picture. Often, there are a multitude of things involved with inflammation, and it requires some mindfulness and awareness to get wise to the true symptoms and triggers.

Often, people will go on a gluten-free diet and feel some relief, but is it because of the gluten or is it because they are suddenly not eating cookies every night? Or is it because they also started avoiding some other ingredients?

Are you truly feeling better? You may convince yourself that the gluten-free diet is making you feel better, but in fact you still have the symptoms of inflammation. Take some time to examine how your body feels. When you notice you are having symptoms – whether it be headaches, digestive issues, joint pain, a skin rash or inflammation, start monitoring when you have that symptom and the degree of severity. If you pay attention, you can feel confident that the effort you are putting into improving your health is working.

CONFLATING A GLUTEN-FREE DIET WITH A LOW-CARB DIET

Many people go gluten-free and are convinced it’s the best plan for them because they lose weight, gain energy and feel better. Was eliminating gluten truly the catalyst to improved health? Or was it cutting out a lot of sources of processed wheat, such as cookies, bread, crackers, cereal, pastries and more? A gluten-free diet and a low-carb diet are two very different things.

I encourage you to understand why you are doing what you are doing and make decisions based on that. If you are trying to lose weight, going gluten-free may not be necessary, but avoiding processed carbohydrates and sweets, and increasing your vegetables, proteins and plant fats may be the best choice. If you are going gluten-free simply to give yourself motivation to avoid all bread and cookies and crackers, that’s fine… as long as you don’t fall into Mistake #1, where you start buying gluten-free breads and cookies that may be calorically and nutritionally worse than the gluten-rich product. If you want to follow a low-carb diet, you do not have to go gluten-free. Again, ask yourself: Why are you doing what you’re doing?

CONFUSING CLEAN EATING WITH GLUTEN-FREE EATING

I am a fan of clean eating. Many blame gluten for their inflammation issues. Yes, gluten could be the culprit, but it might be all the other processed ingredients. Some of you are cutting out gluten and not seeing results. If you focused on clean eating and decreasing all the added ingredients that are found in processed food, you might get the results you want.

It’s easy to jump on the latest fad. Instead, create a plan that makes you feel good. Read ingredients, pay attention to your body and be sure you are eating in line with your goals.

Jae Berman is a registered dietitian, a personal trainer and owner of Jae Berman Nutrition.

Get fit in 10 minutes!

If you have a sweet tooth or love fatty, carb-heavy meals, you’ll know the reward of eating them is more than just in your stomach.

It sends endorphins through your brain, even just for a moment, telling you how enjoyable the experience of eating these foods is.

Now, there’s an app that can change that.

Scientific research has shown that fatty and sugary foods activate the brain’s reward system, stimulating the release of the chemical dopamine (which makes you feel pleasure).

The Food Trainer app, developed by the University of Exeter and available in New Zealand on Google Play (for Android only) store, trains your brain in 10 minutes a day to avoid unhealthy foods.

Essentially, the app is a simple game: pictures of healthy and unhealthy foods pop up on your smartphone screen, and you’re tasked to react only to the healthy images.

Professor Natalia Lawrence, a psychologist who worked on the app’s development, says this can re-train the brain to crave differently.

There is empirical evidence to suggest the app actually works, too.

University of Exeter studied 83 people playing the game for 10 minutes a day, four times a week, and each averaged to reduce their diet by 220 calories per day without any other intervention. That’s more than a Crunchie bar or a small packet of Maltesers.

The scientists are currently running a crowdfunding campaign to get the app developed for iPhone users as well.

Kickstart a diet effectively

CHANCES are you are keen to drop a little of the Christmas pud this New Year (and as quickly as possible).

While there are many diets out there, the basics never change. So here are the easiest and most effective ways to kick start your diet this January.

GET STRICT

You will get the best weight loss results when you are able to follow a relatively strict regimen for a set period of time. This means at least 3-5 days without any extras rather than reverting to the “I have been good all day, so I deserve a treat at night trick”. The reason for this is that it takes several days of tight calorie control to induce fat loss which can be easily disrupted when little extras slip in every day.

CUT THE CARBS

Sorry, but if you’re trying to lose weight, carbs are not your friend.

Sorry, but if you’re trying to lose weight, carbs are not your friend.Source:Taste.com.au

A recent review completed by physicians at the Mayo clinic has confirmed what many of us have known for some time — when it comes to quick weight loss, cutting your carbs is the way to go. Not forever, but to get results initially and even for a period of 3-6 months, going easy on the pasta, rice, bread and potatoes does have its merits. And even better, you do not need to cut the carbs out entirely, a serve or two of fruit, lower carb bread or legumes a couple of times a day, along with an evening meal minus the potato, rice and pasta is all you need to do for a couple of weeks for a weight loss kick start.

REPLACE A MEAL

The more vegetables and salad we consume, the better it is for weight loss and a simple and effective dietary strategy is to simply replace one meal a day with soup, salad or vegetables. Try a large salad for lunch, or swap dinner for a soup or plain vegetables. This simple strategy will significantly reduce your calorie intake for the day while you are still consuming three meals each day.

DRINK LOADS OF WATER

Most of us walk around dehydrated which can be one of the reasons we feel tired, lethargic and hungry. Drinking at least two litres of still or sparking water every day is a simple way to help manage your appetite and reduce the total amount of food you are eating.

GO LIGHT AT NIGHT

Generally speaking we eat dinner much later than is ideal and for this reason, the later you have your evening meal, the lighter it should be. So if you are eating after 7pm or 8pm each night think omelets, soups, white fish and vegetables and salad.

WATCH THE CLOCK

Eating lighter meals at night is the way to go.Source:ThinkStock

The more calories you consume during the first 12 hours of the day the better it is for the hormones that control fat metabolism. This means breakfast by 8am, lunch by 1pm and dinner by 7pm to help allow 10-12 hours without food overnight.

FEED YOUR HUNGER

A handful of nuts is a good snack during the day.

A handful of nuts is a good snack during the day.Source:Supplied

Hunger is a sign your body is burning food efficiently and when we are in control of our calorie intake we should feel hungry every 3-4 hours. At times when you are trying to lose weight, ignoring extreme hunger may result in you consuming too few calories to efficiently burn body fat. For this reason if you genuinely feel hungry in between your meals, add in a small protein rich snack such as a handful of nuts, a slice of cheese or some Greek yoghurt to help the calorie burn.

MOVE A LOT

When we team a low calorie diet with a lot of high intensity exercise the result can be a large calorie deficit between how much we are burning and how many calories we are eating. Too much of a deficit can slow down weight loss which is why plenty of movement when you are not eating a lot can trump exercise. This means lots of steps, at least 10000-12000 every single day.

FACTOR IN A TREAT

You don’t have to deprive yourself of a celebratory glass of champagne with friends.Source:istock

Diets fail because they are not sustainable; we do not like what we are eating and we miss the foods we love. Simply factoring in regular portion controlled treats at least every second day is an easy way to help support dietary compliance. Good options include a small bite size chocolate, a small coffee, a glass of wine or a restaurant meal out once a week.

PLAN AHEAD

Planning is the key to dietary success — knowing what you are going to eat in advance so you are not tempted when high calorie foods cross your path. This means taking time out to order groceries online or to get to the shops; pack your lunch the night before and know what you are having for dinner before someone suggests take away. This way you remain in control of your food decisions rather than becoming a victim of your food environment.

Susie Burrellnews.com.au@SusieBDiet