Coconut Oil: Healthy or Hype?

Coconut Oil: Healthy or Hype?

Health
I recently walked into one of my favourite little boutiques on the Gold Coast, a destination notorious for it’s health-conscious, Lorna Jane-clad specimens, and came across a new product that, as a dietitian, made me roll my eyes… Coconut oil capsules. I must admit I picked the item up out of interest, as it was packaged in a trendy white shampoo container, with stylish typography slathered across the front (marketing that I’m sure a lot of people succumb to). “We all know the health benefits of coconut oil for healthy hair, skin and nails. Its good for the outside of your body as well as inside…” stated the label. Is it? Lets have a look at these claims and see if there’s any truth behind them… What is coconut oil…
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Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics and Prebiotics

GI Disorders, Health
  Did you know that we have 100 trillion bacteria living in our gut?! While that may leave you feeling a little squeamish, don’t fear! These little guys are on our side, they play important roles in many metabolic, nutritional, physiological and immunological processes which keep us healthy. This includes acting as a barrier to prevent “bad” bacteria from invading and causing illness, and producing nutrients that we can’t make ourselves (vitamin K, B12, folic acid, short chain fatty acids). There is continual evidence which suggests incorporating prebiotics and probiotics into our diet is beneficial for keeping a healthy balance of “good” gut bacteria. So what are probiotics and prebiotics? Probiotics Probiotics are live microorganisms (bacteria or yeast) found in certain foods, which when consumed in adequate amounts are beneficial…
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Dietary changes for optimising fertility

Dietary changes for optimising fertility

Health
We all know preconception nutrition is vital for a healthy baby and your nutrition, right? Melanie McGrice, Accredited Practising Dietitian and author of ‘The Pregnancy Weight Plan’ outlines 3 key nutrients needed in your diet before you get the good news. So you’ve made the momentous decision to try for a baby! Be it your first, or fifth, it’s a good idea to get yourself prepared as early on as possible. Optimal nutrition is vital to ensuring that you and your partner have the best chance of getting pregnant and also setting up a foundation for a strong and healthy new addition. Food, nutrition and lifestyle choices are crucial for optimising your fertility. Let’s look at 3 key changes you may need to consider before you grow your family. Boost…
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Should You Take Vitamin D Supplements to Reduce Your Risk of Fractures?

Should You Take Vitamin D Supplements to Reduce Your Risk of Fractures?

Health
  To follow up on my previous post on calcium supplementation, this post will be on the effect that vitamin D supplementation has on fractures risk. The majority of our vitamin D comes from the sun and a small amount comes from our diet. Surprisingly, even though Australia is known for its sunny weather, approximately one third of Australians are deficient in vitamin D. With the knowledge that vitamin D increases the effect of calcium, it is common sense to assume that it would reduce the risk of fractures. To make the assumption even stronger, vitamin D supplementation also leads to an increase in bone mineral density. Although in theory vitamin D supplementation should reduce fractures risk, after going through every study in the past 20 years on the subject,…
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Do Calcium Supplements Reduce the Risk of Fractures?

Do Calcium Supplements Reduce the Risk of Fractures?

Health
While I was contemplating what I could write for my first blog post, I was trying to think what I could offer that nobody else in the nutrition world was already providing. The conclusion that I came to was the findings of my systematic review that I did in my final year at university, on the topic of whether calcium and vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of fractures in people 50+ years old. I never published the results and I chose this subject because there had been no clear answer in the research, so I figured that it’s something that I could share that nobody else could. The body of research has had results suggesting that calcium supplementation reduces the risk of fractures and other results showing that it does…
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Should I Go Gluten Free?

Should I Go Gluten Free?

GI Disorders, Health
  With so many gluten free products hitting the shelves, you may start to wonder whether going gluten free will help enhance your health. However, before you go cold turkey on gluten, are there actually any general health benefits to following a gluten free diet? Keep reading to find out exactly what gluten is and why going gluten free may benefit some people but not others. What is gluten anyway? Gluten is a mixture of two proteins, glutenin and gliadin, naturally found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Gluten is also artificially added to many processed foods such as gravy and candy bars. Gluten plays an important role in maintaining a foods shape and structure. For instance, gluten is added to gravy to ensure it is thick and…
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High Healthy Fats Diet Effect on Weight

High Healthy Fats Diet Effect on Weight

Body Composition, Health
  In the past, high fat diets have been slammed for their ability to increase weight and effect our overall health. Although, diets which are high in fat are often high in saturated fats and trans fats, which have been continually linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease. But what about a diet which is high in healthy fats such polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs)? More recent systematic reviews have highlighted the ability of high healthy fat dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet, to support modest weight loss in centrally obese individuals. In addition to this, the Mediterranean diet has also been shown to reduce waist circumference among a Mediterranean population group, as well as also reporting significant declines in body weight after a 5-year follow up period.…
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What Is a Mediterranean Diet and What Are the Benefits?

What Is a Mediterranean Diet and What Are the Benefits?

Health
What is a Mediteranen Diet? The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on traditional foods and drinks of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. The archetypal traditional ‘Cretan’ Mediterranean diet was first established three decades ago as a cardio-protective diet in the Seven Countries Study. Keys and co-workers found that residents in Crete in Greece had the lowest mortality from heart disease and this was positively associated with their dietary pattern. This traditional dietary pattern is characterized by an abundance of plant-based foods such as leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, whole grain cereals, nuts and seeds, olive oil used as the main added dietary fat, moderate amounts of low-fat dairy products, fish and seafood, smaller quantities of red meat and red wine to be consumed in…
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Can You Have Too Much Protein?

Can You Have Too Much Protein?

Health
 A healthy diet should be simple right? Just fill your tummy with plenty of vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, lean meat, and low fat dairy. However, a recent health trend has emerged which cuts out carbohydrates from our diet, instead replacing it with more protein. This trend stems from the media’s portrayal of protein as the golden nutrient which helps us to increase our energy and stay lean. This is in stark contrast to carbohydrates, which are associated with addiction and weight gain. Food companies have jumped onto this trend, now selling product alternatives which are low in fat and carbohydrates and high in protein. This leads to the question, can you have too much protein? There are a wide variety of perks from eating adequate amounts of protein. Protein aids muscle…
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Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad for Us?

Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad for Us?

Health
  The food industry relies heavily on artificial sweeteners as cheap sugar substitutes. Are they bad for us? Artificial sweeteners are, to many, a miracle substance, allowing them to have their cake and eat it too. Artificial sweeteners are a sugar substitute used to sweeten food using few kilojoules. They can come in different forms such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose. Artificial sweeteners can be found in a variety of ‘low calorie’ or ‘diet’ foods such as soft drinks, yogurt and baked goods. Artificial sweeteners can be used in tiny amounts compared to sugar because they are a lot sweeter. This is because the sugar receptors in the body detect natural sugar in large quantities. In comparison, artificial sweeteners are able to bind to the receptor in such a way…
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