health

Gluten Busters: Why Gluten Intolerance Does Not Exist

In recent years, the words ‘gluten intolerance’ have become as ubiquitous as ‘skinny soy decaf latte’.

But here’s the truth about gluten intolerance from a medical perspective, which could shock you somewhat: it simply does not exist.

Mounting interest in health and wellness in the last few years has lead to increasing numbers of people incorrectly diagnosing themselves as Coeliac or as being gluten intolerant.

'Gluten intolerance’ is what many people who experience symptoms like bloating and constipation from wheat claim to have.

In most cases, it may not be the protein known ‘gluten’ that is giving you a reaction, but some other part of the grain – like the bran, germ or endosperm.

By cutting wheat entirely out of your diet, you might be missing out on the benefits of a balanced diet that includes some high quality wheat elements like wholegrain like spelt.

If you are experiencing allergy symptoms, the only way to know is to chat to your GP about seeing an immunologist to work out exactly what you are allergic to.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and avoid an entire category of nutrition in order to skip one small part of it.

Gluten Busters: The Truth About Coeliac’s Disease

Is Coeliac’s disease one of the biggest wellbeing hoaxes of our time?

Coeliac's disease is an audio immune disorder that means the lining of your small intestine is susceptible to attack from gluten - a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

Although it’s been a buzzword in recent years, the symptoms of Coeliac’s has been written about as far back at the first century AD by a Greek physician named Aretaeus of Cappadocia.

As many people as there are who are claiming to be Coeliac, only 1% of the population has this auto-immune disease.

As this allergy is life-threatening - and the only way to know is to be tested - if you suffer any form of allergic reaction like swelling or pain in your gut or joints when eating wheat, chat to your GP right away who will recommend a blood test by an immunologist.

For patients who aren’t Coeliac but experience similar symptoms, learn more about gluten intolerance (and how it is often misdiagnosed) here.

#Superfoods: Nuts For Nuts

When it comes to snacking in-between meals, you really can’t go past #bustinganut.

Nuts are an incredible source of vitamins and minerals and are super tasty to boot. Check out the snapshot of health benefits below:

  • Cashews: non haem (plant based) iron and a low GI rating
  • Almonds: protein, calcium and vitamin E
  • Pistachios: protein, potassium, plant sterols and the antioxidant resveratrol
  • Chestnuts: low GI, fibre and vitamin C (although much vitamin C is lost during cooking)
  • Hazelnuts: fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin E
  • Macadamias: highest in monounsaturated fats, thiamin and manganese
  • Pecans: fibre and antioxidants
  • Walnuts: alpha linoleic acid: plant omega 3 and antioxidant
  • Pine nuts: vitamin E and the arginine amino acid
  • Brazil nuts: fibre and selenium: just two brazil nuts a day provides 100% RDI for selenium for an adult

If you’re not nuts about nuts already (not going to ease up on the Dad jokes anytime soon), here are 3 tips to get you started!

Tip #1 - Always Carry A Bag Of Nuts In Your Bag. Although I recommend pre-preparing your meals according to a weekly meal plan, sometimes life gets in the way and the urge to Pad Thai is strong. The next day, when you have that cheeky 3pm hunger craving, there are no pre-prepared leftovers to snack on. Enter the cheeky handbag stash of nuts. This way, you’ll always have something delicious and nutritious on hand.

 

Tip #2 - Eating one or two nuts before a meal decreases the GI of your food. This means you’ll stay fuller for longer, without peaks and troughs in energy. A great tip to keep in mind if you’re conscious about food portion sizes, or maintaining your energy levels at the office.

 

Tip #3 - Looking for something to #spreadonyourbread? There’s nothing better than walking into a health food store and getting some freshly ground nut butter.  This ain’t the same pasty, sticky stuff you grew up eating at recess in between slices of sugary white bread. It’s infinitely more tasty, with a richer, buttery flavour that refined nut butter can’t get close to. Look for peanut, almond or cashew nut butter and go #bustanut all over your bread.

Totes Protes: How To Get More Protein Into Your Diet

The health benefits of protein are a no-brainer when it comes to increasing overall body nutrition.

Protein is a component of every cell in the human body. You need protein to make enzymes, hormones, bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, blood and other vital body chemicals.

Unlike our old frenemies carbohydrates and fats, the body does not store protein; so it effectively has no reservoir to draw from when protein levels are low.

A common misconception is that you can easily get more protein into your diet by adding protein powder to shakes or snacking on protein bars. It’s not a bad way - but the most effective way is to change your diet in the first place!

Switching the carbohydrate/protein ratio on your plate is a simple and effective way to immediately your protein intake. By building your meals around protein-rich foods – rather than the other way around – you will make a big difference.

By pre-preparing your meals at home in bulk, you’ll also resist the temptation to choose high-carb options for the working week. Try the following protein-focused meal ideas that are both simple, fast to cook, make excellent lunchbox-friendly leftovers and lunches…and are absolutely delish!

Breakfast

Burrito with eggs and beans

Quinoa with chai-spiced almond milk & cinnamon

Oatmeal blueberry yoghurt pancakes 

Lunch

Amaranth and avocado Israeli-style salad

Quinoa chickpea power burger

Chicken, capsicum and almond bake

Dinner

Barramundi with vine-ripened tomatoes and baby spinach salad

Chicken breasts stuffed with spinach and fetta

Lentil dahl with kale and coconut milk 

Is your diet REALLY 'Balanced'?

A common word thrown around when discussing a healthy diet is the word 'balanced'. Within this context, having a 'balanced diet' denotes eating 'good' foods (meats, vegetables, fruits and grains) and 'bad' foods (fats, oils & sugars) in moderation. 

What we are slowly understanding about a balanced diet is that it is not just about what we consume - or how much - but rather, it is important to consider both the positive and negative attributes of the food we are consuming. This can create a lot of confusion as to what exactly merits food as being either naughty or nice. 

Take cheese for example. Cheese is high in calories and fat, but also happens to be high in bone and teeth-strengthening calcium. Recent reports have demonstrated that cheese has cancer-fighting properties, as the menaquinones (a type of vitamin K) it contains may activate genes that kill diseased cells. Cheese is equally a 'good' and 'bad' food rolled into one mass of dairy deliciousness. How much of a good thing is too much (or too little)?

Vanilla ice cream (minus the sugary toppings) is slightly higher in fat than frozen yoghurt. Sounds like a get-out-of-jail-free pass to stock up on tubs of Bulla; alas vanilla ice-cream is also soaked in shiteloads more sugar. 

You might hear the phrase 'balanced diet' touted on everything from product labels to TV advertising, but in reality, the truth of what constitutes true 'balance' lies somewhere in between. 

Putting the 'Super' in Superfoods

It’s no wonder there is so much confusion surrounding this well-touted marketing term.  What are super-foods really?

As I’ve gone further and further into researching the trend, it’s been interesting to see the hype and money used to promote different food groups. I wonder who is actually making the money and who are reaping the nutritional benefits.  Whilst there is no official definition of what makes a food a ‘super-food’, there is general consensus that it must contain high levels of nutrients and must be rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants….but what the heck does that mean?

ANTI-OXIDANTS...AUNTY WHO?

Antioxidants are known for their ability to fight against the harmful oxidative effect of free radicals, hence their name anti-oxidants.  Oxidative free radicals are all around us.  We have oxidative stress when we walk, talk, eat and drink.  These little buggers are what ages us, decreases the collagen in our skin and bodies thereby making us look and feel old, they damage our DNA and contribute to the development of heart disease, cancer and dementia.  So if we believe what’s in the literature and advertisements I can whip up a cocktail of super-foods to counter all these things. A piece of broccoli for dinner, a handful of blueberries, two cartwheels in an anti-clockwise direction and douse all greens with as much extra, extra double virgin olive oil as is possible…and can I have extra virgins with that please?

No, this is obviously not going to provide you with the well-rounded ‘super’ diet that you or I need to go about our normal life let alone turn us into a more fabulous version of Mr Incredible or Popeye.  Becoming too fixated on any food group is where I believe the problems occur and especially those not grown locally as many foods become alarmingly less ‘super’ when they’re frozen, crushed, mashed and processed, let alone poor storage and handling hygiene.

Here are some foods that are at the top of the list, some I hope will be a pleasant surprise as one doesn’t need to spend a lot or any more to have a full well rounded super diet.  The foods have been chosen as you will see on their merit of…….cost, high anti-oxidants, taste, phytochemicals, ease of use, satiating, and some other health benefits.  Thing to take note of are that many foods that are otherwise very good for you often have their nutritional value lowered as a result of us mixing in inferior products, poor production, heat, cold, and many other things.  Moving foods can decrease their amazingness.

OATS

Not only are these cheap, readily available and easy to use but they also contain large amounts of both soluble (good for feeling full) and insoluble (good for reducing cholesterol) fibre.  Along with this high levels of beta-glucan which as considerable evidence would suggest can also assist to lower high levels of cholesterol including some blood thinning qualities it’s no wonder oats are a great way to kick-start your day.

BEANS

With their low GI (glycaemic index – the speed at which you get the sugar spike following food), high levels of vitamins and trace minerals, ability to significantly reduce your LDL cholesterol as well as improving your bowel health, beans are a great morning or lunchtime snack to keep you focused and satiated throughout the day.

SALMON, SARDINES & MACKEREL

Salmon, sardines, mackerel and other fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce heart disease and stroke through reduction in triglyceride levels studies have shown.  Whilst there is some controversy around the amount of some heavy metals such as mercury in many fish the benefits sure do outweigh the negatives.

GINGER

What a great root! Ginger has a long history in many ancient cultures for having medicinal qualities that can help with reflux, bloating, fatigue, malaise, rheumatism and much more.  Whilst recent studies have only shown that it can help to protect against some types of cancer (especially bowel) and boosting our immunity it is good to note that all things in moderation as there are many cases of people becoming unwell from too much.

BROCCOLI & TOMATO

The health-promoting properties of broccoli are attributed to its isothiocyanates compounds, which are thought to have potent disease and cancer prevention capabilities.  One of the interesting things about many vegetables, including broccoli and tomato, is that they’re better for you together than eaten alone with these two magnifying their anti-cancer properties.  This is due to many foods aiding the absorption and digestion of others such as vitamin C containing foods increasing the absorption of iron.

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AVOCADO

Avocado added to most salads is delicious and nutritious helping to increase absorption of many foods as well. Be sure to eat as many of your vegetables including your broccoli and other leafy greens like kale, spinach, cabbage and other dark vegetables raw occasionally as cooking or steaming can destroy many of their super qualities, though as we see with tomato its anti-cancer anti-oxidant qualities of lycopene levels are heightened with cooking though this also ruins much of its vitamin C.

SWEET POTATO & SQUASH

Sweet potato and squash are great due to their high levels of fiber, vitamin A and they’re so naturally delicious that they can be eaten without any sweeteners.

YOGHURT

Yoghurt is a great source of calcium, protein, vitamin B12 and riboflavin along with providing many pro-biotics that help with your gut.  Why not combine this with some blueberries (which always seem to rate incredibly high in their ‘super’ content though only more accessible than actually better than many other berries), which are high in phytochemicals and great for brain function and decreasing neuro-degeneration and Alzheimer’s Disease.

5 Reasons To Eat Quinoa

HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM THE WORLD'S MOST STYLIST SUPERFOOD.

TIP #1: GLUTEN FREE GOODNESS

If you follow a gluten free diet, quinoa (pronounced ‘KEEN-wah’) is your go-to substitute grain. Quinoa is naturally gluten free and easily fills that pasta-shaped hole in your diet. Better still, thanks to its delicious flavour and texture, quinoa actually adds to your recipes – tip #5 is all about quinoa recipe ideas, so read on!

TIP #2: FULL OF VITAMINS & NUTRIENTS

Quinoa is full of amazing vitamins and nutrients, including protein, fibre, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamins B1, B2, B6, calcium and Vitamin E. It ain’t a superfood for nothin’.  

TIP #3: FLAVA-FLAV

Quinoa contains two important flavonoids – Quercetin and Kaemperol. What’s a flavanoid? Plant antioxidants that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer and anti-depressant effects. Best be getting your flavas on.

TIP #4: LOW GI

Quinoa has a low GI, so you won't need a nap straight after your meal. Studies have also found that Quinoa increases metabolism and significantly reduces appetite.

TIP #5: SIR Mix-A-Lot

Last – but certainly not least – Quinoa is a super versatile substitute for heavy carbs, including pasta and rice. Here are some mega easy ideas to incorporate Quinoa into your daily diet that’s a breeze to make in a jiffy:

- Breakfast with scrambled eggs 

- Mix it in a salad for lunch 

- Steamed fish or veggies on top for big lunch or filling dinner 

- Instead of rice in a burrito 

- A tasty snack with avocado, spinach & a touch of sweet chilli 

- Add it to soup and lose the bread 

- Add it to a frittata for more fuel 

- Veggie patty for more protein