I'm a major believer in omega 3 fatty acids for health and well-being. This well researched nutritional has been hailed for its miraculous ability to slow the progression of many diseases including heart health, inflammatory diseases like arthritis, manage weight reduction, improve eye health, improve the quality of skin and manage some skin disorders, improve anxiety and depression, and improve attention and hyperactivity in children.
In my most recent video (here), I touched on how powerful fish oil and omega 3 fatty acids can be in treating concentration, autism, ADHD and general mood disorders in children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Which fish oils do I recommend, what dosage and when to take it? As I touched on in my video, when it comes to fish oils, they are not created equally. In fact it's quite the opposite.
Things to consider:
1. All omega 3 oils, even the non fish sourced oils, must be kept refrigerated. Please invest in purchasing oils that have been stored in the fridge and make sure you keep them in your fridge at all times. Omega 3 fatty acids are highly unstable and quickly oxidise.
2. Dosage of these oils is dependent on the objective you are trying to achieve. If you have an inflammatory disease, let's say, psoriasis, then you would look for a fish oil that has a higher EPA amount than DHA. A child's dose is less than an adult. If you're dealing with learning difficulties or mood disorders, you will opt for a concentrated DHA oil. And start supplementing at 200mg DHA every day. Remember it can take up to 6 weeks to see changes. So stick with it. Some studies go as high as 700mg/day, which is high, but has profound effects. Always check with your health care professional for the correct dosages, but at a minimum 200mg/day for a child aged 5 is a good guide.
3. Good quality fish oil is usually obtained from small oily fish - sardines, mackerel, anchovies, Look for these on the pack. Larger fish tend to be higher in mercury content. This is a no go zone for kids!
4. When to take omega 3 (regardless of fish or plant based) - always take omega 3 oils, in fact any oils, with a main meal. Other dietary fats helps the absorption of omega 3 fatty acids. There is little point in taking this supplement with a banana or apple. Take it just before or after dinner or a hearty breakfast.
5. I have to mention, that if you are a family that consumes oily fish regularly (2-3 times a week) then this has more benefit that consuming fish oil itself. The problem is, finding good quality, non farmed, oily fish that is local to your country. I still suggest supplementing with oils even if you eat fish, if you have a specific concern. If you want to improve concentration, mood, inflammatory conditions, then you can reduce the dosage of the omega 3 fatty acids, so long as you do consume oily fish regularly.
So here are my favourite KIDS fish oils...and please remember, they don't taste like chocolate - they taste like fish oil, maybe masked a little with natural flavour. It can take a child some getting used to the taste. Finally, don't give up. Teach your child the importance of taking it, so they are more inclined to avoid resistance. Give the oil a few weeks to take effect. Your child may complain about the taste, but the reward of a focused child is well worth the effort.
Nordic Natural's have a fabulous range of fish oils, for all ages and most conditions. To be honest, it's my number one preference for kids. If you're lucky enough to live in a country where Nordic fish oils are in abundance, then most of the brands would be reputable, just because the quality of fish is superior.
The liquid form has a much higher amount of DHA only because the liquid you can control the dose, however the taste is less obvious than the capsules. Kids much prefer the taste of the capsules, you'll just need to modifiy your dosage to minimum 5 capsules. Available from most good health food stores in Australia.
The bottom two, are also Nordic fish oils, available from iHerb. These won't be delivered to you refrigerated, but if you live in a country where you can buy these from a store, then opt for that.
Also, before I forget, if you're interested in more about the prison study, here's one, but there are heaps more available through Google. The research shows that prison inmates showed significant reduction in depression and violence when their diet was supplemented with high dose DHA fish oil....I remember reading this type of research some years ago and it blew my mind!
Now, it's time for me to have lunch and take my fish oil!
Resistant StarchResistant starch (RS) is a type of starch which isn’t easily digested and absorbed.
There’s loads of research that suggests resistant starch is great for:
Improving colon health and reducing risk of colon cancer
Increasing metabolism and helping to use fat cells for energy (thereby reducing weight)
Keeping you full
Decreasing inflammation of the gut (great for those with IBD)
Acts as a great pre-biotic (feeds the gut bacteria)
Resistant starch is broken down by the colon during the fermentation process and is converted to short chain fatty acids (SCFA). One of the most important ones is known as Butyric acid – which is used in the treatment of Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis.
Unfortunately, some people don’t cope with starch very well.
People with any sort of gut flora imbalances or digestive issues might not tolerate RS very well, and could suffer from bloating, pain or other symptoms. And some people have real challenges eating grains, legumes and/or other carb-rich foods. But don't give up! A little bit of gas shouldn't stop you.
What happens then? How do you get enough resistant starch? Try a combination of different resistant starches, or introduce them slowly into your diet. If you have a huge load all of a sudden, your digestive system will freak out.
Here’s a list of some high ranking foods:
Oats (uncooked, so use my bircher muesli)
Cooled, cooked potatoes
Cooled, cooked pasta
Cooled, cooked rice (brown rice in particular)
To get your hands on my Huevos Rancheros recipe, buy my eBook here: BUY BOOK
Just omit the feta cheese (unless you're not doing 5:2, in which case add it because it's so delish. Or if you want something creamy, use skyr, rather than sour cream. This boosts the protein content quite a bit.
Here's my nutrition panel for the Huevos rancheros recipe
Remember it serves two, so this is for one serve, It's about 215 calories, and loaded with 9-11gms of fibre. That's a 3rd of your daily intake requirement.
I’m a huge advocate for intermittent fasting and my favourite method is 5:2. I’ve been doing it since 2015 and practice it as a 6:1 during winter and ramp it up to 5:2 during the warmer seasons. It’s easy for me to manage, it doesn’t interfere with my family and their food consumption, I can change the days around to suit me, based on what events I have in the week, and on top of all of that – it works!
For anyone who has not heard of 5:2, it’s a simple concept consisting of 5 days out of the week eating normally and 2 days of the week fasting (limited calorie intake). On the fasting days, women are to consume no more than 500calories and men, 600calories. Personally I prefer to adhering to 100 calories less than what is suggested as I find the results are better. On the days where you don’t fast, you’re free to eat what you like, but most adhere to a healthier diet with one cheat day a week. For many, it’s easier to adhere to the 5:2 concept than radical dieting. The results are just as good as radical diets but with more benefits.
Fasting is by no means, a new concept. It has been followed for many years, by religious and spiritual people who perform fasting on a path to enlightenment, and also a healthier body. Much research has been done on people who perform fasting and scientists have found a direct link between reduced instance of diabetes, dementia and cancer with intermittent fasting. In a recent study of 100 obese females, half of them were asked to perform intermittent fasting two days a week, and found they had not only reduced their body fat, but significantly reduced their biomarkers related to breast cancer risk.
But what if you’re not overweight? There is still a lot of evidence to suggest that even fit men and women who fast one day a week may not lose any weight however their biomarkers for diabetes and insulin resistance reduced greatly.
It doesn’t end there. The amount of research surrounding intermittent fasting is huge. Ranging from ischemic stroke, weight loss, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, degenerative neurological disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia) and cancer all point to a reduction in these diseases.
For me, 5:2 was a great way to reduce my pesky post baby fat – however since starting 5:2 I have become more aware of the foods that in consume and the amount of ‘empty’ calories are eaten on any day. My downfall was definitely the ‘empty’ calories – where I could devour a chocolate bar and consume 300 calories but very little nutrition. Since starting 5:2 I am conscious about what 300 calories would mean and how better I could include beneficial nutrients into that intake. A meal consisting of poached chicken breast, brown rice and steamed vegetables would amount to the same amount of calories, but a much more fulfilling and satisfying meal. I guess, also, at my age, I would like to do as much as I could to reduce my risk for many diseases and 5:2 helps me achieve that and maintain a healthy weight range.
Almost anyone can do 5:2, however I would advise against those with an eating disorder as well as children under the age of 18. Many parents ask me if their overweight kids can do 5:2, and my answer is mostly ‘no’. If your child is overweight, find alternative methods of reducing their weight, either by increasing their exercise or limiting poor food choices. Pregnant and early breastfeeding mothers need more calories as opposed to restricting their intake. However, if your child is having one feed a day, or you are in the process of weaning, 6:1 can be included in your regime. Definitely, ill people should not be fasting. If anything, resting and eating nutritious meals is in order. This includes those recovering from surgery. Also, people with Type 1 diabetes and other significant medical conditions need to check with their doctor before starting something like 5:2.
With so many benefits to intermittent fasting, I would suggest starting straight away. You’ll probably hate me for the first day, but because you know it’s a short lived hunger, you will see results, feel amazing and be prepared to tackle another intermittent fasting day. To make it super easy, I’ve put together a simple quick flick available here…. It’s a document that details how to start 5:2, types of exercise, recipe and food ideas so you know exactly how much to eat.
Finally, I need to mention another factor that makes a successful 5:2 week – support. Get a group of friends involved and support one another during your days of fasting. You will see results together, fast together and support one another if you feel tempted to cave on weak days.
Good luck team. It’s totally worth the effort.
QuickFlick - 5:2 My guide to intermittent fasting
Easy to follow QuickFlick on 5:2 intermittent fasting. With recipes, and a guide on how to introduce your body to 5:2 for successful weight loss.
As well as some recipe, hints and ideas, included is a calorie reference sheet with common foods and their calorie content to help you start your journey to weight loss and longevity.
What’s the deal with antioxidants?
Whenever I do a talk on antioxidants, I usually have people ask what they are. Sure they’re good for you, but why? What do they do? It’s a tricky talk because it requires knowledge on chemistry – and some people completely zone out. If you want a detailed explanation to satisfy your curiosity, I suggest reading this: http://www.healthchecksystems.com/antioxid.htm
For a simple explanation, an antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules and thus our cells. Through pollution, alcohol, refined foods (artificial colourings, preservatives and trans fats), stress are a few examples on how our cells have the potential to oxidise. So, if our cells don’t oxidise at a rapid rate, we can, theoretically, age slower, and diseases progress slower or are prevented all together.
Let me cut to the nitty gritty. Just eat foods that have a high content of antioxidants. Trust me, just do it. Antioxidants have been strongly linked to the inhibition of free radical damage to our cells, which are responsible for diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancers, cardiovascular diseases and premature ageing.
What to eat? Check out my awesome mini recipe book loaded with different ideas on how to get more antioxidant foods in your diet everyday!
Antioxidants come in different forms, ranging from vitamins that are fat or water soluble, amino acids, hormones and phytochemicals. I don’t want to specify which are better than others, but one thing is certain. Eat a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, plant based proteins (or animal), and your body will know what to do with it. If you only eat two or three foods to get the ‘best antioxidant’, then you’re missing out on a whole lot of other foods, that have other added benefits, not just antioxidants.
Start eating: dark green leafy vegetables – cruciferous family especially; load up on colourful fruit like berries, pomegranate, kiwis, citrus; increase your intake of lentils, grains and potatoes! The theme is becoming obvious – avoid refined junk. Avoid take away foods – avoid stuff your body has no idea how to metabolise. Eat foods that are in season, and enjoy eating them in different ways. Baked potatoes can get boring, so try mashed, rosti or in a frittata; avocados are boring in salad, so make it into a cold soup by adding yogurt, mint and cumin in a blender; berries have more potential than just in a smoothie, try them on top of your toast in the morning, layer them like a sweet lasagne, using yogurt instead of pasta sheets; the possibilities are endless. Think outside the box. Try my antioxidant recipe downloadable mini book (QuickFlick) for great inspiration.
Every day I will have a juice of some sort. I don’t stick to the same recipe, but I do include the same principles – dark veg x 1, dark fruits x 2 + a boost of veg protein powder. Sometimes I add a bit of broccoli powder or pomegranate powder. It depends what my husband brings home.
There’s a reason why we are told to eat a rainbow of colours or 5 serves of fruit/veg a day. It’s for the fibre, it’s for the vitamins, and it’s for the antioxidants. There are so many reasons to include more in the diet so what are you waiting for?
Products I love and use regularly:
DefenCell and PomGenex - high in the compounds found in cruciferous vegetables.
QUICK FLICK - Amazing Antioxidant recipes
This Quick Flick pdf is designed to provide you with some interesting ways to incorporate more antioxidants in your diet.
There are seven ideas that I've designed that are a wonderful way to include more of these powerful nutrients in your diet everyday.
Gone are the smoothies or goji berry juices. Try something delicious, nutritious and different!
Cell-Logic - PomGenex 300g
Serving Suggestion: Add one level scoop (10g) to a glass and top with 200 mL of chilled water or milk; stir briskly or blend to combine. Consume within 10 minutes to ensure best maximal nutritional results. Turn PomGenex into a delicious thick shake by blending at high speed into iced milk or ice-cream.
The unique blend of three all natural ingredients in PomGenex delivers a highly potent functional food ideal for even the fussiest palate. Combining the substantiated benefits of broccoli sprouts, pomegranate juice, coconut water, PomGenex is a delicious fruity-flavoured functional food that can be enjoyed mixed in cold water, whipped into chilled milk, swirled through yoghurt, blended into ice-cream or as a delicious powder.
Each serve of PomGenex delivers 1 gram (1000 mg) of EnduraCell®, Cell-Logic’s own 100% Whole Enzyme-Active Nutraceutical Grade Broccoli Sprout powder. EnduraCell® is hydroganically grown in controlled conditions to ensure maximal bioactivity and then carefully dried to retain the essential natural enzyme and other key biomolecules. When produced according to Cell-Logic’s specialised proprietary Australian technology, our broccoli sprouts deliver 20 – 50 times more essential broccoli phytonutrients than the mature vegetable. PomGenex provides all the benefits of EnduraCell® in a refreshingly delicious natural base of pomegranate juice and coconut water which is sure to please all ages.
The pomegranate fruit and its juice is cherished for its nutrient-rich, fresh clean taste. Widely used for thousands of years in both Middle Eastern and Mediterranean diets and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, pomegranate juice is the subject of much research into its unique phytochemicals with consumption of this delicious fruit linked to many positive health outcomes. When reconstituted, each serve of PomGenex delivers the equivalent of 120 mL of fresh pomegranate juice.
Coconut water, like pomegranate juice, is another ancient plant food. Highly prized for its delicate, refreshing taste and micronutrient content, Cell-Logic’s coconut water is harvested from young, green coconuts and contains mineral electrolytes. These naturally occurring mineral electrolytes are perfect can help to replace the body’s own electrolyte reserves, especially in hot climates and when exercising. When reconstituted, each serve of PomGenex delivers the equivalent of 40 mL of pure coconut water.
Derived from all natural plant foods, PomGenex is rich in naturally-occurring plant carbohydrates and low in fat. All sugars present in PomGenex are derived from the delicious whole plant ingredients.
Cell-Logic prides itself on sourcing 100% natural plant foods. With nothing added and nothing but water removed, our products are developed by nature – validated by science.
Cell-Logic - DefenCELL 120capsules
Clinical Data shows that compounds in DefenCELL® may:
The unique formulation of DefenCELL® contains enzyme-active Broccoli Sprouts with a patented strain of French Cantaloupe, produced for its high levels of antioxidant enzymes. These plant ingredients, both with significant Nutrigenomic potential, are combined with selected micronutrients to activate and support the body’s natural cellular detoxification processes, cell-protective and antioxidant defences.
Taking the recommended four capsules of DefenCELL daily provides:
Herbs of Gold Resveratrol 60cap
Herbs of Gold Resveratrol AdvantAGE contains the herb Fallopia japonica, which provides a rich, reliable source of the antioxidant and free radical scavenger, resveratrol
Before I start, I need to mention how difficult I have found typing this. It isn't easy to recall moments that you know you will never get a chance to re-create.
I’m really looking forward to saying goodbye to 2017. I haven’t enjoyed it much at all. Life has a funny way of putting you down the path it wants you to travel. No matter how much you resist it, or try to oppose it, you’re forced down what is demanded of you by the universe. One thing is for sure, no one gets out of this life without experiencing extreme emotions. And I find comfort in knowing that all humans, at some point will have to face extreme emotions in their lifetime.
Robert Plutchik’s theory is based on eight basic emotions as outlined below. There are many other theories, but for now I resonate with this one. The inner most circle are the extreme emotions. I’m sure you can look at this and recognise where you are now and what you have felt in the past.
Looking at this image, I can easily identify the times I experienced most of the inner circle of emotions, except grief – until this year. This year was my year to face grief in the rawest form. To be honest, it’s the emotion I am finding most difficult to manage.
October 2013 my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung cancer which had metastasised to her bones ( her entire spine, shoulder and hips – to be exact). She was fortunate enough to be a candidate for a new type of drug, rather than chemotherapy. She got a good 18 months on that drug, and managed a strong and healthy life during that time. But then, as with most cancer medication, it wasn’t effective anymore, and she required more radiotherapy and a different type of medication, which did not work as well, and she lost more weight and was feeling defeated. As a Nutrtionist, all I wanted to do was nourish my mother back to health. But I knew it was a difficult battle, and not one that I (or any medical professional) could win.
By Machine Elf 1735 - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13285286
I recall my mother loving food, the flavours, textures, different condiments with all her meals. She was a fan of complex flavours and unusual ingredients. A favourite – which I didn’t enjoy much – lamb casserole with prunes and dried lemons. Trust me, it sounds hideous and tastes weird! But she loved it, and she would enjoy it with a spicy pickle of some sort. However, when she became ill, her tastes changed dramatically, and she found it challenging to eat. Her love of food was diminishing. Her love for life was diminishing. My zesty mother was fading.
If anyone has any experience with Lung cancer, you will know it can has very dramatic changes in a person day to day. From breathing normally yesterday, to laboured breathing today and requiring oxygen tomorrow. Mum was dying in front of us. I hated the way she was so emaciated and weak. You have to understand, my mum would walk around the parklands behind her house twice a day. She would even jog. She would never take time to sit and relax, she was either fixing something or out an about in the city. Whilst her brain was still sharp it was devastating seeing her bed ridden. She could not walk, 3 steps, with an oxygen tank without feeling like she was going to collapse. In hospital she remained for 6 weeks from October to December 2015. During this time, I would deliver meals to her daily. Broth and a proper meal plus a freshly mixed juice. Her oncologist always checked to see if she was eating properly to ensure she could survive long enough to receive the new drug that was on its way from the UK. Two days before her 75th Birthday she was lucky enough to receive the trial drug – one of two people in Adelaide to receive it. Within 48 hours, she was breathing normally and able to speak without running out of breath. I can honestly say, this drug was a MIRACLE. I have never seen anything so powerful. She was discharged two days later and started to get her strength and a little of her appetite back. However, in the back of all our minds, was the reality that one day, the miracle drug would no longer work. For my mother, that time was exactly 12 months later.
From the moment I learnt of mum’s disease, I experienced most of those emotions in Plutchik’s wheel. However, on the 25th of May 2017, I was to experience grief like I have never felt before. On the 26th of May, I experienced grief. On the 27th of May I experienced grief. At my mother’s funeral on the 29th of May, as I lay letters from my daughters on her grave, my sadness was taking over every cell in my body…and I’m still sad. Some days are okay, and I manage, and as the days progress I learn to live with the grief. I think about my mother daily. I have cried a few times at my local Woolies, at school drop off, at the coffee shop and many times in my car & in my home listening to her favourite songs. There were moments when I wondered how the hell I would get past the grief and when I would feel better. Well it’s been just 5 months since she passed away and it has not got any better. It’s just not as raw. The wound is not as exposed, it is slowly healing but there will always be a scar.
My mother said to me,
You water the garden when there are plants and flowers to enjoy; for once they are dead you will be wasting the water.
I can’t tell you how true that is. While she was alive, I did as much as I could for mum, even though we lived in different states. When I was with her, I was 100% with her. I would return home to my own family exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally for days, and then I’d repeat the whole process again weeks later. I went to many oncologist appointments with her, held her hand as I tried to re-explain what the doctor had mentioned. I would take her where she wanted to go, we would sit in the sun together, I would cook for her and shower her. I would massage her every night I was with her. I can actually take myself back to those moments and feel her skin, her bony back and my fingers pressing into her flesh. Her warm smooth skin, drinking the oil as I helped relieve the tension in her lower back. She whispered, “I feel so safe with you Vicky”. It was like looking after a child, and I’m sure she felt like one in those moments.
As I write this, with my heart open to you, tears streaming down my face, there is an upside to my grief. You see, a few months before mum passed away, I told her I was working on a new business idea. A business that involved using my knowledge and experience in nutrition. What good is it having knowledge if you can’t share it with people? So instead of spiralling into depression from my grief, I decided to move it into a productive form of serenity and love (see Plutchik’s wheel).
I have written a recipe book for patients suffering from diseases like cancer, patients who have had surgery or those living with chronic side effects from medications. This book, Stairway to Health is available from my site, and it's loaded with easy meals that are nutrients dense, designed to help the body repair and return to some state of health and wellbeing. The book is categorised by side effects of illness/surgery/medication to make it easier for patients to navigate and find a recipe suitable to them. All the recipes were trialled by my mother - and she provided feedback in the nicest possible way.
I have started a catering business aimed at delivering only nutritious and organic meals to people who need good food. No disrespect to other companies in the market place, but my mother would gag at the sheer sight of their meals. My specially designed organic meals are delicious, highly nutritious and use ingredients that assist with particular side effects, ranging from nausea, change in taste, loss of appetite, dry mouth or difficulty swallowing. Vegan, Vegetarian, FODMAP, sugar free meals are available, as well as meals for those who can’t chew or have a dry mouth; those who need low sodium, high calorie and much more.
I do need to mention that while nutrition alone is not enough to cure a disease like cancer, it is essential that the body receives the right nutrients to assist the body while it is undergoing cancer treatment. Gone are the days where people can turn a blind eye and say ‘Nutrition means nothing” or “Food plays no role in a positive outcome”. Doctors are not even saying that. My mother’s oncologist was a huge supporter for proper nutrition. There’s a plethora of research that advocates proper nutrition during cancer treatment. And if a doctor suggests that nutrition doesn’t play an important role, I suggest finding a new doctor because they’ve just failed Biochem 101.
My mother’s initial prognosis back in 2013 was 3-6months. Because of her optimal nutritional state, and her cancer type she was a successful candidate for medications that helped prolong her life – for an extra 3 1/2years. To the doctors that helped my mum, thank you – to the pharmaceutical companies that provided the medications, thank you, and to my mum, who ate everything I prepared and kept her nourishment up, thank you. Ultimately, the disease took over but I know that mum amazed a few oncologists with her longevity of life.
Finally, as I have found a positive outlet for my grief, by helping provide meals to those who need it, or educating people on what to prepare, there are still times when I lapse into sadness. There’s a wonderful poem written by Rumi that does help to realign my emotions a little and force me to recall how this grief has made way for better things.
The Guest house - Rumi
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
My grief has violently swept my "house" – but it has definitely cleared me out for a new delight - by helping others have more time with their loved ones. I hope to move towards serenity in the near future.
For mum…I think of you every day. At night I dream of hugging you again. My success is for you.
September 2016 1974 1977
I believe that tinned tuna is one of the most popular 'healthy' lunches people will steer towards. When I worked in a busy office environment, more often than not, at lunch time I would hear the cracking sound of a tin of tuna being opened, then strained and generously piled onto a bowl of salad or some bread. Seems reasonable, it's a healthy protein packed lunch. But there's tuna, then there's TUNA. We are often led to believe that it's a healthy lunch, but what are we actually buying? Is it filled with oil or brine? Are there any additives or flavours? Where is this tuna sourced from? What happens if we consume too much canned tuna? These are questions that came to mind as I watched a dear friend have tinned tuna Everyday.
There has been some hype about the mercury content in fish, particularly tinned tuna. To be honest, you would have to consume a lot of tuna to see the nasty side effects (tingling sensation in arms/legs and loss of balance, mood changes); but if you have a small can a day with a well balanced diet, there is not much chance of that happening if you purchase fish that has been caught in seas where there is little contamination. Most of the tinned fish on our supermarket shelves are sourced from fish that is close the equator - like Thailand and China; around the Indian and South Pacific Oceans. The fish caught in this area has the high mercury content compared to the fish caught in the Mediterranean, North Atlantic Ocean. Fish from these regions are 'cleaner' so to speak. They contain less contaminants, and in general their produce tastes better (maybe there are better quality food sources for the fish in these seas).
While it may seem tiresome to check for the country of origin of the canned fish you purchase, it really is worth the extra effort. The problem is good quality fish is not usually readily available at your local grocery store. Sometimes only speciality stores stock them. My favourite is Capriccio, Delicius and Consorcio (divine!). All these products source their seafood from the Mediterranean; the fish is meaty and superb. The olive oil used is exceptional. However Capriccio tuna slices in the glass jars are my ultimate favourite. If you live in Melbourne, try Leo's Supermarket, Terra Madre or some Italian Deli's.
It's now time to make some brown rice noodles and crack open a jar of tuna! Yum....
I've had this niggling desire to discuss things on this blog that would otherwise be shunned upon, but because they're my ramblings, I figure I can get away with it. It's my blog and I'll ramble if I want to.
Many years ago, at university, I lived on campus and shared my life with a multitude of people from different backgrounds. I lived with 11 people at any one time, though we had our own rooms, we shared bathrooms, kitchen and a dining room. Every year, the people living on the floor would change, the aromas emitting from the kitchen would change, the dynamics of the 'team' would change, but one thing was constant. Our comradery. The older folks would look after the young ones, and the young ones would liven the mood at dinner time. We looked out for each other, supported each other during tough times (family turmoil, exam madness, relationship breakups, nervous breakdowns, suicides, drug overdoses....); and we propelled each other when we needed encouragement (finish a never ending thesis, get those assignments in on time and make soup when all someone needed was a little love). It was the best experience that helped shape me to be the easy going person I am today (well, I consider myself easy going and easy to live with even my husband will agree to this). But after living on campus for 5 years, I had to embark on the big scary world by myself. I started working and realised that I had to do things for myself. No one really cared to help. No one wanted to be involved in my life after work. No one wanted to share their daily experiences with me over a dinner. I felt... angry. Why didn't anyone want to talk? Share? Help? I could have become a sheep and follow the way people around me were living their lives, but I refused.
Now, many years later, I live in a nice suburb in Melbourne. People are mostly 'nice'. Of course there are fake people and I am not interested in wasting my time with them. But I realise there is a small subset of people who, just like me, are in love with the idea of communal living. I don't mean 20 families living in a big hippy house, and swapping partners, with kids running naked in the garden. I mean, people in a community coming together and helping each other in times of need. Being able to trust and rely on people who can look after your kids for an hour, getting a hug from a neighbour as you endure an emotional family issue; having someone cook a meal for your family because you've been so caught up in a personal health crisis. It's hard...really hard to find people who are honest and open to this concept. I understand it may come across weird. Some people are creeped out by genuine kindness and love. But I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, I love the idea of people coming together for a shared purpose. In fact, I love people. Everyone has an amazing story. It's just taking time to listen.
Gosh I miss that life I had at university. As sad as this may sound, I still go back and walk the grounds of my old uni, breathe the communal air, sit under that communal sun and let my kids run around. I take my girls to where I lived, where I would eat, crazily finish my maths assignments, walk through the engineering department and let them embrace the way I used to live. Those were the days, let's bring them back.
I was very fortunate to have a great mentor in my final year of study. He wasn’t the type of practitioner that allowed students to sit with him, but ‘through a friend of a friend who owed someone a favour’ I managed to get six months clinic time with someone who changed the way I viewed illness. Admittedly, initially I was totally intimidated by him – and it takes a lot for me to feel this way about someone. I’m rarely frazzled in someone’s presence; however this practitioner managed to overawe me in many ways. His knowledge astounded me, his techniques were unusual and his bedside manner was…well…it could definitely improve. But his knowledge was like no one I had known before. However I know I must have left a good impression, as to this day, he keeps in contact with me regularly to see how I’m going and how my life is progressing. Though, I really do miss the daily lunches we would have to discuss patient cases and general life dialogues there were some amazing discussions I will never forget. One that I think about every Tuesday when I see my patients is...
“Vicky, there’s something key in all patients – something amazing happens when you realise that their emotions run their health. I have never seen a happy person be sick. Never. Remember that. It’s pretty important.” Now, at the time of hearing this, I was reflecting on all the unwell people I knew and all the patients we had been working with and realised ‘Shiz, this guy is right. None of them are happy.’
But is it enough to be happy? I mean, what the heck is happy? Who is happy? When I think of happy I think of balloons, fairies and cupcakes. Yeah, they make me happy. But it’s not really sustainable. I think there has to be more than being happy. There has to be meaning in our lives. The best way I can explain this is – I have kids, they give me purpose, they give me meaning. I get up to ‘serve’ them (in the crudest possible description) – am I happy that I have to get up to serve them? No. Am I happy that I had to give up an amazing career and lifestyle filled with travel and fun? No. But…and here’s the big but – I have meaning in my life. That’s what ultimately makes me happy. WEIRD! To give myself and be completely selfless (and I can’t believe I’m going to say this), makes me happy. ARGHHHHHH!!! Giving makes me happy. I used to think that ‘taking’ things made me happy. Having more things – money, bags, shoes, holidays, electronic gadgets, blah blah blah (okay, I still love shoes). But I wasn’t happy. I had a lot, but I can honestly say, I wasn’t really happy. I was striving to be happy. Now, I’m striving just to get 8 hours sleep. Somehow giving my life, time, knowledge and love to other people makes me feel so happy. Have I been sick in this time? Prior to having kids, I would get sick every year, and one year was quite serious. Since having children, I may get a little cough, but nothing that a good sleep couldn’t fix. I guess there’s no time to feel sick, I am too busy thinking about my purpose that I recover so quickly and get on with it.
Let’s go back to my mentor’s philosophy about happiness and illness. If you have meaning in your life, there’s little room for chasing the ideology of happiness. There’s no time to feel sad trying to be happy, there’s no time to get sick. You have purpose, you have meaning, and you’re busy being busy. Surely there’s a research paper substantiating my claims….*takes 10 minutes to scour scholar.google.com*
…Yup, there are quite a lot of articles that suggest that someone’s happiness reflects their state of health. But is it sustainable? If someone takes a way your job which makes you happy, you ultimately become unhappy and therefore get sick? Possibly. Then there’s the theory that people get sick when they take annual leave. Is it because they have no meaning during their holiday time there’s ‘time’ to get sick? What about the universal law of parenting? Mothers can never get sick. I’m becoming more and more inclined to believe that it’s not just happiness that dictates our emotions, but our sense of meaning in our life. Next month I’m having lunch with my mentor. I can’t wait to discuss my new theory. One of two things will happen, he will applaud me for my thinking or…he won’t remember that conversation we had 8 years ago and think I’m weird. Either way, I’m happy.
I have what one might call a split personality when it comes to bacteria. One half of me hates the little critters. There’s no way I would invite salmonella for a play date with my kids. Yet on the other hand lactobacillus is always welcome in our home. Every night before dinner my kids will ravage half a cup of plain yogurt with some extra probiotics. But there is no way I would let my kids come home from anywhere without washing their hands or starting a meal without lathering up. Yup, slightly obsessive. Moving right along…
There are so many products on the market targeted at germaphobe freaks like me. Everything from soap, under arm deodorant, body washes, toothpastes, sanitisers, wipes, cutting boards, sponges, shaving cream, clothes, mattresses and so on. All claiming to be antibacterial, odour-fighting and better for our immunity. Well, I’m not so sure. You see, I’m old school. I don’t believe in toothpaste giving me “12 hour protection”. I don’t care for a deodorant that “keeps me fresh for up to 24 hours”. What I care about is not disrupting the balance in nature. The active ingredient that claims the entire germ fighting properties is known as triclosan or triclocarbon. And here is the dilemma I have with this nasty chemical. Triclosan isn’t bacteria specific. It kills the bad guys and the good guys. It’s disrupting the law of nature. Why are we made to believe that we need to eradicate the bad guys? Surely, by now people realise that what we are in fact doing is making the bad ones even worse. Ugly, even. These bacteria are not dumb. They are clever little critters. They know how to mutate and become stronger. Eventually they will be resistant to triclosan. Just as what is happening with antibiotics. And now, we are doing the same with triclosan. So they become resistant, then what? We create another chemical that will kill the strong ones…only to repeat everything again? No thanks.
What if, we just brushed our teeth with regular toothpaste, and ate food that was natural and low in sugar? What if we didn’t use deodorant at all? What if we didn’t feel the need to scrub our hands with anything but standard soap and water? Well interesting fact, new research has proven that triclosan is no more effective at cleaning hands than standard soap and water.
However my real concern starts here – triclosan and triclobcarbon have been linked to hormonal disruption (specifically infertility), elevated risk of allergic responses (asthma, food allergies) and altered thyroid function. With all the hype on keeping things ‘clean’ we are not allowing our own immunity have a chance at strengthening. That’s not to say I won’t wash my hands when I come home from being out all day. But I have never and will never wash my hands with triclosan.
So far, only one town in the whole world is taking action to ban this nasty substance. In 2015, the governor of Minnesota signed a bill to ensure that triclosan be banned from all consumer products sold. Well I didn’t wait for my government to take action. Four years ago, I threw out everything that contained triclosan in our home. I have eradicated it from my parents and my in-laws home also. Look for triclosan/triclocarbon ingredient next time you purchase your hygiene products – think twice before succumbing to the marketing hype. After all, it’s important to understand that we need the good, the bad but not the ugly.
I don’t know if it’s been the alignment of the stars or just sheer coincidence, but this past week every second patient presented with constipation. Usually treating constipation is straight forward, but these cases were hard ones (no pun intended). Each case was unique but each revolved around the issue of fibre, be it the lack of or consuming the wrong type of fibre.
Adult suggested intake of fibre is about 30gm a day. That’s equivalent to 10 apples a day.
In a typical diet it would equate to the list below, and to be honest I don’t know anyone that would have a diet this wonderful…
2 slices rye bread
1 cup brown rice
½ cup of lentils
½ cup broccoli
A handful of nuts
For children aged 4-8years it is suggested to consume 18gms/day, aged 8-13yrs 22g/day and 14-18yrs about 25g/day.
Scientific evidence links fibre intake to a plethora of health benefits, including treating and preventing constipation, haemorrhoids, and diverticulitis; decreasing blood cholesterol levels, which protects against certain forms of cancer; and increasing satiety to help control weight. However recent research suggests that fibre has an important role in immune health. We know that cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity have underlying inflammatory processes. Dietary fibre may play a role to modulate the immune system and therefore produce a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
There is consumer interest in fibre, but the real challenge is getting people to comply. Most people complain about flatulence. For most, the frequent gastric distress will go away. The other difficulty is most people don’t consume the different types of fibre. Many whole plant foods are rich in different types of dietary fibre, such as pectin, gum, mucilage, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and soluble fibre. Consuming a variety of fibres is suggested to gain the maximum benefits of a high-fibre diet. The trend in food for food technologists is determining how to incorporate fibre in our everyday products. There’s a trend in adding fibre to yogurt, chocolate, infant formula…the list goes on. And yet, there is a much easier way to get extra fibre in your diet. I will set a challenge for a fortnight. Fourteen days of getting 30gms of fibre in my diet. Even on my 5:2 days. How?
On my non 5:2 days some mixture of the below that will add up to 30g in addition to a strong protein intake.
1 apple (4g)
1 pear (6g)
Porridge (Bob’s Red Mill) (10g) PLUS one teaspoon chia seeds (6g)
2 x kiwi (6g)
1 cup Broccoli (6g)
½c Brussell sprouts (6g)
½c Cabbage (5g)
1 medium orange (4g)
½ c kale (3g)
1 cup cooked Quinoa/brown rice/barley/pasta/buckwheat noodles (5-7g)
Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kim chi, etc.)
On my 5:2 days
Healthy Bake Khorasan and linseed bread x 1 piece (4g)
Pear (6g) + kiwi fruit (3g)
Dhal (lentil w curry) (18g)
There it is, I am starting this tomorrow (which happens to be a 5:2 day). I will keep track of my weight, mood, tummy troubles and energy levels (hunger pangs), cravings and whatever else comes to mind as I progress through the days. I am hoping that by the end of the 14 days I will be more conscious of my fibre intake and less likely to abandon a high fibre diet. I am not interested in cheating by having fibre supplements but I will use my Thermomix and Nutribullet to mulch my juices with all the fibre intact.
Ultimately, I am wishing that anyone reading this would take the challenge too. I really believe it’s about time Australians improved their fibre intake. It’s such a simple dietary change that we would benefit from. And if, like me, you have kids, start the habit of high fibre foods for them. It baffles me that a parent would greet their child from school with junk food. Whatever happened to simple healthy nutritious food choices? Why do parents feel the need to load their kids up on rubbish as a form of reward? If a child is hungry, believe me, they will eat whatever you give them. An apple is sweet, nutritious, easy to eat and refreshing. As is a carrot, pear, apricot, watermelon and so on. With that in mind, I am going to prepare a fruit platter for my husband and I to enjoy as we watch Jerry Maguire.
Quit sugar? Hell no!
There’s such a hype regarding the ‘I Quit Sugar’ program. I am perplexed by this sudden movement and all the ‘anti sugar’ folk. My Facebook feed is riddled with friends sharing their “amazing” results by quitting sugar. How much crap were they consuming that they felt the need to eradicate all forms of sugar? Not only that, but how can so many people have faith in the gospel of someone who is not a qualified dietician or nutritionist or doctor? Really, this is true not just with the ‘I Quit Sugar’ program, but everything in life. There is no way I feel the need to trust an Olympic champion tell me about how to invest my superannuation; a footballers wife to tell me which vitamins I need to take or a model telling me which skin care products to use. However, this sugar bandwagon has quite the following and this cult is starting to get on my nerves.
Those that think they know me believe I’m anti-sugar and anti-fat and anti-taste and probably anti-fun. Truth be known, I’m pro-sugar, pro-fat, pro-indulgence, pro-real food, pro-enjoying the love of food. One thing I have no interest in is junk food or fake food. Right there I have reduced a huge amount of unnecessary sugar and trans-fats. But there is no chance I will be quitting sugar. However I’m very mindful of what I buy and how much I consume. I realise that when I’m at a party and there are sweets, the chances are that they are riddled with high fructose corn syrup and probably loads of artificial stuff. But that’s okay; I can enjoy those foods on the odd occasion in small amounts. But, I can guarantee, my shopping trolley every week is filled high with fresh fruit, vegetables (all in season), and regular staples like rice, legumes, pasta and necessities to make my own sweets. Don’t be fooled, I too, enjoy a little sweet with my cup of tea. The emphasis is on little. There is no room for carbonated drinks, packets of biscuits, savoury biscuits, premade cakes etc.
Maybe a better bandwagon to get on would be ‘I Quit Fake Food’. Now that would be a worthwhile read. For the moment, excuse me while I enjoy a green tea with a home made Madeleine.
So, I had an interesting patient last week, and it got me thinking – are we consuming too much wheat? When I say ‘we’, I mean YOU. I asked this patient to keep a food diary for 5 days. Without going into too much detail, I can tell you that out of the 4 main meals consumed in a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack); three of those had wheat as the main constituent.
Have you thought about how much wheat you consume? Most people have toast or cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and sometimes pasta for dinner or a nice piece of bread. Let’s see what an alternative day would look like:
Breakfast – oats or pancakes made with non wheat flour (I have an awesome recipe that I will share in my recipe section);
Lunch – miso soup, omelette with wilted greens;
Dinner – poached chicken on brown rice or buckwheat noodles with a small piece of eye fillet and sautéed cabbage drizzled with tamari. Okay, I’m starting to salivate and it’s 10pm.
You get the idea. There are so many other non wheat alternatives. I thought I should give a run down on some other things you could try.
Kamut flour/bread (also referred to as Khorasan) – Kamut is my all time favourite bread. It has a lovely sweet nutty flavour. It is an ancient grain and is similar to wheat but it hasn’t been genetically modified or tampered with in anyway. The amino acid profile, protein and minerals are far greater than standard wheat products. However it still contains gluten. Not recommended for coeliac’s but okay for those who have mild sensitivities.
Spelt – another ancient grain. It does contain gluten, but has more nutrition than standard wheat. Not recommended for coeliac sufferers. I use the wholemeal version for my ricotta and spelt hotcakes every Saturday morning. My kids (and husband) are crazy for them.
Buckwheat – despite its name, this is not a wheat and completely gluten free. Extremely nutritious and a very low glycemic index. It has a nutty taste that takes some getting used to. High in magnesium, fibre and selenium I struggle to find any other type of grain that is so nutritious with a low allergy profile. Available as a flour, perfect for pancakes, cakes, biscuits; and also available as a pasta or noodles.
Oats – So these are not gluten free but they are wheat free. I absolutely adore oats. Not just in porridge, but I love oat flour (which I make in my thermomix) which I use in my cakes, breads, bagels, pancakes, and the list goes on. Incredibly high in minerals, they are also high in fibre, have omega 3 and great for people with high cholesterol.
If you’re game, take couple of tablespoons and whizz it up in your smoothie machine along with your fruit. It will keep you full longer.
Chia Bran/Flour – My obsession with Chia seeds started years ago. Way before they were commercialised and found in supermarkets. Well, these little gems have come a long way from the standard seed – now they’re available as an oil, flour and bran. Amazing. High in fibre and omega 3 they are perfect for people wanting to shed a few kilos. However, I am way too stubborn to avoid food and for me, I enjoy this seed soaked in coconut cream overnight. The next day, this sludgy and slimy pudding like delight is gorgeous drizzled with coconut nectar or sliced mango for sweetness.
Mung Bean – incredibly high in protein mung bean flour is also really tasty. I found a great mung bean pasta at Terra Madre which tastes great and very filling.
Quinoa – Another great seed. Dense in nutrients including iron, magnesium and protein, quinoa is gluten free and perfect for vegetarians. I really enjoy adding lashings of quinoa to roasted vegetables lathered in tamari and lime. OH-MY-GOSH!
Quinoa flakes are great for adding to porridge; quinoa flour is quite bitter so I tend to make a 20% mix of quinoa to 80% other flour when baking.
Amaranth – Ama-what? Amaranth. This guy is similar to quinoa in that it’s great for vegetarians but not as bitter in taste. If your kids love rice bubbles, get them some puffed amaranth. Drizzle some maple syrup or honey over a bowl of amaranth and milk and it makes for a great breakfast. Caution – this stuff is lighter than air! Do not sneeze or breathe heavily around it unless you want your kitchen to be coated with puffed amaranth.
Well, that should be enough to keep you going. There are so many products out there that are much healthier than wheat but may take your taste buds some getting used to, but well worth the challenge. Imagine how many more nutrients you would be able to get if you consumed something other than wheat everyday. Imagine how much happier your gut would be not having to deal with wheat everyday. That in itself is worth changing for.
Why are we so obsessed with the way we smell?
Those who know me know that I cannot stand synthetic fragrances. Every time I smell perfume my head gets heavy and I start to feel queasy. Lord help me, should I ever be stuck on a plane, public transport or waiting room with someone that has showered themselves with what seems like forty bottles of a fragrance. The sheer thought sends waves nausea throughout my body. A naturopath once told me that this was because my liver was ‘compromised’ and I needed to detox. Seriously? I think it is more likely due to the fact that we are obsessed with smelling like a fake version of something natural, and those synthetic versions spark my olfactory senses into overdrive.
The synthetic fragrance enigma, for me, crosses over to laundry detergents (Surf, Spree, OMO, Dynamo.. the list goes on), household sprays, stinky candles, personal hygiene products and antiperspirants. What’s with antiperspirants? Why are we so obsessed with our underarms smelling like fake vanilla, rose or musk? I don’t get it.
Personally, I haven’t entertained the use of these poisonous potions for about 7 years. Now, I have scoured the internet for medical journals to substantiate the claims that the aluminium in antiperspirants may cause a number of diseases ranging from breast cancer, Alzheimer’s and kidney disease. As I expected some medical journals had research that suggests there is no correlation between these diseases and the use of antiperspirants to be completely safe, and the action of aluminium is to ‘just act as a plug so the sweat isn’t released’. Not surprisingly most of these research papers were funded by large pharmaceuticals, interested in preserving profits for their own brands of roll-ons. I really don’t want to name brands, but think of a soap that is a type of peaceful bird. Well they sponsored some of the research – and you can guess that the results would be in favour of roll-on use. This company is also responsible for margarine being used as a health ploy to reduce cholesterol. Arghhhh! Can you sense my passion?
Most of the products I use are fragrance free, including detergents, shampoos and skin care (my body care is coconut oil rubbed liberally over, most days I smell like a Pina Colada and as for my face…that is a blog entry for another day). Why are we so obsessed with how we smell? I don’t think I get close enough to people to notice if they have body odour, and if someone does, I’m not bothered by it. Admittedly, I have had laser hair removal so I am hair free – which means there’s limited scope for the bacteria to multiply and smell, but not everyone can get it done due to hair colour or cost. Even then, is it really worth using chemicals that have been linked to breast cancer, lymphatic cancer and other minor skin irritations? I have managed to convince my husband to avoid anti-perspirants. But he can’t seem to let go of the ‘roll-on’ addiction. Thus I had to find some suitable replacement for him. Let me say, I think I have tried over 15 different products and each had their positives and negatives. So I am only going to list the ones that I found to work and provide long lasting freshness without smelling like eucalyptus (I can’t stand the smell of eucalyptus or lemon myrtle under the arms. PONG-A-RAMA). Here goes…
Fresca’s entire range of deodorants – these are my first choice. Wooden Spice is amazing. There’s something sexy about a man that smells like wood, I have no idea why I love it so much. However, their entire range of fragrances are lovely. Also available in unscented for those sensitive to smell.
Tisserand – This UK brand is world renown for its lovely aromatherapy range, and their Tea Tree 24-hour protection deodorant is fabulous.
Lavera – Available in roll on or spray. A lovely lighter version of the above products. I don’t *think* I smell so I opt for this range in the orange fragrance.
As for washing detergents and all the other household products, I will get to that blog another day.
In June 2014, Time magazine released an awesome article on the health benefits of butter. Refuting all previous notions that cardiovascular disease was attributed to this lovely yellow substance. Can I just say I was relieved? Finally, someone got the message out there. I can’t tell you how many times I have delivered presentations about fats and there would always be a group of people in the audience who were adamant that margarine was ‘prescribed’ by their doctor to help reduce cholesterol. Now the biochemistry behind margarine is a little technical and unnecessary, but this much is important. Margarine is not real food. It’s pretending to be better than butter, and it’s not. It used to be a hydrogenated fat, until very recently, Australia banned hydrogenation due to the detrimental health effects. Originally in liquid form, the fat is pumped with hydrogen to make it solid at room temperature. It makes it easier pack and ship; easier to spread, looks nicer than spreading liquid on your toast as you get the feeling that you’re eating butter, but not really. I guess the idea of ‘pumping hydrogen’ doesn’t sound sinister but believe me, it is. And it’s not just margarine, that trans fats are found. It’s in cakes, biscuits, pastries, deep fried foods and pretty much everything that calls for butter in the mass market. However as it’s cheaper and has a longer shelf life than butter, margarine is a lovely substitute that makes us believe we are eating something healthy.
For those who are wondering, ‘what’s so bad about trans fats?’ allow me to explain. There is very strong evidence that suggests trans fats increase the amount of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein – LDL), and decrease the levels of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein HDL) in our blood. This combined effect is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in Westernised countries. So now some of you are thinking, “Well butter is a saturated fat, surely that contributes to cardiovascular disease”. In all honesty, that was everyone’s belief. However since the introduction of margarine in our market, and the decline of butter consumption, cardiovascular disease has risen, instead of declining. Added to this is the fact that we are consuming, on average, an extra 400 calories a day. I will discuss more about this in a moment. But for now, I must say that since the strong evidence of trans fats and cardiovascular disease, Australia has taken action to ensure that hydrogenated margarines are not sold or manufactured for our consumption. How thoughtful…that only took four decades. Instead, we now have a wonderful new and shiny method of faking butter called esterification. Great, so hydrogenation is over, and esterification has taken its place. This is from The Heart Foundation’s website,
“The process of esterification is now used in margarines in Australia - the healthier oils are combined with other ingredients such as milk, water and salt to develop a smooth consistency for spreading. Lecithin (found in egg yolk) is added for helping to mix water with oil. This makes it possible to develop margarines that are lower in saturated fats and virtually free of trans fats.” http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/fats/Pages/butter-margarine.aspx
Sounds harmless *eye roll*.
Being the nut that I am, I have to research everything to the N-th degree. Let’s break down ‘esterification’ shall we? The chemical process is boring; however, a fat/oil is comprised of 3-fatty acids and a triglyceride backbone. These are separated from one another. Then the fatty acids are mixed with fully hydrogenated oils and re-attached to the backbone to create new ‘healthy’ oil. This completely fake butter has virtually no trans fats (as you will see on the labelling of margarines) but instead we have a new fat with new dramas. Recent studies on this new fat have been conducted and the evidence is conflicted. Most of the positive research that I’ve found has been sponsored or conducted in Unilever’s labs (the crowd that makes the margarines). Other, non biased research, suggests that both hydrogenated and esterified oils increase fasting LDL’s; and even scarier is that after 4 weeks of consumption, esterified fats increased blood glucose by about 20%.
So, now back to the question I asked earlier, “Butter is a saturated fat, isn’t that bad for heart disease?” Yes it is. But the way I see it, it’s a natural food. Butter consists of cream, water and a little salt. Naturally occurring vitamin A and D are found in the cream among some other trace minerals.
Margarine consists of vegetable oils (canola – which is nasty, sunflower or olive oil), water, salt, emulsifiers (usually lecithin), beta-carotene or turmeric (to give a yellow glow), added vitamin A and D, food acids, preservatives, etc…. In my ‘Fats and Oils’ presentation, I try to explain that cardiovascular disease is only a problem with the fats oxidise and stick to the arteries. It’s a whole other blog that I will need to write up. In short, if you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (and other high antioxidant foods) and exercise the risk of cardiovascular disease is much lower than someone who smokes, eats rubbish and doesn’t exercise. Butter is a wonderful food to be enjoyed in moderation.
Now, if I had to choose between the two, hands down, I would go the butter. Why eat something fake? Why eat something that my body has no idea how to metabolise? Secondly, heating margarine or cooking with it has detrimental effects in that the oils oxidise and end up elevating VLDL’s (the super bad cholesterol). Butter is more stable when heated. But for cooking and baking I prefer coconut oil which is far more stable at higher temperatures. For spreading on my toast and hot cross buns I can’t go past butter. Admittedly, I do make my own ghee (clarified butter) and use that to fry an egg or mix with my rice. It is divine! Yes, I will post the recipe steps in the next couple of days.
Convinced yet? Okay, one final note that may sway you to ditch the margarine. Butyric acid is naturally found in large quantities in butter (milk, cheese and other dairy products). Butyric acid possesses both preventive and therapeutic potential to counteract inflammation-mediated ulcerative colitis (UC) and colorectal cancer. That’s impressive!! It inhibits colonic tumour cells, and promotes healthy colonic epithelial cells. There are butyric acid supplements on the market that you can purchase and many people with UC do purchase to help their condition. However, you don’t have to consume large quantities to reap the benefits. A teaspoon of butter a day, is like spreading 2 pieces of toast. That's enough to get some benefit. Don't deny yourself the golden deliciousness.
If you want to try something amazing, try cultured butter. I can’t say I’ve seen it at Woollies, but my favourite health food store, Terra Madre, stocks it. I’ll see you there, leave one for me!
Sometimes, I feel that we are shielded from the news of harmful ingredients in Australia. Not necessarily because the government doesn't want us to know how damaging things can be, but rather it could potentially cause disruption to our supply chain and with limited choices we have, we are kept in the dark...kind of like....won't you don't know won't harm you.
Nonylphenol ethoxylate is just one of the myriad of chemicals that is concerning me, and it's almost everywhere. From your dish detergent, stain removers, laundry detergents, soaps, pesticides, in plastics, varnishes....the list goes on.
But what is so harmful about this chemical compound? Well, apart from the environmental hazards there are extremely serious health concerns. The oestrogenic effects of this chemical may be responsible for a number of hormonal related diseases such as breast, ovarian, testicular cancers, early development in girls, female hormone dominance in boys, infertility in older women. Research has proven that the effects of NPE in our ocean. Where there are higher levels of NPE contamination, there are less male sea wildlife. There has been a significant increase in ‘abnormal’ trout being bred with both male and female reproductive organs. The ratio of male and female wildlife has drastically unbalanced in recent years. So much so that Canada and European countries have banned the use of NPE in any commercial products. This is great news for the Europeans, but what about the rest of the world?
Phosphates are the main cleaning ingredient in many detergents and household cleaners because they break down dirt particles and remove stains by softening the water and allowing suds to form, which enhances the cleaning power of the detergent. Some dishwasher tabs are more than 30 percent phosphates!
However, there are human health problems as well as major environmental hazards associated with phosphates. Phosphate residues on items that have been cleaned with phosphate-containing detergents have been known to cause nausea, diarrohea and skin irritation in the mildest form.
We need to be more conscious of the effects household chemicals are having on us. The sad news is, NPE is not listed on products as an ingredient, but you can guarantee it’s in most commercially available soapy products.
My pick for friendly detergents are: Seventh Generation, Envirocare and Abode which are all available in Australia.
I'm a lover of fine food, amazing cheese and sharing with people I love.