• Fibre and health
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    Fibre and health

    The relationship between fibre and health has been appreciated for centuries, specifically as it relates to digestive health. More recently, scientists have set to investigate the role of fibre in other aspects of health. What is fibre There are multiple definitions of fibre and it’s difficult to write a concise one. Most fibre is carbohydrate, with the exception of lignin (1). Fibre includes non-starch polysaccharides (cellulose, hemicelluloses, pectins, hydrocolloids), resistant oligosaccharides, resistant starch and lignin (2). By other definitions, fibre is a polysaccharide with ten or more monomeric units which is not hydrolysed by endogenous hormones in the small intestine (3). In other words, multiple sugars held together that cannot…

  • How to improve body composition
    Blog,  Diet,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition,  Supplements

    How to improve body composition

    As seen previously, improving body composition can confer a competitive advantage to some athletes. Hence the interest of athletes and coaches on how to improve body composition. In general, improving body composition means decreasing fat mass and increasing fat-free mass or muscle mass (a.k.a. lean body mass). Besides training protocols and periodisation, there are nutrition approaches that can achieve a favourable change. How to improve body composition Body composition can be improved using a variety of nutrition approaches. Broadly speaking, they can be categorised as dietary manipulation (e.g. tweaking energy intake or macronutrient levels) and supplementation. Note that not all research in this area is done on athletes. Some studies…

  • How to eat more vegetables
    Blog,  Food,  Health,  Nutrition

    How to eat more vegetables

    According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, adults should eat about 5 serves of vegetables for good health (1). However, only 7.5% of the adult population manage to meet their recommended target (2). Part of the problem is that some people don’t like vegetables, but it’s also true that many people don’t know how to eat more vegetables. How many serves of vegetables For most of the population from the age of 9, the recommended number of serves is around 5 serves per day. This varies based on gender (males need more) and life stage (pregnant and lactating women need more). Likewise, more active individuals, such as athletes, need more. The…

  • What is hormesis
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    What is hormesis?

    Hormesis is a concept borrowed from toxicology that explains why certain things that are toxic in high quantities can be beneficial at low doses. What is hormesis? Hormesis is a term that comes from toxicology and refers to the paradoxical beneficial effect experienced by an organism exposed to a low dose of a substance or environmental factor which is toxic at higher doses (1). This is called “biphasic dose response” in scientific lingo, often described as U-shaped or J-shape curve (1, 2, 3). It is believed that the role of hormesis is to restore homeostasis, i.e. a balanced state, when it has been disrupted. This allows organisms to adapt to…

  • How to survive the holiday season
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    How to survive the holiday season

    One month till Christmas! Yes, yes, Christmas 2020 will not be like any other Christmas but the holiday season always comes packed with plenty of opportunities to break healthy habits. Keep reading to find out how to survive the holiday season, 2020 edition. Holiday season, version 2020 This year everything is different. Although we are lucky that there are not as many cases in Australia as in other countries, the way we live our lives has changed, at least for a period of time. Many people are not back to their work or study places full-time and large gatherings are not allowed. Private gatherings are also meant to be held…

  • Energy density vs nutrient density
    Blog,  Diet,  Food,  Nutrition

    Energy density vs nutrient density

    When assessing whether a particular food is beneficial for you or not, energy density vs nutrient density is an important consideration to make. In general, you should seek out nutrient density for health. Energy density Density is a physical property of matter that describes the relationship between mass and volume (density = mass / volume). However, when talking about energy density, we refer to energy (kilocalories or kilojoules) / volume. Therefore, energy dense foods are those that pack a lot of energy in a small volume. Energy dense foods are often high in fat (because fat is the macronutrient with the most energy per gram: 9 kilocalories or 37 kilojoules)…

  • Nitrate and exercise performance
    Blog,  Diet,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition,  Supplements

    Nitrate and exercise performance

    Nitrate and exercise performance is one of the most studied topics in sports nutrition. Nitrate is one of the handful of ergogenic substances with solid evidence behind them. Keep reading to find out what is nitrate, its roles in the body and how it can benefit your athletic endeavours. What is nitrate Nitrate (NO3−) is an anion, i.e. a molecule with more electrons than protons. Nitrate is naturally found in plant foods such as leafy greens and root vegetables, including lettuce, spinach, rocket, celery and beetroot (1, 2). The role of nitrate in the body Some of the nitrate taken in the diet is converted to nitric oxide (NO) (1,…

  • What are postbiotics
    Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    What are postbiotics?

    In a previous article What are synbiotics? we spoke about some of the players in gut health. This week we will introduce a new term as we discuss: What are postbiotics? What are postbiotics? Postbiotics are metabolites (i.e. byproducts of metabolic processes) secreted by live bacteria or released by dead bacteria which provide health benefits to the host (1, 2). Other names given to postbiotics are metabiotics, biogenics or metabolite/cell-free supernatants (1). Types of postbiotics Postbiotics include, but are not limited to: Short-chain fatty acids (SFCAs) produced by fermentation of non-digestible dietary fibre by gut bacteria. The most abundant SCFAs are acetate, propionate and butyrate (1, 2, 3, 4) Secondary…

  • Blog,  Diet,  Health,  Nutrition

    What are synbiotics?

    If the word “synbiotics” rings a bell is probably because it sounds like prebiotics and probiotics. All these terms relate to the gut microbiome in ways we will explore to answer the question: what are synbiotics? The microorganisms that populate our gastrointestinal system, or gut microbiome, has been the focus of much research in the past several decades. It is now known that the gut microbiome is involved in immune function, digestion, gut integrity and production of vitamins, among other important functions (1, 2). Probiotics Probiotics are live non-pathogenic microorganisms that can confer health benefits when taken in appropriate doses (1, 3, 4). Probiotics can act on the gut microbiome…

  • Can magnesium improve exercise performance
    Blog,  Diet,  Nutrition,  Sports nutrition,  Supplements

    Can magnesium improve exercise performance?

    Last week we talked about magnesium and health. This week we answer the next logical question: Can magnesium improve exercise performance? What is magnesium? As a reminder, magnesium is an essential mineral present mainly in bone and other tissues in the body. Magnesium and exercise As seen in the previous article, magnesium is involved in many functions in the body, including energy metabolism, bone development, muscle contraction and relaxation. Magnesium can bind to adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy currency in the body (1). It can also bind enzymes that act on RNA and DNA (2). In addition, magnesium is involved in the balance of other essential elements in…