Monday, 3 June 2013

Low Fructose Diets and Fruit - you can have both

It seems the more research is done into nutrition the murkier the waters become and the harder it is to known which foods are the better choices. With much of the current research being done into sugars and fructose, fruit has been put well and truly into the spotlight. There was a time when we suggested you eat 2-3 pieces a day of any fruit. We talked about vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients, bioflavonoids. We chimed on about pigments and antioxidants. We explained fruit is better than processed foods. The reality is that these factors still hold true. Fruit still contains all these things, and all these things are still incredibly good for you. What exactly is the problem then? The problem now however is that we know that fructose, the sugar present in fruit (and processed foods as it’s found in table sugar) is responsible for a range of negative effects on our health.

Research suggests that diets high in fructose lead to insulin resistance, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides and obesity, all factors for metabolic syndrome. With regards to obesity,  there is evidence to suggest that fructose may not trigger the hormones necessary to tell the brain you are full after eating, therefore contributing to over-eating. Obesity and high LDL and triglycerides are also indicators of cardiovascular risk. High fructose intake has also been linked to non-alcoholic-fatty liver disease, which in some circles is referred to as fructose-induced fatty liver. Overall, research has also shown that fructose has a negative effect on the aging process, meaning that those with high fructose intakes do not age as well. Oh my!

It’s important to note that many foods contain fructose. Table sugar is half glucose half fructose, all processed foods contains fructose, as does anything with high-fructose corn syrup (obviously). Even vegetables contain small amounts of fructose. If you’re worried about it, and there is good evidence to suggest you should be, I would recommend you cut the processed food first. This is nothing new. The processed food has to be the first thing to go.

What do we do though when we’ve already cut out processed foods but are worried about our intake of fruit? Do we eat the fruit for all the nutrients and health benefits, ignoring the negative effects of fructose? Or do we not eat the fruit, ignoring these wonderfully delicious nutritional powerhouses? I would suggest you do neither. The good news is you can have your fruit and eat it too. Some fruits contain higher amounts of fructose than others.

The following fruits have less than 5 grams of fructose per 100grams, the majority of them have less than 3grams fructose per 100gm fruit. Its suggested you should restrict your fructose intake to less than 25 grams daily, so provided you’ve eliminated processed foods, you can comfortably consume 2 serves of fruit each day and enjoy their many wonderful health benefits.
  • Apricots      
  • Banana    
  • Blackberries  
  • Blueberries
  • Rockmelon
  • Cherries
  • Kiwifruit
  • Pear
  • Figs
  • Pomegranate
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Guava
  • Mango
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Peach
  • Pineapple
  • Plum
  • Strawberries

Monday, 27 May 2013

Probiotics - Making your own probiotic rich foods

Probiotics are the good bacteria that colonise the digestive system. They play a variety of roles both in our digestive health and our overall wellbeing. Probiotics

-          Prevent the overgrowth of pathogens, or bad bacteria – there is only so much room in there. The more good bacteria, the less bad bacteria can fit in!

-          Helps to promote proper breakdown of food

-          Can reduce symptoms of diarrhoea

-          Lowered cholesterol – there is some evidence to suggest that probiotics can break down bile (digestive salts) in the intestines, preventing it from being reabsorbed

-          Improved immunity – your gut provides a line of defence against infection. Good levels of probiotics prevents overgrowth of pathogens, and there is some evidence to suggest they can increase the levels of our immune cells

-          Beneficial in the treatment or bowel conditions such as crohns, IBS and colitis.

-          Certain strains are useful in reducing skin conditions such as eczema

-          Probiotics are able to manufacture some vitamins including vitamin K, B12 and biotin.

-          Can reduce allergic response, not just to food intolerances, but to environmental allergens also

-          Beneficial to women who suffer thrush, candida and cystitis by recolonising the urogenital area and maintaining the right pH. This prevents the overgrowth of those pesky bad bacteria in these areas and reduces susceptibility to infection.

This is really only the tip of the iceberg with ongoing research being done into this area. As a rule of thumb, I would make it a priority to make sure your gut health is up to scratch and probiotics are certainly one of the most important aspects of this.

How do you increase your good gut bacteria?

I’m sure you’ve seen the hundreds of probiotic supplements in the chemist or health food store. These can be beneficial, particularly during times when high doses are required, such as following antibiotics or when suffering from thrush. However for most of us, eating probiotic foods is a great way to increase your levels of these bacteria. The benefit with eating probiotic rich foods is that they often contain a much larger number of strains of bacteria, there are thousands of types of probiotic bacteria, and most supplements only contain a few strains. Food sources often also contain the fibres and sugars required to nourish both your gut bacteria, and you.

Yoghurt, Kefir and cultured foods

You’ve heard of yoghurt, I’m sure, and you know to look for the ones that have probiotics in them. Kefir is a fermented dairy drink that contains billions of live probiotics, prebiotics and beneficial yeasts. Most people who are intolerant to the lactose in dairy and drink kefir as the lactose has been broken down by the bacteria, however follow your own gut on this. Cultured vegetables are vegetables that have been fermented to also contain high levels of beneficial bacteria and prebiotics and again are a great way to boost your levels. Fermented foods include sauerkraut and the Korean kimchi, but most vegetables and a variety of other products can be fermented.
You can buy these foods premade at your local health food store or make your own. You don’t have to eat much, just a small amount daily will do it.

Interested in making your own probiotic foods?

Making your own pre and probiotic foods is a great way to increase your levels of these beneficial bacteria and improve your gut health. Depending on your circumstances, you may find it to be cheaper, and certainly if you’re someone who has multiple allergies or intolerances, you’ll find it easier to make your own foods as you always know what’s in them.
The making of yoghurt, kefir and cultured vegies is quite specific so I have included a bunch of links for you. In the links below you’ll find all the information you need to make these foods successfully, and with maximum bacterial punch! I have included a variety of options, such as dairy and non-dairy options, paleo options and vegan option. There should be something for everyone in there.

Happy making.

Making your own yoghurt

Make Your own Yoghurt (dairy)
Down to Earth (dairy)
Cultures for health – (coconut milk)

GAPS Australia – comprehensive website about all kinds of kefir

 Cultured foods
The Body Ecology Diet -

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Weird and Wonderful Kohl Rabi

Kohl Rabi is a tuberous vegetable that is part of the brassica family (along with broccoli, cauliflower and kale). It has a slightly sweet flavour. It looks and sounds a little odd, so why would you add to this food?

Kohl Rabi is a nutritional power house. It contains only 27 calories per 100grams. In this 100grams only 6 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fibre. This makes it a very low GI vegetable that’s great for both regulating blood sugar levels and overall digestive health.

Kohl Rabi is also nutrient dense, particularly with regards to minerals, being a great source of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and phosphorus, making it particularly bone friendly. It also contains selenium, and B vitamins. It is also a good source of vitamin C, with around 62mg per 100g. The leaves or tops of root are a great source or carotene and vitamin A,
A great benefit of eating Kohl Rabi are the phytochemicals that are present in vegies from the brassica family, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol. Research suggests these phytochemicals can help reduce the effect of carcinogens on our cells.
The high level of nutrients such as carotenes, vitamin A and vitamin C in cruciferous vegetables provide a great antioxidant profile, and have been shown to be beneficial in heart disease and stroke, not to mention eye health and skin.
When buying Kohl Rabi, purchase ones that are less than 8cm width, any large than this and they could be ‘woody’, also choose ones that are firm with smooth, unwrinkled skin. Keep it in a cool dark place, leaving it in the fridge could lead it to go bad more quickly. If stored correctly it should last a week or two at home.
To cook it, take the top off, chop it up and boil it for up to 10 minutes. Or just throw it into soups and stews. It’s pretty sturdy and versatile.
So, now you know why you want to eat it, and how to choose and keep it, but still not sure what to do with Kohl Rabi? Here are 2 recipes.
Greek Style Kohl Rabi


Serves 4 as a starter or snack
 •2 small/medium Kohlrabi
 •2 pears
 •100 g of Feta cheese
•100g salad leaves
 •50g dates
 •1 tablespoon honey
 •2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
 •2 tablespoons olive oil


1. Peel the kohlrabi and chop into dice, about 1cm big.
2. Put the kohlrabi on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil.
3. Bake at 180 C for 20 minutes, or until softened.
4. Slice the pears in half and cut away the cores. Cut the pears into slices.
5. Put the salad on a large serving plate and arrange the pear slices and kohl rabi on top.
6. Crumble the Feta on top of this.
7. Make the dressing: Chop the dates and mix with the balsamic vinegar and honey.
8. Drizzle over the salad.

Kohl Rabi curry


Kohlrabi - 3, diced along with the greens
Onion - 1 medium, diced
Garlic - 1 clove, minced
Tomatoes - 2 medium, chopped
Green chilies - 2, chopped
Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp.
Jaggery - 1 tsp. (or to taste)
Red Chili powder - 1 tsp.
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp.
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp.
Salt - to taste


1.      Microwave chopped kohlrabi for 5 minutes or until tender. (Pressure cooking works fine too)

2.      Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a pan, add the seeds and after they pop, sauté onions till translucent.

3.      Add tomatoes and green chilies; cover and cook till tender.

4.      Add boiled kohlrabi along with the greens, red chili powder, tamarind paste, jaggery, salt and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or till the gravy thickens.

Enjoy J