The human digestive system is the key to how the body receives all the nutrients it needs. It contains nine organs, each which have their own distinct role.1 What does the digestive system do? The digestive system is made up by the gastrointestinal (or digestive) tract as well as other organs such as the pancreas,
The human digestive system is the key to how the body receives all the nutrients it needs. It contains nine organs, each which have their own distinct role.1
What does the digestive system do?
The digestive system is made up by the gastrointestinal (or digestive) tract as well as other organs such as the pancreas, liver and gall bladder. This system helps the body break down food into carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. These are then absorbed into the blood stream where they are used for a variety of purposes. This includes supplying the body with energy, repairing the body and stimulating its growth. Any unused waste materials leave the body in the form of stools and urine.
What parts make up the digestive system?
Digestion starts at the mouth.
Here, food is consumed and broken-down using saliva and enzymes. The saliva
contains many enzymes including one called amylase. This helps to break down
carbohydrate-rich foods into smaller molecules like sugars. These foods include
fruits, potatoes, rice, pasta and quinoa.
After food has been chewed in the mouth it turns into a bolus and is
propelled down the oesophagus into
the stomach. The bolus moves using a series of muscle contractions called
peristalsis. This helps food to move in a downwards motion and prevents stomach
contents escaping up the oesophagus.
The stomach is where food is
broken down into even smaller molecules. It contains gastric juices known as
hydrochloric acid and pepsin. This helps to break down protein-based foods such
as chicken, meat, fish, legumes and tofu. The stomach also acts like a concrete
mixer as it churns and mixes food together. This creates a thick liquid known
The small intestine is the key to the body
receiving all of the micronutrients from food. It is approximately 5m long and
3.5cm in diameter, providing a large surface area for absorbing nutrients.
The small intestine is also where the other complimentary organs become important. Bile, received from the gall bladder and enzymes known as proteases, lipases and amylase from the pancreas are released into the upper section of the small intestine.2 This further breaks down proteins into its building blocks known as amino acids and fat into fatty acids. When food is broken down into these smaller particles, it can be absorbed by the blood stream through the wall of the small intestine.
Colon (or large intestine) and rectum
Unlike the small intestine which is involved in absorbing many micronutrients, the colon is only involved in absorbing water, mineral salts and some vitamins.3It is the largest part of the gastrointestinal tract and contains the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon and finishes with the rectum. Undigested fibre passes through the large intestine and provides fuel for the healthy gut bacteria which reside in here. Waste is expelled from the body from the rectum.
Common digestive issues
Unfortunately, the digestive tract does not always work perfectly. Many people experience acute (short term) and chronic (long term) digestive issues, which can affect digestion.4 Common digestive issues include bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pain and reflux.
While some of the symptoms occur due to either the type or quantity of
food we’ve eaten, or in response to medication or lifestyle factors (such as
stress), sometimes these can be indicative of an underlying symptom of certain chronic
Irritable Bowel Syndrome. A condition characterised by bloating, abdominal discomfort diarrhoea and/or constipation.
Coeliac Disease. An auto-immune condition affecting the lining of the digestive tract which can lead to nutritional deficiencies if a strict gluten free diet is not adhered to.
Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease. Reoccurring acid reflux of the acid contained within the stomach. This can affect the digestion of proteins and increase the risk of oesophageal cancer.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Chron’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are autoimmune conditions where parts of the small and/or large intestine become inflamed and have an impaired ability to absorb nutrients.
Digestion is complicated, and so are digestive issues. There are a number of other factors that can affect digestion, thus if you are concerned about any of the digestive issues that you are experiencing it is important that you speak to a healthcare professional.
Last month we published the first in our series of research roundups, as part of our commitment to bringing you the latest highlights from the world of health and nutrition science. This month at Nuzest HQ has been all about plant-based diets, brain health and getting our kids prepped for another great year at school.
Last month we published the first in our series of research roundups, as part of our commitment to bringing you the latest highlights from the world of health and nutrition science.
Following these trends, we decided to dig a little further into better understanding how to support healthy nutritional status when following a plant-based protocol, highlighted a key herbal remedy that is now being considered for front-line Alzheimer’s treatment, as well as refreshed on the most important aspects of brain health in children and adolescents.
How taking vegan omegas alongside powdered fruit extracts can
improve micronutrient status
The results published in the International Journal of Food
Sciences and Nutrition of a controlled, randomised, open-labelled,
parallel-grouped, clinical trial has found that supplementing with a
plant-based fatty acid supplement can increase serum concentrations of specific
vitamins and carotenoids.
The study, conducted on 68 healthy subjects aged 20-65, trialled
supplementation of vegan omega-3 fatty acids at doses of 0.5g/day and 1g/day
with the combined ingestion of a fruit, vegetable and berry juice powder
Data from the results demonstrated a “complementing effect” where the
intake of just 0.5g/day for eight weeks improved the absorption of several
vitamins and carotenoids parallel to the fatty acids. Notable mentions include
the increase in serum levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein,
zeaxanthin and lycopene.
Authors of the study recommend this as a safe and effective means
to enhance nutrient status as the improvements were seen without any effects on
hepatic, kidney and thyroid function and without any impact on blood lipids.
Brahmi concluded to be a lead formulation for the treatment of
Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders
commonly known as brahmi, is a nootropic ayurvedic herb that has historically
been associated with the treatment of neurological disorders, dating back to
ancient times. One recent review has uncovered the validity and scientific
reasoning behind the use of this herb for such treatment, illuminating the mechanisms
of action behind brahmi’s brain-centric benefits.
Neurodegeneration is characterised by the gradual loss of neurons,
leading to the impairment of memory, locomotion and cognition. There are two
key proteins that are involved in the progression of neuronal dysfunctions
resulting in neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease; amyloid-β
and tau. Essentially these proteins lead to greater oxidative stress on the
body, and increase neuroinflammation and neurotoxicity, which lead to dementia
and behavioural deficits. While there are numerous natural and synthetic
approaches to neurological disorders available, one review in the Archives
of Biochemistry and Biophysics, set out to determine whether brahmi could
be considered as one of those treatment options in a bid to help manage the
worldwide increased rate of Alzheimer’s disease.
Brahmi extract, which is comprised of various bioactive components
such as bacoside A, bacoside B, bacosaponins and betullinic acid, have known
significant roles in neuroprotection. The review concluded that together, they
inhibit amyloid-β and tau, and exhibit antioxidant and neuroprotective
activity, as well as improve aspects of cognition and learning behaviour. As a
result, the overall studies reviewed concluded that brahmi can be used as a viable
and primary consideration for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as
other neurological disorders.
The ageing population has people questioning now, more than ever before, how they can prevent cognitive decline. Found out what Clinical Nutritionist and Researcher, Cliff Harvey, suggests here.
Healthy diet, physical activity and adequate sleep are yet again
confirmed to be important for brain health in children and adolescents
In a recent study published in the International Journal of
Environment Research and Public Health, it was found, yet again, that
eating well and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are crucial elements to the
brain health of children and adolescents.
The review which set out to provide an overview of the association
between health behaviours and cognition and academic achievement in children
and adolescents under 18 years of age with a special reference to diet quality,
found that integrating a healthy diet with a physically active lifestyle and
adequate sleep, provide the optimal circumstances for brain development and
The study highlighted that dietary patterns with a low consumption
of fish, fruits and vegetables, and a high intake of fast food, processed meats
and soft drinks, have been linked to poor cognition and academic achievement.
The authors also mentioned that there are limited studies available on
particular aspects of dietary intakes that could be studied for greater
understanding of diets on brain health, such as the high intake of saturated
fat and red meat, as well as the low intake of fibre and high-fibre grain
While the results of the study are not shocking, having studies
reconfirm what we already know is a great way to confirm that the health
behaviours you are incorporating into your life, and the lives of your
children, are scientifically validated as being beneficial. Furthermore, it’s
always nice to see that there are easy and achievable ways to bring impactful
health behaviours into the home.
We’ve got the most important brain-boosting elements of kids nutrition covered in this article by our resident Naturopath, Stephanie Sarulidis. On ways to help look after your kids while they’re at school, check out our article on how to pack a healthy lunchbox, by in-house Accredited Practicing Dietitian & Nutritionist, Rachel Hawkins.
The ageing global population has people questioning now, more than ever before, how they can prevent cognitive decline. Clinical Nutritionist and Researcher Cliff Harvey, discusses how we can optimise our brain health to reduce the risk of developing age-related brain conditions below. In my clinical practice, we periodically survey our clients on the health conditions
The ageing global population has people questioning now, more than ever before, how they can prevent cognitive decline. Clinical Nutritionist and Researcher Cliff Harvey, discusses how we can optimise our brain health to reduce the risk of developing age-related brain conditions below.
my clinical practice, we periodically survey our clients on the health
conditions or outcomes that most concern them. In the early years, we would
consistently hear that the biggest concern was quite simply, weight. Now
though, weight and body fat have fallen behind brain health and day-to-day energy
as major client concerns. This is unsurprising given the rising incidence of the
neurodegenerative conditions Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and other diseases
that affect the brain and central nervous system.
What are ‘neurodegenerative
is the progressive damage and destruction of neurons (brain and nervous systems
cells) and/or components of those cells. This breakdown of cells results in
age-related cognitive decline and in more serious cases the common
neurodegenerative disorders; dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s
disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and
Huntington’s disease. According to Alzheimer’s
Disease International, someone in the world develops dementia every three
seconds. Additionally, over 50 million people now live with dementia worldwide
and this number is expected to double every 20 years. Neurodegenerative
disorders cause progressive disability, incurring a loss of cognition, memory
and physical function. Survival times are also typically short—for example, the
average survival time post-diagnosis for Alzheimer’s disease is only three to
What causes cognitive decline?
Neurodegenerative disorders and age-related cognitive decline are both inherited (genetic) and also result from diet and lifestyle factors. These causes include head injuries, pesticide exposure (Parkinson’s), hypertension, lack of sleep, and a poor diet, along with additional risk factors of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, depression, excessive alcohol use and tobacco use1.
can I improve my brain health and reduce my risk of cognitive decline?
1. Exercise your brain and body
Lifestyle factors can reduce your risk of cognitive decline and even improve cognitive function. These include engaging in leisure and physical activities, playing a sport, listening to music, and doing brain-taxing activities (such as crosswords)1,2. People who regularly and actively participate in a variety of social, cultural, and intellectual activities that challenge them, experience lesser cognitive decline, perform better on cognitive tests and are less likely to develop neurodegenerative disorders3. Physical activity shows a consistent, yet not always significant effect on cognitive decline and dementia4–6. It’s likely that the effects of physical activity alone on cognitive decline are limited and that the best effects come from a combination of physical activity, improved diet and regularly challenging the brain with new activities5,6.
2. Get enough sleep
Not sleeping enough, or poor sleep quality (i.e. insomnia and lack of REM sleep) is a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia7,8. It is recommended that people get between seven and nine hours of high-quality sleep per night.
3. Eat a healthy diet based on natural, unrefined foods
There is a relationship between diet and cognitive decline and it’s likely that eating a diet (such as the Mediterranean diet) based mostly on natural, unrefined foods will reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia2. In a review of studies, it was shown that following a Mediterranean diet was associated with up to a 48% reduced risk of dementia, and those with pre-existing Alzheimer’s disease had a 73% lower mortality risk than those who did not adhere to the diet9.
4. Increased fruits and vegetables
Increased intakes of fruit and vegetables are associated with both a lower risk of dementia and slowing rates of age-related cognitive decline1–10. However, subtype analysis has demonstrated that this effect is restricted to vegetables (and not fruit), with the strongest effects from cruciferous (like cabbage and broccoli) and green leafy vegetables10. It has been further suggested that a minimum of three servings of vegetables should be consumed daily for this effect10.
Maintaining healthy levels of vitamin C from nutrient-rich foods to avoid a deficiency (rather than mega-dosing) is likely to have a protective function against age-related cognitive decline11.
6. Omega-3 fats
The omega-3 fats EPA and especially DHA, play an important role in brain development and healthy functioning of the brain and central nervous system12. Omega-3 fats are linked to reduced mental fatigue13, improved memory and cognition and reduced cognitive decline1,14,15, reduced rates of depression and improved structural integrity of the brain16,17. Plausible mechanisms also exist to suggest a protective role for fish oil in neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s disease18.
7. Coffee and tea
Caffeine is a well-known cognitive enhancer. Evidence shows that caffeine improves attention, vigilance, reaction times, and problem-solving (especially in sleep-deprived people)19,20, and improved mood and reduced fatigue even at low doses of caffeine-containing beverages (≈1 cup of tea or coffee per day)20,21. In addition to its acute effect on mood and cognition, caffeine-containing beverages may be protective against cognitive decline and dementia22, and coffee and tea are also associated with a reduced incidence of Parkinson’s disease23,24. Tea constituents other than caffeine (L-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate) could also improve cognition. A review of the research in this area suggested that caffeine combined with theanine (as found in tea) improved alertness and attention more than caffeine alone25.
8. Multi – vitamins and minerals
Many people do not consume sufficient essential and secondary nutrients from diet alone26,27. Multivitamin/mineral supplements have resulted in improved cognitive and memory performance in trials and reduced stress and anxiety28,29, and it is likely that supporting nutrient-sufficiency of the diet could improve long-term brain health and reduce cognitive decline.
9. Medium-chain triglycerides
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are naturally occurring fats found in small amounts in dairy products and greater amounts in coconut oil. They are also commonly used as isolated supplement oils. MCT supplemented diets improve mental performance in those with Alzheimer’s Disease and age-related cognitive decline30,31, and a single dose of 20g MCT has been shown to improve cognition32
10. Lion’s mane mushroom
Lion’s mane or Hericium erinaceus is an edible and medicinal mushroom native to North America, Europe and Asia belonging to the tooth fungus group. Lion’s Mane has been shown to increase ‘nerve growth factor’33, which helps nerves and brain cells to grow and repair34–39. Because of this brain-repair effect, lion’s mane is being considered as one of the most promising preventatives for dementia and cognitive decline40,41. It’s also been demonstrated to significantly reduce depression and anxiety35, as well as improve cognitive function42.
There is also evidence for a range of other nootropic or cognitive ‘boosting’ supplements which may help to prevent cognitive decline. Read our article on nootropics to find out what they are and how they may help.
Nootropics are drugs, supplements, or foods and beverages that might improve cognitive functioning, including focus, mood, memory, creativity and motivation. Nootropics are also known colloquially as cognitive enhancers or ‘boosters’. There are several drugs that are purported to improve memory and cognition, but increasing attention is being paid to nutritional supplements, herbs and mushrooms that
Nootropics are drugs,
supplements, or foods and beverages that might improve cognitive functioning,
including focus, mood, memory, creativity and motivation. Nootropics are also
known colloquially as cognitive enhancers or ‘boosters’. There
are several drugs that are purported to improve memory and cognition, but
increasing attention is being paid to nutritional supplements, herbs and
mushrooms that may improve mental functioning too.
There are many
purported nootropic supplements. Some of the most common and most frequently
and other compounds from coffee, tea and cocoa
(especially DHA from fish oil and medium-chain triglycerides)
precursors (such as lecithin/phosphatidylcholine and citicoline)
Korean ginseng (Panax
The nootropics listed above are common either as foods, supplements, or traditional medicines with a long history of use. But do they work?
Clinical Nutritionist Cliff Harvey discusses the evidence for five well known nootropics below.
Acetyl-carnitine is a naturally occurring substance formed in cells when an acetyl group is added to carnitine. Carnitine (created from the amino acid lysine) aids the transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria to be used for energy. Acetyl-carnitine is more easily absorbed and can cross the blood-brain barrier more easily than L-carnitine. Acetyl-L-carnitine has been shown to reduce fatigue, anxiety and depression and age-related cognitive defects3.
2.Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
Brahmi (water hyssop, bacopa, Indian pennywort) is a perennial creeping herb native to India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. It is a traditional Ayurvedic medicinal herb with use as a cognition and memory enhancer5. Several studies have demonstrated the potential for brahmi to improve cognition. It is thought to do so by antioxidant neuroprotection, increasing choline, reducing β-amyloid, increased cerebral blood flow, and by modulating neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, serotonin and dopamine5. In a 2008 randomised controlled trial 160 mg brahmi extract (equivalent to 4 g dried herb) given to volunteers for 90 days resulted in significant improvements to memory accuracy6. A recent (2014) meta-analysis has summarised the findings from nine existing studies (437 participants), showing improved cognition and reaction times7.
Caffeine is a well-known cognitive enhancer. Reviews of the evidence show that caffeine improves attention, vigilance, reaction times and problem-solving (especially in sleep-deprived people)8,9. Large scale reviews of the evidence show significant benefits from caffeine for positive mood and lower perceived fatigue. Doses of 12.5mg up to 400-600mg (<1 to 4-6 cups per day of coffee) provide a positive effect9,10, however, greater doses do not always provide greater benefits to cognition and mood, and typically, the first cup provides the majority of benefits10. Interestingly, habitual users appeared to experience greater cognitive or mood effects compared with low/non‐users10. Tea and coffee both produce similar benefits to mood and cognition10.
Coffee, tea, caffeine
and cognitive decline and dementia
In addition to its acute effect on mood and cognition, caffeine-containing beverages may be protective against cognitive decline and dementia11.
Tea constituents other than caffeine (L-theanine and epigallocatechin gallate) might also improve cognition. A review of the research in this area suggested that caffeine combined with theanine (as found in tea) improved alertness and attention more than caffeine alone12.
The omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, play an important role in brain development and healthy functioning of the brain and central nervous system. DHA, in particular, makes up the majority of the polyunsaturated fat content of the brain, comprising of over 50% of the plasma membrane of neurons. It is also essential to the functioning of the brain and optimising cognition and mood30. Omega-3 fats are linked to reduced mental fatigue31, improved memory and cognition and reduced cognitive decline32,33, reduced rates of depression and improved structural integrity of the brain34,35. Additionally, DHA has also been found to improve cognition and behaviour in children36.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are naturally occurring fats found in small amounts in dairy products and greater amounts in coconut oil. They are also commonly used as isolated supplement oils. MCT supplemented diets improve mental performance in those with Alzheimer’s Disease and age-related cognitive decline37,38, and a single dose of 20g MCT has been shown to improve cognition39.
It’s important to
note that if you are considering the use of an MCT oil supplement, it is
important that you start with a small dosage and scale up your dose slowly. The
reason for this is because having too much MCT oil too quickly can cause
Hericium erinaceus (lion’s mane) mushroom is an edible and medicinal mushroom native to North America, Europe and Asia belonging to the tooth fungus group. Lion’s mane has been shown to increase ‘nerve growth factor’40, which helps nerves and brain cells to grow and repair41–46. Because of this brain-repair effect, lion’s mane is being considered as one of the most promising preventative treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia47,48. It has also been demonstrated to significantly improve mood after four weeks of treatment42 and improve cognitive function49. Lion’s mane might also improve physical performance by reducing perceived fatigue50.
There is no doubt that we are seeing a shift towards more people adopting a plant-based diet. The evidence is clear, eating a diet that is rich in plant-based foods is both beneficial for our health and environmental sustainability. With this being said, there are a number of factors to consider before transitioning to a
never been more plant-based milk alternatives available. Oat, soy, almond,
rice, cashew, macadamia, pea…you name it, there is probably a milk made out of
it! Cow’s milk is a rich source of calcium which is essential for
building and maintaining strong bones and teeth. Because most plant-based milks
are made predominantly from water, it is important to swap to a milk alternate that
has been fortified with calcium (this means that calcium has been added to the
milk). If not, it is important to find your calcium from other food sources.
Swap for: tofu, tempeh, vegan meat
some very crafty ways to re-create the texture and flavour of meat using
plant-based foods. Tempeh, tofu and vegan meats make a good substitute for
animal meat as they contain both protein and iron – a mineral that helps
to transport oxygen around the body. It is important to note however, that the
iron found in plant-based foods (non-haem iron) is not as easily absorbed as
the iron found in animal foods (haem iron). Because of this, it is suggested
that people who do not eat meat need to consume twice as much non-haem iron (plant-based)
than haem iron (animal-based) to meet their recommended daily iron intake.
Protein is an
important component of all the cells in our body and is the building block of
our bones, muscle, cartilage and skin. If you’re looking for a high protein
breakfast without the egg, a tofu scramble or protein chia seed pudding is a
great way to start your day. Chia eggs, flax eggs and silken tofu also make a
great alternative for eggs when baking, whilst still packing a nutritional
punch. Mashed banana and apple sauce also work as egg alternatives in baking
but lack the protein in comparison.
Fish such as
salmon, sardines and maceral are a great source of omega-3 fats. Omega-3
fats are important for maintaining good heart health and also help to reduce
inflammation in the body. Plant-based foods that are rich in omega-3’s include
walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds. If you’re craving something that
is fish flavoured, using kelp powder, dulse flakes or nori sheets in your
cooking is a great way to achieve this flavour whilst also enjoying the
nutritional benefit of marine minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium
and iodine – a mineral that is essential for healthy thyroid function.
own cashew or macadamia nut cheese is a great way to create a creamy, cheese alternative
that can be added to your salads, spread on crackers, or used as a dip to enjoy
with vegetable sticks as a snack. Because the cashews and macadamias are mild
in flavour, adding some sea salt, cracked pepper, herbs and spices really makes
nut-based cheeses come to life. Whilst nut-based cheeses are lower in protein
than dairy cheese, they tend to be lower in saturated fat and sodium, contain healthy
mono- and poly-unsaturated fats, and have higher levels of fibre and essential
vitamins and minerals.
Swap for: coconut, almond or cashew yogurt
Yogurt is a
good source of calcium and the naturally occurring gut-friendly probiotic Lactobacillus
acidophilus. L. acidophilus helps milk to curdle and gives yoghurt
it’s sour taste, whilst also being beneficial for reducing the lactose sugar
found in milk that lots of people have difficulty digesting. There are a number
of plant-based yogurts on the market such as coconut, almond and cashew yogurt
that have probiotics added to them. However, it is more difficult to find
plant-based yogurts that have a calcium content comparable to that of dairy
based yogurts. As mentioned previously, it is important when switching to a
plant-based yogurt, be sure to consume your calcium from another food source.
Swap for: raw chocolate
Unfortunately, many of the commercially produced
chocolates we have come to love so much are highly processed and rely on
refined sugars and artificial flavours that keep you eating and buying more! Fortunately,
the plant-based chocolate market keeps the cacao bean (the bean used to make
chocolate) front and centre, with most brands using raw cacao powder and butter
to create their creamy raw chocolate. Because of this, raw chocolate has quite
a few star qualities, including higher levels of antioxidant polyphenols,
methylxanthines and essential minerals including magnesium, zinc, potassium,
calcium and iron.
Swap for: Banana nice-cream
One of my favourite plant-based swaps for dairy milk ice-cream is banana nice-cream! It is super easy to prepare, nutritious, delicious and can be flavoured to create whatever taste combination you like! Frozen bananas work best as a base, however other frozen fruits such as mangoes and strawberries work too. Try this Vanilla Matcha Protein Nice Cream for a high protein tasty treat!
These swaps are by no means exhaustive. There are many factors that need to be considered when transitioning to a plant-based diet. It is recommended that you consult an Accredited Practicing Dietitian or Qualified Nutritionist for individualised advice and guidance.
We are fortunate enough to have a team full of enthusiastic foodies in the Nuzest HQ office, all of who hold varying health and nutrition related qualifications. This month, we asked our Production Team Assistant Danika Choy to come on the blog to share her tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet. Not only is
We are fortunate enough to have a team full of enthusiastic
foodies in the Nuzest HQ office, all of who hold varying health and nutrition
related qualifications. This month, we asked our Production Team Assistant
Danika Choy to come on the blog to share her tips for transitioning to a
plant-based diet. Not only is Danika a qualified nutritionist, she is also a
vegan who has been following a plant-based lifestyle for over six years.
Below, we discuss Danika’s own experience transitioning to a
plant-based diet; factors that should be considered before transitioning; and
the tips that she wished she had of known before making the switch to a
How long should people take to transition to a plant-based diet?
Transitioning to a plant-based diet does not have to happen
overnight. It may take three weeks for one person or a year for another, so
it’s important to set realistic expectations for your transition. Making
changes to your diet can be both emotionally and socially challenging. I
believe that it’s best to make a slow transition as if you make change at a
comfortable pace, you will always win the race.
What was your experience transitioning to a plant-based diet?
My transition was very extreme. I went through restriction to the
point of being undernourished and felt like I didn’t know what to eat on a day
to day basis. It was hard! I want people to learn from my experiences, which is
why I advocate for a slow and educated transition. I have now been plant based
for six years and am healthy and happy.
Why do you think there is an increasing interest in plant-based living?
I think many people are driven to the plant-based diet movement
due to it being heavily supported by the evolving links of health outcomes such
as psychological wellbeing, a lower risk of chronic conditions such as Type 2
diabetes and coronary heart disease (CVD) and mortality.
Are all plant-based diets equal?
Absolutely not! I don’t think plant-based diets are necessarily
appropriate or beneficial for everybody either. This is why it is critical that
people do their research on plant-based diets and seek the advice of a
qualified nutrition professional such as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian or
Nutritionist before embarking on this change.
What is the biggest consideration that people should make before transitioning to a plant-based diet?
Nutrient bioavailability. Not all nutrients are equal. While most
essential nutrients can be found in foods of both animal and plant origin, the amount
of a nutrient that is absorbed by the body is less from plant foods. In other words,
the bioavailability of nutrients is less in plant-based diets.
There are a few key nutrients that are at high risk of becoming depleted when animal foods are removed from the diet. Read this article to find out what they are and what you can do to reduce your risk of developing a nutrient deficiency.
What are your tips for people looking to transition to a plant-based diet?
Stock your house with a variety of plant foods such as wholegrains, legumes, beans, tofu, tempeh, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.
Plan your meals ahead of time to keep them fun, colourful and exciting
Keep some snacks on hand to ensure you are always prepared on the run
Plant-based diets increase in popularity each year. In fact, Australia is currently the third fastest growing vegan market in the world1. In addition to this, the number of Australian’s who eat all or mostly vegetarian has risen from 1.7 million to 2.1 million in just four short years2. But what exactly is a plant-based diet?
Plant-based diets increase in popularity each year. In fact, Australia is currently the third fastest growing vegan market in the world1. In addition to this, the number of Australian’s who eat all or mostly vegetarian has risen from 1.7 million to 2.1 million in just four short years2.
But what exactly is a plant-based diet? And is it
healthier than an omnivorous diet?
Types of plant-based diets
The true definition of plant-based diets is often
disputed. Some feel that this refers to a diet completely free of animal
products. Others refer to it as a dietary pattern where the majority of food
comes from plant-based sources, however small amounts of animal products may
still be eaten.Common forms of plant-based diets include
Vegans avoid all animal products
such as milk, eggs, poultry, seafood, meat and honey.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians avoid meat,
poultry and fish but do consume eggs and dairy products.
Lacto-vegetarians avoid meat,
poultry, fish and eggs but do consume dairy products.
Ovo-vegetarians eat no meat,
poultry or dairy but do eat eggs.
Pescetarians eat animal products
such as dairy, fish and eggs but avoid meat and poultry.
Why do people decide to follow a plant-based diet?
There are many reasons as to why a person may adopt a plant-based diet. The most common of these include:
Research shows that this type of eating pattern may reduce the risk of many chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes3.
Many people are concerned about the ethics behind consuming meat and other animal products.
Animal agriculture often leads to land clearing and the production of large amounts of methane gas. This process places a large impact on the health of the earth4.
Legumes, nuts, seeds and grains are often cheaper protein sources than meat and poultry.
Religions such as Buddhism or Seventh Day Adventists promote following a vegetarian diet as part of their practice.
Planning a balanced plant-based diet
When swapping to a plant-based diet, it is essential to ensure you are eating an adequate amount of each of the core food groups daily5. These include…
Such as strawberries, oranges, pineapple and watermelon.
Including peas, beans, capsicum, tomato and spinach.
Protein rich foods
Instead of meat, chicken and eggs, plant-based eaters such use proteins such as tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, nuts and seeds. Nuzest Clean Lean Protein can also be a great addition to smoothies or oats to help boost up your daily protein intake.
Such as wholegrain pasta, wraps, bread, quinoa and brown rice.
Dairy and dairy alternatives
Instead of cows-milk dairy products, plant-based eaters may choose calcium-fortified plant milks such as soy, oat or almond milks and yoghurts. Asian greens, broccoli, tahini and tofu also provide a good source of calcium.
Key nutrients to consider on a plant-based diet
Animal products contain many
essential vitamins and minerals. To prevent nutritional deficiencies when
removing these, it is important to replace these foods with the appropriate
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is created by a type of bacteria and is naturally found in foods such as meat, milk and eggs6. It is essential for normal functioning of the brain and nervous system6. Vitamin B12 plays roles in the creation of red blood cells, producing DNA and forming fatty acids in myelin, the coating around our nerves6.
Unfortunately, Vitamin B12 is not
naturally found in any plant-based foods. Because of this, it is important that
people following a completely plant-based diet (ie. consume no animal products)
consider fortified foods or supplements.
in vitamin B12 includeeggs, vitamin B12-fortified
plant-milks, cow’s milk, yoghurt and cheese and nutritional yeast.
Zinc is an important mineral involved in wound healing, skin health, the creation of DNA and metabolism7. The absorption of zinc by the body from plant-based foods is lower than the zinc found in animal-based foods. This is due to many zinc-rich foods containing phytates, a compound that binds to zinc and stops its absorption8,9.
To overcome this, it is beneficial for plant-based eaters to soak their beans, grains and seeds in water for several hours before cooking. This helps to improve zinc absorption. Nuzest Clean Lean Protein is water isolated for this very reason, thus is free of lectins and low in phytates resulting in improved nutrient absorption. One serve of Nuzest Clean Lean Protein provides 3mg zinc.
Foods rich in zinc include tofu,
tempeh, sundried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, almonds
and brazil nuts.
Calcium is well known to be the essential nutrient in dairy. It plays roles in healthy nerve and muscle function and maintains the strength of bones and teeth10.When there is not enough calcium available through the diet, the body breaks down the calcium stored in the bones to supply the amount required in the blood10.Overtime this can weaken the bones and lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Foods richest in calcium include dairy-based yoghurt, milk and cheese, calcium-fortified plant-milks, tahini, Asian greens and hard tofu. Nuzest Good Green Stuff also contains a high 165mg of calcium – that’s the same as half a cup of milk!
Iron is a mineral that is needed for red blood cells to bring oxygen to all parts of the body11. The oxygen is then used to create energy. Low levels of iron can result in anaemia, which comes with symptoms such as fatigue, a fast heartbeat and shortness of breath11.
Like zinc, iron-rich plant foods
are often higher in phytates which can reduce the absorption of iron from
foods. As a result, vegetarian women and men often have lower iron stores than
people who eat meat.
To maximise iron absorption, it
is important to:
Consume iron-rich plant-foods such as
spinach, legumes, almonds, dried apricots and cashews.
Include vitamin C rich foods such as oranges
and kiwi fruit to boost iron absorption.
Keep tea and coffee 1 hour away from meals as
these can reduce iron absorption.
Only use calcium-supplements between meals as
these can also affect iron absorption.
Nuzest Clean Lean Protein is made from European Golden Peas, making it a natural source of iron which is extremely low in phytates!
The Bottom Line
There are many forms of a plant-based diets that can be followed. To confer the most health benefits, it is important to ensure that the diet is predominantly from whole, unprocessed plant foods and reduces or limits animal products. Due to plant-based diets having an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies, it is important to plan your diet appropriately. It may also be worthwhile to consider boosting your diet with Nuzest Good Green Stuff which is rich in the three essential minerals zinc, calcium and vitamin B12!
What we eat each day has a significant impact our own health and the health of the planet. With a rising interest in climate change over recent years, a common question often asked is – what is the most sustainable diet for the planet? A sustainable diet can be defined as one that is nutritious
What we eat each day has a significant
impact our own health and the health of the planet. With a rising interest in
climate change over recent years, a common question often asked is – what is
the most sustainable diet for the planet?
A sustainable diet can be defined as one that is nutritious and healthful and has the lowest impact on the environment and food supply1.
There is no hard and fast rule about what
makes a diet sustainable. However, some food items do have a larger environmental
impact than others. Therefore, reducing some of these high-impact foods can
help to minimise our own environmental footprint on the planet.
Why is a sustainable food supply important?
By 2050, it is estimated that the world will reach a population of 10 billion2.
Having a sustainable food system is
essential. Firstly, it is important we provide enough high quality, nutritious
food to the growing population. This will help to create a healthy population
and minimise the risk of disease. Secondly, the current food system is not
conducive to maintaining the health of the planet. A new food system must be
able to help reduce the impact on environmental change.
There are many things that need to be considered when deciding whether a diet is sustainable or not1. These include…
improving overall population health
nutrient availability of foods
limiting harm on the ecosystem
Could plant-based diets be the answer?
Significant amounts of scientific evidence
continue to link dietary patterns with health outcomes and environmental
sustainability. Despite this, there have been limited global efforts to shift
towards sustainable food production.
However, in 2019 a group of 37 scientists from 16 countries around the world formed the Eat-Lancet Commission3. This scientific group developed targets for our food systems to prevent environmental change3. In addition to targeting sustainable food production, the group also looked at the best diet for planetary health.
The commission encourages a flexible dietary pattern that largely consists of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and unsaturated oils3. It includes a low to moderate amount of seafood and poultry; and includes no or low quantity of red meat, processed meat, added sugar and refined grains3.
According to the commission, this dietary
pattern is not only good for the planet but incurs many health benefits.
How do animal products have an environmental impact?
Animal foods can still be consumed in a sustainable diet, however most research highlights that these foods should be heavily limited1,3. It is widely recognised that agriculture is one of the largest causes of global environmental change. These changes include climate change, deforestation, desertification and damage to marine ecosystems1.
There are multiple factors contributing to
this issue. They include…
methane production from farm animals
water usage to grow crops and feed livestock
In 2014, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations noted that livestock made up 14.5% of all human-induced emissions4.
Food production has also led to the majority (60%) of the world’s fish stocks to be fully fished or overfished5.
Reducing our environmental impact requires
a multifaceted approach. It requires a cultural shift to reduce our dietary reliance
on animal products and promote the consumption of more plant-based foods. It is
also essential that strategies focus on improving agriculture and farming
practices, protecting natural ecosystems and reducing food waste.
The Bottom Line
Having a healthy yet sustainable food system in Australia requires a strong collaboration between government, the private and public sector and individuals. It is important to know that as people, our food choices have a significant impact on ourselves and the planet. Following a primarily plant-based diet is best for health, the environment and the planet.
Clinical Nutritionist and Researcher Cliff Harvey explores the research and reveals whether or not kids need multivitamins below. The simple answer to this question is no. Much like adults, kids do not need to take a multivitamin. As a species, humans survived for hundreds of thousands of years without digestive enzyme supplements, and we can
Clinical Nutritionist and Researcher Cliff Harvey explores the research and reveals whether or not kids need multivitamins below.
The simple answer to this question is no.
Much like adults, kids do not need to take a multivitamin. As a species, humans survived for hundreds of thousands of years without digestive enzyme supplements, and we can get all that we need from food, given the right food, lifestyle and environment.
However, there can be compelling reasons to consider a supplement to help support optimal growth and performance.
Do we get the nutrients we need from diet alone?
As adults, many of us don’t get all the essential micronutrients that we need to thrive from diet alone. This is especially true of vitamin A, B1, B6, B12, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium1,2. Without all of these vital nutrients, we are unable to perform well or have robust good health and this is true for kids too!
Insufficient intakes of nutrients rise rapidly from infancy. From the age of two to four and 14-18, around one third of males and over one quarter of females do not consume sufficient vitamin A. Around one in 10 young women don’t have sufficient vitamin B1 and folate; one in 20 sufficient B12, and one in five sufficient B6. Inadequacy of essential minerals is even more pronounced, with around 80% consuming inadequate amounts of calcium by the age of 18 and over 60% consuming inadequate amounts of magnesium. Iodine, iron, and phosphorus intakes are also particularly concerning in young women, while for boys zinc is reported to be the mineral of concern, with rates of zinc insufficiency rising from almost none at two to four years to over two thirds by older adulthood2.
Why don’t we always get what we need from the diet?
1. We eat more processed food
The major reason for not getting all we need from diet alone is simple; we eat more refined and processed foods. In Australia, around one third or more of our daily energy intake comes from ‘discretionary foods’. Discretionary foods and drinks are “not necessary to provide the nutrients the body needs”. They are rich in energy (calories) and low in the essential and secondary nutrients that are beneficial to overall health2.
Research also indicates that overtime we are eating fewer nutrient-rich whole foods. In fact, it is reported that less than half of us eat the recommended amounts of vegetables and fruit that we should to optimise health3. There have also been changes noted in our snacking behaviours, with snacking (identified as food consumed outside of meal times) contributing to 35% of total energy intake for over 95% of Australian children (aged 2-6 years).
You can learn more about changes in child snacking behaviours and the resulting health impact in this article.
2. Some foods may be lower in essential nutrients than in the past
US Department of Agriculture data shows that some fresh produce (some vegetables, fruits, and berries) may only provide around half the amounts of some vitamins and minerals that they did in the 1950s4. So, while we have been eating more over time, and taking in more than enough calories and ‘fuel’, we aren’t necessarily getting enough of the ‘little guys’ – the vitamins, minerals and secondary nutrients that help every system of the body run optimally.
There are additional reasons as to why our diets are becoming more
Increasingly stressful lifestyles which increase our demand for
A longer ‘food chain’ (i.e. more time in transport and storage and
less local, fresh produce) which can reduce the amounts of nutrients
(especially fragile, water-soluble vitamins)
Lack of variety in food choices and fewer people choosing wild foods
(like previously popular vegetable choices such as dandelion, sow thistle etc.)
How can a multivitamin help kids?
A multivitamin is never a substitute for healthy eating, and the focus should always be on working towards a diet mostly based on natural, unrefined foods. Multivitamins however, can help to ‘fill the gaps’ in nutrition and are considered a safe and effective way to ensure a healthy intake of essential and beneficial nutrients5. In a study of school-age children, memory test scores were improved in children taking a multivitamin6.
supplementation to ensure the adequacy of various nutrients including vitamins
B, C, D, and zinc and magnesium might help to:
The shift towards more sugar and ‘ultra-refined’ processed foods has been detrimental to kids’ health, and our key focus should be on encouraging the receptive minds of young people to become reconnected to the REAL food that their growing bodies and active minds need.
Try to make at least 80% of what you put in your child’s lunchbox (or on their plate) natural, whole, unprocessed food. Check out our article ‘How to Pack a Healthy Lunchbox’ for healthy meal and snack ideas.
Choose natural, unrefined carbohydrate choices (such as sweet potato, yams, potato and some whole, unprocessed grains) over pasta, bread, crackers and other refined choices.
Choose water over fruit juices, cordials and soft drink.
Get kids eating vegetables early! Much of our food preferences are based on what we ‘learn’ to eat early in life. Kids love to copy what adults do as they like to feel like they have ‘grown up’ responsibility. Get kids involved in the kitchen by getting them to pick the vegetables they would like on their dinner plate or in their lunch box. This will increase the likelihood that they will eat their vegetables whilst teaching them how to make healthier food choices.
Use smoothies made with whole, unprocessed foods (such as vegetables, berries, nuts and nut butter, seeds and fruit) as an option in addition to meals to boost vegetable intake. Try this delicious Wild Strawberry Breakfast Smoothie recipe!
Consider a whole food based multinutrient supplement such as Nuzest Kids Good Stuff. Packed full of protein, vitamins and minerals, it has all the elements to set your child up for a good day!
With back-to-school time imminent, our resident Naturopath Stephanie Sarulidis delves deeper into what we can do to boost our kids’ brain health to help them excel at school this upcoming year. It’s about that time of year that we start ticking off the list to make sure we have everything ready for sending our kids
With back-to-school time imminent, our resident Naturopath Stephanie Sarulidis delves deeper into what we can do to boost our kids’ brain health to help them excel at school this upcoming year.
about that time of year that we start ticking off the list to make sure we have
everything ready for sending our kids back to school. Backpack. Books.
Stationary. School uniform. Shoe polish…and the list goes on. And while all of
these elements are important, there is one thing we can do to help make sure
that this next year of school will be even more of a success; fuel our kids
with foods that help to boost brain health, optimise cognition, and support
memory and focus so they have everything they need to live, learn, grow and
Foods for Energy
Kids use up a lot of energy and not just on the playground. In fact, it is now well established that our brains account for up to 20% of our daily energy budget1, making it the most energy-consuming organ in the human body. But this also means that our kids need a decent amount of nutrient-dense fuel to get through a day at school. If your kid struggles to focus all day at school, it might simply be that they are not eating enough to sustain the energy they need to get through a day in the classroom.
Our top foods for kids’ brain energy are…
1. Wholegrains, Fruits and Vegetables
The brain consumes more than 50% of dietary carbohydrates, with approximately 80% of those being used for energy purposes alone2. As such, carbohydrates are an extremely important macronutrient to consume for brain energy. However, not all carbohydrates are created equal.
Low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates, referring to carbohydrates that are digested slower and have a reduced impact on post-prandial (post-meal) blood glucose (sugar) response, have been shown to be the preferential choice when it comes to supporting sustained energy release3. This means your littles one stay fuller for longer and don’t go through peaks and troughs throughout the day – better for mood, energy and focus.
Our favourite low GI carbohydrates include wholegrains (such as whole- or multigrain breads, cereals, legumes, rice), and fruits and vegetables (think berries, stone fruit, kiwis, carrots, celery, broccoli, zucchini and tomatoes).
Studies on children found that consuming low GI foods helps to improve the quality and duration of intellectual performance2. Furthermore, on studies across all ages, it was found that poorer glycaemic control (perpetuated by consuming high GI foods such as highly refined sugars and junk food) is associated with impaired cognitive function and lower performances on tests of memory2.
Interestingly, low GI foods tend to be higher in fibre than their high GI counterparts. In studies, the presence of dietary fibre has shown to be associated with higher alertness ratings and less perceived stress2.If you consider all the extra micronutrients you get from these foods on top of their low GI benefits, it is easy to see why wholegrains, fruits and vegetables are extremely important for kids’ energy at school2.
2. Legumes, Nuts and Dark Leafy Greens
The collective effect of the B vitamins are particularly important to numerous aspects of brain function including energy and neurotransmitter production, and the synthesis of numerous neurochemicals and signalling molecules4.And while most studies focus on the small sub-set of B9, B6 and B12, evidence suggests that adequate levels of all eight B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5 and biotin (B7) as well, is essential for optimal physiological and neurological functioning.
This is in fact so much so, that observations from human research clearly shows that a significant proportion of the population of developed countries suffer from deficiencies or insufficiencies of the B vitamins, and that in the absence of an optimal diet, supplementation of the B vitamins is recommended for preserving brain health4. Foods that contain a variety of the B vitamins include legumes, mushrooms, nuts, wholegrain cereals, leafy vegetables, eggs and high quality meats and fish.
Foods for Brain Health: learning, concentration, memory and focus
enough energy to get through the day is the first of the fundamentals for a
great day at school. Next on the list though, is ensuring your kids get enough
of the good stuff to help support learning, concentration, memory and focus to
help put that energy to good use.
Our top foods for kids’ concentration, memory and focus are…
Protein occurs in all living cells and is an important macronutrient for children’s growth and development5. And when it comes to brain health, high quality protein sources are required to allow your child’s brain to grow, develop and function adequately.
The central nervous system (CNS) where your brain lives, requires numerous amino acids found in protein foods for the production and function of various neurotransmitters (the connections between cells in your brain that help you learn and allow your body to follow your brains’ instructions), cognitive performance and balanced mood6.
Protein foods also tend to be good sources of B-vitamins, and help to balance blood sugar levels and provide long-lasting sustainable energy. Our top choices of protein include nuts, seeds and fatty fish (because these also include omega-3 fats), pulses, legumes and lean free-range meat and poultry.
2. Avocados, Walnuts, Flaxseeds and Chia Seeds
About 60% of your brain is made up of fat, half of which is comprised of omega-3 fatty acids7. Omega-3s are utilised to build brain and nerve cells, and are essential for learning and memory7,8. In particular, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA – one of the fatty acids that make up omega-3) is vital for normal brain function, and optimal visual and cognitive development. However, it’s a nutrient that usually has low intake amongst children, thus impacting their cognitive capacity9.
One systematic review, published in Nutrients journal, confirmed the importance of DHA in cognition, behaviour and school performance in healthy school-age children, and in particular the benefit of supplementing with DHA to combat the low intake amongst this age group9. Foods such as avocados, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and fatty fish are all great, natural sources of omega-3 and DHA.
3. Cruciferous Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds and Wholegrains
Choline is an essential nutrient for normal brain development and function, cognitive processes and memory10. Thankfully, many common foods contain choline, such as quinoa, almonds, walnuts, mushrooms, broccoli, peas, carrots, oranges, bananas, apples, kiwifruit and eggs.
More than half of dietary choline is consumed as phosphatidylcholine, with one of the richest source of phosphatidylcholine being found in lecithin11. In fact, lecithin, a component of sunflowers and their seeds, has been used to help support the management of cognitive decline and impairment due to its concentration of phosphatidycholine11.
Water is essential for life. Not only is it the major contributing factor to our body’s build, it is also an essential component for carrying nutrient to cells. In other words, without water, none of the nutrients on this page would be able to get to where they need to go, to do what they need to do.
In terms of brain health specifically, studies show that water plays an important part in brain function and cognitive performance. So much so that a 1% or more body water deficit can impair focus, attention and short-term memory12.
The longest time we go without water is during the eight hours that we sleep overnight, so it is important for children to have a glass of water in the morning to help prep their brain for the big day ahead. It is also important that kids have frequent water throughout the day to help maintain proper hydration.
Foods for Protection
Being a kid can be taxing. And while we yearn for our younger years where we were vibrant, full of energy and free of taxes, it’s important to remember that kids do experience stress, especially due to changing societal expectations and the impact of learning, playing and growing day-in and day-out.
While stress is a normal part of everyday life, too much stress can be detrimental to a child’s brain health, cognitive and emotional development13. And while we can’t avoid stress entirely, there are ways you can help to reduce the impact of, and protect against, normal stress on your child’s body and brain.
Our top foods for protecting kids’ brain health are…
Antioxidants are elements that protect your brain against oxidative stress, which you can otherwise think about as protecting your brain against wear and tear14. Fruits that are brightly coloured, such as berries, are high in antioxidants, and as a general rule of thumb, the more brightly coloured, the more nutrient dense they are.
Blueberries in particularly are renowned for being one of the most potent sources of antioxidants, and are known to support brain function, reduce inflammation and display neuroprotective (brain protective) properties14. All berries, however, do contain antioxidant properties, plus they’re colourful and delicious and kids love them! So, don’t forget about strawberries, cranberries, raspberries, goji or acai berries.
2. Dark Leafy Greens
True to the rule of vibrantly coloured health, dark leafy greens, including spinach and kale, are a potent vegetable source of vitamin C, which is known to be a vital antioxidant molecule in the brain15. They are also a great source of vitamin K, which is essential in healthy bone development16.
3. Nuts and Seeds
Not only are they full of protein and essential fatty acids, nuts and seeds are also great natural sources of vitamin E and selenium, which are two of the key nutritional antioxidants. While nuts may not be allowed at schools, sunflower seeds (whether whole or in a spread) are a great option for nut-free zones. They contain all the goodness listed above plus have the added benefits of being one of the most well-known sources of lecithin. They’re a tiny powerhouse packed with so much nutrition18.
While all of these foods are at the top of our list for kids’ brain health, we understand that eating all of these in the right amounts every day can be challenging for even the most diligent of households.
Thankfully, multinutrient formulas such as Nuzest Kids Good Stuff helps to provide your kids with all the important nutrients they need, including those listed above, in a delicious formula that can simply be mixed with water and enjoyed. Formulated specifically with kids’ needs in mind, made with real fruit and veg, and designed to help fill nutritional gaps in their daily diets, Nuzest Kids Good Stuff provides the perfect balance to give your kid everything they need to live, learn, grow and play – all in one daily serve.
A healthy lunchbox is important for active children. When children eat well, they have more energy and learn better as they are able to listen and concentrate for longer1, 2. A healthy lunchbox will look different for different children…after all, each child has varying nutritional requirements and their own individual taste and food preferences! With
A healthy lunchbox is important for active children. When children eat well, they have more energy and learn better as they are able to listen and concentrate for longer1, 2.
A healthy lunchbox will look different for different children…after
all, each child has varying nutritional requirements and their own individual taste
and food preferences! With this being said, there are a few lunchbox must-haves
that parents should keep in mind when planning their child’s lunch and snacks.
Our in-house dietitian Rachel Hawkins shares six tips for creating a healthy, balanced and tasty lunchbox.
1. High fibre, wholegrain carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are a major energy source for the brain and body2. Wholegrain carbohydrates are higher in fibre than refined carbohydrates, so will help to sustain your child’s energy levels. Food sources of wholegrain carbohydrates include multigrain breads, wraps and pastas, and seeded crackers and crispbreads.
If your child only eats white bread, simply opt for a high fibre
variety. Alternatively, slowly transition your child to wholegrain bread by
making their sandwiches with one slice of white bread and one slice of wholegrain
Protein is an important component of a child’s lunchbox because it helps to keep them feeling full and satisfied2. Protein-rich foods also help to provide other important nutrients such as iron, magnesium and B-vitamins. Protein can be found in foods of animal origin such as beef, chicken, turkey, lean ham, tuna, eggs and yogurt. It can also be found in plant foods such as chickpeas, beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh and edamame.
Adding protein to your child’s lunch box can be relatively simple.
Try adding a lean meat to their sandwich, hard boiling some eggs or adding
things such as yogurt pouches or homemade bliss balls such as our Brownie Bliss Ball recipe
for a snack.
Fruits (and vegetables) are an important part of your child’s lunchbox as they contain fibre and important vitamins and minerals that help to keep them healthy3. Fruit in the lunchbox doesn’t have to be whole fruit like the traditional banana or apple. It can be cut up, frozen, dried or canned. Try alternating fresh fruit with dried or packaged fruit such as sultanas or peaches in natural juice. Frozen grapes and melon balls make a great lunchbox addition in the warmer months too. Aim to include one to two pieces of fruit in their lunchbox per day.
Tip: Get your children involved in packing their lunch box and ask
them what fruit they would like packed each day!
4. Vegetables, legumes and beans.
Much like fruit, vegetables, legumes and beans are a fantastic source of fibre and essential vitamins and minerals, all of which help to protect against disease3,4. Legumes in particular are a great choice for younger children as they help to meet their increased needs for iron, zinc and protein4. Try snack sized vegetable pieces such as cherry tomatoes, snow peas, carrot sticks or baby corn spears. Baked beans, hummus, and roasted chickpeas also make great choices.
5. Dairy or calcium-fortified dairy alternatives.
Dairy products are an important part of a child’s diet1,2,5. They are a good source of energy and protein and contain a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, which is important for building healthy teeth and bones2,5. Unsweetened calcium-fortified dairy alternatives such as soymilk, yogurt and cheese also count here and can make good alternatives to dairy products if your child has an allergy5. Aim to include one serve of dairy in your child’s lunch box each day. Think yogurt tubs, cheese sticks and milk.
Struggling to add a dairy or calcium-fortified dairy alternative
to your child’s lunch box? Try at breakfast time instead with this Wild Strawberry Breakfast
The body loses water through normal processes such as breathing, sweating and digestion, so it’s important that your child rehydrates by drinking fluids that contain water6. Aim to include a bottle of water in your child’s lunchbox every day. Better yet, put a frozen bottle of water (that will melt into a cool drink) in their lunchbox to help keep their food cool. If you struggle to get your child to drink water, try to make it more interesting by flavouring it with fruit or putting it in a fun water bottle. Sugar sweetened drinks such as fruit juice, cordial and soft drink should be kept out of the lunchbox and limited to every other day if on the menu.
This month, we have been debunking common detoxing myths and talking all things New Year’s Resolutions. Here at Nuzest HQ, we are committed to educating consumers through current research and providing resources and inspiration to help them be the happiest and healthiest versions of themselves. As part of this commitment, we thought that it would
This month, we have been debunking common detoxing myths and talking all things New Year’s Resolutions. Here at Nuzest HQ, we are committed to educating consumers through current research and providing resources and inspiration to help them be the happiest and healthiest versions of themselves.
As part of this commitment, we thought that it would be fun to share a ’roundup’ of the research that catches our eye every month and break it down into easy-to-digest summaries for you.
This month, we look at whether cleansing diets improve cravings, energy and sleep quality; we debunk the age-old myth that it takes 21- days to form a habit; and explore what happens to the blood glucose response when sugar is swapped for stevia!
‘Cleansing’ diets significantly improve self-reported health markers relating to cravings, energy levels and sleep quality
A small exploratory study in a community of Appalachia, US,
has discovered that ‘detox’ diets purported to eliminate toxins from the body
significantly improve certain self-reported health measures.
Volunteers for the study participated in a pre-defined ‘clean’
diet for three weeks and completed three anonymous surveys to track their
progress: one pretest before beginning the program (PRE), one roughly one week
after completion (1wPOST) and one follow-up eight weeks after the end of the
diet period (8wPOST).
Thirty-four individuals completed the PRE surveys, 15
individuals completed the 1wPOST surveys and eight individuals completed the
8wPOST surveys. Results comparing the PRE, 1wPOST and 8wPOST surveys found
significant overall differences seen in the health characteristics of craving
sweet/salty foods, “giving in” to cravings, energy levels and sleep quality.
Due to the small sample size of this study and the fact that
no clinical outcomes were measured, further research is needed to determine
whether cleanses actually improve cravings, energy levels and sleep quality.
However, the results of this exploratory study do provide interesting insight
into the potential benefits that cleanses may have on mindset and the positive
impact this may have on overall health.
Davisson L, Sofka S. “Cleanse” detoxification diet
program in Appalachia: Participant characteristics and perceived health effects.
J Complement Integr Med 2019;pii:
How the fallacy of the 21-day new healthy habit began with plastic surgery
With new year’s resolutions well underway, many people might
still be thinking that it only takes 21 days to form a new habit. Truth be told
though; this is simply not correct. In fact, it’s more likely to take you
around three times as long.
According to an article in the British Journal of General
Practice, forming a new habit within 21 days is unrealistic, and instead,
it is more likely to take you 66 days for automaticity to plateau (meaning, it
takes about 66 days for you to adopt a behaviour into your normal, everyday,
It appears though that this myth originated from anecdotal
evidence around patients who had received plastic surgery treatment and took
approximately 21 days to psychologically adjust to their new appearance.
Unfortunately for the rest of us however, this adjustment period somehow made
its way into guidance around health habit formation.
Thankfully though, the article explores how psychological
theory and evidence around simple and sustainable habit-formation suggests that
working effortfully on a new habit for two to three months is the best way to
make a new habit second nature! So simply starting on your resolution and
working at it till the end of March should see you well on your way to making a
healthy habit for life.
Gardner B, Lally P, Wardle J. Making health habitual: the
psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice. Br J Gen Pract
How combining stevia and cocoa when baking muffins may help reduce glycaemic response
Muffins are delicious. There’s no doubt about it. But generally, they contain high amounts of sugar that when over-consumed, isn’t always so good for your health. As a team of nutrition-conscious foodies (hence why we love adding Nuzest Clean Lean Protein to our baking) we are always looking for ways to make the foods we love better for us and our tastebuds. Thankfully, a group of scientists from China and New Zealand heard our baking prayers and decided to test ways in which to make muffins healthier, while still remaining scrumptious. The results were published in Foods journal.
The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of replacing sugar in muffins with either 50% or 100% stevia alongside adding natural flavour enhancers (cocoa and vanilla) for their effect on the physical properties of muffins and postprandial (after-meal) glycaemic response in comparison to a control muffin formulation with no stevia, cocoa or vanilla.
The results of the study? Nutritious and delicious.
The team discovered that replacing the sugar with stevia
significantly improved in vitro (test tube) glycaemic response during
digestion and helped to reduce the blood glucose response that is so commonly
experienced following the consumption of high sugary foods. This is due to the
fact that stevia lacks the calories and carbohydrates of sucrose, meaning there
are no sugars released during digestion.
The study concludes that the full or partial replacement of
sugar with stevia in muffins produces a treat with quality characteristics
close to that of a full-sucrose muffin sample, however with greater associated
health benefits thanks to a reduction in postprandial blood sugar levels. The
results of this study provide an interesting avenue for future clinical (human)
Gao J, Guo X, Brennan MA, et al. The potential of
modulating the reducing sugar released (and the potential glycemic response) of
muffins using a combination of a stevia sweetener and cocoa powder. Foods