Category: Nutrition

Charcoal: hype or benefits?

The latest trend is Charcoal…

From BBQ fuel to facial scrub and internal “magic” detox, charcoal is the latest trend

In the world of natural health, there is always a new trend, a “new kid on the block”. In this case, it’s actually an old kid, but rebranded and well marketed… the latest trend is Charcoal. What is it, why would you use it and what does it do? Read on and find out.

Charcoal: the basics

Once used as fuel for heaters, or for artists as a drawing tool, now charcoal is popular for different reasons. Charcoal is the end product of solid fuel burns. That can be things like wood or coconut husks. Technically, this is a slow process, done in the absence of oxygen, in a contained environment. No air means the very slow burning of wood allows charcoal to form. Uniquely, the slow-burn process means that water and gases are removed from the wood. This so-called “activated charcoal” is now porous, like a sponge with millions of tiny holes in it. These pores can capture, bind and remove toxins, heavy metals, and poisons.

Charcoal commercialised

Of course, having a natural “toxin sponge” that is relatively cheap to produce, and is widely available, leads to commercial exploration of such a product. Until now, charcoal was used mostly by savvy travellers who had heard about its ability to help with travel bugs such as “Bali Belly”. A few days of charcoal caps usually solves the problem efficiently, without harmful effects. As such, charcoal has been used for decades, and this is not a new find. Yet now, charcoal is the latest trend in self-medication for health and beauty…

What you need to know about charcoal

Charcoal is natural. That’s great. In gastric upsets, it binds the toxin or bug, and removes it naturally. However, charcoal also binds essential minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Therefore, charcoal intake should be limited to a maximum of 3-4 days at the most, at any given time. Unfortunately, the current new products come to market as Detoxifiers, a magic buzz word that sells products really well! Charcoal is a magnificent detoxifier, but only in the gut. Charcoal will do nothing for toxins circulating in the body, or trapped in organs such as the liver, lungs, kidneys and brain. So, that claim makes it a hype.

Moreover, even though these commercial health products may have a small printed warning about extensive use, you may not notice this. If you buy it in a supermarket, nobody will tell you, and if you buy it in a pharmacy, it all depends on whether someone advises you on the harm of using charcoal long-term.

The latest trend is charcoal…

To be honest, charcoal is really useful. You’ll find it in facial and body washes or masks, to purify the skin. You can buy charcoal toothpaste, for whiter teeth (claim unsubstantiated). It is great for a few days use for upset stomachs, bloating and travel bugs. But now, according to advertisements, you can use it in capsule form for detoxifying and beauty from within…and those claims makes it both a trend and a hype! So, beware of this, and use it sensibly. If you are after a total body detox, contact the clinic for a proper treatment plan at

Don’t add charcoal to smoothies, as it will prevent the absorption of the nutrients of that smoothie. Same goes for juices; if you make you own, don’t add charcoal, now matter how trendy it is. Research shows commercial apple juice with added charcoal has a reduced vitamin C, B1, B2 and B5 content. Adding charcoal to health foods is a waste of time and money, and reduces absorption of those magnificent nutrients in that health food you just spent a fortune on. Be wise, use charcoal only when needed!

Charcoal…make it your friend but not your permanent companion!

USA declares war on eggs

Eggs are in the news again…let me unscramble the myths for you

Oh no…the decades-long debate about eggs has just flared up again. A new study from the USA declares war on eggs due to cholesterol content. However, reading the actual study (which I have!), I’d say this is open to interpretation. Let’s unscramble what the media outlets spew out, and put it in perspective. War on eggs. Really?

Good egg, bad egg

How do you like your eggs? Soft boiled? By all means, that’s a good egg. Fried in oil, with bacon? Unfortunately, that’s a bad egg. Why, you ask? Because of the cholesterol, that’s why. Frying…bacon…it all adds up. However, there’s so much more to it than counting milligrams (mg) of cholesterol in an egg in order to declare war on it. Let’s face it, eggs are one of the most debated foods in our daily diet, and guidelines keep changing. That doesn’t help you, and you feel confused. For this reason, I’m giving you all the key scientific facts. Then we’ll get back to the debate.

Egg facts

  • Eggs contain cholesterol in the yolk only
  • A large egg can contain up to 186 mg of cholesterol in the yolk
  • If you dry-fry an egg (no oil), the cholesterol content is about the same as for boiled, poached or scrambled.
  • Eggs contain vital nutrients: they are a superb source of protein, and have plenty minerals, vitamins and good fatty acids that are essential for vision, brain function and … heart health!
  • Raw, lean Sirloin steak contains around 100 mg of cholesterol per 100 grams. A strip of (uncooked) bacon contains around the same( average 1 mg for every gram)

The birthplace of cholesterol

First of all, your body makes cholesterol. It is a hormone. In fact, it’s the Mother of all Hormones, and essential to human survival. Under stress, the body produces more cholesterol. As a result, that vital, fatty, unwanted molecule helps produce cortisol and adrenaline. We need these hormones to cope with stressful situations. In cave-man speak: These are our fight-or-flight hormones. It’s natural for cholesterol to go up when stress is present. However, the cave folk did not have eggs and bacon for breakfast and perhaps a burger and fries on the way home to the cave. Oh no…they burnt up their cholesterol by utilising the provided hormones to fight or run.

We don’t engage in physical fights anymore. Our stress-cholesterol has nowhere to go. Instead, we add to it by not-so-good food choices at times of stress. Burgers, fries, donuts; those are the foods we go for when we need a ‘stress fix’. Nasty bosses, horrible traffic, too many bills, emails, and grumpy teens…high fat, high sugar is what the body craves at such moments. All high-cholesterol foods.

Back to the egg…

In short, the findings that stood out in this latest research looked at egg consumption over 17 years, and involved around 30.000 people. That’s a good study set-up in itself. Risk factors for heart disease went up in 27% of the group at two eggs per day. However, critics of the study, and even the authors, point out that many other foods are unaccounted for. Red meat, processed meats and high-fat dairy such as butter and whipped cream also have high cholesterol content. In other words, do we declare war on the egg? Not necessarily. Furthermore, according to Harvard and other medical powerhouses, the link between dietary intake of cholesterol, and heart disease is hard to prove. And that’s why the egg debate will rise…and fall…and rise…and fall.

Enjoy your eggs responsibly!

Of course, you’re sensible enough to not eat two eggs daily. Not only that, try something new. Swap bacon for wilted spinach, or grilled mushrooms and tomatoes. Have them scrambled with chives, and use low-fat milk. Poach to top navy beans and a bit of chilli sauce for a high protein, high fibre filling meal. Whatever you do, don’t cut out these healthy gifts of nature, jam-packed with healthy nutrients

For an assessment of your dietary cholesterol intake, why not do a three-day Foodzone? Then you’ll know exactly where you’re at.

Shrinkflation…smaller food sizes, same old price


These delicious mini tomatoes are the best form of avoiding manufacturer’s Shrinkflation

We have a new buzzword…Shrinkflation! What does it mean? Well, simply put, shrinkflation is what you experience in the supermarket. Smaller food sizes, smaller packaging. Not only do we see this in ready-to-eat meat products like sausage rolls, but also in confectionery and in snack foods. Smaller size, but at the same price. Generally speaking, it may only be a 10 or 15 gram reduction, but in some cases it can be up to 17% of the original size. No doubt, you have noticed this yourself. And you probably were not too impressed…less bang for your buck, that’s shrinkflation for you.

Shrinkflation, the good side…

Being offered a smaller portion size is good for our health. Recently released statistical data from the UK shows that by reducing portion size, it helps curb the obesity trend. In that case, with Australia being at the top end of the World Obesity Ranking, that is probably not a bad thing. Considering that 1 in 4 Aussie kids is obese, and that 68% of adults carry too much weight, shrinkflation may help us in a subtle way. Not great for your hip pocket, but better for your waist.

Less calories, less sugar, salt and fats, that’s Shrinkflation!

The media can come across with messages about smaller sized products in different ways. Mostly, it’s negative, and focuses on the “rip off” aspect to the consumer. However, data now shows we actually benefit from these reduced serves of foods we shouldn’t really have anyway.

Fresh foods never suffer from shrinkflation

When choosing a healthy and balanced diet, make sure at least 80-90% of your daily intake is made from scratch. That means fresh, seasonal and home cooked. This way, you avoid manufacturer’s shrinkflation, and you eat much better. Fresh foods come in “shrunk” sizes too these days, but not as a rip-off. Mini cucumbers are the latest rage, and are rich in minerals, water, fibre and other nutrients. Mini tomatoes are readily available in many varieties, from cherry to Roma, and contain vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants. 

So…snack away on mini natural foods and you will beat Shrinkflation by a mile. Good for your hip pocket, great for your waistline, and better for the planet too! 

Summer Salmon Salad

Summer Salmon Salad

Salmon Salad, a delicious meal for hot days….eat it with fresh, crusty sourdough bread, or, as shown, use Cos lettuce leaves for scoops of mouth-watering, healthy summer food with added crunch

Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves 4-6


2 medium potatoes 
1 can pink salmon, 415 g.
1 can red salmon, 105 g.
2-3 tbsp. whole egg mayonnaise, soy-mayonnaise or an egg-free substitute
3-4 tbsp. of good quality real, natural yogurt (Greek style, thick)
1/2 tbsp. of tomato sauce
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
fresh lemon juice

Cos lettuce leaves
Boiled eggs

How to make it (even for low level cooking skills)

Peel and boil potatoes. Drain, mash with fork, set aside to cool.
Drain the liquid from the cans of salmon. Mix red and pink together; the red salmon adds depth of flavour while pink salmon keeps costs down.
Clean salmon: remove black skin parts, etc., but keep bones in the mixture. Mash with fork or with blender to ensure bones are completely emulsified (the bones provide excellent calcium, so why throw them out?).

Mix cleaned salmon in with potatoes. Set aside.

Mix mayo (or substitute), tomato sauce, mustard and yogurt in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice to own liking. 

Mix sauce into potato and salmon mix. Mash together, but keep a level of texture in it; don’t “puree” it. Store in fridge for 1 hour before serving.

Serve as desired:  add boiled eggs, tomatoes, etc as per your own liking. See photo. Serve with fresh breads, in a wrap, on a Cos leaf or as a dip with crackers.

This Salmon Salad can be stored in the fridge for maximum 48 hours.

TIP: Do not mix tomatoes and cucumber into the Salmon Salad mix. The liquids from these vegies will make the mixture go quite soggy, and it will diminish flavour and texture.

What are manufactured meats?

A plate full of quality cold cuts is preferable to many other products

Manufactured meats…mystery foods with strange ingredients

Almost everyone will have some form of manufactured meats in their fridge. (Unless you are vegan or vegetarian). Manufactured meats are a common staple food. Your family likes them, is used to them and expects them. But, do you know what is in them? Generally speaking, manufactured meats are mystery foods with strange ingredients. Read on, and be prepared to be shocked.

Ham, kabana, salami, sausages…

Of course, ham is a favourite for sandwiches. Kabana or salami cannot be missing from any decent party platter.
Not only that, but your BBQ is simply not complete without a dozen humble sausages sizzling away. Manufactured meats are everywhere, are a common part of the Australian diet, and can be of a good, or a terrible quality. Which meats are okay for your family, and what should you avoid, or at least be aware of?

What can you expect in manufactured meats?

What can you expect in manufactured meats? Good question. It all depends on the manufacturer, the type of meat, the quality and its shelf life.

Meat products ingredients are governed by regulations. However, regulations use the term “meat” loosely. Meat can be anything that is connected to an animal, except for offall. Unfortunately, everything found between the nose to the tip of the tail is regarded as meat, apart from the heart, tongue, liver, kidneys, brain and tripe. That leaves a lot of body parts you don’t really want not eat! Manufactured meats need to have a minimum of 50% “meat”, and no more than 50% fat.

In general, products that are hand-made or from an artisan source (such as special salamis, Polish sausages, and other delicatessen) may potentially have the best( i.e. cleanest) ingredients. Most often, these products are made with care, love and traditional recipes. However, be aware that salt will always be high. Sodium works as a preservation agent, and seals moisture in the product. Ask about the use of preservatives; real craftspeople won’t mind.

Not just sausages…

Sadly, it’s not just sausages filled with the cheapest and nastiest body parts permitted. The same goes for Frankfurters, hot dogs, cocktail sausages, Devon, Spam and the so-called “Smiley” or “Thomas the Tank Engine” sliced meats you can buy at any supermarket. Not only is the meat content of extremely low quality (that’s why it’s cheap), these products are also full of additives. The colours of the meat (red, pink, and mixed in the Smiley) stand out as quite un-natural. That’s because they are! Bright pink hotdogs look like that because of the use of nitrites/nitrates. Same for the patterns in kids’ cold meats. Other additives will be present too, making these foods very undesirable. Meat pies have come under scrutiny too, as they are well-known to contain huge amounts of fat; some pies only contain 23% meat! The rest is…you don’t want to know…

Nitrates, sulphates and sodium

Generally speaking, manufactured meats contain Nitrates/Nitrites, Sulphites and Sodium. Nitrites give meat a bright, fresh, red colour. Nitrates occur naturally in plants and foods and pose no risk. Chemical nitrites do. They are regarded as potential carcinogenic. Sulphur is a naturally occurring chemical too, and does no harm. In fact, it is an important component of the anti-inflammatory effect of foods such as cabbage and broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cauliflower. It is also in eggs. However, sulphur dioxide (SO2) is approved as a preservative. As a result, sulphites can cause severe allergic reactions in those who are sulphur sensitive.

Shape, colour, texture…your clues to manufactured meat choices

Let’s be real. The shape, colour and texture of the manufactured meat can tell you a lot. Is it a natural ham-off-the-bone? Great. If you like ham, enjoy! Is it a square, pre-sliced piece of meat, in exactly the right size to fit a sandwich? Run as fast as you can…Surely, no pig is born with a square bum the size of your bread. This is not real. This is compressed meat. Highly likely, it’s injected with salty water. Water increases weight, (increases profit) and salt holds the water! Furthermore, expect preservatives for long shelf-life(sulphites) and nitrites to give it colour. The same applies to the Smiley and Thomas sliced meats. No meat is born that way!

Being smart about manufactured meats

Being smart about manufactured meats will help you determine what you permit in your body. Want some bacon on a Sunday morning? Of course, not really a great food, full of sodium and the above-mentioned preservatives, but view it as a treat. Not too often, then it’s (sort of) okay. Serving a party platter? Look for alternatives to pre-packed mass-produced hams, etc. Try Prosciutto or Parma ham( expensive but worth it) or local ham-off-the-bone. Same for salami; good quality hand-made, but accept some sulphites and nitrates as well. Ask your local butcher or deli if you can read the label of the product if available. Avoid hot dogs, cocktail sausages, Devon, Smileys and the lot. After all, you can live without those!

Choose wisely, look for quality over price, and enjoy your occasional manufactured meats as a treat

Golden Date Milk

Golden Date Milk, for a good’s night rest

Golden Date Milk

Golden Date Milk…an even better version of the popular Golden Milk, this recipe brings extra benefits for a restful sleep. With Golden Date Milk, you include dates, obviously, and vary some of the original ingredients to your own liking. Golden Milk originates from India, whereas Date Milk has its roots in the Middle East.

Normally, in India, spices such as turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom simmer in cow- or plant-based milk. First of all, there are numerous benefits of turmeric: it is anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and good for brain health and mood regulation. Secondly, cinnamon has blood sugar regulating abilities and helps improve digestion and soothing the stomach. To top it off, ginger is an anti-inflammatory too, a digestive stimulant, and has a natural chemical compound that has slight sedative qualities. All in all, a winner on all fronts. Even more so, as research has shown that in combination, these spices have even more impressive health benefits.

In addition, we include dates in this recipe, giving it an more Middle Eastern twist. There, kids and adults drink Date Milk before bed to get a good night’s rest. Dates are rich in tryptophan, which helps relaxation. Combine the two recipes and cultures and you get a great-tasting Golden Date Milk drink that promotes restfulness and sleep. Moreover, it’s easy to prepare, and full of minerals and anti-oxidants.

Golden Date Milk Recipe

  • 200 ml milk of your choice – cow or plant-based
  • 5 Medjool dates, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground turmeric, or 1 tsp powdered turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger, or 1/2 tsp of ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder, to sprinkle on top
  • 1 tsp of honey (optional, as the dates already make this a sweet tasting drink)

Put all ingredients, except cinnamon, in a small pot and bring to heat. Once at near-boiling point, reduce heat and simmer on lowest setting for around 10 minutes. Strain as desired, or chew the little date pieces in the milk to add extra taste. Serve with the cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Be mindful that little children can choke on the date pieces, so straining is a must.

This delicious and highly beneficial drink is also really nice as a cold milk drink. You can make bigger quantities as desired and store it in the fridge for up to 48 hours.

Sweet dreams…Golden Date Milk

Mango Iced tea

A cool recipe for hot days…Mango Iced Tea

Use per 1 liter water
4 teabags
1 large ripe mango or two small ones
1 tbsp. of honey or raw sugar (optional)
squeeze of lemon or lime juice

Make this recipe as is, or dilute it with ice-cubes or water

Full of anti-oxidants and vitamin C

Boil half of the water and pour over teabags. Brew 3-5 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. Meanwhile, peel the fruit. Slice the outer layer of the mango into small chunks of flesh, drop them in the remaining 500 ml cold water. Hold the remaining mango above the cold water and squeeze the flesh around the pip while removing the remainder of the flesh as a pulp. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime, and stir.

Remove teabags, stir in honey/sugar until dissolved. Mix the tea brew with the mango water. Set in fridge to cool. Make it taste super special by serving it sprinkled with some coconut flakes and a dusting of cinnamon. Do it as a mocktail? Serve in cocktail glass and add a thin slice of lemon on the side of the glass  to make it look super fancy

This recipe works with all current seasonal stone fruits, and is a great way to use up fruit that is getting almost too ripe. Mixing fruits can be really good too; adding pineapple creates an even richer flavour to your iced tea.

Have a great summer

Top trends nutrition

Top trends in nutrition 

What’s hot, and what’s not?

Manufacturers and producers try to stay a step ahead of new, all-important consumer trends. So, what’s hot for 2019? Read on and see what experts predict as top trends for our food, diet and nutrition.

Fibre, a simple food in the top trends

Research shows that in the UK, fibre-rich food intake has gone up by 33% across the population. As we learn more about the benefits of fibre, its popularity rises. From gut health to weight management, and even mental health, keep your eyes on this food group. In addition to fibre, pre- and probiotics will play a key role in our health, nutrition and foods this year.

Techno food and nutrition trends

Can we expect the rise of “personalised nutrition” to boom in the next few years? In 2019, we see lots of start-up firms expanding in this field. We are already very familiar with wearable apps and tech tools that let us measure activity levels, heart rate, calorie intake and more. Now we seem ready to let companies tailor our diets based on our DNA. Whether this is affordable for each person remains to be seen. Furthermore, there is clear evidence that it’s not just our DNA that predicts health or illness…our environments play a huge role too, be that clean air or too much stress. Because of that, this is an area to watch and the future will tell if this is a viable solution to optimal health.

Pre-, pro- and post-biotics: nutrition trends to watch

Pre-and probiotics experienced a surge of exiting new applications in the past year, and this will continue. The more we learn about the ‘microbiome’ the more uses we find for ‘biotic substances’. First, we decoded the human genome, or the genes we are born with. Now, we know that the bacteria that live in out body have their own genes and  ‘genome’, the so-called microbiome. Bacterial genetics can have a huge impact on our inborn genetics. Manipulating the microbiome and creating ‘post-biotics’ is the latest trend, with interesting outcomes so far. Eventually, targeted foods or nutrition supplements may help overcome bad bacteria such as Salmonella.

Vegan nutrition trends

Vegan is hot! Australian data on veganism is sketchy but show a rapid increase overall. So far, even fast-food chains are offering vegan burgers, topped with vegan cheese. Anything to stay on trend! The latest UK data shows a 600% increase in veganism over four years, with 84% being females. As a result, large supermarkets are gearing up with ever-expanding lines of animal-free nutrition products. We see the rise of plant-based protein sources. From rice/pea/hemp protein powders to pulse pasta, we can now get a great variety of protein, based on plant ingredients only.

Keto vs Paleo diet: trends compared

The Keto diet shows a popularity that keeps increasing, whereas the Paleo diet is on the decline, according to Google statistical search data. Keto diets, or low-carb, high fat, are not suitable for everyone, but remain a very popular way to manage weight. Carbs produce energy. By eating a low carb diet, the body turns to fat instead to produce energy. So-called Keto-bodies (alternative energy cells) are formed and help burn fat.  

Carbs and fats: facts

Carbs and fats are a constant source of confusion for consumers who find it hard to understand the differences between good and bad sugars or fats. The fear of carbs can cause problems in itself: nutrient deficiencies can arise without intention. Sadly, even body image distortion can drive the no carb/low carb hype.

Simply put: the sweet taste of a fresh carrot is from its natural sugars, the sweet taste of a soft-drink comes from added sugars. We need some forms of carbs each day.

Fats can be good but they way we treat them (such as heating) can destroy the benefits. Some fats are downright bad, such as in fried foods. Often, fats found in so-called ‘health’ products are not ideal. So, always read the label and look for trans fat and saturated fat content.

The Keto diet requires will-power, knowledge about nutrition, and suitable foods. In today’s busy life, stores are aiming to cash in on the Keto trend by a rapid development in Keto foods, snacks and drinks.

Whatever you decide, always consult with a health practitioner before you attempt a new diet.

Make the right choice, make an appointment now

What’s the big deal about protein?

Why is protein so important?  It’s a wickedly fascinating food source that breaks down in the stomach into amino acids. You could compare it to building with Lego blocks. You take the construction apart, mix up the colours and build something new. The same applies to protein, and hey presto, these blocks find new partners and rebuild into new amino acids. The body uses these new blocks to perform important functions. The most important of these is the building of new cells for growth or maintenance. Our bodies are made to survive, so this is a function that is ‘built in by nature’. Survival, friends, it’s all about survival, otherwise we wouldn’t have been around for so long. The second task for those new amino acid building blocks (if there are enough of them, that is) is to maintain your immune system. Now that you think about it, isn’t it always that when you are tired and run down, you end up with a cold, the flu or worse? Were you eating well in the lead-up? No, possibly not… We catch up with ourselves at such moments.

Once our cell renewal program and our immune system have had their share of our protein intake, we may have some building blocks left to boost our mood. The brain runs on (amino acid based) stuff like dopamine (for good moods) and serotonin (calming). If our protein intake is low, over extended times, we can become deficient. Some of the amino acids are not available and our mood drops. Sometimes, the feeling of depression or anxiety can partly be the result of a deficiency in protein over time. It can even occur in those that take extra protein into their daily intake. In that case it’s getting burnt up faster than it can be processed, and all the building blocks are going to cell repair and renewal. This can happen with extreme workout programs. Balance is a big part of the protein picture. Balance in the amount and quality. Balance in knowing what our needs are, and how they can change per life stage. Making sure that you have good quality protein as part of every meal is essential to keep all three important functions going. Renewal, immune function and mood shaping, that’s the order of nature, even if it leaves us unhappy. So make sure you never pass on protein; it’s a superb hunger filler. Now you know why:)

Beware of ‘Extreme’ Products

The FDA (America’s Food and Drug Administration) sent another alarming message this month after discovering the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen in a number of ‘ extreme’ protein powders. These type of products are often used by body builders to enhance muscle growth. Tamoxifen prevents breast tissue growth , which ‘sort of’ explains the presence of that in an Extreme Muscle Builder. A weird sort of Man Boob prevention. Still, Tamoxifen is not a good thing for a male, or any body, unless needed for medical reasons.

It’s not just the extreme powders that put you at a health risk; at the opposite end a large number of weight loss products contain many dangerous ingredients such as L-citruline, sibutramine, and oxedrine. All these have proven links to serious conditions.

So people, please be mindful of what you put in your body. Check ingredients; if it sounds unfamiliar, look it up at reputable sites. That is not necessarily the sales site! Or call a practitioner who cares and knows!

Live happy, live healthy:)

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