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Hello [name],  

Well, January passed like a breeze! We hope you have had a good break and are well refreshed for the New Year.  This issue we tell you about…

  • The link between diet and pimples
  • A new cookshop on quick & easy wellness meals
  • Why you should pick parsley
  • Cedarvale health retreat – we put it to the test
  • High-protein, low-carb diets warning
  • Our review of the new Jalna yoghurt product range

Acne & Diet

Have you tried every cream, lotion, face wash and skin treatment on the shelf for your child only to find they still battle with bad acne?  Maybe you should consider their diet.

The question of diet and acne has long been debated.  But in recent decades there has been more and more research into the area and we now have compelling evidence to support the role of medical nutrition therapy for the treatment of acne.

What is acne?

Acne is a complex skin disease that can affect people of all ages.  It includes mild to severe break outs of blackheads, pimples (zits) and cysts on the skin.  Acne often begins in teenage years due to the surge of hormones around puberty but can also continue into later life.

In Australia we have a high prevalence of acne.  Indeed, in westernised populations, such as ours, acne is estimated to affect 79-95% of adolescents, 40-54% of individuals over 25, and 3-12% of middle aged men and women.

Acne development

Acne can develop through the interaction of various and complex biological mechanisms.  Some of these include:

  • Hormones.  Men and women both have testosterone and other related hormones called androgens (though males have more).  Androgens stimulate the production of sebum (oil) from glands in the skin, usually around the face, neck, back, shoulders and chest.  This creates a lipid-rich surface ideal for bacterial growth.
  • Build up of bacteria (propionbacterium acnes) at the follicle.
  • Hyperkeratinisation or “clogging of the pores” due to build up of keratin (a protein found on the skin surface) and dead skins cells.
  • Overactivation of signalling pathways in the body that drive inflammation, related to constantly spiking high levels of insulin in the body.

How can diet help?

There is no doubt that hormones are a key ingredient for acne.  But your teenager’s diet could be the underlying reason for why their hormones have been especially running amuck with their skin.  Normal puberty in non-western populations does not lead to the development of acne.

Epidemiological evidence consistently suggests that typical westernised diets exacerbate acne.  In Australia, most teens consume large amounts of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and sugar in lieu of adequate fruits and vegetables.  Parents have been advising their kids to avoid chocolates, lollies and soft drinks to prevent pimples for decades.  And while some of these foods can promote zits, the advice has been based on social myth rather than scientific fact.  Until now, that is.

The higher prevalence of acne in western civilisation is thought to be due to at least four dietary drivers:  1) high glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates; 2) high dairy intake; 3) high saturated fat intake from processed foods; and 4) high influx of calories. 

Many people – especially teens – tend to have an abundant intake of high-GI carbs from refined white breads and processed sugary foods and drinks, for example biscuits, cakes, doughnuts, soft drinks and juice.  But too many high-GI carbohydrates can quickly lead to high insulin levels (hyperinsulinaemia).  The hyperinsulinaemia or insulin resistance caused by such foods affects the production of androgens and insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).  This drives inflammation and results in an increased production of sebum, which plays a key role in the development of acne!  

To reduce the risk of acne or to tone down existing pimples, avoid high-GI carbs and include a moderate amount of low-GI carbohydrates at meals. These include wholegrain breads, sweet potato, high-fibre cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, such as barley, quinoa and long grain brown rice.

Frequent high dairy consumption has also been linked to acne.  The hypothesis suggested here is that milk from animal sources contains hormones (estrogen, progesterone and certain androgen precursors) – from lactating cows, of course!  But more so, that leucine-rich (leucine is a type of amino acid) animal foods, predominantly milk proteins and meat, stimulate a key pathway in the body that pushes up inflammation.  In fact, some researchers have stated that milk is not just a food, but that “mammalian milk has to be regarded as an endocrine signalling system”.  It seems cows milk is perfectly designed to promote rapid growth and development that might be optimal in infancy but not necessarily for later life when it could drive various conditions that share the same biochemical pathways.  Several population studies have found a positive link between milk intake and acne in adolescence, with a stronger link being found with skim milk!  Dairy milk is also known to have a high insulin index!  So to keep acne at bay, some scientists are now recommending dairy-free diets rich in fruits and vegetables.  Instead of cow’s milk, your pimple-prone teen could get their calcium from fortified plant-based milks, such as soy milk, rice milk or almond milk.

Diets high in saturated fat and excess calories can increase lipid (fat) secretion in human skin and increase the risk of clogged pores and build up of propionbacterium acnes.  While the link between total fat and acne development is unproven, consumption of saturated fat has also been associated with poorer acne improvement. Some keys here – get your teen to avoid fried foods, takeaways, meat pies, hot dogs and processed meats e.g. sausages, ham and salami.  If they eat meat, suggest they choose moderate amounts of lean cuts, skinless chicken and fish, and cook your family meals using older fashioned cooking methods, like steaming, stewing, boiling and stir frying.

There may also be some benefit in including more omega-3 fats, which can assist in reducing inflammation in the body, generally.  Interestingly, a high number of inflammatory proteins (e.g. leukotriene B4) have been found in acne sufferers.  To bump up your family’s omega 3 intake serve oily fish two times a week e.g. sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring.  You may also choose to cook with anti-inflammatory oils (e.g. extra virgin olive oil) and snack on nuts and seeds.  Walnuts and chia seeds/linseeds are rich sources of the type of omega-3 found in plant foods.

Finally, an increase in fruit and vegetable intake is important.  This has been shown to block the same inflammatory pathways and signalling in the body that lead to acne.  So get your family and teen to adopt as much of a plant-based diet as possible!  This includes herbs and spices too, which are being independently tested for their anti-acne benefits.

The bottom line

It is impossible to isolate one dietary culprit as the cause of acne or one dietary strategy that will treat and prevent the condition for all people.  Some degree of acne during adolescence may be unavoidable, as this is a time of naturally higher insulin resistance.  However, your teenager’s total dietary pattern can play a significant role in both preventing the onset of new pimples and reducing the severity of existing acne by toning down inflammation and influencing the various pathways that drive this insidious process leading to acne and other disease.


“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do”
– Goethe

What’s Cooking? – Quick & Easy Wellness Meals for the Family

Are you struggling to find time and energy to cook healthy meals?  Is your weight loss plateauing?  Are you trying to get back on top of a medical condition? 

Resorting to fast food can fast track you to a fatty liver!  But cooking separate meals for the family may drive you insane and not be sustainable.

Join us for this delicious cookshop!  Learn kitchen shortcuts to prepare meals using wholefoods your whole family can enjoy.  Leading Australian nutritionist and Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian Sue Radd will show you how to eat if you are time poor but want to commit to healthy choices.

You don’t need to cook separate meals for the family if you or your partner has a medical condition.  Take your family on the same journey by delivering on taste!

Perfect if speed or ease of preparation is vital for your lifestyle. 

This cookshop will help if you have any chronic medical conditions that can be better managed with a wholefoods diet rather than resorting to extra medication.  Think diabetes, fatty liver, PCOS, arthritis or a family history of cancer.   

When: Tuesday, 3rd March, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm             

Learn more about our cookshops

Enjoy a delicious 4 course tasting menu, recipes and handouts!

Call NOW on (02) 9899 5208 to book your place.  Bring a friend and make it a date!

Food Matters with Sue Radd – How to Get Kids to Eat More Fruit

It’s summer time and the fruit is luscious.  But your child is refusing to budge.  Read Sue Radd’s article to discover proven tips and tricks to help kids eat more fruit.  Then try them and let us know how you get along.

What’s Fresh? – Parsley

Parsley is a herb that belongs to the species of Petroselinum in the family Apiaceae.  This popular culinary and medicinal herb is widely used in Middle Eastern, European and American cooking.  It is recognised as a functional food for its unique antioxidant and disease fighting properties.

In case you haven’t used it, parsley is a small plant featuring dark green leaves.  It is a fragrant biennial herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. There are two main varieties of parsley – curly leaf and flat leaf parsley.  Flat leaf parsley (also called Continental or Italian) has a stronger flavour – so we prefer it in cooking – but both make excellent additions to your kitchen.  Parsley is often used as a garnish or added to soups, stews and casseroles.

Parsley is extremely rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre – the latter becomes significant if you use bunches, such as in tabbouli, rather than a garnish.  This herb has been used medicinally for conditions ranging from urinary tract infection, kidney stones and gut disorders to asthma, fluid retention, arthritis, anaemia and high blood pressure.  Parsley has a low calorie content but is bursting with phytonutrients, such as flavonoids (especially luteolin), which help to reduce oxidative stress in your body, linked to a number of chronic diseases (e.g. cancer, diabetes, heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease). Parsley is also a good source of minerals, such as potassium, calcium, manganese and iron, which are important for regulating blood pressure and heart rate - especially if you eat dishes where it plays a major role. It provides a rich source of vitamins, including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and many B group vitamins to help prevent age–related macular degeneration and assist with nutrient metabolism.

WARNING - parsley can interact with some medications such as warfarin and diuretics and should be used in regular and typical dietary amounts if you take these medications.  Ask your dietitian if unsure.

Fresh as well as dried parsley are available all year round.  If growing your own, parsley can be planted from a seed or seedling, but is generally easier to sow as a seed, as parsley does not like to be transplanted. Fresh parsley should be stored in the refrigerator packed in a zip lock bag or wrapped in slightly damp paper towel. Placing the stalks in water may also help to keep your parsley fresher for longer.  If washed and spun dry, you can store parsley in the freezer for later use in soups and stews. 

4 ways with parsley:

  1. Add to soups for a fragrant aroma and extra flavour.  Check out Sue Radd’s Croatian-style Cannelini Bean & Carrot Soup recipe.  It’s a recipe you will want to make over and over again as it freezes well.
  2. Throw freshly chopped parsley into your salads for a fresh new spin on lunch.
  3. Try the famous Mediterranean green sauce called “salsa verde”.  A cold sauce made with parsley, capers, garlic, onion, anchovies, extra virgin olive oil and a dash of vinegar.  Great for a light appetiser or nibbles!
  4. Create your own homemade tabouleh (a traditional Lebanese dish). Chop up fresh parsley (usually at least four bunches!), tomato, onion, olive oil, lemon juice and softened bulgur.

Cedarvale Health Retreat Review

Been struggling to get that life work balance last year?  Didn’t get enough time to devote to your health?  Maybe you need to plan some time out this year to step off that treadmill and re-focus on your goals.  A nurturing health retreat could be just what you need to re-ignite your motivation.  Check out Sue Radd’s review of Cedarvale, in driving distance from Sydney.   Good health doesn’t come by default.  It requires some planning and investment of time and resources. 

Food InFocus – How High-Protein, Low-Carb Diets Can Damage Your Health

Losing the carbs and eating lean protein is not all it’s cracked up to be – even though it’s the latest craze in weight loss, coming under the guise of healthy eating.  You might look good on the outside but shorten your life, according to scientific research.  Watch this TV episode with Sue Radd first before trying any higher-protein, low-carb eating plan.  It could save you money and your life!

Product Review – New Jalna Yoghurt Range

Are you getting bored of the same old yoghurt?  Looking for a new fresh way to include yoghurt in your diet, which also promotes gut health?  We have recently reviewed Jalna’s new range and have come up with some great ideas for you to start enjoying yoghurt again.  That is, if you eat dairy.  If not, please see our last edition of this e-newsletter for tips to make your own soy yoghurt using EasiYo.

Jalna was the first company in Australia to introduce “aBc” cultures to their yoghurt.  These are known as probiotics because they promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria.  Your diet usually determines the type of bacteria that live in your gut.  But adding some probiotics can help re-introduce the good variety, especially after you have been on a course of antibiotics.  A reduced diversity and number of the healthy gut bacteria, and a greater proportion of sinister bugs, has been associated with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity and bone loss.  The reason being, bacteria don’t just reside in our intestines and do their own thing, they make all kinds of substances from the food you feed them and it is these ‘metabolites’ (products made by the bacteria) that have been linked to driving inflammation and disease.  Conversely, the good species of bacteria in our gut are much more important than once thought, as they’re part of our defense system - the substances they make protect us against disease.

So how do you ensure that you’re getting enough of the good bugs?  Eat more intact fibre from whole plant foods, like legumes and start including some fermented foods (e.g. miso) and yoghurts, which have probiotic strains added.  Jalna’s new “Sweet & Creamy Greek” range (which includes a collection of fruity yoghurt pots) is a delicious new way to help you maintain a healthy gut.  All are a rich source of calcium, and contain viable quantities of Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei.  They may spell yoghurt weird (“yoghourt”) but Jalna sure know their probiotics!

Our findings in brief

  • Our favourite, the “Sweet & Creamy Greek” has a thick and creamy texture but does not taste too sweet.  This would be perfect to add to desserts instead of cream or custard.  You could also add a spoonful to liven up your muesli or breakfast cereal.
  • The “Pure Yoghurt” pots come in a variety of flavours including blueberry, raspberry, passionfruit and mango.  These would make a great afternoon snack.  But beware, these fruity pots are two serves to a tub!  If you are watching your waistline, be sure to only use half a tub in a sitting!
  • Jalna’s “Fat Free Natural Yoghurt” is low in fat and sugar so it’s very versatile.  This yoghurt can swing both ways – sweet or savoury!  Enjoy it as an addition to fruit or use as a creamy dressing for salads.
  • Biodynamic Organic (Wholemilk)” yoghurt has more of a sour flavour along with a thick creamy texture. Try this one in place of sour cream or use for a healthier creamy sauce and save yourself the extra calories.
  • Jalna has also released an “A2 Low Fat Natural Yoghurt” containing A2 beta casein.  Ask your dietitian if this is better for you.

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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2015.

Suite 10, 80 Cecil Avenue, Castle Hill NSW 2154 Ph: +61 2 9899 5208 Fx: +61 2 9899 2848 www.nwbc.com.au

We are a boutique Dietitians clinic in Sydney, Australia, offering one-on-one consultations, culinary medicine cooking workshops, motivational health seminars and nutrition advisory services to businesses in the local and global area.

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