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In this issue of Wellbeing from Sue Radd and her team of Accredited Practising Dietitians and Accredited Nutritionists, we share exciting news and information on:

  • Why you should cheat (yes cheat!) on a low FODMAPs diet
  • A new cookshop to help you set up a healthy kitchen + menu planning for weight loss in time for summer
  • Why spinach is such a super green and how you can get your fill
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency and why you should avoid it
  • How to minimise the formation of nasty AGEs in your food
  • The best ways to store your fruits so they’re fresher for longer and provide you with a greater dose of nutrients!

Plus more….  Read on and share with your family and friends.

Why You Should Cheat on the Low FODMAPs Diet

Are you having issues with your bowels?  Feeling bloated and gassy or have bad stomach cramps?  A trial of the low FODMAPs diet by following a cookbook or basic diet sheet may certainly improve your symptoms.  But continuing to strictly stick to low FODMAPs foods without professional guidance may do more harm than good. 

The latest research suggests avoiding certain FODMAPs foods that have prebiotic potential could actually harm your health in the long term by negatively influencing your gut bacteria.

What are FODMAPs?

The term FODMAPs is a much more user-friendly way of referring to fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols – short chain carbohydrates in food, which tend to be poorly absorbed in the small intestine.  This leads to excess water into the bowel causing diarrhoea and/or fermentation that can promote extra gas production, bloating and wind. FODMAPs are found in foods like wheat, barley, rye, onion, garlic, legumes, dairy and certain fruits and vegetables.

The families of oligosaccharides (fructans and galactans), for example, are poorly absorbed in everyone as all humans lack the enzyme required to break down these sugars.  But in people with a sensitive bowel, this may result in mild to severe symptoms.  Tolerance to fructose and lactose sugars is more specific to individuals.

Since 1999 when the low FODMAPs diet was first developed and advocated by Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian Dr Sue Shepherd, there has been ongoing research showing that limiting these sugars is indeed an effective dietary strategy for managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  Studies generally show that following a strict low FODMAPs diet can reduce gastrointestinal symptoms in around 75 % of IBS sufferers!  This is one reason we use the low FODMAPs diet as an investigative tool.

But at the same time, researchers have also been asking whether the removal of certain FODMAPs foods with prebiotic potential (the ability to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your intestines that produce important substances such as butyrate) for extended periods may negatively impact on your gut bacteria.  After all, the fermentation of prebiotic carbohydrates is known to be vital for anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects in the bowel and other body sites.  The food industry has been adding such prebiotics to various types of products and supplements to promote colonic health.                                                           

The danger of restricting FODMAPs for long periods

Dr Emma Halmos and her colleagues from the Department of Gastroenterology at Melbourne’s Monash University undertook a study comparing the effects of a low FODMAPs diet to a typical Australian diet on markers of colonic health.  This took into account the view that diets differing in FODMAPs content may provide significantly different effects on gut microbiota (the bacteria and the products they produce).

In this randomised, controlled clinical trial they fed 27 people who had IBS and six healthy subjects with each diet in turn for 21 days then analysed their stools.  The results showed that while following the low FODMAPs diet there was a reduced bacterial abundance (by 47 %) as well as a reduction in the type of bacteria that specifically produce butyrate and prebiotic substances.

What’s interesting to us is that the comparison was made with a typical Aussie diet, which is not necessarily the greatest (it only provided 29.7 g fibre, for example), so you might expect an even greater difference on the impact of gut microbiota by comparing low FODMAPs to a very high fibre whole foods diet.  At the Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic we recommend eating patterns that naturally result in fibre intakes of at least 40-50 grams, which is consistent with traditional diets linked to excellent colonic health.

The researchers concluded that their study supported previous research findings suggesting elimination of FODMAPs for long periods may not be such a smart idea, since certain FODMAPS, especially oligosaccharides, have valuable prebiotic properties.

Why meddle with something when you feel good?

Many people with IBS, after experiencing great symptom relief on a low FODMAPs diet, can understandably feel apprehensive about moving on to a challenge phase where FODMAPs are individually introduced and tested to gauge personal sensitivity and tolerance.  Some might be restricting all known FODMAPs for months to years!

However, completing the challenge phase under the guidance of an expert dietitian is a really important step.  This way your dietitian can help tailor a modified FODMAPs diet (with planned but tolerable ‘cheat’ days) where you deliberately add some prebiotic carbohydrates to your menu.  Your dietitian can also teach you about low FODMAPs foods high in resistant starch, such as polenta, that supply additional prebiotic fuel to feed the good bugs living in your gut.

Our recommendations for using the low FODMAPs diet

While the implications of following a low FODMAPs diet require further research, the available data suggests unfavourable changes may be occurring in the gut microenvironment, which may impact your long term IBS management.  Since about 80 % of your body’s immunity is linked to your gut, it is also likely that restricting FODMAPs unnecessarily, or for excessive periods, poses a threat to other aspects of your overall health.

At the Clinic we only recommend a low FODMAPs diet as a short-term strategy for immediate symptom control, and while the culprit FODMAPs and their threshold levels are determined for your sensitivities.  Thereafter, it’s important for you to actually ‘cheat’ a bit and include small amounts of healthy FODMAPs foods (for example legumes) on a regular basis to promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.  The low FODMAPs diet is not suitable for healthy individuals.

We therefore suggest that rather than trying to wing it yourself by following some internet or cookbook advice, you should seek out professional help with low FODMAPs and have regular and ongoing reviews with your dietitian over time to fine tune your eating pattern.  Once your symptoms have settled, this might only be 2-4 times per year.  You can then rest assured that your dietitian will help you achieve both nutritional adequacy and symptom control, as well as promote the overall best interests of your gut health.


"The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition."
- Thomas Edison

What’s Cooking? – Setting Up A Healthy Kitchen + Menu Planning for Weight Loss

Are your clothes feeling a little tight after winter?  Does your pantry need an overhaul to improve your health and wellbeing?  Do you need to put your kitchen on a diet? 

At this brand new cookshop with Sue Radd we will show you dietetic tricks to set up a ‘wellbeing’ kitchen so you can be healthier at any weight.

Also, find out why you need to eat in sync with your body clock to be more successful with your efforts.

What you will learn:

  • Common kitchen traps and how to avoid them
  • How to conduct a kitchen audit
  • Re stocking your pantry
  • Using smart shopping lists
  • Planning a cycle menu to save time

Plus, discover safer food storage containers, bottles, bags and food wrapping that won’t leach nasty chemicals like BPA and phthalates (linked to multiple health problems and even obesity!) into your food.

Who should attend?  This event is perfect for you if you want to get healthier for any reason or lose weight naturally by improving the quality of the calories you do eat!

When: Tuesday, 11th November, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm  

Where: Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic, Castle Hill (Sydney)       

Learn more about our cookshops

You will just love Sue’s delicious menu especially designed for this event!

And you get to enjoy tasting plates throughout the night with free recipes and handouts!

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

What’s Fresh? – Spinach

“He's strong to the finich cause he eats his spinach, he's Popeye the sailor man.”  Do you remember the popular cartoon character Popeye, who was said to get his strength from spinach due to its source of iron?  Although not particularly high in bioavailable iron, spinach does provide numerous other nutrients and health benefits.  

The scientific name for ‘English spinach’ (or real spinach) is Spinacia oleracea.  The first seeds of this leafy green were sent to Australia from England with the First Fleet in 1787.  But spinach was initially difficult to grow.  So silverbeet was used instead, which led to the practice of spinach commonly being mistaken for silverbeet in Australia.  Even now you may see some greengrocers erroneously label silverbeet as spinach!

Spinach is related to a group of plants called goosefoots, which refers to the shape of its leaves.  This leafy vegetable has bright green and somewhat crinkly leaves with a fine stem so that all of it can be eaten as it will be tender.  

What’s in it for you?  Spinach is generally a rich source of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients while being extremely low in calories.  It has been linked with benefits that could help your heart, brain and nervous system as well as your digestion, immunity and skin.  Spinach is also high in dietary fibre and contains particularly high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin – phytonutrients from the carotenoid family, which can help protect your eyes from macular degeneration. It’s therefore particularly beneficial for middle-aged and older people.

Spinach grows optimally in cooler climates and the best months for you to buy it in Australia are September and October.  So look for it now at your supermarket and greengrocer.  Select leaves that look fresh and vibrant in colour and are tender.  Avoid wilted and damaged leaves.  Store your spinach unwashed in a vegetable crisper in the fridge and, ideally, use it up within 2-3 days of purchase, as it is a delicate vegetable.

To prepare spinach, wash then cut or tear the leaves and use raw in salads or cook for 2-4 minutes until the leaves have just wilted but not lost their vivid colour.  Some cooking (or the addition of healthy oil, such as extra virgin olive oil) will enhance the absorption of its phytonutrients into your body – but take care not to overcook it.

10 ways to use more spinach:

  1. Bulk up and brighten your fresh salads
  2. Add it 5 minutes before the end of cooking to vegie soups
  3. Shred it and stir into omelettes and frittatas
  4. Puree together with other ingredients to perk up dips and sauces
  5. Stir into filling for quiches
  6. Try our delicious Creamy Wholegrain Risotto with Spinach
  7. Use as part of stuffing and filling for pastries, such as Greek pita
  8. Layer it in lasagna or stir through pasta dishes
  9. Add baby spinach to sandwiches or wraps
  10. Blend into smoothies or fresh juices

Food Matters with Sue Radd – Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12?

Feeling lethargic but you know it’s not your iron levels?  Low levels of vitamin B12 are common in people over 50, vegans (as well as vegetarians with a low intake of dairy products) and those taking metformin medication for their diabetes or insulin resistance.  Read Sue Radd’s article to learn why B12 deficiency can cause serious health problems and what you can do to avoid it.  Start feeling more energetic within days!

Virtual Supermarket Tour – Get Coached for Savvy Grocery Shopping

Are you spending hours in the supermarket comparing products?  Need to hone your skills in reading tricky food labels?  Or simply discover better brands for your family?

Uncover the sneaky foods that might be sabotaging your health.  Find out how you can easily improve your health by simply restocking your pantry with whole foods.

In this unique two-hour small group event you can practise reading various food labels under the guiding eye of our friendly dietitian.  And all from the comfort of your chair while we take you down the aisles with the aid of a big screen.

Plus, you get to take home our clever Wallet Shopping Guide and List of Best Food Brands.  People just love these tips!

When: Wednesday 22nd October 2014, 6.30 pm - 8:30 pm

Where: Nutrition and Wellbeing Clinic, Castle Hill (Sydney)

Take the first step today towards a healthier you.  Phone us on (02) 9899 5208 to book yourself in. 

This is a fun event!

New FODMAPs Logo – What it Means for You

If you’re spending hours shopping for low FODMAPs food products, a new FODMAP friendly logo may just help you reach the cashier sooner. 

When might it be useful?  If you need to easily identify fructose friendly and lactose friendly foods – problematic for people with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

Launched by Advanced Practising Dietitian Dr Sue Shepherd, this logo is starting to appear on products that have been tested, qualify and (like the Heart Foundation Tick program) pay an annual license fee.  This means that plenty of other products may also be low FODMAPs who can’t or don’t wish to participate in this program.  The bottom line is: you still need to work with your personal dietitian to learn how to implement the principles of a low FODMAPs diet and understand how long you should stick to it (and cheat!). 

Food InFocus – How to Avoid Nasty Chemicals Called AGEs

It’s not just what you cook but how you cook that can promote health or disease.  Advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) have been linked with multiple health problems and premature ageing.  While they occur more in certain foods than others, their content can be further increased if you use certain methods to cook your meals.  Watch this TV interview with Sue Radd to learn why you should avoid AGEs and how to reduce your exposure and protect the whole family!

Kitchen Tip – The Best Ways to Store Fruit

You have just bought some delicious fresh fruit for the week, but how do you store it to maximize flavour, texture and nutrients?  Here are a few tips to keep your fruit fresher for longer.

    • Some fruit will deteriorate quickly without refrigeration e.g. grapes and berries – so pop it into the fridge as soon as you get home.
    • Some fruits need to be ripened (if not already ripe when purchased) before refrigerating to maintain their flavour and texture e.g. avocado, kiwi fruit, passionfruit, stone fruit and melons.  Keep these fruits in a bowl displayed on the bench until ripe.  This way they may even be eaten before they need cold storage.
    • Be careful where you store bananas.  Bananas ripen very quickly and will hasten ripening of nearby fruit.  Place them in a separate bowl if you want to delay ripening of other fruits.
    • To speed up ripening, place unripe fruit in a paper bag together with an apple or banana.  This will provide a ‘donation’ of natural ethylene gas to accelerate maturation of the unripened fruit.
    • After ripening, store your unused fruit in the refrigerator and use within 1-3 days for maximum flavour and freshness.  Freeze over ripe fruits like banana or mango – perfect for smoothies or to make real fruit ice cream.


Storage Life


Store at Room Temperature

Ripen on Benchtop then Refrigerate if Required

Less than 1 week

Apricots, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, pears (ripe), cherries, cut fruit, figs, watermelon (cut), rockmelon (cut), honeydew melon (cut), persimmon (ripe), lychees

Bananas, custard apples (unripe), mangoes (unripe), rockmelon (whole), starfruit, paw paw (unripe), rambutan

Avocado, peaches, nectarines, plums

1 week

Blueberries, grapes,

Watermelon (whole), pineapple, green banana, papaya

Pears, mangoes, passionfruit

2 weeks

Apples, pears (unripe)

Apples, lemons, limes, oranges, mandarins, grapefruit

Kiwi fruit, persimmons (unripe)

3-4 weeks

Apples (granny smith and fuji)

Honeydew melon (whole), pomegranate


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Published by the Nutrition & Wellbeing Clinic, Copyright 2014.

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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