Nutrition News: Gut bacteria said to influence BGLs

While it’s no secret that issues with blood glucose level (BGL) control may lead to diabetes, research now indicates that gut bacteria may play a key role here.

Research published in Proceedings of the National Academicy of Sciences (PNAS) reveals that bacteria in the gut of mice communicates with cells in the gut that produce serotonin, which in turn has an impact on BGLs and metabolism.

“We found that the microbiome worsens our metabolism by signalling to cells in the gut that produce serotonin.

“They drive up serotonin levels, which we previously showed in humans to be increased in obese humans, and this rise in blood serotonin causes a significant metabolic problem,” explains Professor Damien Keating, Head of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Flinders University and Deputy Director of the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute.

While the research is a promising start to better understanding how bacteria communicate with serotonin to influence BGLs and metabolism, it’s not yet known which bacteria are involved in this.

“This is an exciting revelation that can one day have direct implications for human health disorders such as diabetes,” adds Professor Keating.

Professor Keating ends saying more research is needed.


To read more about gut health, visit – Fermented Foods – Do they live up to the hype

Food News: Milo now with 30% less added sugar

In response to the changing nutritional needs of families, after two years in development, Nestle Australia has launched a new version of Milo – Milo 30% Less Added Sugar.

Milo was originally designed as a nutritious drink for undernourished children during the Depression, delivering added vitamins and minerals in a format children enjoyed,” says Nestle General Manager, Andrew McIver. “With parents increasingly concerned about added sugar we’ve created an option that is true to the Milo heritage but delivers less added sugar.”

It has been said, to maintain the look, taste and behaviour that we’ve come to expect from the 85-year-old family favourite, Milo 30% Less Added Sugar has remained true to the original product with the same core ingredients (malt barley, milk powder and cocoa), just without the cane sugar. The cane sugar has been replaced with stevia for sweetness.

“From the beginning, our focus was on creating a product that both tastes and behaves like original Milo,” explains McIver. “That means not just keeping the same core ingredients but also making sure it looks the same, tastes great and has crunchy bits on top.”

The new Milo 30% Less Added Sugar Is now available in major supermarkets at RRP $6.99.


A word about ‘less added sugar’:

According to FSANZ for a product to make the claim ‘% less than’ or ‘reduced’ it must ‘contain at least 25 per cent less sugar than the original product’. Milo meets this claim with its new product.

A word of caution though, while there is less sugar in the new product, it still contains 3.5g added sugar per 20g serve and 17.4g added sugar per 100g.

The original Milo has 6.3g added sugar per 20g serve and 31.3g added sugar per 100g.

Remember, the target when choosing products is to aim for less than 10g added sugar per 100g where possible.

So, while Milo’s new offering fares better than the original it’s still a good idea to enjoy this as a treat.

Or if you’re an athlete who has no issue tolerating lactose or milk products this can be a recovery drink option after training.

NB: The protein content of Milo 30% Less Added Sugar is:

9.8g per 20g serve with 200ml Skim Milk and 10g per 20g serve with 200ml Reduced Fat Milk.

How To: Nail Your Race Day Nutrition

We’re just days away from the big day – IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns, with athletes starting to descend on the tropical city. As athletes eagerly await race day, among the hustle and bustle, and the excitement that race week brings, it’s important to think about your race-day nutrition.

After all, you’ve come this far – you’ve done the training, made the sacrifices, spent the big bucks – so undoing all the good work with a poorly prepared nutrition plan isn’t a great idea.

For those who read my blog, in my last post, I covered my top nutrition tips for nailing race week nutrition.

In today’s post, we’re talking all things race day!

Here are my top tips for nailing your race-day nutrition!

Don’t try anything new…

As cliché as it may sound – don’t try anything new on race day! Race day is not the time to be experimenting with any new nutrition plan or gel, bar or electrolyte drink. By now you should have practised your nutrition and hydration plan in training, and it should be pretty dialled. For best results on race day, make sure you stick to your plan!


The key here – you should have your breakfast plan dialled in as you should your race day nutrition plan. Stick with what works, and you’ll have a great start to your race on Sunday.

Image: Shutterstock

What you eat and drink on the morning of the race will depend on a few factors, including:

  • What you had the night before – did you have a good carb-based dinner? Did you have a top-up snack before bed? Did you drink enough fluid?
  • Your start time – remember the longer you have before the race, the more you can eat because you will have more time to digest. If you’re pressed for time or you’re just not feeling hungry (or you’re feeling queasy due to nerves), you may want to consider a smaller breakfast, e.g. toast with vegemite/peanut butter or a small bowl of porridge with a banana, and then have a top-up snack as you set up your transition or as you walk towards to swim start.
  • Your digestion – are you someone who suffers from any gut issues? Are you someone who spends the better part of race morning on the toilet because of gut issues? Think about your food choices and how much your planning to eat. Lower fibre options (even looking at possibly low FODMAP options) could be the winner here, and perhaps a small-moderate breakfast with a top-up snack later in the morning.
  • Liquid meals – these are easier and quicker to digest and may be better tolerated than a solid breakfast for some athletes. Remember: breakfast is your fuel top-up. By the time race morning rolls around your stores should be reasonably well loaded.
  • Make sure your pre-race meal is low in fibre and low in fat – fibre and fat will slow down the rate of digestion, may leave you feeling over full, bloated and sluggish and may cause gut issues for some athletes. Including some protein with your breakfast, e.g. a yoghurt, will help with keeping hunger at bay.

Bike nutrition

Your nutrition clock starts the moment you get on the bike. Aim for roughly one gel every 30 minutes with water (give and take depending on your race day plan). The bike is where you can consider solids such as bars, as well, as it’s easier to digest food on the bike compared to the run. Some athletes will have a combination of gels, blocks and bars on the bike based on their individual plan.


Consider the logistics of your chosen race-day nutrition. How are you going to hold your nutrition? Do you have gel flasks? If not, have you considered the packaging? Can you open your gel or bar or block with ease, while you’re climbing, descending or turning? If you’re planning on eating a bar during the bike, have you considered cutting it up to bite-sized pieces for ease of consumption while you’re in motion?


Hydration – what are you going to drink? Water, electrolytes, sports drink or a combination of all three? How are you going to top up electrolytes or sports drinks during the race? How will you carry electrolyte tabs? What’s worked in the past for me is dedicating my front water bottle to electrolyte tabs and having spare tabs in a plastic pocket, in my bento box. Also, consider how many bottles you’re going to carry. Do you have enough bottle cages to carry the amount you want/need? Will you be completely self-sufficient here or will you rely on on-course hydration?

Remember: when it comes to hydration, you need to go into the race hydrated. The race is just a rolling top up.

Special Needs

This one is for the guys and gals racing the full. If race day is super-hot, consider freezing a couple of bottles of sports drink and leave them in your special needs. Then by the time you access your bottles during the bike, the bottles should have defrosted enough to give you a refreshing, icy cold drink. There’s nothing worse than lukewarm fluids after a while.  

On the Run

A trick I use on the run (it’s one I learnt from a good friend of mine) is to suck on a few Haribo Gummy Bears. Yes, I still have gels with water on the run. But I run with a cheek full of gummy bears. It’s like drip-feeding carbs as I go. So far, it has worked a treat! 🙂

If all else fails, think: Point One

Most of all refer to the first point – do not try anything new on race day! Race day nutrition plans are very individual, and hopefully, you will have yours sorted and dialled. Have a great race! Cairns is a great one!

Next up, how to nail recovery.

5 foods that will help to boost your mood this winter

Winter is, well … here!

Ah, gotta love a reference to GoT.! 🙂

Game of Thrones to those rare few who may not know what I mean.

While the popular show may have officially wrapped up, the hard truth is, winter is here!

For a sun-lover and cold-weather-hater like me (partly why I moved to sunny Queensland from freezing, moody Melbourne!), it’s probably my most dreaded time of the year.

The days are cold, short and dark, and the lack of sunshine leaves me feeling a little blue.

It’s not uncommon to sing the blues during winter.

Coined S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘winter depression’ and occurs when your mood drops in the cooler and darker months.

So, is the outlook dark and dreary or is there a way we can help to lift our moods this winter?

You can help lift your mood through the food that you eat. 

There are certain chemicals in the body that play a role in mood regulation and these include Serotonin (aka the happy hormone), which is involved in boosting your mood, and Dopamine, which is a chemical messenger involved in reward, motivation, attention and in regulating body movement.  

And yep, you guessed it – these little chemicals are affected by the food you eat.

Mood-boosting Food  


Salmon’s superpower is its omega-3 content. This healthy fat is made up of the fatty acids, E.P.A. and D.H.A., and both fatty acids support the optimal functioning of serotonin.

E.P.A. helps the release of serotonin by reducing inflammation, while D.H.A. makes serotonin receptors more accessible to, well, serotonin improving the overall functional capacity of this happy hormone.  

Oven-baked salmon (with slices of fresh lemon, rosemary sprigs and a seasoning of salt and pepper) is a great way to enjoy salmon. Add this to some loaded salad and you’re onto a winner.



Eggs are little power-houses of nutrition!

They are a great source of B vitamins (like vitamin B12), which have been shown to play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect our mood.

They are a rich source of protein and the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine, which are precursors of mood-boosting serotonin and dopamine.

Eggs also contain vitamin D. It has been said that a deficiency in this vitamin is linked with decreased levels of serotonin.

What’s better than poached eggs with some smashed avocado and fresh bread for brunch on a Sunday morning! Yum.


Black Beans

Legumes like black beans are loaded with gut-loving fibre! We all know that your health starts in your gut, and research is now showing the link between a healthy gut and mood!

It has been said that a large amount of serotonin and dopamine is made in the gut, so making your gut healthy should be your priority.  

Because I personally don’t eat meat (or dairy) due to my skin issues, legumes (like black beans) are my staples! I add them to everything – soups, salads, in tacos, mashed and thrown into a sandwich. You name it, I’ve probably tried it.



Broccoli is an excellent source of magnesium, and this critical mineral has a lot of significant roles in the body.

Magnesium has been shown to relieve P.M.S. symptoms, plays a role in thyroid function, aids the nervous system and boosts serotonin levels. 

One way to increase your intake of this mighty mineral is through green leafy vegetables like broccoli!

This little superhero is great in just about any dish … and you can certainly get a whole lot more creative with it than just, well, ‘chicken and broc!’. As with legumes and lentils, I throw this little bad boy into just about everything, but in salads and soups, that’s probably my fave way to have it!



Turkey is more than just protein! It’s also a good source of B-vitamins, including vitamin B6.

Vitamin B6 plays a role in the production of serotonin, and it has been said the deficiencies in this vitamin may lead to low mood, irritability and anxiety.

Turkey is also a great source of zinc, which plays a role in converting the amino acid, tryptophan to serotonin.

This lean protein is not just for Christmas dinner. Have it in sandwiches or wraps or in tacos. It’s a great alternative to chicken and beef; lean and a good way to get in your B-6 and zinc this winter.


There are, of course, other foods that will help to boost your mood this winter. These five are just a few that will help.

The key is to enjoy a varied diet, with foods from each of the food groups.

Base your diet around plant foods (particularly green leafy veg!), make sure to include plenty of gut-loving fibre, good quality, complex carbs, some protein and don’t forget the healthy fats!

If you’re not sure how to get the balance right and you’d like some help, contact me for an appointment today! I’d love to help 🙂  

If you find that you struggle with SAD or have any issues with anxiety or depression, contact Beyond Blue or call 1300 22 4636.

Product Review: Magnum Dairy Free Almond

My world changed the day Magnum® brought out its new dairy-free range. I’ve been dairy-free (well, mostly vegan really) since January 2018 because of serious issues with chronic eczema.

Sadly, this has meant I’ve had to kiss ice-cream goodbye, while at the same time overindulging on all things, sorbet. Because #dairyfree.

But I’m a real ice-cream kinda gal! So, when Magnum® brought out its new range – HOLA! I almost squealed when perusing the frozen section of my local Coles.    

So, I decided to take a little look at how this bad-boy stacks up nutritionally.

Although, ahem! It’s ice-cream – not the time to get too carried away with being ‘Lil Miss Healthy’! Amirite?!

Nevertheless, let’s take a peek.

Gosh, darn it! How good are my product shots! 😉

First up, the ingredients list:

Water, sugar, cocoa components^ (15%) (cocoa butter, cocoa mass), coconut oil, almond (5%), glucose, glucose/fructose syrup, pea protein, emulsifiers (sunflower lecithin, E471), Stabilisers (E412, E410, E407 (contains wheat)), flavours, salt, vegetable oil, colour (E160a).

^100% Cocoa components from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. Warnings: Contains tree nuts (almonds) and gluten-containing cereals (wheat). May contain other tree nuts.

OK, firstly sugar (bah, bah, bahhh *insert dramatic music*). The second-listed ingredient. So, yup! Ice-cream – high in sugar. Who knew? *insert sarcasm*!

I do like that it contains coconut oil – it does give it a slightly unique coconutty taste compared to the regular variety.

Also, cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms – that’s pretty cool. Quality and sustainability. I like it.

Next, the NIP:

Servings per package: 3 Average serving size: 72g


  • 1040kJ (248cal) per serve; 1440kJ (345cal) per 100g

Holy mother! I must remember this when I’m powering through my second Magnum® in the space of 30-minutes. That’s almost as much energy as some ready-made meals on the market.


  • 2.0g per serve; 2.7g per 100g

No high protein claims here!


  • Total = 15.9g per serve; 22.1g per 100g
  • Saturated = 9.8g per serve; 13.6g per 100g

Yikes! The recommendation here is no more than 10g total fat/100g.

Remember: ‘tis a TREAT, yo!

And saturated fat? We-h-ell … the guidelines say less than 3g saturated fats/100g. BUT to be fair, coconut oil IS listed as the third ingredient …


  • Total = 23.2g per serve; 32.3g per 100g
  • Added sugars = 18.9g per serve; 26.3g per 100g

Let’s look at the added sugar first. ‘Tis a wee bit high! Remember, the WHO recommends limiting this bad boy to no more than 5-10% of our total daily energy intake… so, if you’re having three of these in one sitting? Mmm … time to stop. Also, try to aim for less than 10g sugar/100g where you can. But back to my previous comment … T.R.E.A.T!


  • 30mg per serve; 40mg per 100g

Salt, dear friends, is not the issue with this bad (yet, so very delicious) boy! We are all (*cough*) sweet in the salt department …!

Overall …

Don’t get your knickers in a twist health-conscience ladies and gents – this is a TREAT. A delicious, creamy, vegan-friendly (in fact … it’s vegan CERTIFIED), dairy-free ice-creamy treat. Oh, to be able to have that sweet, sweet and oh so moreish taste of a Magnum® again.

Thank you, ice-cream creators at Magnum®, thank you!

How to: Nail Your Race-Week Nutrition

With just over a week until IRONMAN Cairns here are some quick tips for those racing, to help you nail your race-week nutrition.

NB: Of course, everyone is different and nutrition plans are very individual; these are some general tips and tricks.

The Golden Rule –

Don’t Try Anything New Leading into Race Day!

The aim of race-week nutrition is getting to the start line well fuelled, hydrated and rearing to go! You want to be in the best shape possible!


Typically, two to three days out from the race, your aim will be to up your intake of carbohydrates. This is to make sure your glycogen stores (aka your fuel stores) are full so you’re ready to go on race morning!

BUT don’t go overboard here as are glycogen stores are not bottomless pits.

NB: “Carbohydrates store water with them so upping your intake of carbs might leave you feeling bloated and heavy. The aim is to strike a balance between fueling yet feeling good.” – Simone Austin, Advanced Sports Dietitian, Eat Like An Athlete – Boost Your Performance And Energy Through Nutrition


As race day gets closer, consider reducing your intake of fibre. High fibre foods are digested more slowly, can leave you feeling really full (particularly when trying to up your carb intake to load the fuel stores) and can lead to gut issues at the start of the race.

Opt for lower fibre food options leading into the race.

For those with gut issues during a race, it might be worth considering switching to low FODMAP options leading in. Speak with a dietitian about this one!

Fatty Food

Avoid eating too many fatty-foods (aka a big bowl of fried, fatty chips) leading into the race. Some fat is ok (e.g. some avocado with your breakfast) but a lot may cause issues. Fatty foods are typically slow/hard to digest and can leave you feeling tired. Plus, they may also lead to gut issues so best to limit these leading into a race.


Leading into a big race is not the time to forget your fluid! You want to start your race well hydrated. But again, you don’t need to go overboard with this one as you may find you’re spending your pre-race days running to and from the toilet!

  • Sip on fluids across each day
  • Alternate between water and electrolytes/sports drinks
  • Sports drinks that contain carbs (e.g. Gatorade) can help with carb intake while also aiding hydration
  • Use your pee colour as a guide of hydration status (we’re aiming for lemonade here!)

Familiar is Best

Eat food you’re familiar with (that you know you can tolerate) – race week is NOT the time to be trying anything new.

Do your Research

If you’re travelling or if you’ve never been to Cairns do your research and find out what food options are available and where the supermarket (Coles/Woolies/Aldi etc.) is.

If you’re an IRONMAN veteran, what are some of your nutrition go-to’s during race week? I’d love to hear from you!

In my next post, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks on nailing race day!