There is a nerve, the Vagal nerve, that directly connects your brain with your gut, and vice versa.  So these turns of phrase we often use are true to the human body. Now if only they spoke in words rather than symptoms!


The language of communication between the bowel and the brain is symptoms – pain, distention, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, incomplete emptying, frequency of motion, urgency of motion, noise, flatulence, smell and discomfort.  The cause and effect is often difficult to work out – am I stressed because my bowel is causing me so much grief or is stress causing my gut grief?


Research has shown that when a person’s bowel is disgruntled, they will experience higher levels of depression, anxiety and even pain.  Who knew that effective elimination can not only improve the symptoms in your gastrointestinal system, but also your mood?


The treatment for an irritable bowel will be dependent on your individual set of symptoms.  Some people will benefit from increased fluid flowing through their digestive system, others need more fibre, some need less, others may require a specialized diet eliminating one or more food groups, others again may require behavioural retraining.


The complicated nature of the brain-bowel connection requires considerable experience and skill to decipher the language and determine the appropriate treatment. Most people resort to a Dietitian when all other avenues have been exhausted.  But why not explore your brain-bowel connection with an expert first?  There may be an easy solution!


Lauren at Eat Smart Nutrition is our gastrointestinal expert.  She not only assists people to improve their quality of life with IBS, constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohns and Ulcerative colitis but also assists those who have recently had bowel related surgery.  Lauren is available at our Indooroopilly, Herston and Hawthorne clinics.


Cholesterol Management – What’s New In Research?

by Lauren Nugent on November 15, 2016

Cholesterol is generally a word that brings lots of negative thoughts like ‘heart disease’ and ‘diets’, but what does the latest research actually tell us?

Cholesterol is a lipid (fat) molecule important in our bodies for cell structure, hormone synthesis and bile production. Different types of cholesterol in the blood can be measured with pathology tests, you may have seen letters like HDL (high density lipoproteins) or LDL (low density lipoprotein). High LDL levels have been shown to increase risk of coronary artery disease and stroke in large observational studies and randomized controlled trials. HDL cholesterol helps to unblock arteries.

So how do we keep LDL levels low, and HDL levels high? The latest research suggests most of the cholesterol in the blood is made by the liver and the rest from the fats we eat. So rather than avoiding cholesterol in food we need to look at the types of fat we eat. It was previously thought that a low fat diet was the answer however studies now show that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is the key to optimal blood cholesterol levels.

Which is which, you ask? Read on!

Saturated fats (increase LDL and decrease HDL)

Animal fats- fat on meat, skin on chicken, full fat dairy

Palm oil, coconut oil

Processed foods like cakes, biscuits, chips, pastries etc.

Monounsaturated fats (decrease LDL)

Nuts- cashews, hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts

Oils- canola, olive, rice bran



Polyunsaturated fats (decrease LDL and increase HDL)

Fish- tuna, salmon, mackerel

Nuts- pecans, walnuts, pistachio nuts

Linseed and sesame seeds

Oils- sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, grape seed

So swap cooking butter for canola oil, swap steak for fish, swap chips for nuts, swap mayo for avocado and enjoy a healthy heart!

Healthy body weight and smoking cessation have also been proven to lower LDL and increase HDL levels respectively.

Soluble fiber, found in fruits and vegetables, can lower LDL levels in the blood. This can also be achieved with fibre supplements like psyllium husks and B-glucan from oats and barley.

Clinical trials demonstrate a 20% reduction in triglycerides as well as an increase in HDL levels with fish oils. Check your dosage though, up to 6g of DHA and EPA (omega 3 fatty acids) could be needed. One 1000mg fish oil capsule may only have 0.3g of these necessary fatty acids. Eat fish 3 times a week instead!

Watch this space! More research is needed but there is potential!

Niacin (vitamin B3) has been shown to increase HDL levels and reduce triglycerides, however it has not been shown to impact risk of cardiovascular events.

Studies show red yeast rice products can be as effective as station medication for lowering cholesterol levels however they are unregulated in Australia and can cause liver and kidney problems. They are not currently recommended.

20g per day of soy protein can modestly lower LDL levels, and this impact is amplified if soy foods replace high saturated fat foods such as animal meats.

If you have abnormal cholesterol levels talk to your doctor. If you would like to change your cholesterol levels make an appointment with an Eat Smart Accredited Practicing Dietitian for a customised plan.


Written by our Eat Smart Dietitian & Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Casey James


Fuelling Sports Performance in Triathlon

November 15, 2016

Background Triathlons are a sporting event that combines swimming, cycling and running into one race. There are several race distances that can be classified into sprint distance (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run), Olympic distance (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run), half Ironman or 70.3 (1.9 km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run) and Ironman races [...]

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Keeping Type 2 Diabetes In Check

October 18, 2016

Each day 280 Australians develop diabetes! Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in Australia and type 2 diabetes represents about 90% of all diabetes.   But a diabetes diagnosis does not mean that the scary complications often associated with the disease, such as kidney disease, blindness and foot ulcers are inevitable.   You CAN significantly reduce [...]

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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones… But Not Without A Fight!

October 18, 2016

In previous blog pieces, we have looked at individual nutrients, but this edition, we are going to look at the effect of nutrients on what very important part of our body – our bones. In a perfect world, we would all pay particular attention to building strong bones as children and adolescents and in our [...]

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Quick Snack Ideas

October 4, 2016

Healthy snacks between meals can help to balance energy and blood sugar levels as well as keep meal portions in check. Try these satisfying snacks, super fast to make and super tasty!   Avocado and ricotta on toast 1 slice sour dough toasted 1/2 a ripe avocado sliced 1 tablespoon ricotta Lemon juice Cracked pepper [...]

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Nutrition Habits for Aesthetic Athletes

September 18, 2016

Have you ever wondered how a ballerina maintains their svelte figure?  Or how a gymnast is both strong and lean at the same time?  Or how a diver is so streamlined in their physique but has the strength to tumble in the air?  These aesthetic sports rely on nutrition for training performance, recovery, optimal performance [...]

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Warm Spring Salad

September 6, 2016

Now that the weather is starting to warm up, it is a perfect time to try some warm salad recipes. Below is a great, quick and easy idea for a lunch or light dinner. Lamb, kale, haloumi, pomegranate & pumpkin warm spring salad. (Serves 4)     Pomegranate is a fragrant fruit with a sweet-sharp [...]

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High Fibre Smoothie Bowl

May 12, 2016

High Fibre Smoothie Bowl                                      Makes 1 breakfast bowl      1 medium banana, frozen ½ cup frozen raspberries 1 tblsp flaxmeal 2 tblsp oatbran 1 cup milk of your choice 1 tblsp granola or muesli 1 tblsp yoghurt     Blend milk, banana, oatbran and ½ the berries in a blender Pour in to a bowl.  [...]

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What our Eat Smart Dietitians Eat……..

May 5, 2016

Choc Peanut Goodie Balls                                   Makes 12 balls 2 tbsp. chia seeds 8 Medjool dates, pitted 2 tbsp. cacao 1/3 cup desiccated coconut 1 tbsp. coconut oil 2 tbsp. sunflower seeds 2 tbsp. natural peanut butter ½ cup chopped/granulated peanuts Method: In a food processer, blend all ingredients except desiccated coconut until a rough paste forms. [...]

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