Dietician

Ditch the Detox

Detox is a popular buzzword in the world of health and wellness. These diets claim to clear toxins from our body, increase energy, boost immunity, improve digestion and facilitate rapid weight loss. Sounds too good to be true, right? That's because it is. 

 

Healthy adults have amazing inbuilt mechanisms to remove toxins from our bodies each day. Our liver, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, lungs, skin and immune system are constantly working to remove unwanted substances. It's fair to say detox products and regimes are largely a marketing gimmick, seeking profit for a process your body can manage solo. 

 

These diets involve fasting, elimination of entire food groups and reliance on commercially prepared detox products. Due to the restrictive nature of these diets it is difficult to meet nutritional needs when detoxing, which may compromise our immune system and digestive processes over time. There's also no scientific evidence to suggest these regimes will increase energy levels, in fact many people experience lethargy due to inadequate nutrition. Finally, we know any weight lost via these programs will return, and long term engagement in dieting behaviour is the biggest predictors of weight gain. 

 

If you're looking for a way to feel more energised and healthy, skip the detox diet; instead, honour your appetite, choose a variety of food across and within the key food groups, hydrate, cut down on alcohol, participate in activity you enjoy, make time for self-care, and rest as needed. 

 

 

MEGAN     Dietician  Megan Bray   B Exercise & Nutrition Sciences., M Diet St., APD.   Megan one of the Dietitians at the Movement Team and is passionate about challenging the way society approaches dieting. She has clinical interests in weight management, chronic disease, and eating behaviour. Megan also has experience in research and aged care.

MEGAN

 

Dietician

Megan Bray

B Exercise & Nutrition Sciences., M Diet St., APD.

Megan one of the Dietitians at the Movement Team and is passionate about challenging the way society approaches dieting. She has clinical interests in weight management, chronic disease, and eating behaviour. Megan also has experience in research and aged care.

Chewing The Fat

Nutrition science is not without controversy, and the conversation surrounding dietary fat is no different. Let's chew the fat...

 

Firstly, a brief overview. We refer to fats in three general categories; saturated fat, trans fat and unsaturated fat. Intake of saturated fat (red meat, whole milk dairy and many commercially prepared foods) has long been associated with increased risk of heart disease. Trans fats (predominately found in processed foods) are also known to elicit negative cardiovascular effects. A diet rich in unsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and salmon), however, is linked to improved blood lipid profiles and reduced cardiovascular risk. Fat is also extremely energy, or calorie, dense so it is often targeted for individuals seeking weight loss. 

Image of some healthy fats

Image of some healthy fats

In our quest for a healthier, leaner population a generalised low-fat diet gained traction over past decades. This shift away from excessive fat intake sought to reduce rates of overweight, obesity and cardiovascular disease. While the sentiment was there the general public were not equipped with suitable low fat alternatives, and because fat is a haven for flavour our diets lacked without it. This gave way to diets high in refined carbohydrates, which included the likes of white bread, pasta, processed snack foods and added sugar. 

 

As nutrition science evolved we learnt a lot more about the specific effects of dietary fat, and the health implications associated with excessive intake of refined carbohydrates. We now know refined carbohydrates generate an equal, if not greater, burden of disease when consumed in excess. We determined trans fats to be definitively unhealthy, and as a result significantly reduced these within the food supply. Saturated fats have been somewhat vindicated in recent years with evidence indicating some varieties (stearic acid and lauric acid specifically) have neutral effects on cardiovascular risk, although we still lack convincing evidence that they are helpful. Finally, we know eating unsaturated fats in place of saturated fats or highly refined carbohydrates improves blood lipid profile, and is a staple among some of the world's healthiest regions. 

 

The bottom line? Fats are in. Prioritise olive oils, avocado, nuts and fatty fish, but don't demonise a great piece of steak and whole milk dairy products. Remember though, fats are simply one element of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Focussing on specific nutrients is not the key to a nutritious, health-promoting diet. Emphasise a diet of wholesome foods in sensible combinations instead. When we get the foods right, the nutrients take care of themselves!

Weighing In On The 'Obesity Epidemic'

If like 2/3 of the Australian population you're either overweight or obese, are you doomed to a lifetime of poor health unless you lose those extra 10, 20 or 30kg? The short answer, NO! 

BMI charts aren't always accurate

BMI charts aren't always accurate

As a society we've come to associate the increasing number on the scales with declining health and higher mortality rates. The weight of recent evidence suggests that perhaps we don't fully understand the big picture in terms of the relationship between weight and health. For example, almost all population based studies show that overweight or moderately obese persons live at least as long as people in the normal weight category! Many people then argue that if this group lives as long as their leaner counterparts surely overweight and obese people are comparatively less healthy, right? Wrong. When we take a closer look at the specific effects of fitness, physical activity, diet quality and weight cycling we see that these factors are more relevant than weight. 

Fit & fat

Fit & fat

So what does this mean in practical terms? In essence this means you can make significant health improvements WITHOUT focusing on weight. 

In terms of nutrition, it's about getting back to basics. Choose a varied diet, eat regularly and include plenty of wholegrain breads and cereals, vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat. Recognise that it's normal to enjoy cake, chocolate and wine. Eat mindfully, tap into your hunger and fullness levels, and avoid restrictive diets. These behaviour changes will allow you to settle at your most comfortable healthy weight. For some people, this will translate to weight loss, for others it may mean a change in body composition without weight changes, and for many it will require acceptance that your healthiest most comfortable weight will not be the 'goal weight' you had in mind (and that's perfectly okay). 

Health at every size

Health at every size

While some of these concepts may sound simple, they are certainly not easy to fully embrace. I can only recommend that you seek help from your personal support team (health professionals, family and friends included), make gradual changes, and be kind to yourself. We are given only one body, so it seems absolutely absurd that many people spend the better part of their lives dissatisfied with their unique shape and size. Let go of the idea that weight loss equals health, and remember that your best weight is the one at which you are living the healthiest life you actually enjoy. 

You can find some great information here from Linda Bacon- one of the pioneer's of the "health at every size" movement.

Megan on a hike in New Zealand

Megan on a hike in New Zealand

Megan one of the Dietitians at the Movement Team and is passionate about challenging the way society approaches dieting. She has clinical interests in weight management, chronic disease, and eating behaviour. Megan also has experience in research and aged care.