Why Lower-Carb Bread Is A Dieter’s Best Friend

Bread lovers, breathe a sigh of relief: a new, lower-carb option may take the fear and self-loathing out of bread consumption.

RELATED: Why Detox Diets Are Dodgy And Don’t Work

No longer shall you have to hide in the shadows, eating your tasty and filling bread in secret shame! And while many have decreed the humble slice of bread to be public enemy No.1, leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured) says this is simply not the case.

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In short, healthy, active people need carbohydrates to fuel their body for life and exercise. What’s more, eradicating bread from your diet can be a needless form of dieting self-sabotage. Susie, who’s a Helga’s Lower Carb bread ambassador, is recommending we chow down on this new lower-wheat option, which contains nutritional seeds and 25 per cent less carbs than you would find in a standard mixed-grain loaf.

A loaf of this rich grain, lower-carb bread also contains 10g of protein, almost 5g of fibre and just 19-20g of total carbs per serve. “The nutritionals of this soft, tasty bread are very strong, one of the strongest profiles of all bread on the market and for this reason I was very happy to endorse this product,” Susie says.

“Bread has a lot of positive nutritional properties including being a good source of protein, fibre, and wholegrains and in the case of Helga’s, essential fats from all the seeds and grains.

“Turn your lunch-time salad into a nutritious and well-balanced meal by adding two slices of Helga’s Lower Carb and making it into a sandwich.”

Helga’s Lower Carb, $5.49 per 700g loaf, is available in three variants: Lower Carb 5 Seeds, Lower Carb Soy and Toasted Sesame and Lower Carb Sunflower and Golden Linseed.

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So, why should we not fear this new lower-carb bread? And why do some health professionals want us to ban all forms of bread (pictured) from our diets? “There are those who think they are doing well by choosing wraps or Turkish bread, only to find out that some of these breads can contain three-to-four times the amount of carbohydrates as traditional sliced bread,” Susie says.

“As a dietitian, I don’t see bread as good or bad, rather when developing meal plans I consider how much carbohydrate per serve the bread offers. Good nutrition is not about isolating individual types of food, rather considering the overall nutrient balance of the diet and the eating patterns and habits that complement this.

“If your GP tells you to cut bread from your diet, that’s just plain bad and lazy nutritional advice.”

Susie, who’s no fan of the paleo diet as spruiked by celebrity TV chef Pete Evans – which bans milk products, along with all grains and pulses – says wholegrains actually have much to offer us. “A less frequently mentioned benefit of including bread in the diet is the satisfaction factor,” she says.

“Chronic dieters will often describe skipping the bread with their lunch-time salad to avoid the ‘carbs’ only to find their blood glucose levels low and cravings out of control an hour or two later.

“Trust me, binge-eating rice crackers, chocolate and other sweet foods throughout the afternoon does far more damage to a diet than a slice or two of bread will ever do. In this instance the fear of eating bread tends to be a self-generated issue rather than a nutrition one.”

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A good rule of thumb is the more active we are, the more carbs we will need to fuel the muscle, Susie says. Good carbs include 1-2 slices of lower-carb bread; pasta; fruit; brown rice, quinoa or other carb-rich foods. So, is it time to revaluate your relationship with bread? This new, lower-carb bread may well be a bread-lover’s hot ticket to better health and happiness.

What do you think? Would you eat lower-carb bread? Does bread deserve its bad rep as a deadly sin?

Tips via Susie Burrell

Why You Should Stand More At Work

It has been proven that office workers are among the worst in the health-wise category of job types. Sitting all day, looking at computer screens and having snacks available can lead to excessive weight gain, while having elevators that take you to your floor, short walks to the bathroom and kitchen and lunch being delivered are all also contributing factors.

RELATED: Straighten Up: The Important Of Good Posture

Recently, there has been much debate about the effects of sitting for too many hours at a time on your health, and the discussion of employing standing desks in offices to combat problems caused by sitting. But is standing instead of sitting the answer to health issues such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure?

Sitting for too long can cause a higher risk of death from heart disease and a higher risk of being disabled, as well as a lack of movement that contributes to poor mental health and a slower metabolic rate. Sitting time has also been linked with high blood pressure and too much belly fat, which worsens risk rates for types of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes and some types of cancer.

Enduring long hours at your desk has also been linked to posture problems, which can cause a range of issues within your body, as well as undesirable physical characteristics.

Standing at your desk while you work has been seen as the light from heaven, the saviour to all health problems caused by being sedentary for so long. Standing can increase your metabolic rate, can help you to digest sugars easier and can also improve your heart, which means less of a risk of the aforementioned diseases. Standing and moving around during the day may also help with weight loss.

But standing for too long can also have side effects. Our circulatory system needs to work harder to counter the effects of gravity, and this can sometimes lead to swelling or cramping of the legs. So how do you stay healthy at work?

Try to move as much as possible and get out of your chair every 20 minutes or so. Take breaks when needed and walk around the office when you can. You could even invest in an active chair to keep you moving during the day, stand up on public transport and take a walk around your desk while you’re on the phone.

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How To Calculate The Alcohol Content In Cocktails

Keeping track of how much alcohol you are drinking can be a bit tricky when you are out and about having a good time. Pubs and clubs have measured serves which makes things a bit easier, but what about home made cocktails like the recipes we regularly supply our readers?

A good rule of thumb is that the body absorbs 7-12 ml of alcohol per hour. A standard drink in Australia is considered to be 10 gms or about 12.5mls of alcohol. So, depending on various factors a standard drink per hour should keep you relatively sober. Please be aware though, that the more alcohol you consume the harder it is for your body to absorb. The first drink you have should be absorbed into your body in about an hour, but the second will take longer. It’s all science related and not an exact science at that!

Now, the type of factors which affect alcohol absorption include the following:

  • How fast you drink
  • The amount of food in your stomach
  • Your weight
  • Amount of fat or muscle your body consists of
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Other medications and drugs in your body
  • Other chemicals in the drink. eg: Jäger Bombs
  • Foods consumed
  • Your drinking history and tolerance
  • Physical health
  • Mental health
  • Current emotional state

With all these variables it’s impossible to know how the alcohol is reacting within your body. Cocktails can be especially tricky, particularly if they are created without a measure. They also consist of a mixture and some have chemical ingredients like caffeine. Since caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the two can have different side effects. This is what makes them so potent and care should be taken when consuming them. The caffeine itself doesn’t have an alcohol content, but it can affect the alcohol being consumed.

Having gotten through that, I’ll fill you in on an easy way to work out how much alcohol you’re consuming in your cocktails as well as giving you a couple of easy examples to follow.

First look at the percentage of alcohol on the bottle used to make the cocktail. Most have at least 1 regular spirit which is usually 40% alcohol. Next, you need the serving size of the alcohol only, not the serving size of the entire drink. A full nip is usually 30 ml so multiply this with the alcohol percentage. Remember when you multiply a percentage it is not a whole number so you multiply the serving size by the decimal point (0.4). To work out the standard drink size, divide it by the Australian standard of 12.5 ml. Viola!

Here’s a couple of examples:

  • Full nip (30ml) of 40% alcohol bourbon = 30 x 0.40 = 12.00ml alcohol
    12.00ml / 12.50ml = 0.96 standard drinks.
  • 150ml glass of 11.5% alcohol wine = 180 x 0.115 = 17.25ml alcohol
    17.25ml/12.50ml = 1.38 standard drinks

You can use this formula to work out the alcohol content in every drink you consume. The final thing I want to mention which will help you with all this is the oz to ml conversion. You don’t need exact figures so, if you remember 1 oz = 30 ml, you’ll be right!

Now you have all the tools you need to keep track of how much alcohol you are consuming in your cocktails. A final tip is to do calculations before you start drinking for obvious reasons.


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Recognising Premenstrual Syndrome

A staggering 85 per cent of women with a menstrual cycle have at least 1 symptom pertaining to Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) or Premenstrual Tension (PMT). This is according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. With such a high number of women experiencing some indication of PMS, it’s important to be aware of what yours are and if they are serious enough to seek medical help.

RELATED: How To Naturally Balance Your Hormones


Symptoms usually present 1-2 weeks prior to menstruation and may continue until the commencement of your period. Each woman is different. Symptoms can present in isolation or in combination. They may be physical, which includes the following;

  • Acne or outbreak of pimples
  • Stomach problems; such as bloating, diarrhea or constipation
  • Feeling tired and worn out
  • Headache or migraine
  • Backache
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Insomnia
  • Swollen or tender breasts
  • Appetite changes or food cravings – chocloate is popular
  • Weight fluctuations

For many women, emotional changes are common. These not only affect the individual, but can have a significant impact on their relations with others. The most common emotional symptoms include:

  • Tension, irritability, mood swings, or crying spells
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Trouble with concentration or memory

Treating symptoms

If you have identified one or more of these symptoms; treatment is available. There isn’t a one size fits all solution, so working out what assistance is best for you, is recommended. Lifestyle changes, medications and alternative therapies may be a viable solution.

Lifestyle changes

A healthy lifestyle, will not only assist PMS symptoms, but will improve your overall health and well being.

  • Exercise at least 3 times a week
  • Eat healthy and avoid salt, sugary foods, caffeine, and alcohol, particularly when experiencing symptoms
  • Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night
  • De-stress, such as gardening, yoga, meditation; whatever works
  • Throw the cigarettes away! You know they are slowly killing you


Pain relievers, reduce pain. Loads of women avoid pain meds, but the stress which pain can place on the body, can often override any health benefits of avoiding medications. It’s very much a personal choice. Some PMS associated pain is due to inflammation, cramps, headache and backache. Meds, which reduces these symptoms include ibuprofen, ketoprofen, naproxen and asprin.

Alternative therapies

Vital vitamins and minerals are lacking in many busy peoples diets. Multivitamins are a great source for all round extra protection. For combating PMS symptoms: vitamins D, B-6 and E are all effective. Folic acid, magnesium and calcium are also recommended.

What next

If you find that you’ve made some changes and your symptoms are still apparent; you will need to visit your GP. The GP, will ask you to track your symptoms. Using a simple PMS tracker will help the GP establish if you have PMS and if it’s mild, moderate or server. Only 3-8 percent of women have severe PMS; known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). For these women, PMS is severe and disabling.

Most women will have a very mild to moderate indication of PMS. Avoid suffering in silence. Most treatment is relatively simple. So, come on ladies; what do you have to lose?

PMS Tracker: http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/PMS-symptom-tracker.pdf

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Post-Workout Do’s And Don’ts

After a workout you usually feel great, maybe a little tired and probably start to feel a little hungry, yet it is true that what you do straight after you complete your workout can increase its success or potentially undo all your hard work. So here are the do’s and don’ts to follow to get the most out of your exercise routine.



Always stretch for at least 10 minutes after your workout. Focus on all the large major muscle groups and hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds depending on the type of exercise you do.

Soothe your aches

A great remedy for post-workout aches is a warm shower, steam or sauna for one minute followed by a 30-second blast of cold water. Repeat four times.

Eating protein and watching your carbs

It’s really important start the repair process as soon as possible after a workout so the best way to do so is by ingesting protein. Also, tackle hunger post-workout with seafood, chicken or veges and a glass of milk. But don’t overestimate the amount of calories you need – a kilo of pasta or a litre of Powerade is generally not necessary.



Slam back the energy drinks

There is nothing your body needs more after a bout of exertion than water. So replenish your system with what it needs. Drink as much water as you feel you need. Coconut water is also good but steer clear of energy drinks. They don’t really contain any energy – just sugar!

Wait too long before eating 

Your body will start eating away at muscle if it doesn’t have the level of energy it requires which is extremely detrimental post-workout. Grab a banana, an oat raisin cookie or a handful of cashew nuts following your workout, but it’s always best to follow with a protein shake.

Eat too much before working out

Try to have a small amount of food at least 30 minutes before (especially first thing in the morning) to let your food digest and stop the feeling of being sick whilst you exercise.

Dr Sandra Cabot’s Liver Health Tips

We’ve all over-indulged this summer – endless parties, rich food and summer drinking. But now it’s time to get your liver into recovery mode so that 2014 is your healthiest year ever.

Did you know two million Australians suffer with liver disease? The liver tends to be the forgotten organ and yet it helps us in a variety of ways, including regulating fat metabolism and cholesterol levels, cleaning our bloodstream and removing toxic chemicals, producing energy to assist in our general wellbeing and manufacturing essential proteins and hormones.

Liver overload and dysfunction can be the cause of many health problems. Whist rapidly acting 24 to 48 hour liver detox kits have become popular, they will not be able to reverse a fatty liver or produce sustained improvement in liver function.  The good news is that liver problems are often completely reversible and the liver is able to repair and regenerate itself – just don’t wait til it’s too late!

The “Liver Doctor”, Doctor Sandra Cabot, author of the new book, Save your Gallbladder Naturally, shares her top tips to improve liver health:

1. Drink plenty of fluids such as water, herbal teas or weak black tea to hydrate all your cells and flush out toxins.

2. Increase the amount of raw plant food in your diet such as raw fruits and vegetable salads.

3. Take a good liver tonic to improve your liver function – there are various nutrients that support healthy liver function such as folic acid, the B vitamins, selenium, and turmeric.

4. Avoid the unhealthy fats found in processed margarines, processed foods and deep fried foods – these unhealthy fats contains trans-fatty acids which disrupt cellular metabolism.

5. Reduce your consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates found in refined grain flours.

6. Protect yourself against toxic chemicals such as solvents, glues, plastics and insecticides.

7. Do not over indulge in alcohol, soft drinks, sugary drinks and diet drinks containing aspartame.

What are your health goals for the year?

10 Ways to Love Your Liver (and Improve Your Health)

If one of your new year goals is to work on your health, a good place to start is with your liver. And good liver health means more than just watching how much you drink.

Loving your liver is pretty easy when you know how. Follow these 10 tips to protect your liver and watch your wellbeing improve.

1. Maintain a healthy weight
It’s estimated that 60% of Australians are overweight or obese. And of those classed as obese, approximately 30% will have fatty liver disease, putting them at high risk of liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver failure and liver cancer.

If you carry any excess weight around your middle, it can cause insulin resistance which often leads to fatty liver disease. Measure your middle and  keep it at a healthy circumference. Men should maintain a waist of less than 102cm and women, less than 88cm. Exercising and eating a diet that’s low in fat and high in fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals will help you maintain a healthy weight and liver.

2. Avoid fad diets
Fad diets that make your weight yoyo can put excessive stress on your liver. Avoid any products that promise large amounts of weight loss in an unrealistically short period of time. These diets are usually lacking in essential nutrients and are not beneficial. Aim to lose weight at a healthy rate of ½ -1kg per week.

Liver cleansing and detox diets should also be avoided. Contrary to popular belief, no particular diet is liver cleansing, but a healthy diet improves wellbeing. Take a look at our diet page and ask your doctor or dietitian to help you create a healthy and nutritious diet plan.

3. Limit your fat intake
High levels of fat in the blood (hyperlipidaemia) and high levels of cholesterol (hypercholesterolaemia) are common causes of fatty liver disease. Keep your levels low by keeping your fat intake low. And of the little fats you do eat, make sure they’re unsaturated (poly- and monounsaturated fats). If a low fat diet isn’t working for you, speak to your doctor about medications that can help.

4. Drink alcohol in moderation
Sensible consumption of alcohol is critical to your health. While alcoholism is more common among men, women are more susceptible to the adverse effects of alcohol on the liver. In fact, it takes as little as 20 grams of alcohol daily (only two standard drinks) for women to develop liver problems. If you can’t cut back, talk to your doctor about getting professional help.

5. Go for regular blood tests
A blood test is the best way to keep an keen eye on the levels of fat, cholesterol and glucose in your blood – all of which are associated with fatty liver disease. Too much glucose can be an indication that you have Impaired Glucose Tolerance or Diabetes – in both cases you’ll need to carefully control your blood sugar levels through diet, medications and/or weight loss.

Have you ever experimented with intravenous drugs? Did you have a blood transfusion, or organ transplant prior to 1992? If so, make sure you get tested for hepatitis C.

6. Quit smoking
It’s been proven that smoking cigarettes is linked to the development of liver cancer. Smoking can also enhance the toxic effects that some medications (such as Paracetamol) have on the liver. Talk to your doctor, or ring Quitline to get help.

7. Get a jab
Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. If you choose not to get vaccinated against hepatitis A, make sure you avoid sushi, or raw/partially cooked clams, oysters, mussels and scallops, as these fish often live in hepatitis A-contaminated rivers and seas. If you choose not to get vaccinated against hepatitis B, practice safer sex.

8. Ask your doctor
Mixing medications is never advised without seeking advice from your doctor or pharmacist. This applies to herbal supplements as well as prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Some medications require the liver to work extra hard to metabolise them, and taking too many medications at once can damage the liver. Some herbal supplements can actually be toxic to the liver, such as kava, comfrey, chaparral, kombucha tea, pennyroyal and skullcap. Read our common toxins page for more information.

9. Protect yourself
Practice safer sex and protect yourself from hepatitis B. Unlike hepatitis B, hepatitis C isn’t classified as a sexually transmissible infection, but if there is a chance of blood to blood contact, you should practice safer sex. Less commonly, toothbrushes, razors and other personal care items can also transmit hepatitis B or C, so don’t borrow, or share yours with anyone!

10. Don’t ignore your liver
If you’ve been told that something is wrong with your liver, ask your doctor for a referral to a liver specialist (hepatologist). You might feel fine, but the signs and symptoms of liver disease and hepatitis are not always present.

What are your health goals for 2014?

7 Ways to Minimise Overindulging at Christmas

‘Tis the season to overindulge – and regret it the next day. But does it really have to be that way? Nutritionist and health coach Jan McLeod guides us through the 7 best ways to enjoy your food whilst minimising overindulging this festive season.

1. Don’t over-fill your plate
It’s easy to get excited when you see your favourite dishes, but remember the festive season is much longer than one meal, so you have plenty of time to enjoy.

2. Leave it
If you mistakenly overfill your plate, don’t feel compelled to eat everything. It’s ok to leave something. That’s why the term leftovers was created!

3. Choose a mix of light and heavy dishes
You will not only experience a range of textures, smells and tastes, but you will also help your waistline.

4. Get up early and get active
After eating a big lunch or dinner, the last thing you will feel like doing is being active, so do it before you eat

5. Plan your week
Understand the days you are eating heavier and plan to include meals on the other days that are lighter and will give your digestive system a rest.

6. Practice the words ‘no thank you’
Sometimes we can find ourselves in situations where we feel compelled to say ‘yes’, but saying ‘no’ politely is okay.

7. Seconds? Don’t mind if I do
If you often find yourself going in for seconds, halve your initial portion size. That way, even if you go back for more, hopefully you will still be eating less.

What do you think – do you overindulge at Christmas or do you avoid overeating?

Jan McLeod runs Mad For Health, a personal and business health and nutrition consulting service that provides simple, practical advice on how to eat delicious, nutritious food that enables you to live a long and healthy life.

10 Ways To Fight A Cold

It’s easy to become run down during the cold and flu season, but many of us are feeling the effects of a cold coming into spring. If you’ve caught a cold, here are 10 healthy tips that may help you fight it quickly so you can get back to feeling your best.

1.       Rug up
It may sound simple enough, but keeping warm between seasons is key to fighting off the common cold. Dress warmly, particularly if heading out after dark! 

2.       In bed? Elevate your head
Adding an extra pillow under your head at night can help to alleviate coughs and ease sinus pressure. Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep every night and apply Vicks VapoRub before bed to help relieve nasal congestion  and minor muscle aches for a good night’s sleep.

3.       Wash your hands
The surest way to catch a cold is to catch the germs that cause the cold. In fact, hand-washing is so important in eliminating germs, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention made official guidelines! 

4.       Calm itching throats
Don’t let a dry, itchy throat stop you from going about your daily tasks. Coat your throat with the naturally-flavoured range of Vicks VapoNaturals throat drops.  For 2-in-1 relief, try Vicks VapoDrops to soothe your throat and clear your nose.

5.       Drink plenty of water
Be especially vigilant about drinking at least six to eight glasses of water a day during the cold and flu season. Water keeps your digestion working well, flushes the system and helps fights fatigue. 

6.       Love your shower
Care for a stuffy head by running a hot shower or bath and let the steam fill the room; a simple trick that might even help you breathe easier! 

7.       Be prepared
Coughs and sniffles can be a nuisance. Be prepared by keeping your favourite Vicks products on hand for when symptoms strike. If you’re out and about, carry Vicks Sinex with you for quick and effective relief from a blocked nose for up to 12 hours. 

8.       Keep exercise to a minimum
Gentle exercise is ok if you’re fighting cold symptoms, the simple act of sweating can help expel harmful germs, but if you have a fever, give your gym shoes a rest.

 9.       Eat for relief
Hot soups and drinks can work wonders for clearing a stuffy nose.

10.   Be patient
Give your body time to recover!

What are your best tips for relieving cold and flu symptoms?