1 October 2014

GI News—October 2014


  • Food addiction? Unlikely. Eating addiction is more likely;
  • Dr Alan Barclay on the sodium/potassium balance; 
  • Prof Jennie Brand-Miller on total carbs, net carbs and available carbs; 
  • What you need to know about inulin; 
  • Emma Sandall talks to Rhys Johnson about skating for fun and fitness; 
  • Nicole Senior checks out broccoli and Anneka Manning and Johanna Burani make the most of this wonderful veg; 
  • Ottolenghi's roasted chicken with Jerusalem artichoke and lemon.  
GI News 
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Management and design: Alan Barclay, PhD
Contact: info@gisymbol.com
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Food for Thought

What’s for dinner? The omnivore’s daily dilemma. 
“Omnivores, such as rats and humans, faced with an enormous number of potential foods, must choose wisely. They are always in danger of eating something harmful or eating too much of a good thing.” (Paul Rozin, 1976)

In his Omnivore’s Dilemma Michael Pollan reminds us of the pros and cons of being a generalist. On the plus side, it has allowed us to inhabit every continent on earth (even Antarctica) and enjoy the pleasures of variety. On the minus, a surfeit of choice (for the fortunate among us) brings stress and the need to divide food into The Good Things to Eat and The Bad.

These days, lacking what Pollan calls “a steadying culture of food”, many of us turn to experts for advice on what’s good to eat and what’s not. There’s an army of them (some more well-intentioned than others) out there ready and willing. In alphabetical order and offering varying levels of expertise and accuracy our advisers may include the following: academics • advertisers • bloggers and twitterers • chefs and cooks • commodity groups • diet companies • dietary guidelines committees • dietitians • doctors • family and friends • film makers • food companies (big and small) • foodies • government departments • gurus • health organisations • marketers • media (all of it) • nutritionists and naturopaths • researchers and PhD candidates • sales assistants (health/organic food stores) • sports and fitness coaches and trainers • trade organisations. We even had a taxi driver advise us to take up a gluten-free diet the other day. “Don’t bother to see a doctor,” he said, “just do it”.

No wonder people are confused and stressed about what’s for dinner. Perhaps it’s Back-to-the-Future time. “The human omnivore has, in addition to his senses and memory, the incalculable advantage of a culture, which stores the experience and accumulated wisdom of countless human tasters before us,” writes Pollan. “Our culture codifies the rules of wise eating in an elaborate structure of taboos, rituals, recipes, manners and culinary traditions that keep us from having to re-enact the omnivore’s dilemma at every meal.”

“Good taste, good manners, and conviviality (not eating alone), food principles suggested by other cultures, are all more closely linked to health outcomes than are restrictive rules,” writes Prof Joanne Slavin in The Nutrition Elite. This year’s ground-breaking, draft dietary guidelines from Brazil enshrine this principle. “We need to protect and preserve the Brazilian tradition of enjoyment of meals as a central part of family, social and workplace life. The planning of meals, exchange of recipes with friends, and involvement of the whole family in preparing food to enjoy together, are all part of a healthy life” says Patricia Jaime, Ministry of Health coordinator of Food and Nutrition.

Over thousands of years, successful (and very different) dietary patterns that we now know are associated with a low risk of chronic disease have evolved in different parts of the world. For example, the traditional Mediterranean and Japanese diets are both associated with a long and healthy life, but the former is relatively high in fat whereas the latter, like most Asian diets, is very high in carbohydrate and low in fat. This suggests that our modern tendency to focus on a particular nutrient may not be a useful way to describe a “good diet” – a low fat diet is not necessarily ideal for everyone, and neither is a high carbohydrate diet.

When choosing what’s for dinner, cultural patterns need to be taken into account. And using our “swap it” guide, your recipes can be low GI, too. Get started with Yotam Ottolengi and Sami Tamimi’s Roasted chicken with Jerusalem artichoke and lemon from Jerusalem (Random House) in our new section – What’s for dinner? – featured in the GI News Kitchen.

Swap it

What's new?

Diet research, stuck in the stone age. 
A current diet study making headlines purportedly asked, and answered this question: Which is better for weight loss and improving cardiac risk, a low-fat or a low-carb diet? writes Dr David Katz in the Huffington Post. The following edited summary is reproduced with his permission.

Dr David Katz

But the study didn't even really ask this question says Katz. Allegedly, the researchers compared a low-fat to a low-carb diet. But in fact, they compared a diet that allowed up to 30 percent of calories from fat to a diet that allowed up to 40 grams of daily carbohydrate.

The baseline diets were, reportedly, roughly 2,000 calories per day on average among the nearly 140 obese (i.e., BMI > 30) study participants. (This is a bit suspect, since calorie intake would be predicted to be higher in obese adults.) That means the allegedly low-fat diet assignment allowed up to 600 calories per day from fat, while the low-carb assignment allowed only about one-quarter that much carbohydrate, 160 calories. The baseline fat intake of the participants in the low-fat assignment was just over 35 percent of calories, so this was, essentially, a diet intervention that didn't intervene much with their diets.

In contrast, baseline carbohydrate intake was 240 grams per day, so while fat intake was "trimmed" 5 percent, carbohydrate intake in that assignment was slashed 75 percent. This might have been billed "a study to compare a really big change from baseline diet to a really small change from baseline diet”.

That would be bad and biased enough if the researchers had made any attempt to compare comparably good, or comparably bad versions of the two diets; but they did not. The "low-fat" diet was, for starters, not much lower in fat than the typical American diet, which as we all know -- is basically crap.

Shockingly, the fiber intake was virtually identical, at about 15 to 16 grams per day, in both groups throughout the study. You cannot possibly eat any variant on the theme of "good" low-fat, mostly plant-based eating and fix the fiber intake at that pitiful level. The only way to do that is to combine modestly low fat with preferentially crummy foods made mostly from refined starches and added sugars. The study did not provide this level of detail about the diets, but it's clear that the low fat diet was (A) not low fat; and (B) rather crummy. So another title option was: "a comparison of the best low-carb diet to the worst low-fat diet we could come up with."

And finally, the low-carb diet, since it was actually low-carb, obviously was much more restrictive than the low-fat diet, which wasn't actually low-fat. That had the predictable result: those on the low-carb assignment took in many fewer calories (this information in summarized in Table 2 in the article). Over the first several months of the study, when everyone was probably on their best behavior, the low-carb group took in about 200 fewer calories per day. All the way out at the 12-month mark, when folks were falling off the wagon, the low-carb assignees were still taking in nearly 100 fewer calories per day. And so, the results were a foregone conclusion. Over the span of a year, obese people who ate less, lost more weight. And those who lost more weight had more improvement in their cardiac risk measures -- which were mostly a mess in the first place due to obesity. Ta-da!

[The study] is both prehistoric and propaganda. It was a comparison of a quite restricted, lower-calorie, low-fiber diet; to a less restricted, higher calorie, equally low-fiber diet. The first worked better for weight loss. Ignored in the mix? Was the diet sustainable when the intervention ended? Could families join in? Would the diet reliably improve health and prevent disease across a lifespan?

And here he comments on identical twin brothers Van Tulleken who did their own diet comparison for a month. Chris cut fat. Xand cut carbs. Both brothers agreed that Chris “won.” For the span of a month, cutting fat produced better overall results in these identical twin doctors. But that’s not the point. You can read more HERE.

Food addiction? Unlikely. Eating addiction is more likely.
People can become addicted to eating for its own sake but not to consuming specific foods such as those high in sugar or fat, research published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews suggests. An international team of scientists has found no strong evidence for people being addicted to the chemical substances in certain foods. The brain does not respond to nutrients in the same way as it does to addictive drugs such as heroin or cocaine, the researchers say. Instead, people can develop a psychological compulsion to eat, driven by the positive feelings that the brain associates with eating. This is a behavioural disorder and could be categorised alongside conditions such as gambling addiction, say scientists at the University of Edinburgh. They add that the focus on tackling the problem of obesity should be moved from food itself towards the individual's relationship with eating.

“…there is very little evidence to indicate that humans can develop a “Glucose / Sucrose / Fructose Use Disorder” as a diagnosis within the DSM-5 category Substance Use Disorders. We do, however, view both rodent and human data as consistent with the existence of addictive eating behavior,” they conclude. Dr John Menzies, Research Fellow in the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Integrative Physiology, said: “People try to find rational explanations for being over-weight and it is easy to blame food. Certain individuals do have an addictive-like relationship with particular foods and they can over-eat despite knowing the risks to their health. More avenues for treatment may open up if we think about this condition as a behavioural addiction rather than a substance-based addiction.”

Professor Suzanne Dickson, of the University of Gothenburg and co-ordinator of the NeuroFAST project, added: “There has been a major debate over whether sugar is addictive. There is currently very little evidence to support the idea that any ingredient, food item, additive or combination of ingredients has addictive properties.”

Chromium and blood glucose – does it make a difference? 
Chromium is an essential nutrient (trace element) that’s vital for good health. It may only play a bit part alongside the dietary biggies (iron, calcium or zinc), but that bit part is a key player in how our bodies metabolise carbohydrate, fat and protein. It has been extensively researched over the years regarding its role in glucose metabolism. The most recent study which analyses nearly three decades of data on the effect of chromium supplementation on blood glucose concludes that chromium supplements are not effective at lowering fasting blood glucose in anybody – neither healthy individuals, nor people with diabetes.

Where do we get it? Eating a varied, balanced diet will give us all we need. It is widely available in the food supply and we only need a tiny or trace amount (ranging from about 25–45micrograms per day). The best source is brewer's yeast, but many people don’t go there because it can make you feel bloated and even cause nausea. More popular choices include: bran-based breakfast cereals, wholegrain breads and cereals, egg yolk, cheese, yeast extract like Vegemite, fruits such as apples, oranges and pineapple, vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms, potatoes with their skin on, tomatoes, liver, kidney and lean meat, peanuts, oysters and some spices like pepper and chilli.

Wholegrain bread

Understanding inulin.
This is an edited extract from the Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners reproduced courtesy The Experiment Publishing (New York).

Inulin is an ingredient you will see increasingly often on food labels, as it is being used in conjunction with high-intensity sweeteners to enhance flavor and replace sugar and other nutritive sweeteners in sugar-free, sugar-reduced, or “diet” products such as chocolate, baked goods, breakfast cereals, cereal bars, yogurt, and beverages. We have also spotted it in organic stevia sweeteners, where it provides both bulk and a prebiotic bonus; although we can’t digest it, the healthy bacteria (like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) in our large intestine just lap it up.

It’s not a sugar or sweetener per se; it’s a fructan, a type of soluble dietary fiber found in agave, artichokes, asparagus, bananas, carrots, chicory root, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, leeks, onions, wheat, and yacon. The food industry’s main sources of inulin are chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke.

In simple terms, a fructan is a chain of fructose molecules joined together. Short-chain fructans are known as fructooligosaccharides (also called oligofructose) and are about 30 percent as sweet as granulated sugar (sucrose); longer-chain fructans are known as inulins and are only about 10 percent as sweet as granulated sugar.

Although it shares some of sugar’s physical characteristics, such as providing bulk, it is not sufficiently sweet to replace brown or white sugar in recipes on a cup-for-cup basis. If you are tempted to use it in your baking, try it out first in a recipe that has been developed and tested with it (and that shows you a photograph of the end product), rather than substituting it for sugar in one of your favorites. It is not suitable for people who are following a low-FODMAP diet.

Nicole's Taste of Health

Hearts and flowers. 
“I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli” proclaimed the 41st President of the United States George H.W. Bush. Let me restore the glowing reputation of this glorious green and suggest some delicious ways to enjoy it.


Broccoli is part of the brassica family of vegetables (also known as cruciferous vegetables) that includes cabbage and Brussels sprouts. It has been around since Roman times and still popular in Italy; the name comes from the Italian word broccoli meaning the flowering crest of a cabbage. We eat the large flowering head of the plant. Broccolini is a newer incarnation with long slender stems and smaller heads, and also known as sprouting broccoli – they are nutritionally the same. They all contain cancer-fighting phytochemicals including sulforaphane. Broccoli is also a good source of the B vitamin folate for a healthy heart, vitamin C for immunity and fibre for digestive health. And as with other vegetables, it is low in calories/kilojoules.

To retain its nutritional goodness and “fight-o-chemical” power, cook broccoli as lightly as possible – do not boil. As with all vegetables, broccoli can be lightly steamed or microwaved and dressed with a little extra virgin olive oil and perhaps lemon juice, pepper, chili, or herbs of your choice. For an Asian direction, try soy, honey and sesame seeds. Take care not to overcook and leave some crispness and the rich green colour. To ensure the stems cook through before the florets go mushy, cut a cross into the base of the stem with a small sharp knife to quicken cooking. For added delight, sprinkle over slivered almonds (or any nut really) that have been gently toasted. Broccoli is a natural choice for a stir-fry because the short cooking time retains colour and texture – the mouth feel is a fantastic contrast to the chewiness of meat, the slipperiness of noodles or crunch of cashews, for example. And broccoli adds good textural variety in curries too, such as Thai style tofu and vegetable curry.

“Little green trees” as children often call broccoli florets, are perfect paired with pasta of any kind, and go just as beautifully with freshness of lemon and parsley, the creaminess of cheese or intensity of roasted tomato. Broccoli is also delicious in a frittata, either on its own or partnered with the omega-3 goodness and protein power of salmon, fresh or canned. Broccoli soup can also be super-easy: just blend cooked broccoli with stock and a little parmesan (or stinky blue cheese) for added flavour. You could say it was the hot equivalent of a green smoothie! And yes, you can even add kale if you must. Broccoli is also lovely in cold salads but again, only cook briefly so it retains texture, colour and flavor. Try it with lentils, chickpeas or butter beans as well as baby spinach and blanched green beans. 

In the name of “taste it, don’t waste it”, eat the broccoli stems as well as the florets. Create tender stem pieces by slicing off the outer skin and cooking as usual. Another trick is to grate the stems and add it to pasta sauce, curries, meatloaf or slaw. A simply delicious idea is to combine grated broccoli stem with canned fish, crushed garlic, lemon juice, parsley and extra virgin olive oil and toss through spaghetti cooked al dente (“to the tooth”, meaning a bit chewy). And another tip to reduce waste is only to cook enough for the meal as all cruciferous vegetables develop stronger unpleasant bitter flavours when reheated.

Sure it’s nice to receive flowers, but I’d rather eat mine.

Buon appetito!

Nicole and Finn
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author and consultant who strives to make healthy food taste terrific. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or checkout her website

In the GI News Kitchen

Family Baking.
Anneka Manning, founder of Sydney’s BakeClub, shares her delicious ‘better-for-you’ recipes for snacks, desserts and treats the whole family will love. Through both her writing and cooking school, Anneka teaches home cooks to bake in practical and approachable yet inspiring ways that assure success in the kitchen.

 Anneka Manning
Broccoli, feta and mint frittata. 
Simple, tasty and packed with goodness this frittata makes a perfect lunch or light dinner accompanied by a leafy salad. It is best served either warm or at room temperature

  • Serves 6 
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes (+5 minutes standing time) 
  • Baking time: 18-20 minutes 
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 leek, pale section only, washed and thinly sliced
300g (10oz) small broccoli florets (see Baker’s Tips)
1 garlic clove, finely grated ¼ tsp chilli flakes
10 eggs
½ cup finely shredded Parmesan
2 tbsp finely chopped mint
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
50g (2oz) Persian or soft feta, crumbled

Broccoli, feta and mint frittata

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F (180°C/350°F fan-forced).
Put 1 tablespoon of the oil, broccoli and leek in a 20–22 cm (base measurement) oven-proof frying pan. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until softened slightly and starting to brown. Add the garlic and chilli and cook, uncovered, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Transfer the broccoli mixture to a bowl and wipe out the pan with paper towel.
Use a fork to whisk together the eggs, parmesan, mint and lemon rind until evenly combined. Season well with pepper.
Add the remaining ½ tablespoon oil to the frying pan and heat over medium heat. Spread the broccoli mixture evenly over the base, pour the egg mixture evenly over the top, shaking the pan slightly to allow the egg to settle around the broccoli, and then sprinkle with the feta. Transfer the frying pan to the centre of the preheated oven and bake for 18–20 minutes or until the egg is just set in the center.
Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly before cutting into wedges and serving warm or at room temperature.

Baker’s Tips 
  • You will need 2 medium heads broccoli (about 250g/8oz each) to get 300g/10oz broccoli florets. 
  • This frittata will keep covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. 
Per serve (one piece)
985 kJ/ 235 calories; 17.5 g protein; 17.5 g fat (includes 6 g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.52); 1.3 g available carbs (includes 1 g sugars and 0.3 g starch); 3 g fibre; sodium:potassium ratio 0.96

What’s for dinner? A taste of Jerusalem. 
In Jerusalem Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi describe some typical elements that are found in this city of countless cultures and sub-cultures with its correspondingly immense tapestry of cuisines. “Everybody, absolutely everybody, uses chopped cucumber and tomatoes to create an Arab salad or an Israeli salad depending on point of view. Stuffed vegetables with rice or rice and meat appear on almost every dinner table, as does an array of pickled vegetables. Extensive use of olive oil, lemon juice and olives is also commonplace. Baked pastries stuffed with cheese in all sorts of guises are found in most cultures ... Jerusalemites tend to eat seasonally and cook with what grows in the area. The list is endless ... dozens of vegetables ... fruit ... herbs, nuts, dairy products, grains and pulses, lamb and chicken ... Jerusalem artichokes are well loved in the city but have actually got nothing to do with it; not officially anyway. The name is a distortion of the Italian name of this sunflower tuber, which has an artichoke like flavour. From girasole articiocco to Jerusalem artichoke.” 

Roasted chicken with Jerusalem artichoke and lemon. 
The combination of saffron and whole lemon slices does not only make for a beautiful-looking dish, it goes exceptionally well with the nutty earthiness of the artichokes. This is easy to prepare. You just need to plan ahead and leave it to marinate properly. Serves 6

450g (about 1lb) Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into six lengthways (1.5cm/½ in thick wedges)
3 tbsp lemon juice
8 chicken thighs, on the bone with the skin on, or a medium whole chicken, divided into four
12 banana shallots, peeled and halved lengthways
12 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 medium lemon, cut in half lengthways and then into very thin slices
1 tsp saffron threads
3 tbsp olive oil
2/3 cup (160ml) cold water
1½ tbsp pink peppercorns, slightly crushed
10g (1/3oz) fresh thyme leaves
40g (1½oz) tarragon leaves, chopped
2 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

 Roasted chicken with Jerusalem artichoke and lemon

Put the Jerusalem artichokes in a medium saucepan, cover with plenty of water and add half the lemon juice. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10–20 minutes, until tender but not soft. Drain and leave to cool.
Place the Jerusalem artichokes and all the remaining ingredients, excluding the remaining lemon juice and half of the tarragon, in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to mix everything together well. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight, or for at least 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 240°C/220°C (400°F) Fan/Gas Mark 9.
Arrange the chicken pieces, skin-side up, in the centre of a roasting tin and spread the remaining ingredients around the chicken. Roast for 30 minutes. Cover the tin with foil and cook for a further 15 minutes. At this point, the chicken should be completely cooked.
Remove from the oven and add the reserved tarragon and lemon juice. Stir well, taste and add more salt if needed. Serve at once.

Per serve (one chicken thigh)
3375 kJ/ 805 calories; 61 g protein; 59.5 g fat (includes 18 g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.43); 10 g available carbs (includes 3.5 g sugars and 6.5 g starch); 5 g fibre; sodium:potassium ratio 0.7

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem (Random House) is available from good bookshops and online. “I have to say this cookbook is like having a bible of nutrient-dense, low GI recipes. It makes eating the healthy, low GI way deliciously easy.” – Prof Jennie Brand-Miller. Recipe reproduced with permission. 

Johanna's Italian Kitchen
American dietitian and author of Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, Johanna Burani, shares her favourite recipes with a low or moderate GI. For more information, check out Johanna's website. The photographs are by Sergio Burani. His food, travel and wine photography website is photosbysergio.com.


Uovo con broccoli (Egg with broccoli). 
Italians are, for the most part, indiscriminate vegetable lovers. And most Italians know how to s-t-r-e-t-c-h their food dollars, oops, I mean EURO. This recipe is a perfect example of a nutritious, low-cost Italian dish. Adjusting the ingredient quantities, it could be your breakfast, lunch or dinner entrée. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Servings: 1 breakfast entrée.

Cooking spray
1 tsp olive oil
 1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)
½ anchovy (optional)
3oz (90g) fresh broccoli, washed, dried and cut into small pieces
1oz (30g) green onions, washed, dried and thinly sliced
1 free range organic egg
1 tsp parmigiano reggiano grated cheese

Uovo con broccoli

Coat a small non-stick frying pan with the cooking spray.
Add the oil, the garlic and anchovy, if using. Saute for 1 minute. Add the broccoli; cook on medium-high for 2 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Add the green onions; cook 2 more minutes and continue to stir frequently. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan; cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Uncover the pan. Crack the egg over the broccoli mixture. Cover and continue to cook on low heat for 5-6 minutes.
Remove the cover and slip the pan contents onto a warmed plate. Sprinkle on the cheese and serve immediately.

Per serve 
715kJ/171 calories; 11g protein; 11g fat (includes 2g saturated fat; saturated:unsaturated fat ratio 0.22); 7g available carbs; 3g fibre

Putting the Fun Back into Fitness with Emma Sandall

It is not unusual for boys to come to dance and ballet technique later in life, often in their mid- to-late teens. This year I have been teaching a range of wonderful young men from many different backgrounds. What is refreshing is their determination and discipline, as well as mature understanding of themselves gained from other experiences. Rhys Johnson is such a person. And he came to dancing after beginning as a skater. 

In my neck of the woods, I have noticed skateboarding is growing in popularity. Not just with young men, but older men and younger boys and girls. Indeed, at the skate park at Bondi Beach I’ve seen kids as young as seven shooting about and climbing around the skate bowl like little pros with audiences cheering them on. Here, Rhys talks about skating and why it gives so many people so much pleasure.

Rhys skatebording

“I started skateboarding when I was eight with my brother at the local skate park in Hobart, then became more serious about it when I began high school. The sensation is a complete euphoric feeling. The ability to escape through this physical activity is like no other. It’s you, your board and your imagination. The overwhelming feeling of achievement when landing a trick is indescribable. You can push yourself extremely hard or you can just relax and have a roll. There is no pressure – it’s all you and the board.

Skating can be the best of fun at times, especially when you’re nailing tricks and having a good day. But it can lose a lot of its fun when you’re not getting your tricks or landing things cleanly or having a bad day. If you’re not having fun go home rest came back the next day and it will usually feel great again. The more you skate the better you’re going to get.

There is not so much a technique to skateboarding, more a style, a way of landing a trick or riding your skateboard that makes you look good. When you skate you want to look smooth and clean. When doing a trick you always want to land on the bolts of the skateboard which ensures consistency and it looks clean and will help prevent injury. Having a good foundation in vert and street skating will greatly help you when approaching any trick.

  • Vert skating is where you skate ramps and bowls, transitioning from a horizontal plane to a vertical plane. The tricks usually involved are grabs and or airs and stalls and grinds, usually performed on the coping of the ramp. Skate parks are usually designed to fit this style of skating. 
  • Street skating involves manoeuvres that are performed on street like obstacles, obstacles that initially have a different purpose other than skating e.g., handrails, stairs, picnic tables.
Skateboarding can be very, very dangerous and can get you seriously injured, but that’s if you’re not being smart with yourself. Injuries usually occur if you aren't completely focused and ready for the trick you’re attempting, which leads to the result of tearing muscles, ligaments, grazes and broken bones. Once you build yourself up to it, through practice and body preparation, then you have the safest way of injury prevention.”

I then asked Rhys for tips about costs, getting started and  skateparks.
“There are all types of skateboards. Short boards are great for just cruising around, nothing serious. More of a “go to the corner store get milk come home” type of board. For a whole set up (board, trucks, wheels, bearings) would cost approx $150. Street skateboards are for the core skater who wants to perform tricks. The cost for a set up is generally higher (approx $250–$350). You can get entire set ups for around $100 but these are cheaply made boards and will usually not last longer than a few weeks, paying that little bit extra is worth it as long as you take care of the board, plus you get a greater performance control from the set up. Long boards are used for long distance travel or riding really fast down streets, this has been becoming more popular recently, and for a whole set up is approx $400–$500.

The Australian skate community is continuing to expand as there are more companies willing to sponsor and support it. There is the SBA, which offers free workshops at selected skateparks. The ages range from 8-year-olds all the way to 35–40 year olds at the parks.

Anywhere you go in the world you are bound to find skaters, whether on the street or in a skatepark. The world is our playground – if you can create it you can skate it. We are universally a very supportive culture constantly celebrating skateboarding achievements.
Emma Sandall is an ex-ballerina turned fitness and health guru. She teaches and coaches dance, fitness and Pilates and writes and produces video for all things movement related. Emma runs Body Playground, a space to activate and inspire body and soul. Email: emma@bodyplayground.com.au

Update with Dr Alan Barclay

Alan Barclay

Reducing your risk of heart attack and stroke by balancing sodium and potassium.

Dietary guidelines from around the world recommend that people eat less, or limit, added salt and salty foods. They are talking about sodium chloride, the most common salt added to foods, which has been consumed by humans for many thousands of years. As well as enhancing flavour, salt has other important roles in food including acting as a preservative and affecting a food's texture.


It’s the sodium in salt that’s thought to be a health problem when consumed in excessive amounts. Salt is approximately 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The World Health Organisation (WHO) currently recommends that adults consume less than 2 grams (2000mg) of sodium, which is equivalent to less than 5.1 grams of added salt, each day. Population surveys from around the world indicate that most people eat more salt than is required for good health. The most recent Australian Health Survey, for example, indicates that the average Australian adult consumes over 2.4 grams (2430mg) of sodium each day, equivalent to over 6.2grams of salt. This sodium is what occurs naturally in food and is added during food processing and does not include what is added during food preparation at home or at the table, so for most of us it’s likely to be an underestimation.

Hence the general advice to people to eat less salt. The main reason why we need to eat less salt is that habitual consumption of large amounts raises many people's (but not everyone's) blood pressure, and in turn may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. High salt intakes are also associated with an increased risk of developing stomach cancer. While advice to reduce the amount of sodium in the diet makes good sense, it is important to remember that we do not need to completely avoid all sodium. Indeed, like most nutrients too little sodium may not be good for our health. Indeed, a recent large study of adults living in 17 countries found that both lower (less than 3g) and higher (more than 6g) sodium intakes were associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke, and that intakes in the middle were associated with the least risk. We probably shouldn’t be surprised, this phenomena – characterised by a U or J – shaped curve – is quite common in nutrition: too little of a particular nutrient really can be just as detrimental to health as too much.

J shaped curve

Another emerging piece of the proverbial puzzle is that the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet also matters. Relatively higher intakes of potassium are associated with lower blood pressure, and lower risk of major cardiovascular events. Excellent sources of potassium include fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, seafood, and yoghurt – foods that most of us should be eating more of. The WHO recommends that the sodium : potassium ratio be no more than 1 : 1, or in other words, you should aim to consume no more sodium than potassium.

In most parts of the developed world, sodium is added to food during food processing, and consequently processed foods are usually the primary source of sodium in foods – not salt added to foods during food preparation at home or at the table. It is therefore important that we encourage food manufacturers and processors to add less salt to foods to help us to reduce our sodium intake. The GI Symbol Program has category-based Nutrient Criteria that include limits for sodium to encourage manufacturers to reduce the amount of sodium that they add to foods.

To help readers of GI News reduce their sodium intakes and increase their potassium intakes, we will include sodium : potassium ratios in the recipes we publish.

New GI Symbol
GI Symbol Program
Dr Alan W Barclay PhD,
Chief Scientific Officer,
Glycemic Index Foundation (Ltd):


GI testing
Fiona Atkinson,
Research Manager,
Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service:


GI database

Q&A and New Product News

Prof Jennie Brand-Miller answers your questions. 

I’m confused about carb counts. What’s the difference between total carbs, net carbs and available carbs and does it really matter? 
This very sensible question is complicated for several reasons. Let’s start with the labelling regulations of the country you live in. In the United States, for example, the total carbohydrate (in grams) listed on the nutrition facts panel includes fibre, so do the carb counts in diabetes exchange lists. In just about every other part of the world, the total carbohydrate listed in the nutrition information panel excludes fibre (and the same goes for diabetes exchange lists). Why? Unlike starches and sugars, fibre is not broken down during digestion. And that’s where terms like “available” or “net” carbs come in. In the US, net carbs = total carbs minus fibre = available carbs. Many low-carb weight–loss plans, including the New Atkins Diet, also use “net carbs” in their diet plans.

Then there’s how carbs are counted in a food and how accurate that process is. Under most national “food laws,” two “carb counting” methods are allowed.

  • The amount of carbohydrate listed on the food label can be determined by “difference” – the amount of protein, fat, fibre, ash and water is measured, and whatever is left over is called available carbohydrate. 
  • Alternatively, carbs are measured by “direct analysis” where each of the different sugars and starches in a food are measured and the totals are given. 
Not surprisingly, carb counts based on difference will be intrinsically less reliable than those from direct analysis. But direct analysis is time consuming and rather costly, so the carb counts you see on food labels in the supermarket are typically calculated by the difference method. However, although measuring seems to be the way to go for accuracy, there’s a fair bit of natural variation in most foods we eat: they are grown in different seasons, climatic conditions and subject to different doses of fertiliser, they are not produced under strict controls in a laboratory. So the carb count in a food can typically vary from variety to variety, crop to crop, batch to batch … So, back to the food labels.

While it is difficult to give a reliable estimate for carb quantities in packaged foods, variations of up to 20% are not unusual. That means for most of us, there’s little justification for counting carbs to the nearest gram – the values on most food and drink labels simply aren’t that accurate. However, some people (like those with diabetes) clearly need a practical system for estimating the amount of carbohydrate in foods so they can match their insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents to what they eat. What’s the most practical tool they can use to help them do this reasonably accurately without fuss and a calculator? Research has proven that carbohydrate exchanges (an average of 15 grams of carbohydrate per typical household serve of food, with an allowance for variation of 12–18 grams per per serve) or portions (10 grams of carbs per serve) provide equally satisfactory estimates of the amount of carbohydrate in food to enable most people with diabetes manage blood glucose levels satisfactorily.

Of course, the amount of carbohydrate in a food is only one part of the equation when it comes to good health – the GI is equally important for all of us.

Total Wellbeing Diet plus low GI carbs online program.
Participants are being sought to take part in a 12-week trial of the new online Total Wellbeing Diet. Professor Manny Noakes, Research Director for CSIRO’s Nutrition and Health Flagship and co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, said “The trial will help us to assess how we can inspire healthy eating and provide more support to those that need to lose weight – which is a major goal of the Total Wellbeing Diet project,” Professor Noakes said.
  • Participants who weigh in each week during the 12-week program will pay nothing; with the introductory price of A$99 being fully refunded. 
  • To find out more about the trial or register, visit: www.totalwellbeingdiet.com

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