Food & diet

Obesity trigger identified in the human gut

New research has found serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ ‘chemical that transmits messages between the body’s nerve cells, can make you fat.

Seratonin is a key ingredient for happiness and sadness but scientists have found it is also a force in our body’s weight gain and calorie control.

Australian and overseas researchers have uncovered more evidence showing elevated levels of serotonin in the gut were bad for the human metabolism, increasing blood glucose and fat mass and putting us in danger of developing diabetes and obesity.

Eating wild mushrooms is a risky business

People are being urged not to pick and eat wild mushrooms in southern and Western Australia this autumn – or they run the risk of ingesting the potentially lethal deathcap mushrooms.

“The poison in one deathcap mushroom is enough to kill a healthy adult,” said Australia’s Food Safety Information Council chair Rachelle Williams.

In 2012, two people died after eating the deadly mushrooms in Canberra, and in 2014 four people were seriously poisoned, she said.

Aussies should shun salty snags

A sausage in bread could be considered Australia’s national dish – particularly on a Saturday morning outside the hardware shop.

But new research from the George Institute for Global Health, VicHealth and the Heart Foundation shows Australians wolfing down 1.1 billion snags a year, containing 1500 tonnes of salt, and putting their health at risk.

The research showed the humble snag in white bread with tomato sauce contained 2.35 grams of salt – nearly half of the recommended daily intake. 

Brain 'switch' discovery may end yo-yo dieting

Australian scientists have discovered a ‘switch’ in the brain that regulates fat burning and may one day provide a way to control weight gain after dieting.

Associate Professor Zane Andrews of Melbourne’s Monash University said researchers found that being able to control this molecular switch, particularly after long periods of “famine”, or weight loss, may be a therapy for obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

A protein in mice, called carnitine acetyltransferase (Crat), regulated hunger-processing brain cells that controlled fat storage after dieting, he said.

High protein diet may reduce risk of Alzheimer's

A new study has found a diet high in protein-rich foods, such as meat and legumes, could reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from Perth’s School of Medical and Health Sciences examined the diets of 541 Australians and measured the levels of amyloid beta (Aβ) in their brain, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

They found that participants with higher levels of protein in their diet were less likely to have high levels of Aβ in their brain, reducing their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Grazing women gain more weight

Women who “graze” throughout the day could be more likely to gain weight than those who stick to regular meal times, a Melbourne researcher says.

A study by Deakin University’s Rebecca Leech discovered misconceptions regarding the health benefits of snacking and “grazing”, and evidence of how meal timing can play an important role in body weight and cardiovascular health.

“My research found evidence of a ‘grazing’ style eating pattern, characterised by higher snack frequency and energy intake from snacks and eating later in the day,” Dr Leech said.

Older people losing their appetite for vegetables

A new health survey shows older people are eating more chicken and fewer vegetables.

The Australian Health Survey, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed that people ate more poultry and less vegetables between 1995 and 2011-12.

"Average consumption of the vegetables and legumes/beans fell by 10 per cent, with decreased consumption by teenage and adults age groups of both sexes,” said the ABS’s Louise Gates.

Wheat a kick in the guts for fighting diseases

Australian scientists have helped develop a new type of wheat with 10 times the amount of fibre than normal wheat, helping to improve gut health and fight bowel cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

The new wheat strain, created by an international team including Australia’s CSIRO, is high in the resistant starch amylose and could provide millions of people with a lot more fibre without having to change their eating habits, the CSIRO’s Dr Ahmed Regina said.

Keep track of your vege intake with an app

There seems to be an app for everything these days and a reminder to eat your vegetables is one of the latest.

CSIRO’s new VegEze app aims to motivate Australians to add extra vegetables to their daily diets and form long-term, healthier habits through a 21-day 'Do 3 at Dinner' challenge.

"Our research found two out of three Australian adults are not eating enough vegetables, especially as part of their evening meal,” the CSIRO’s Senior Principal Research Scientist Professor Manny Noakes said.

Green vegetables linked to better heart health

Getting more greens into your diet could cut your risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 40 per cent, according to new research from Perth’s Edith Cowan University.

Researchers from the university’s School of Medical and Health Sciences studied the diets of more than 1,000 Western Australian women, focusing on nitrate intake derived from vegetables.

They found that over a 15-year period, those women who had the highest intake of nitrate from vegetables had up to a 40 per cent lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke.

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