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Thinking Nutrition

Thinking Nutrition

Author: Dr Tim Crowe

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Thinking Nutrition is all about presenting the latest nutrition research in plain language and then translating this into what it means for your health. Dr Tim Crowe is a career nutrition research scientist and an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian. Tim has over 25 years of research and teaching experience in the university and public health sectors, covering areas of basic laboratory research, clinical nutrition trials and public health nutrition. He now works chiefly as a freelance health and medical writer and science communicator.
46 Episodes
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Considered one of the world’s healthiest dietary patterns, the Mediterranean diet is linked to a host of positive health benefits. The theme of the diet is one abundant in fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and olive oil and where fish and poultry feature more often than red meat. From less chronic disease right through to a longer life, in this podcast I’ll dig deeper into the health merits of adopting some of the key themes of the Mediterranean diet for your own individual way of eating. Links referred to in the podcast Umbrella review of the Mediterranean diet and health https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn201758 Meta-analysis of the Mediterranean diet and cancer risk https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32770356 Mediterranean diet and bone health https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/108/3/633/5051862 Clinical trial of the Mediterranean diet in pregnancy https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002857 
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient integral to the healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system. It is also involved in DNA synthesis and the formation of red blood cells. Because vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria in the large intestines of animals, plant-based foods are not a reliable source of vitamin B12 making people who follow a vegan diet a key at-risk group for deficiency. In this podcast, I’ll look at the roles of vitamin B12 and the main causes and consequences of deficiency.  Links referred to in the podcast Review on vitamin B12 and vegetarian diets www.mja.com.au/journal/2013/199/4/vitamin-b12-and-vegetarian-diets
Low-carbohydrate diets are certainly on trend today. And it is for diabetes that such diets have attracted a lot of attention. Low-carbohydrate diets have without question helped many people with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels more stable and even for some people with type 2 diabetes helped to even help to fully resolve their diabetes. In today’s podcast, I look at the history of dietary recommendations for diabetes. I’ll then look at what the scientific evidence says for how effective low-carbohydrate diets are for diabetes compared to other approaches. Links referred to in the podcast Meta-analysis of low-carbohydrate diets in T2DM https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32638087 Review of different diets for managing T2DM https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/97/3/505/4571510
Iodine is a trace element that is naturally present in foods and is added to some types of salt. Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormone which plays a key role in digestion, heart and muscle function, brain development and maintenance of bones. Getting enough iodine is important for everyone, especially infants and women who are pregnant. In this podcast, I’ll look at the roles of iodine, where it is found in food and what are the health issues with not getting enough of it. Links referred to in the podcast Assessment of the effect of mandatory iodine fortification in Australia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133088
Sleep is like good nutrition for your brain. Poor sleep is like putting your brain on a junk food diet – literally. Now a growing pool of research is linking poor sleep habits and disrupted sleep patterns from shift work with adverse health problems that include obesity and metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In this podcast, I’ll look at the sleep-health connection and explain what disrupted sleep could be doing to your food habits, hormones and weight.  Links referred to in the podcast Meta-analysis of the effect of shift work on the risk of obesity https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/obr.12621 Effect of sleep restriction on fat metabolism https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31484696 Effect of sleep deprivation on food choices https://elifesciences.org/articles/49053
Hangovers are the body's way of reminding us about the hazards of overindulgence. In this podcast, I’ll delve into what goes on behind the scenes to cause a hangover. I’ll then explore what science has to say about all those supposed ‘hangover cures’. And finally, I’ll outline the practical things that are in your control to help prevent and treat a hangover. Links referred to in the podcast Alcohol, caffeine and its effect on attention and reaction time http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03219.x/full Systematic review of hangover treatments https://www.bmj.com/content/331/7531/1515
Feeling sleepy after a big meal? Is moving to the couch the only activity you’re capable of after Christmas lunch? You may just have been the victim of a food coma. Food comas are a real thing. And there is plenty of science to explain why the food binge you just took part in has done what it has to you. In this podcast, I explore the food coma in all its physiological and neurological glory and explain how you can help prevent it. Links referred to in the podcast High-GI meals and sleep onset https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17284739
Multivitamin supplements are big business. Pharmacy and supermarket shelves groan under the weight of choice available to us. So, if you’re serious about your health, should you be taking one of these even if it is just as an insurance policy for a less-than-perfect diet? While multivitamins won't boost your health as much as what people believe, they do have the potential to be useful for certain groups of people. In my latest podcast, I investigate the evidence for any health benefits of multivitamins and then tell you for which people they could prove useful and for whom they really are just a waste of money. Links referred to in the podcast Review of multivitamin supplementation and cardiovascular disease https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29991644 Review of multivitamin supplementation and chronic disease https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24941429 Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand https://www.nrv.gov.au 
Bowel cancer (also called colon or colorectal cancer) ranks as one of Australia’s most common cancers, especially for people aged over 50. This is one form of cancer where diet and lifestyle choices play a big part in changing a person’s risk of developing it. That actually makes it a good news story because lifestyle factors are changeable. In this podcast, I’ll outline the key lifestyle habits to consider looking at that could lower your risk of bowel cancer. Links referred to in the podcast WCRF information on diet, nutrition and physical activity and bowel cancer risk https://www.wcrf.org/dietandcancer/colorectal-cancer WCRF update report on lifestyle factors and bowel cancer risk  https://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/CUP%20Colorectal%20Report_2017_Digital.pdf Meta-analysis of central adiposity and all-cause mortality https://www.bmj.com/content/370/bmj.m3324 
To exercise fasted or fed? It’s a controversial topic with strong views coming from both camps. For those promoting weight loss, exercising fasted is often an essential criterion to ensure the most ‘fat burning’ possible. Then there is the opposing argument that you want to be well-fuelled before activity to help power the length and duration of your exercise. As with most things in nutrition, the simple logic of both camps falls down when you take into account the complexity of physiology and psychology of us as human beings. In this podcast, I’ll look at the fasted versus fed exercise debate. Links referred to in the podcast Meta-analysis of fasted vs fed exercise on weight loss and boy composition https://www.mdpi.com/2411-5142/2/4/43  Meta-analysis of fasted vs fed exercise and performance https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29315892  Intermittent fasting and its effects on athletic performance https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31283627
Carrying too much weight is linked to poorer health. But just how much weight is too much? Body fat can be measured in several different ways, with each method having its own pros and cons. Body mass index or BMI is by far the most common one as it only relies on knowing your height and weight. But with that simplicity comes flaws as those easy results can sometimes be misleading, which is why the widespread use of BMI is troubling. In this podcast, I’ll look at the different ways that body fat assessment can be made and explain why you should take any BMI label it may give you with a grain of salt. Links referred to in the podcast BMI calculator https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/tools/body-mass-index-calculator-for-adult Diagnostic performance of BMI to detect obesity https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20125098 
Cinnamon is a spice that has been used around the world for thousands of years. It is far more than a food accompaniment. It’s the use of cinnamon as a medicinal agent that has scientists interested because of unique compounds found in cinnamon that appear to offer some unique health benefits. In this podcast, I’ll look at those health benefits with the spotlight firmly placed on how cinnamon may help people with diabetes keep their blood sugar levels under better control. Links referred to in the podcast Meta-analysis of cinnamon and blood glucose control (2012) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22579946 Meta-analysis of cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes (2013) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24019277 Meta-analysis of cinnamon use in type 2 diabetes (2019) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30935562 Meta-analysis of cinnamon and weight loss trials https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30799194
Chocolate. It’s sweet, it’s tasty, we desire it and crave it. It is a food that brings immense pleasure and enjoyment. And in case you were looking for any more valid reasons to eat it, scientific research now confirms that it can be good for you. In this podcast, you’ll learn about the heart, exercise and brain health benefits of chocolate. Links referred to in the podcast Meta-analysis of chocolate and cardiovascular disease https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30061161 Dark chocolate and exercise performance http://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-015-0106-7 Dark chocolate and mental health https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/8/2445/htm Cocoa and cognitive function https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22892813
Detox or liver cleansing diets have been around for many years. With astonishing claims of rapid and easy weight loss, improved health, and more energy, they offer the ultimate quick fix to get you healthy again. In this podcast, I will give you the essential guide to detox diets, look at the claims made versus the reality and outline my list of pros and cons for anyone considering going on a cleanse. Links referred to in the podcast Review of the evidence for detox diets https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jhn.12286 Choice review of detox diets  https://www.choice.com.au/health-and-body/diet-and-fitness/weight-loss/articles/do-detox-products-work
"Just cut out processed foods if you want to be healthy". It’s an easy throw-away line loved by nutrition wellness influencers on social media, but such advice shows naivety for what happens to food in its journey to our plate. Almost everything you eat to some extent has been processed, and not all processed foods are bad for the body. Now nutrition researchers are better defining the world of processed foods and here, it is the new term of ‘ultra-processed foods’ that you will be seeing used more in the future. In this podcast, I look at what defines an ultra-processed food and explain how they are now recognised for the unhealthy addition they make to your diet. Links referred to in the podcast NOVA classification system  http://www.fao.org/3/ca5644en/ca5644en.pdf Ultra-processed foods and obesity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7194406 Ultra-processed foods, health and mortality https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31623843 Clinical trial of ultra-processed foods and weight gain https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31105044
What’s blue, round, sweet, grows on a bush and can boost your brainpower? If you answered blueberries, you would be right. Or that should be: ‘mostly right’. The ‘brain-boosting’ part needs a bit more science to catch up to the headlines, but it is looking promising that blueberries may be one food worthy of the ‘superfood’ title. In this podcast, I’ll look at the science behind how blueberries can help keep your brain healthy and functioning well throughout life.  Links referred to in the podcast Clinical trial of blueberries and brain function  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28249119 Berries and cardiovascular disease risk factors: meta-analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4804301 Frozen versus fresh blueberries https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1082901 Fish oil and rheumatoid arthritis https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28606571
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints. Characterised by abdominal pain and bloating and alternating periods of diarrhoea and constipation, this chronic condition can go on to cause anxiety, depression and severely affect the quality of life of a person suffering from it. With no one single identified trigger or treatment, IBS can be a minefield for a person to try and get on top of. Diet changes are one area that can have a positive impact on IBS and in this podcast, I look at the evidence for different approaches from supplements such as peppermint oil right through to the very promising research on low-FODMAP diets. Links referred to in the podcast Review on diet and supplements for IBS https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nmo.13951  Meta-analysis of low-FODMAP diet and IBS http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/134755  Low-FODMAP diet versus traditional advice for IBS www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016508515010860  Mindfulness and IBS www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6502251
Want to keep up with the latest developments in nutrition research? Nothing beats curating your own information-gathering network from a variety of credible sources. But where to start? If you want to keep up with breaking nutrition research like a boss, then this podcast is for you. I’ll let you in on the key journals to subscribe to, the best search databases to use, and profile some of the best secondary sources that do a lot of the curating for you. Links referred to in the podcast American Journal of Clinical Nutrition www.academic.oup.com/ajcn Annual Review of Nutrition www.annualreviews.org/journal/nutr European Journal of Clinical Nutrition www.nature.com/ejcn Journal of Nutrition www.academic.oup.com/jn Nutrition Reviews www.academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews Obesity Reviews www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/1467789x PubCrawler http://pubcrawler.gen.tcd.ie Science Daily www.sciencedaily.com/news/health_medicine/nutrition Medscape www.medscape.com Examine www.examine.com Effect of diet and exercise on the risk of caesarean-section www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j3119
Nutrition is based on science. And while the science may not always agree and even change over time, just like all scientific fields of research, without credible research to inform your views you are really just flying blind in the wind at the mercy of feelpinions and what your social media news feed shows you. The base of all scientific research is the communication of it through research papers published in peer-reviewed journals. In this podcast, I’ll show you how to delve beyond the title of a research paper and instead apply a critical filter to all parts of the research study. Developing this skill will allow you to form your own view of how much influence to give to a research study, rather than be led astray from those seeking to influence you. Links referred to in the podcast Research study design online tutorial http://himmelfarb.gwu.edu/tutorials/studydesign101 Examine.com guide on how to read a scientific study https://examine.com/guides/how-to-read-a-study
Zinc is an essential mineral which is needed for the proper growth and maintenance of our body. It is a key factor in helping hundreds of enzymes work and is needed for immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function and much more. While rare, zinc deficiency in a country like Australia can occur and there are certain groups particularly at risk. In this podcast, I’ll outline the key roles of zinc, what the consequences of deficiency are and give you suggestions on the best food sources and supplemental forms of zinc. Links referred to in the podcast Zinc and the common cold https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28515951 Breastfeeding and the infant microbiome https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28492938/
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