Belly in Bali

Belly in Bali

Belly in Bali

Last year I became become very interested in red cordial prior to my first Bali visit. Does it really stop stomach bugs or is it just the placebo effect? I checked it out with the local pharmacist and he told me that this ‘Anti-Bali Belly’ effect was only relevant to Anchor red cordial as they historically used a type of antiseptic in the manufacture of their red cordial. This is no longer the case but the folklore continues… or does it?

Well I couldn’t find any evidence of the antiseptic school of thought but I dug a little deeper and my friend and super pharmacist Kerry Fitzsimons gave me all the details. Red food colouring of “azo” structure (such as amaranth) used to be in red cordials. Their basic chemical structure was thought to contain a sulphonamide chemical group and sulphonamides are a class of antibiotics that we use to treat a myriad of different bacterial infections. The theory was that the red food dye with a similar structure to a sulphonamide drug would have an antibacterial (or antibiotic) effect on the gut and therefore “prevent” or perhaps “treat” a gastrointestinal infection. However, amaranth has since been banned from food products. The newer red/yellow food dyes do not appear to have the same sulphonamide chemical structure; therefore not having the same postulated antibacterial effect.

But there is more. A microbiologist by the name of Dr Heather Cavanagh in Australia tested a range of raspberry and blackcurrant cordials in the lab and discovered that some of the cordials did in fact kill most of the bacteria they were mixed with. The cordials needed to be at least 35% real fruit juice and 1 part cordial to 10 parts water. Dr Cavanagh agreed that her research does in fact suggest that some red cordials have antibacterial properties but there is a hitch. This research was conducted in the lab, petri dish style and not on humans or animals. So, this trip there was no red cordial, just my trusty Yakult, plus bottled water and regular handwashing…

The Pulse of Lupins

Digital StillCamera
Digital StillCamera

You might think livestock feed when you think about this food source but my first encounter with the humble lupin was growing up near Star Swamp in North Beach where they grew wild as little green bushes with pretty flowers. Fast forward to Curtin University as a student Dietitian where I got to experiment with adding lupin flour to cakes in Food Technology and then more recently this legume has started popping up often in the media.

So is it for cow or human consumption? Yesterday at the Perth Royal Show I purchased a bag of lupin flour, quite yellow in colour. This colour is a reflection of the natural antioxidants found in this product in the form of carotenoids and also contains tocopherols, which are converted into Vitamin E. Lupin (Lupinus angustifolius) is a legume or pulse, uniquely high in protein at up to 40% and contains 30% fibre, most of which is the soluble type and very useful for lowering cholesterol levels. It’s also low in fat, which is mainly polyunsaturated with some omega-3, so it has a very similar profile to soybeans. The fat also is rich in lecithin, which is good for the heart.

Lupin joins other legumes in being gluten free and could give their soy friends a run for their money for use in vegetarian products too such as sausages, burgers and the like.

What’s in it for you? Fibre and protein in food will help keep you fuller for longer and lupins contain both in copious amounts. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and lupins are one of the best natural sources of the amino acid arginine, which is thought to improve blood vessel performance. They are also low in carbohydrate and although there is no Glycemic Index rating available, it would have a low GI and as an ingredient would help lower the GI of a food such as bread.

Lupin allergy for some is a possible downside. Researchers in the UK have found that there is the likelihood of the legume provoking a severe allergic reaction like peanut (botanically a legume) and it appears that some people with peanut sensitivity may have cross-reactivity with lupin.

Australia produces 80% of the global lupin crop and there are several products on the market-containing lupin including biscuits, bread, tempe, tofu and pasta. If you have a bread maker like me, try adding 1/3 of the flour as lupin flour for a nutritional boost. Many manufacturers recommend using this proportion in any baking whether it is for cakes or other baked items

Whole Grains (Part 2)

In the July edition of this newsletter, we talked about whole grains and how to find them. Its all well and good finding them but its handy to know exactly how much one requires per day and from where. The most commonly eaten whole grain foods include wholemeal and mixed grain breads, wholegrain breakfast cereals, rolled oats, wholemeal pasta, brown rice and popcorn. One serving of whole grain is considered to be 16 grams (Go Grains Health and Nutrition Ltd, 2010) and the daily recommendation for anyone over 8 years of age is at least 3 (16g) servings a day. This is a total of 48 grams of whole grains per day. Younger children should gradually build up to this amount.


Table Courtesy of Uncle Toby’s


The food and lifestyle choices we make can impact on both our health, and the health of our planet. With childhood obesity rates now around 25% and with Australians identified as being among the highest producers of waste globally, we need to address these issues urgently. Nutrition Australia is raising awareness and supporting the community to look at these challenges in National Nutrition Week 2011 (16 – 22 Oct). Check out the campaign and their great resources at

Traffic Light Food Tracker

I tested out an iPhone/iPad App put out by the Obesity Policy Coalition ( called the Traffic Light Food Tracker a couple of weeks ago in the supermarket. Within moments of taking a look at it, I had several interested shoppers asking me questions (although I was there incognito) and I ended up teaching them to read a food label! This App requires you to input the total fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt content of the food that you are looking at and rates each nutrient as red (high), orange (medium) and green (low). However, it doesn’t give an overall rating and the shopper needs to make a judgment themselves, just as you would when looking at a label usually. This of course is always tricky when presented with a food that is low in fat but high in sugar or salt or both or any combination of all of them. It could be useful if you are unsure of whether a food is high or low in particular nutrients but still requires you to make a decision.

Have you ever walked through your office around 3pm and noticed your staff gazing into space or getting up close and personal with the desk? Many businesses are surprised to learn that their staff are may be productive for only two hours each day and certainly not after 3pm. The health and performance of your employees increases your bottom line. Give me a call and I will tell you how.

Don’t forget to check out my blog for interesting info that I come across on a regular basis too.

Yours in health and performance


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