Hey guys! Welcome back to another edition of 3 question Friday, where our head nutritionist Ben answers his favourite 3 questions from the week!
Congratulations to Michelle, Sean and Jacqueline who all won $20 gift vouchers just for asking Ben a question! You can always send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
This week’s answers may shock you! Let’s check them out!
- Michelle explained “My osteoarthritis is flaring up. Is there anything I can do?”
- Sean was curious “Does eating cheese before bed give you nightmares?”
- Jacqueline wanted to know “what's the best fibre supplement to stay regular?”
1. My osteoarthritis is flaring up. Is there anything I can do?
Osteoarthritis (OA) is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints and is one the most common and disabling chronic diseases.
Our joints are where two bones meet, and at the end our bones is a protective tissues called cartilage. In osteoarthritis this cartilage breaks down that causes the bones to rub together causing inflammation that can result in pain, stiffness and other symptoms. OA mostly affects the knees, hands, hips, and even the spine!
Osteoarthritis is more common in older adults, but can also occur with joint injuries, obesity, poor posture, family history and even gender. Unfortunately, cartilage does not grow back – luckily there is some food and lifestyle choices you can make to help reduce your risk of OA and help to manage OA by reducing inflammation (1).
The diet plays an important role in inflammation in the body and removing inflammatory foods and eating anti-inflammatory foods is the first step in combatting inflammation of the joints.
As always, avoid refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, packaged baked goods, and take-away foods as they can contribute to inflammation in the body. Aim to eat a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grains, seeds, nuts, healthy fats, and quality protein as much as possible.
- Fibre is the indigestible parts of plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes. Fibre has an anti-inflammatory effect in the gut that can influence anti-inflammation in the rest of the body (2).
- Omega 3 fatty acids are required in the diet that can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Sources of omega 3 fatty acids include hemp seed oil and oily fish (eg. fresh salmon, sardines, tuna) (3)
- Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory compound and turmeric supplements have demonstrated to be effective in reducing OA inflammation (4)
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale) extract can help to manage OA. Even if you don’t use a ginger extract, you can still add fresh ginger to your cooking for a little anti-inflammatory bump (5).
- Losing weight can help to reduce OA. Less weight takes excess strain off your joints that can cause joint pain. You’ll also be reducing your risk of other chronic conditions too! (6)
- Exercise 20-30 minutes a day to strengthen the muscles around the joints that may help to relieve stiffness and support weight loss, a common factor for OA. Low impact exercises are best that include walking, swimming, and bike riding. Tai chi and yoga can also help to improve joint flexibility and pain management (7)
- Sleep may help to improve OA symptoms and reduce inflammation. Aim for minimum 7- 9 hours a night (8)
- Heat and cold therapy may also help to relieve muscle pain and stiffness. Apply a cold or hot compress to sore joints 15-20 minutes several times a day (9)
You can read more about how to support and manage osteoarthritis here.
2. Does eating cheese before bed give you nightmares?
Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time someone has asked me this! I never really had a good answer… until I found this study!
A 2005 study by the British Cheese board gave 200 participants 20g of cheese 30 minutes before bedtime and asked them to record their dreams and quality of sleep.
A whopping 67% of participants managed to recall their dreams and there were zero reports of any nightmares. In fact, they found that different types of British cheese resulted in different types of dreams and sleep quality!
Here’s what they found!
- Blue cheese: produced the most vivid and bizarre dreams! Dreams varied from talking animals, vegetarian crocodiles, sideways lifts and warrior kittens.
- Red Leicester: was helpful in getting a good night’s rest with one quarter of participants recalling nostalgic dreams such as school memories, old friends, previous homes & hometowns.
- British Brie: produced good quality sleep in all participants. Dreams varied among genders. Women typically experience nice dreams (eg. Jamie Oliver cooking dinner or sunny days on the beach). While men had obscure dreams such as driving against a battleship and drunken conversations with dogs.
- Lancashire: Two thirds of participants had dreams about work. This may be the cheese for you if you are thinking of a career change as most of the dreams weren’t about their real-life occupations (eg. being the prime minister).
- Cheddar: was considered to be the ‘celebrity’ cheese, as most participants dreamed of celebrities. One girl was lucky enough to help form a human pyramid with the assistance of Johnny Depp!
- Cheshire: seems to be a safe bet for both a good night’s sleep and without too many dreams. Participants stated that over half of all nights were dreamless, and 76% of all Cheshire-induced sleeps were either “quite good” or “very good”.
Researchers believe that tryptophan (an amino acid) found in cheese may help to explain restful sleep and dreams, as tryptophan is involved in melatonin (sleep-hormone) production and serotonin (relaxed/happy neurotransmitter) production that have an important role in our sleep wake cycles.
So, what does all this mean?... Nothing really!
This study was paid for by the cheese industry and wasn’t compared to any other foods and could be considered more of a great marketing tactic rather than a credible scientific paper. None the less, it’s a pretty interesting read! (10)
3. Jacqueline: what's the best fibre supplement to stay regular?
Fibre is the indigestible parts of plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes. It is type of a carbohydrate that helps keep our digestive systems healthy and regulate our bowel movements. Fibre is also anti-inflammatory may help with diverticular disease, Haemorrhoids, Bowel cancer, diabetes and heart disease (11).
There are 3 different types of fibre:
1. Insoluble fibre
Insoluble fibre is the type of fibre that adds bulk to our stool and assists in passing solids out more easily and supporting regular bowel movements. Insoluble fibre can be found in the skins or roots of grains and seeds that are difficult to digest. Foods high in insoluble fibre include whole-grains, skins of fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes (eg. lentils, beans, chickpeas).
2. Soluble fibre
Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a thick gel in your intestines that helps to slow down digestion. Soluble fibre can help stabilise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and may help to lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels by collecting fatty deposits as it moves through the intestine. By slowing down digestion, foods that are high in soluble fibre can help people feel fuller for longer after eating that can help with weight maintenance. Foods higher in soluble fibre include fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and oats.
3. Resistant starch
Resistance starch is not digested in the small intestine (where more digestion and nutrient absorption occurs) and instead continues through the digestive tract where it is digested in the large intestine. Once in the large intestine, your friendly gut bacteria help to ferment resistant starch. This process produces substances (gasses) that help to keep the lining of the bowel healthy. Resistant starch can be found in slightly undercooked pasta (‘al-dente’), under ripe bananas, cooked and cooled potato and rice.
You want to aim for 25-30g of fibre a day to support bowel movements and digestive health. Rather than focusing on individual types of fibre, aim to eat a wide variety of wholegrain foods (eg. brown rice, oats etc) fresh fruit and vegetables.
You should only use a fibre supplement if you are unable to get fibre from foods. I personally would use psyllium husk as a fibre supplement. Just be careful though as too much psyllium husk or dehydration can lead to constipation from the thickening of stool! (12, 13)
If you have any questions or need support with your health, feel free to email our head nutritionist Ben at email@example.com
This article does not constitute medical advice and does not take into consideration your personal circumstances. Please see your medical professional before implementing the above.