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The Pounamu Prophecy - birth of a book Two women, two cultures and an ancient Maori prophecy that will change their lives. That's the tag line for The Pounamu Prophecy - my first novel. It has been a slow process, interrupted by moving...


Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol?Can I eat mussels if I have high cholesterol? The short answer is yes - you can eat mussels if you have high cholesterol. Mussels are low in kilojoules, cholesterol and fat. The little fat they do have is mostly healthy unsaturated fat with plenty...


Bran MuffinsBran Muffins These bran muffins (adapted from a recipe by Alison Holst) are super filling - a great snack when you are trying to control your weight. Enjoy these muffins with a cup of tea but don't expect to absorb...


Beat the flu with Chicken Noodle Soup It’s Queen’s Birthday holiday today in New Zealand and thank goodness, the sun is shining. I’m sitting in a sunny room writing this post, sheltered from the icy wind blasting up from Antarctica....


My nanna's recipe for homemade Rewena (Maori) bread Rewena Bread Step 1 1 c flour 1 tsp sugar 1 potato Peel and cut potato into small pieces. Place in pot with 1 cup water, lid on, and simmer to mashing consistency. Mash, cool and when luke...


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Give us this day our daily bread…

Posted on : 27-05-2017 | By : Cindy | In : Aging, Bread, New Zealand, Older-age, Policy watch & public health, Research



‘I need to eat more bread for protein,’ my 79 year old mother announced over the phone.

‘Bread?’ I countered in my ‘dietitian/daughter knows best’ voice. ‘Milk would be better, or nuts or tuna.’

‘Well, the report said that bread is a good way for us older people to keep up our protein so I’ve just bought myself a lovely, little loaf from the French bakery and eaten the whole lot!’ my Mum replied.

The moment I got off the phone I searched for the report she had cited, convinced that she was somehow mistaken. But there it was, the LiLACS study by Professor Ngaire Kerse and Professor David Cameron-Smith, Chair in Nutrition at the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute following the health of almost 1000 people (Maori and European) aged 80-90 years. It’s the world’s first longitudinal study of an indigenous population aged 80 or over. Highly timely considering that over the next ten years there will be an estimated 166% increase in Maori reaching this age.

So where does the protein – bread story fit in? Protein is needed to maintain muscle mass. We need muscles not only to give us a great shape but more importantly to keep us strong and steady on our feet. Elderly people need strong muscles to stay active, mobile and to reduce the risk of falling. This is why the recommended daily amount rises an extra 10-15 grams for people over 70 to 57 grams for women and 81 grams protein for men.

How much protein is in bread? I raced to my pantry, pulling out bread, milk, tuna and peanut butter to check the labels. Here’s what I found.

Two 45g slices of my organic wholemeal bread = almost 10g protein  (Bread varies in protein content depending on ingredients so check your own favourite loaf.)

A small cup of milk (200mls) = 7.g

A small tin (95g) tuna = 15g

Two teaspoon 100% peanut butter (20g) = 5.6g

1 egg = 6g

150g fillet steak = 40g

Bread can’t compete with meat for being a protein powerhouse but it certainly helps. Some current ‘healthy’ diets vilify and exclude bread as a criminal carb. Yet bread, especially slow rise, sourdough, has been a  staple part of the diet for thousands of years, providing energy, protein, vitamins and fibre.

Prof. Cameron-Smith said that elderly people lose muscle on the current ‘healthy’ diet and that bread is an important protein to help combat this. A sedentary, middle aged person might well do with eating less bread but for those heading towards 80 who find their appetite waning or meat too hard to chew, a peanut butter or cheese sandwich might be just the protein boost your muscles need.


Top 4 ways to cut your risk of bowel cancer

Posted on : 10-10-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Bowel, Cancer, Disorders & Diseases, Older-age, Super-healthy...er...stuff


colon polypBowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in New Zealand and on a world ranking we’re way up there. Around 2500 New Zealanders develop bowel cancer each year and about 1000 die.

Considering there are just over 4 million of us, it’s pretty high. Bowel cancer is not so common in Maori people but those who do develop it are less likely to be diagnosed and therefore more likely to die.

Bowel cancers begin as polyps. As you can see in the picture, taken at virtual colonoscopy, these are small growths that can enlarge within your bowel on a stalk. As they grow bigger, the more chance there is of one of these turning into a killer –  a malignant cancer.

Bowel cancer is more common as you age but it’s never too early to get into healthy habits to cut your risk. Here’s the top 4 ways…

1. Physical activity
2. Fibre especially from wholegrains and fruit
3. Garlic
4. Calcium – have some low fat milk and yoghurt each day

From a diet perspective, here are the top 4 ways to increase your risk of bowel cancer?

1. Obesity, especially around the stomach
2. Processed meat such as sausages and salami
3. Red meat – it’s great for iron and zinc but keep it to less than 500 grams a week
4. Alcohol

Top 10 foods for older people

Posted on : 07-08-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Older-age



1. Yoghurt – ideally plain, reduced fat and as fresh as possible

‘Friendly’ bugs to help digestion, and calcium to keep bones strong and blood pressure down.

2. Fish, especially salmon and tuna

Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 fats for healthy blood, joints and eyes. People who eat fish at least once a week have a much lower risk of age-related macular degeneration. Omega-3 fats from canola oil, flaxseed and walnuts, as well as monounsaturated fats from avocado and olive oil also seem to reduce the risk (Arch Opthalmol, 2006).

3. Nuts

Fibre, unsaturated fat and vitamin E for a healthy heart, digestive system and eyes (walnuts)

4. Avocado

Monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, folate and vitamin B6 for a healthy heart, brain, immune system and eyes

5. Rolled oats

Soluble fibre & resistant starch for a healthy bowel and to reduce cholesterol, plus zinc, iron, potassium, vitamin E

6. Green tea

Less caffeine and lots of antioxidants

7. Legumes – dried beans, baked beans, split peas, lentils

Soluble fibre and resistant starch for a healthy bowel, lower cholesterol and weight control

8. The ‘Greens’ – spinach, silverbeet, Asian greens, broccoli

Vitamin A, C, K, folate and antioxidants

9. Berries

Vitamin C and antioxidants

10. Oranges, lemons and grapefruit (marmalade doesn’t count!)

Vitamin C and antioxidants

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People who eat a Mediterranean-style diet with lots of vegetables, legumes, fruit, fish, wholegrains and monounsaturated fat (mostly olive oil) with some yoghurt, cheese and wine seem to live longer (BMJ, 2005)

Healthy aging {part 5} – talk to five people a day!

Posted on : 25-07-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Older-age


oldchat… continued from part 4 “Talk to five people a day!” The former head of Neurology at Auckland Hospital and my good friend, Sharon, were chatting over dinner as he described how social contact was just as important for healthy aging as eating at least five fruit and vegetables a day.

Food and exercise are just part of healthy aging. Our interaction with others and how we feel about life also affects health. As the proverb goes: ‘A heart at peace gives life to the body.’ Fruit and vegetables may boost your immune system but so does being happily married. On the other hand, if your wife or husband has just died, all the fruit and veges in the world won’t stop the grief, loneliness and resulting stress on the body. A British study of people over 65 found that those who were single, divorced or widowed had lower antibodies than those who were happily married. The UCLA School of Medicine found that people had a stronger immune system when they had more social contacts.

So get out of the house, talk to the mail-man, the garbage man, the shop assistant. Be interested in their lives. Join a club, get involved with your marae, volunteer to help in the community or invite friends and neighbours for dinner. If you can’t cook, eat out (and bring the leftovers home), buy takeaways or make it ‘pot-luck’ where the guests bring food. If you are young and have elderly friends or neighbours invite them for a meal – not just for the food but for the social contact. And try to have a laugh – it boosts the immune system. One elderly author, himself in his eighties, told some nursing home residents, “If you can’t find anything to laugh about, take all your clothes off and look in the mirror. That should keep you laughing all day!”

Like a good wine or cheese, in many ways we improve with age. Youth may bring vim and vigour but with maturity comes depth and wisdom. Healthy aging is all about feeding and exercising our body, mind and spirit with the nutrients it needs from food, social contact, learning new things, prayer, laughter and thinking outwards. As Abraham Lincoln once said: “It’s not the years in your life that counts. It’s the life in your years.”  ..c

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