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The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) is the Australian government’s lead agency charged with applying science and technology to protect and defend Australia and its national interests. DSTO delivers expert, impartial advice and innovative solutions for Defence and other elements of national security.

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Yoghurt is one of the products containing probiotics that do confer a health benefit. Flickr: Mark Kenny

Health Check: what’s your gut feeling about probiotics?

You don’t usually have to look far to find news about the virtues of probiotics, but should you go out and seek probiotic-laden products to cultivate a healthier gut? Probiotics are micro-organisms that…
Undue emphasis on individual nutrients rather than on the diet as a whole leads to an unhealthy reductionism that has no scientific basis. U.S. Department of Agriculture/Flickr

Health Check: eat food, not (blockbuster) nutrients

Turmeric is said to be the latest “blockbuster nutrient”, helpful for “everything from heart disease to Alzheimers, asthma to arthritis.” But is there any scientific evidence behind this claim, or is it…
Eating is clearly more than just about getting the right nutrition. Brianna Lehman/Flickr

Health Check: how food affects mood and mood affects food

Eating good food promotes overall health and well-being, but what you eat may also impact how you feel. Research suggests that not only can the food you eat affect your mood, but that your mood may influence…
One mouthful and you’re closer to exceeding your daily sugar allowance. jenny downing/Flickr

How ‘hidden’ sugars are pushing up your daily dose

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released draft revised guidelines on daily sugar intake for adults and children. But if people are to follow the WHO’s advice, they need to start thinking about…
The World Health Organisation is considering halving its recommendation that sugars make up 10% of your diet. Flickr/happy via

Sweet enough? Separating fact from fiction in the sugar debate

Forget lemon detox diets and soup fasts, sugar-free was the fad diet choice of 2013. But while it’s wise to limit the foods and drinks you consume that contain added sugars, this doesn’t mean you need…
About 80% of the world’s caffeine is consumed in the form of coffee. jennybach

Health Check: does caffeine enhance performance?

Unlike many drugs, caffeine may be taken legally by people of all ages, which helps make it the world’s most widely used stimulant. Approximately 80% of the world’s caffeine is consumed in the form of…
Insects constitute a source of higher quality protein for humans than we can obtain from plants. BBC World News

Icky insects are actually tasty treats that are good for you

In the early 1980s, I was a member of a team of nutritionists who analysed bush food samples sent by “The Bush Tucker Man” (Major Les Hiddins) from northern Australia to the Defence Nutrition laboratory…
Aspartame contains virtually no kilojoules in the minute quantity needed to sweeten a beverage or solid food. Pascal/Flickr

Sweet news: No evidence that artificial sweetener aspartame’s bad for you

Everyone who works in a chemistry laboratory knows that you don’t use your taste receptors to check if an unknown chemical is safe or deadly poisonous (or if you do, you may do it only once). But if this…
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, choose mostly unprocessed grains and cereals, cut back on salt, fat and sugar, and get more active. jamesjyu.

New Australian dietary guidelines: experts respond

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) today released its updated Australian Dietary Guidelines to advise Australians about the types and amounts of foods needed to maintain a healthy…
Too much sugar is harmful to your health but it’s not the only driver of obesity. joshbousel

Silent killer or occasional treat? Settling the debate on sugar

Forty years ago, British nutritionist John Yudkin wrote a book about sugar. Titled Pure, White and Deadly, Yudkin argued that consumption of sugar, not fat, was driving the epidemic of heart disease. But…
Apparently, within six weeks you will have lost so much weight that you will be greeted with exclamations. Michael F. Weinberg

Weight-loss paradise or just another fad diet? A review of Six Weeks to OMG

The obesity epidemic sweeping across the world is being closely followed by another, more insidious epidemic – an ever-increasing number of books on how to lose weight. No two of these books advocate the…
The main sources of fructose in the typical western diet are processed foods and beverages. Boris/Flickr

What role does fructose have in weight gain?

Sucrose or sugar has two components – glucose and fructose. Glucose is present in virtually all naturally-occurring sweet foods and also exists as starch (although in a different chemical form, so it doesn’t…

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