Time to chew the fat

 By Dr Nathan Akmens




Fats are encountered on a daily basis in the modern diet. Whether it’s beginning the cooking process in a pan or dressing a salad for lunch they remain a universal feature of our food and its preparation. However there is still much confusion about the impact they have on the body with recent discussion centring on what constitutes healthy and unhealthy sources. In this feature we will examine the true nature of fats and find out exactly what role they play in our health.


What are fats?

Defined simply as a collection of triglyceride molecules. At room temperature this molecular group is designated as FAT if it is solid and OIL if liquid. The chemical structure of all fats contains 3 fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone as shown below.



Much of our discussion will focus on the fatty acid, as it determines whether the triglyceride is termed saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated. The difference between the three classes is the amount of double chemical bonds within the fatty acid.


              -     Saturated : no double bonds

              -     Monounsaturated: one double bond

              -     Polyunsaturated:several double bonds




In all naturally occurring fats there is a mixture of saturated and unsaturated molecules. These proportions will change across a range of different foods. Beef fat (tallow) for example is

50-55% saturated with the remaining profile unsaturated, which may be surprising for some to learn 1.


We may also come across short chain, medium chain and long chain definitions of fats. As their name implies this refers to the overall length of the carbon structure in the fatty acid seen in the diagram above. There are unique characteristics attributed to them with the most noteworthy being the antimicrobial qualities of short chain fatty acids, and the immune supportive role of short and medium chain fatty acids 1, 4.







Nothing beats plain, fresh water. Cold from the fridge or straight from the filtered tap.


Many of us find it easier to drink water in the warmer months, yet we find it hard to remember to keep our fluids up throughout winter.


Adequate water intake is essential for our health and wellbeing. Read on to learn about the importance of water and some simple tips to help remind you to keep hydrated.




The human body can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water.


About 60-75% of your total body weight is water. Most of us know that water forms the basis of our blood, lymph, urine, sweat and tears, but, did you know that our lungs, brain, lean muscle and even bones contain water?


Unfortunately, the body’s need for water and its importance for health are often overlooked.


Your water intake is critical to good health.


"But I just don't have time!"




Although excuses for not exercising are many and varied, "but I just don't have time" is the number one battle cry of the time-poor. 


Practitioners often lament the inability to add another hour to a person's day so that they might be able to devote some time to improving their overall health through exercise. 


A recent publication in the May-June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness journal suggests that given the sometimes extreme demands of life in the developed world, people have lost the ability to manage and expand physical energy and therefore succumb to a cycle of mental, emotional and physical fatigue which has long-term implications on their overall health and happiness.  It goes on to say that regular aerobic and resistance training can help combat this problem.



Magnesium - Why do we need it and how can we get it...





Magnesium is a mineral essential for good health with over 300 cellular reactions dependant on it. Sounds important! So lets learn a little bit more about this powerhouse of everyday nutrition. 


The recommended daily intake of magnesium as listed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) is:

  • Male: 320mg/day
  • Female: 270mg/day

We know that many Australians are deficient in magnesium. Possible attributing factors for this include nutritional trends and modern soil depletion. The opinion of a number of health researchers is that the recommended levels listed by the council are already too low. Given estimates that our hunter and gatherer ancestors were consuming upwards of 700mg/day it is wise for all of us to increase our daily intakes. We can be sure of the safety of increasing our intake, as there is little risk of magnesium toxicity.



Cold and Flu vs Your Immunity

6 people_with_colds


The Cold and Flu season is fast approaching and some of us have already succumbed to becoming ill.


Patients often ask us…


“What is the best pill or supplement I can take so I don’t get sick?”


Perhaps a better strategy is to ask…


“What is taxing my immune system and what can I do to keep it strong?”


There are times when we just can’t let the world go by while we rest and recover, and if that’s you – the best strategy is a strong immune system!


So what is the difference between the Common Cold and The Flu?

Why is it that some people get sick and others do not?

9 ways to Build a Strong Immune System and KICK a Colds Butt Before It Kicks Yours!