Nuts For Hearts & Chronic Back Pain


In this episode, we cut across to an event hosted by Nuts For Life Australia, where I interview Professor Linda Tapsell. Professor Tapsell shares with us her key findings from the  research on nut consumption and health. Then we cut across to Josh Zadro from Active Life Physiotherapy, he is currently doing his Phd research studies on chronic back pain. And to finish up, I cover the benefits of BCAA supplementation and leucine. You know what to do, head over to iTunes when you’re done and rate the show!
Check out this episode!



Went to a media launch for Nuts for Life Australia- launched a systematic review on nuts and heart health. Found nut consumption highly associated with reduced risk of death from both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease through lowering cholesterol, higher fibre intake and weight maintenance. Eating tree nuts associated with reduction in LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by 3.5% and improved LDL: HDL ratio (HDL= good cholesterol, therefore increased the good and decreased the bad cholesterol)- reduced risk of heart disease by 7.3%.

Weight: people who eat nuts are less likely to be overweight and maintain a better weight overall. Nuts aren’t associated with weight gain! Most people don’t overeat nuts because they have a high satiety factor (feelings of fullness) due to fat, fibre and protein content of nuts therefore less likely to overeat.

Most of the energy coming from the nuts isn’t absorbed completely-fatty acids coupled with fibre not all of it is absorbed and 20% of fat from nut is excreted in faeces, mainly due to resistance of nut cell wall to digestion- all fat coupled in cell wall of nut doesn’t get absorbed.


Nuts and heart health- Professor Linda Tapsell

Looked at a large number of trials and studies from across the world and found no association with habitual nut consumption and weight gain. People who eat nits are probably eating a healthy diet. Likely to be that consuming nuts has an impact on what else you eat so the rest of your diet tends to work out well. Nuts are a healthy food and you tend to eat them in the company of other healthy foods.

Consistent evidence in terms of nut consumption and maintaining good cholesterol levels. Nutrient composition of nuts comes as a package- the diet that you eat and combinations of food has to do with your overall health over long periods of time- talking about health promotion and health maintenance long-term. It’s the total diet that has an impact on coronary and cardiovascular health not individual nutrients in individual foods.

People who are regular nut consumers aren’t putting on weight over long periods of time, which leads to the assumption that their total diet quality is favourable. People eating cuts as a snack are likely to consume fewer calories at the next meal due to their high satiety. Fruit, vegetable, nuts and legumes as basis of diet and use as the foundation of your cuisines. Be free and creative with good food.


Chronic lower back pain with physiotherapist Josh

Chronic lower back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in the world. The most common condition that presents to physiotherapists. 1 in 4 experience back pain in the space of the next month.

Financial burden: Estimated in 2012 low back pain cost Australia $4.8 billion. Cost of condition= cost of treatment and lost time at work (cumulative amount of sitting and prolonged postures causes pain- it’s not just manual work!).

Research focused on identifying risk factors for low back pain. Considering one factor at a time using identical twins in research methods- can learn what’s really causing low back pain because they have the same genes. A lot of things can contribute to lower back pain- a combination of these factors is more important than risk factors in isolation. Risk factors: genetics, muscle length, decreased muscle activation, decreased core strength or core control as well as low education level and co-morbidities (e.g. obesity).

Chance of having multiple episodes of low back pain can be as high as 80% within the next year for people who already suffer from the condition. People who have recovered have a ¼ chance of back pain returning. Self-management strategies important to take control of condition and decrease the money spent on the condition. Not much research has been conducted on effective self-management strategies.

The most effective strategy= an engagement in regular physical activity to prevent and treat back pain. BUT doing exercise might not be the most appealing or appropriate strategy for someone straight after a pain episode. Treatments utilised by physios to get pain under control first and then progress onto an exercise program.

Hands-on treatment effective in reducing pain and symptoms in short-term but needs to be implemented in an exercise program. Goal is to get patients self-managing and on an exercise program specific to their condition.

Initially focus on providing appropriate advice and education to manage pain and providing hands-on treatment to manage symptoms. It’s then about introducing exercises and getting patients comfortable with managing the condition. The end goal is for the patient to continue these exercises without supervision and without needing to see the physio anymore. Every patient with back pain is individual and therefore need an individual treatment approach. Standing up will help your back out!


Supplement review BCAA 

BCAA: branched chain amino acids. Amino acids are building blocks of protein. 20 amino acids make up protein: some need to be consumed in our diet (essential amino acids; there are 9) and some are made in our body.

Leucine is one of the essential amino acids in branched chain amino acids. Hypothesised to be a trigger for regulating protein muscle synthesis. Think of it like the light is dim (we are always synthesising protein) and is then brightened by leucine (or exercise stimulus) so we get MORE protein muscle synthesis. 2.5 grams of leucine needed for stimulation of metabolic pathways that enhance muscle growth and maintain lean muscle tissue.

Lowered intake of leucine through high volume training phases (both aerobic and strength training) that contributes to central fatigue or over-training syndrome (people train a lot e.g. 2-3 times/day) people can burnout. People are not taking in enough Leucine to match the high training load and this leads to central fatigue.

25 grams of animal protein to give you 2.5grams of leucine you need to trigger repair or meet recommended daily intake so you don’t get to central fatigue level. Enough to rev up the system and the higher bioavailable proteins (animal proteins and dairy products) are the ones that usually contain the highest amount of leucine. Dairy is very high in Leucine which is why whey protein as a supplement for body building and increasing muscle mass works so well.

If you’re vegan this is an issue because you don’t eat dairy. However there are many bodybuilders who are vegan and vegetarian. Have to be careful that we do take in a good amount of plant-based protein that are high in amino acids- having leucine intake throughout the whole day. However protein is not as bioavailable in plant products as animal products (not as much is absorbed) but they’re still a good alternative. Soy is one of the only complete plant-based proteins- make sure you’re consuming soy if you’re vegan or vegetarian!

Leucine sometimes used as fuel to feed muscle. Leucine might be great for endurance athletes- used as an extra fuel for when carbohydrate stores are running low. Research shown that when endurance athletes given milk drinks after an event they have less muscle breakdown than those who didn’t have the milk. Need a lot of muscle mass to generate power to run those distances. Preventing muscle break down keeps people competitive over a long period of time.

You will only see changes in performance (when taking supplements) if your diet is nutritionally adequate. Supplements are not the be-all and end-all- they wont improve your performance if your diet is crap or if you don’t work hard!

You can get branched chain and leucine from every-day foods so only use supplements if you think you need them- but try getting them from food first (you’ll get extra calories to use in the work out with food as well).



Comments are closed.