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Ask a nutritionist: supplements for cholesterol, IBS and joint surgery

Rob Hobson
Article written by Rob Hobson

Date published 04 August 2023

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Registered Nutritionist Rob Hobson answers your questions about supplements to lower cholesterol, foods to help IBS, and the best way to support your health after joint surgery.

Q. What's the best natural supplement to lower cholesterol?

A. Statins are commonly prescribed to control cholesterol levels, but some people report side effects such as muscle aches and pains. The first step is to adopt a healthy diet, which is low in processed foods but high in fibre, including oats, fruits, vegetables, seeds, whole grains and nuts.

If you're thinking about taking a supplement, I'd recommend plant sterols. These supplements contain the compounds found in the foods mentioned above, which block cholesterol being absorbed in your gut and so help reduce levels of potentially harmful LDL cholesterol.

Find out more about the different types of cholesterol.

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Q. Can foods help with mild IBS?

A. You might want to look at the low-FODMAP diet (FODMAPs are a form of carbohydrate, and include polyols.) This involves cutting out certain foods from your diet that contain these substances, as when they pass into the gut they can cause symptoms like bloating and wind.

If you're considering this diet, I strongly recommend consulting a dietitian, as cutting out food groups and reintroducing them one by one can be a complicated process, with the risk of missing out on certain nutrients.

There's also research suggesting that probiotics might be useful for IBS, so you could try a probiotic supplement for a few months to see if it helps with the symptoms.

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Q. Which nutrients can help with recovery after joint surgery?

A. Eating a balanced diet will make sure you get the nutrients you need. Vitamin C is used to make collagen, which is an important part of joint cartilage. You should make sure you're getting enough calcium for your bones, which will come from dairy, dried fruits and nuts.

You'll need to ensure you're getting enough vitamin D, so should consider a supplement providing at least 10 micrograms a day, especially if your surgery is over the winter.

Finally, collagen supplements are used by many athletes when recovering from injury.

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  • Collagen plays a vital role in tendons and ligaments
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Rob Hobson

About Rob Hobson

Rob Hobson MSc RNutr is an award-winning registered nutritionist (AFN) and sports nutritionist (SENR) with over 15 years of experience. He founded London-based consultancy RH Nutrition, and has degrees in nutrition, public health nutrition and sports nutrition.