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Health & Wellness Insight Alert Archive

Have a look at some of our recent alerts. These give broad coverage of the industry - if you want something more specific create your own here.

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February 01, 2013, to February 15, 2013

Computer Models Show Significant Long-Term Health Benefit Of Reducing Sodium Consumption

U.S. scientists who used three different computer models to project the overall impact of steady annual reductions (totaling 40 percent) of sodium consumption in the U.S. diet found that between 280,000 to 500,000 lives could be saved over 10 years. The optimum scenario would reduce sodium consumption to about 2,200 mg/day. Three research groups took different approaches for their simulations: one used observational cardiovascular outcome follow-up data; the other two inferred the cardiovascular effects of reducing sodium from data about the relationship of blood pressure to cardiovascular disease. “All three methods consistently show a substantial health benefit for reductions in dietary sodium,” the researchers concluded.

Low-Cal Menu Items Boost Sales At Restaurant Chains

A study by the Hudson Institute's Obesity Solutions Initiative finds that restaurants that served more lower-calories foods experienced an average increase of 5.5 percent in same-store sales. Restaurant chains that sold fewer low-calorie items experienced a 5.5 percent decrease in sales. The group analyzed 21 fast-food and sit-down restaurant chains from 2006 to 2011. The report defined lower-calorie servings as sandwiches and entrees with 500 or fewer calories, beverages with 50 or fewer calories (per 8 ounces) and side dishes, appetizers and desserts with 150 or fewer calories. "The bottom line,” said the report’s author, “ is if restaurants don't get more aggressive behind these low-calorie products, they're leaving sales on the table."

Frequent Consumption Of Southern Cuisine Significantly Boosts The Risk Of Stroke – Study

Frequent consumption of fried chicken, fried fish, fried potatoes, bacon, ham, liver and gizzards – foods characteristic of Southern U.S. cuisine – significantly raises the risk of stroke, a U.S. study finds. Researchers who analyzed dietary data on more than 20,000 black and white adults found that the frequency of stroke was directly proportional to how much Southern food they ate. Those who ate Southern foods six times a week had a 41 percent higher stroke risk compared to those who ate it once a month. The Southern diet accounted for 63 percent of the higher risk of stroke among African-Americans above whites. Likewise, those who ate more fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains had a 29 percent lower risk of stroke risk than those who ate these foods less often.

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January 15, 2013, to February 01, 2013

Risk Of ALS Can Be Reduced Significantly By Making Your Diet More Colorful

The risk of incurring the devastating degenerative disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can be reduced significantly by adding brightly colored fruits and vegetables to the diet, a U.S. study has found. Researchers examined data collected from five studies involving more than a million people. Individuals who consumed more carotenoids – compounds like beta-carotene that give fruits and vegetables their orange, red and yellow colors – and luteins (found in dark green vegetables) had a lower risk ALS. They were also more likely to exercise, have an advanced degree, have higher vitamin C consumption, and take vitamin C and E supplements. However, long-term vitamin C supplementation was not associated with lower ALS risk.

Early Eaters Are More Likely To Lose Weight Than Late Eaters

Timing is everything when it comes to eating and weight loss, according to a study by U.S. and Spanish researchers. The study followed 420 overweight people in Spain who ate their main meals either early or late each day over 20 weeks. One group comprised early eaters (before 3 p.m.) and the other were late eaters (after 3 p.m.). The researchers found that late-eaters lost significantly less weight than early-eaters, and displayed a much slower rate of weight-loss. Late-eaters also had a lower estimated insulin sensitivity, a risk factor for diabetes. The researchers suggested that therapeutic strategies for weight loss should monitor not only caloric intake but also the timing of meals.

Small Bursts Of Movement That Add To 30 Minutes A Day Can Improve Health Outcomes

A U.S. study of more than 6,000 American adults found that a lifestyle that involves an accumulation of small activities each day can be just as beneficial to health as a daily trip to the gym for structured exercise. Participants in the study wore a tool known as an accelerometer to measure their daily activity. Those who accumulated 30 minutes of short spurts of movement – such as five minutes of pacing while on the phone, walking up and down stairs, etc. – prevented metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The researchers said that their results “show that simply building movement into everyday activities can have meaningful health benefits”.

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January 01, 2013, to January 15, 2013

Depression Diagnoses Linked To Sweetened Beverage Consumption

Drinking sweetened beverages – especially diet versions of soda, fruit punch, coffee or tea – increases the risk of depression in adults, according to an unpublished study to be presented at an upcoming scientific meeting. The researchers, however, found that while drinking coffee was tied to a slightly lower risk. The study involved 263,925 older adults (aged 50 to 71 at the start of the study in 1995/1996). After monitoring beverage consumption and depression diagnoses over ten years, researchers found that participants who drank more than four cans of soda a day were 30 percent more likely to develop depression. People who drank four cups of coffee a day were about 10 percent less likely to develop depression.

Vitamin D Supplements Provide No Benefit To People With Knee Osteoarthritis

Supplementing the diet with vitamin D has no positive impact on pain associated with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, a two-year randomized U.S. trial has found. Knee osteoarthritis (OA) has significant functional impact and has considerable societal costs through work loss, early retirement, and arthroplasty. No medical treatments influence the course of the disease. Some studies have suggested that vitamin D may protect against structural progression. The 2-year trial included 146 participants with symptomatic knee OA. Participants randomly received either a placebo or oral cholecalciferol daily. But the supplements “did not have major effects on clinical or structural outcomes in knee OA.”

Compound In Red Wine That Boosts Testosterone May Distort Athlete Drug Tests

A flavonoid compound in red wine not only increases the amount of the performance-enhancing hormone testosterone in an athlete’s body, it also slows its excretion, potentially distorting the findings of drug tests, British researchers have found. The compound, known as quercetin, partially blocks the action of an enzyme called UGT2B17 which looks for testosterone and then sends a message to the kidneys to excrete it. The research has so far been conducted only in test tubes and has yet to be studied in clinical trials. Nevertheless, the researchers have referred their findings to the World Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees drug testing in athletic competitions.

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December 15, 2012, to January 01, 2013

Scientists Determine Optimum Daily Milk Intake For Children

A Canadian study involving 1,300 children has found that drinking two cups of cow’s milk daily maintains optimum levels of vitamin D without reducing stored iron levels. Data for the study were gathered from questionnaires about diet patterns submitted by parents. According to the researchers, vitamin D deficiency in children is linked to bone health issues; iron deficiency is linked to anemia and delays in cognitive development. Researchers noted that children with darker skin pigmentation may not have adequate levels of vitamin D during the winter months. But rather than drink more milk, which would reduce iron levels, researchers urged wintertime vitamin D supplements.

People With A Predisposition To Cancer Can Reduce The Risk By Cutting Out Snack Foods

People born with a genetic predisposition to colorectal and other cancers – a condition known as Lynch syndrome – could reduce their risk by eliminating most snack foods from their diet, scientists in The Netherlands report. Lynch syndrome is caused by mutations in genes involved with repairing DNA within cells. Earlier studies have found a link between red and processed meats and alcohol consumption and an increased risk of cancer. For the study, researchers gathered dietary information from 486 individuals with Lynch syndrome, then followed up nearly two years later. Lynch syndrome patients who ate more fast food snacks, chips, or fried snacks were twice as likely to develop cancerous polyps as patients who consumed fewer snacks.

Study Finds Gazpacho Reduces Risk Of Hypertension

Spanish researchers have found that frequent consumption of gazpacho – a soup containing tomato, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, etc. – helps reduce blood pressure. For the study, researchers analyzed the impact of gazpacho consumption on 3,995 individuals who were participating in a larger study of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. They found that gazpacho had a protective effect on arterial pressure despite the soup’s salt content. The reason may be that “bioactive elements of gazpacho counteract the effect of salt ingestion,” researchers said. Gazpacho is rich in carotenes, vitamin C and polyphenols. They suggested that the risk of hypertension may be reduced by eating gazpacho by as much as 27 percent in some individuals.

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December 01, 2012, to December 15, 2012

Heart-Healthy Diet Plus Medication Significantly Reduces Risk Of Second Heart Attack

People who have experienced one stroke or heart attack can significantly reduce the risk of a second episode by making smart choices about what they eat, according to a Canadian study. Drug treatments such as aspirin reduce the risk of a second stroke or heart attack. But this study showed that eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish plays a major role in reducing the risk as well. Participants in the 32,000-person study who had cardiovascular disease were asked about their lifestyle (i.e., alcohol use, smoking, exercise, etc.) as well as their diet over the past year. Data showed a heart-healthy diet offered a "consistent benefit" over and above the benefits of taking medications.

Mobile Phone App Plus Nutrition Education Yields Significant Weight Loss

Mobile apps and widgets that help people keep track of eating and calories can help people lose weight, as long as the technology is supplemented by classes on nutrition and exercise, according to a U.S. study. The study included 69 overweight and obese adults – mainly men – who were an average age of 58. All participants had a coach and all were offered health education classes on nutrition, exercise and behavior change. People who used the mobile phone technology and attended 80 percent of the health education sessions lost 15 pounds and maintained the loss for one year. A control group that received nutrition education – but no mobile app – did not lose weight.

Researchers Find A Way To Infuse Milk With Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Without Harming Taste

U.S. food science researchers have figured out a way to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids – like those found in oily fish – into milk and dairy-based beverages in amounts sufficient to promote heart health while preserving the taste of milk. The advancement could benefit people who do not eat fish but need the heart-healthy benefits of fish oil. Twenty-five volunteers evaluated one-ounce cups of standard two percent milk alongside samples of skim milk containing 78 parts butter oil to 22 parts fish oil. The aroma-free formulation delivered 432 milligrams of heart-healthy fatty acids per cup, close to the 500 milligram daily target for healthy people -- without offensive tastes or odors..

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November 15, 2012, to December 01, 2012

Vitamin D Seems To Play A Role In Preventing Tooth Decay In Children

U.S. researchers who analyzed data from 24 controlled clinical trials involving 3,000 children in six countries found that vitamin D supplementation could play a potential role in preventing tooth decay. The studies spanned seven decades, from the 1920s to the 1980s. Past studies have been inconsistent on the impact of vitamin D on tooth decay, though there is no disagreement on its importance to bone health. Researchers said that further study is necessary, but in the meantime, pregnant women and young mothers should know that vitamin D is essential to child  health, leading to “teeth and bones that are better mineralized."

Brief, Intense Exercise Improves Memory In Older – Especially Memory Impaired – Adults

A U.S. study of older adults with and without memory problems found that brief but intense exercise improves memory, especially in those with memory deficits. The participants – aged 50 to 85 – were shown pleasant images of nature and animals, then exercised on stationary bikes for seven minutes at 70 percent of capacity. An hour later they were given a surprise recall test on the viewed images. According to the researchers, the exercise significantly improved memory in both healthy and cognitively impaired people, compared to those who did not exercise. “A short instance of moderately intense exercise particularly improved memory in individuals with memory deficits," researchers said.

Subtypes Of Depressive Disorder Respond Differently To Folic Acid, Vitamin B12

Scientists in Finland who studied 3,000 middle-aged and elderly adults report that two subtypes of depression disorder respond differently to intake of folic acid and vitamin B12. Higher intake of folic acid (folate) and B12 cuts the risk of melancholic depression – which has typical symptoms such as depressed mood – by as much as 50 percent. But no such effect was noticed among people with non-melancholic depression, characterized by low self-esteem and feelings of worry and anxiety. The researchers did, however, find a link between non-melancholic depression and increased risk of metabolic disorder, a precursor of obesity and diabetes. 

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November 01, 2012, to November 15, 2012

Clinical Study Of Proprietary Probiotic Shows Significant Cholesterol Reduction

A clinical study funded by an eight-year-old Canadian company reports that taking the company’s proprietary probiotic twice a day lowers key cholesterol-bearing molecules in the blood and reduces levels of both “bad” and total cholesterol. For the study, about half of the 127 adult patients with high cholesterol took L. reuteri NCIMB 30242 twice a day, half took placebo capsules. Those taking the probiotic had LDL levels 11.6 percent lower than those on placebo after nine weeks. Cholesterol esters dropped by 6.3 percent and cholesterol ester saturated fatty acids by 8.8 percent among the probiotic group. Micropharma, which funded the study, is expected to introduce the product (Cardioviva) in the U.S. in 2013.

Shopper Awareness Is One Of Key Emerging Trends In The Food Industry In 2013

Among the key emerging trends likely to have an impact on the food and drinks market in 2013 are two especially important ones, according to Innova Market Insights. First is the “aware shopper”, who is more informed about value and health and supported by lobby groups, non-governmental organizations and celebrities. All are calling for more transparency, credibility and accountability from the food industry. Second is the fact that lawsuits and regulatory pressure are having an impact on products claiming to be “natural.” The result is that some companies are now claiming products are "additive-/preservative-free" and “GMO-free”, rather than natural.

Antioxidant In Green Tea Suppresses Blood Sugar Spikes After Eating Starchy Foods

The antioxidant epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) found in green tea reduced sugar spikes in mice fed a diet of corn starch, U.S. researchers report. For the study, mice were fed corn starch and EGCG at a level equivalent to about 1.5 cups of green tea for a human. The spike in blood glucose levels was about 50 percent lower in the EGCG mice than in mice fed corn starch only. The findings suggest the possibility that the antioxidant might function the same way in humans. “The relatively low effective dose of EGCG makes a compelling case for studies in human subjects,” the researchers concluded.

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October 15, 2012, to November 01, 2012

Legume Diet Reduces Risk Of Heart Disease Among Diabetics

People with type 2 diabetes can reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by eating more legumes as part of a low-glycemic index (GI) diet, a three-month clinical study by Canadian researchers has found. The study tested the effects of eating more legumes – beans, chickpeas or lentils – on 121 type 2 diabetes patients. Patients were assigned randomly to eat either a low-GI legume diet (one cup a day) or a diet with increased soluble fiber in the form of whole wheat products. The low-GI legume diet had a positive impact on glycemic control, blood lipid levels and blood pressure, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

Delicious Baked Goods That Are Also Healthy? It’s Possible, U.K. Bakers Say

There are ways to provide healthy, and tasty, baked goods to health-conscious consumers, according to food writer Samantha Edwards, who surveyed a selection of prominent British bakers. The basic strategy is to cut back on “indulgent ingredients,” such as fat, sugar, artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives, while adding fiber, whole grains and natural flavors.  Trends include breakfast sandwich wraps and turnovers wrapped in soft bread as alternatives to morning pastries. One baker, Delice de France, offers a selection of breads for the lunch crowd that include sourdoughs and whole grains. Other innovations: breakfast muffins containing dates, apricots, raisins, pumpkin seeds and granola; mini versions of cupcakes; and low-GI carrot cupcakes with fresh fruit.

Food Industry Expert Urges Tighter Legislative Control Over Nanotechnology Use

Nanotechnology is used in the production of consumer and health goods, including food, food packaging and sun block products. Nanoparticles easily penetrate DNA structures and the cells of the lungs, skin and digestive system, raising concerns in the health and consumer community. The U.S. FDA studied the issue but found no reason for more extensive regulation of nanoparticles, a decision criticized by environmental and other groups. Food industry expert Adam Soliman, in an opinion article, acknowledges that the long-term effects of nanoparticle use may be positive, but suggests there may be negative effects on health. “Thus, jurisdictions [globally] should continue to broaden legislation monitoring the development of nanotechnology.”

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October 01, 2012, to October 15, 2012

Roquette Research Program To Develop Plant-Based Protein Alternatives To Animal, Soy Proteins

French biorefiner Roquette Freres has established a research program that will focus on developing plant-based proteins to meet the needs of a growing world population. Roquette has been processing plant-based raw materials for more than 75 years, but the new research program, dubbed Proteov, is a response to the fact that the global population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050. The Proteov research program will develop sustainable and affordable plant-derived protein sources that offer an alternative to animal proteins or soybeans. New Products will target general human and animal nutrition, sports, weight management and weight loss, and clinical and infant nutrition.

Sabinsa Announces First Non-Dairy Use Of Its Probiotic Product

U.S. phyonutrient maker Sabinsa Corporation announced that its probiotic product LactoSpore is now an ingredient of Colombian baking company Perman’s sliced bread. According to Sabinsa, Perman Pan Tajado is the first non-dairy use of its probiotic in a functional food. LactoSpore is the trade name for Sabinsa’s probiotic Bacillus coagulans, formerly known as Lactobacillus sporogenes. LactoSpore withstands the acidic environment of the stomach and then germinates and proliferates in the GI tract within a few hours.

Proprietary Resveratrol Supplement Improves Circulatory Function In Obese People

An Australian clinical study found that a proprietary resveratrol supplement improved the circulatory function of obese individuals with mild hypertension. For the placebo-controlled study, 28 people took 75 mg of DSM’s Resvida each day for six weeks. The researchers found a 23 percent increase in vasodilator function. Decreased vasodilator function is a biomarker for cardiovascular risk and is associated with obesity and high blood pressure. According to DSM, the best results would be  achieved with doses starting at 30 mg of Resvida a day to see any health benefits.

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September 15, 2012, to October 01, 2012

Government Should Regulate Sugary Drink Consumption To Control Obesity, Healthcare Costs

Many foods contribute to excess calorie intake and obesity but, according to health experts, sugary drinks are particularly at fault. Consumption of sugary beverages has tripled since the 1970s, as drink sizes have increased from 6.5 or 12 ounces to 16, 20, 32 and 64 ounces. New York City health commissioner Thomas A. Farley believes government can play a role in controlling consumption of sugary drinks, and thus controlling the rising healthcare costs associated with obesity and heart disease. In a JAMA article, he notes that New York City has supported a 1-cent-per-ounce excise tax on sugary drinks and the city's health department approved a cap on the portion size of sugary drinks served at restaurants.

Nestlé UK Funds Healthy Kids Initiative In Partnership With PhunkyFoods

Nestlé UK hopes to reach 76,000 children over the next three years with a Healthy Kids Program, a joint effort with PhunkyFoods to stem the rising tide of obesity in the U.K. and lower the average body mass index of British children. PhunkyFoods is an independent curriculum-based healthy activity and eating program. Nestlé will contribute £820,000 to the initiative. The PhunkyFoods curriculum, Web site and resources were developed by registered nutritionists and consultant teachers; they are completely independent of any company or product branding.

Legumes Used To Create Unusually Moist – And Nutritious – Cakes

A Washington State University catering service has developed cakes that use unconventional – but healthy – ingredients from the Palouse, a region in the Northwest U.S. that comprises parts of Washington, Idaho and Oregon. The unusual cake ingredients include two legumes: garbanzo beans and lentils. According to the pastry chef of the university caterer, you can’t taste the legumes in the cakes, but they contribute to their moistness and tenderness, and make them high in fiber and protein. The secret lies in the preparation of the batter. The lentils or garbanzo beans are cooked, pureed and folded into the batter. The legumes' natural sugars and gums are hydrophilic: “they love water and bind it to the cake system," making the cakes unusually moist.
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