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Gastric Balloon May Be Answer To Weight Loss For The Desperate Obese

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Swallowing a balloon-pill may prove to be an effective weight loss technique, according to a new study. The “procedureless” gastric balloon is ingested as a capsule – dubbed “Elipse” by manufacturer Allurion Technologies – that is then “inflated” with 550 ml of liquid. In the study, patients who kept the balloon in place for four months lost 37 percent of their excess weight. The device is not considered a permanent solution to weight loss, but it does have the potential to help people who are overweight or obese but are not candidates for bariatric surgery. After four months, a valve opens on its own, releasing the liquid that is then excreted naturally.
Ram Chuttani et al., "The First Procedureless Gastric Balloon: A Prospective Study Evaluating Safety, Weight Loss, Metabolic Parameters and Quality of Life", Research presented at ObesityWeek 2015, November 20, 2015, © American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and The Obesity Society
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Inability To Absorb Enough Vitamin E Is A Key Problem For the Obese

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Obese people are often afflicted with metabolic syndrome, an array of conditions that include excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, low "good" cholesterol, and high levels of blood sugar and fats. People with metabolic syndrome have one thing in common: they tend to be deficient in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), which the body needs to fight oxidative stress that can lead to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and cancer. The key problem for obese people is that, while they need higher levels of vitamin E to fight oxidative stress, their obesity is preventing absorption of the vitamin. And, contrary to recent findings, dairy fat does not increase the bioavailability of vitamin E, at least in supplement form.
E. Mah et al., "α-Tocopherol bioavailability is lower in adults with metabolic syndrome regardless of dairy fat co-ingestion: a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial. ", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 20, 2015, © American Society for Nutrition
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Junk Food May Be Harmful To Health, But It’s Not The Main Cause Of Obesity

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Junk food in and of itself may be nutritionally bankrupt, even harmful to health, but it is not the leading cause of obesity, Cornell University scientists say in a new study. It’s more complicated than that. For example,overall diet and amount of physical activity are also key factors. The study reviewed a representative sample of about 5,000 adults in the United States. It found that consumption of soda, candy and fast food is not linked to body mass index (BMI) for 95 percent of the population. Those on the extreme ends of the BMI spectrum – the chronically underweight or morbidly obese – are the exceptions because they are more likely to eat junk food and less likely to eat fruits and vegetables. The simple point is that narrowly targeting junk food is ineffective and self-defeating because “it distracts from the real underlying causes of obesity."
David Just, Brian Wansink, "Fast Food, Soft Drink, and Candy Intake is Unrelated to Body Mass Index for 95% of American Adults", Obesity Science & Practice, November 20, 2015, © Just & Wansink
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Omega 3 Supplements Not An Effective Treatment For Major Depressive Disorder

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A British review of data from 26 randomized clinical trials involving 1,458 participants found little evidence that omega-3 fatty acid supplements effectively treated major depressive disorder. Omega 3s, thought to be essential for good health, are naturally found in fatty fish and some nuts and seeds. People treated with omega 3 fatty acids reported lower symptom scores than people with a placebo pill, the effect was small. And important limitations undermined researcher confidence in the results. The researchers acknowledged that most of the studies were small and of low quality.
Katherine M. Appleton et al., "Omega-3 fatty acids for depression in adults. ", Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, November 20, 2015, © The Cochrane Collaboration
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Neither App Nor Coaching Effective At Long-Term Weight Loss

November 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Weight loss programs for young adults that employ smartphone apps – even with personalized coaching – are no more effective at helping shed pounds than instructional fliers, a U.S. study has found. It’s upsetting news, because 35 percent of Americans in the 18-35 age range are obese. The randomized study included 365 people. One group used a free Android app called CITY (Cell Phone Intervention for You), designed for the study by university scientists. On average, participants who used the app lost about two pounds after two years, about the same as a control group that received handouts about exercise and nutrition. A separate arm of the study worked with the app and a personal coach, with the same disappointing results.
Laura P. Svetkey et al., " Cell phone intervention for you (CITY): A randomized, controlled trial of behavioral weight loss intervention for young adults using mobile technology. ", Obesity, November 20, 2015, © The Obesity Society
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Risk Of Death By Heart Disease, Stroke, Etc., Reduced By Coffee Drinking

November 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A large, 30-year study conducted among healthcare professionals found that coffee drinking was linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, neurological diseases and suicide. No association with reduced cancer risk was found, however. The risk of death was reduced by six percent among nonsmokers who drank at least one cup of coffee – either caffeinated or decaffeinated – a day. The greatest reduction in risk – 15 percent – was found among nonsmokers who drank between three and five cups a day. Controlling for age, alcohol consumption, BMI and other health and diet factors did not change the results.
Ming Ding et al., "Association of Coffee Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality in Three Large Prospective Cohorts", Circulation, November 18, 2015, © American Heart Association, Inc.
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Diet Rich In Soluble Fiber Reduces Risk Of Damaging Inflammation, Obesity

November 13, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
New U.S. research in mice suggests that intestinal inflammation caused by a microbiome that lacks soluble fiber may be a key factor in obesity and in obesity-related diseases like diabetes. The researchers found that adding more soluble fiber to the diet restores the gut microbiome and intestinal health. For the study, researchers tested the effects of various diets (i.e., soluble and insoluble fiber, protein and fat) on the intestinal tracts of mice. Among other things, the researchers found that improvements in gut structure from a soluble fiber-rich diet were due to changes in the gut microbiota that produced anti-inflammatory molecules (short chain fatty acids) used as fuel by intestinal cells.
Benoit Chassaing et al., "Lack of soluble fiber drives diet-induced adiposity in mice. ", American Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, November 13, 2015, © American Physiological Society
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More Fiber In Diet Is Good, Except When The Bacteria Control System Is Defective

November 13, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Some studies have linked metabolic syndrome with the fermentation activities of bacteria on soluble fiber in the intestines. The bacteria digest the fiber, creating short chain fatty acids that control inflammation and reduce the risk of obesity. So it is usually healthful to increase fiber consumption. But a new U.S. study found a link between unchecked bacterial fermentation, increased short-chain fatty acids and increased liver lipids in people (and mice) with a compromised “TLR5” function. A defect in the TLR5 receptor reduces control of bacteria volumes. Bacteria multiply, lipids rise, as does the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver damage.
Vishal Singh et al. , "Microbiota-Dependent Hepatic Lipogenesis Mediated by Stearoyl CoA Desaturase 1 (SCD1) Promotes Metabolic Syndrome in TLR5-Deficient Mice", Cell Metabolism, November 13, 2015, © Elsevier B.V.
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Count Your Bites, Then Count Your (Weight Loss) Blessings

November 13, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A small U.S. pilot study has determined that weight loss could be as simple a matter as counting – but not steps, or minutes of exercise, or calories. The 41 participants who completed the study counting bites as they ate lost about four pounds on average (a healthful pound per week). Participants also committed to taking 20 to 30 percent fewer bites over four weeks. They changed nothing else about their eating or exercising patterns. Those who didn’t finish the program blamed the difficulty of keeping count, so computer scientists developed an algorithm for that. The technology was licensed to a local Utah startup (SmartBites) that is working on an app for wearable devices such as Android Wear and WatchOS devices.
Crookston, Hall et al., "Pilot Test of A Bites-Focused Weight Loss Intervention. ", Advances in Obesity, Weight Management & Control, November 13, 2015, © MedCrave
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Soy Protein Helps Expectant Mothers Control Blood Sugar Levels

November 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A small Iranian clinical study finds that expectant mothers with gestational diabetes –high blood sugar levels – might benefit from soy protein in their diet. Soy has been shown to help people with type 2 diabetes, so it’s not a big stretch to expect it would also help pregnant women. High blood sugar during pregnancy can lead to hypertension, heavier babies, and a greater risk of needing a C-section. For the study, participants were divided into two groups, one of which stuck to a diet in which 35 percent of their protein was soy-based. After six weeks, blood sugar and insulin levels had dropped in the soy group, but rose for women in the control group, who had eaten protein from normal plant and animal sources.
Kathryn Doyle, "Soy might benefit women with pregnancy diabetes", Reuters, November 11, 2015, © Thomson Reuters
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New Vitamin Biscuits Deliver Nutrients Without Nausea To Expectant Moms

November 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The need to enhance one’s nutritional intake before, during, and after pregnancy, without having to take big, nausea-inducing vitamin pills, led an entrepreneur and her friend to develop ERZO vitamin biscuits. The biscuits offer a more palatable and convenient daily solution for expectant moms. The vitamin-fortified, whole grain cereal biscuits are a good source of fiber, and provide nutritional values similar to prenatal pills and gummies. They avoid common problems such as nausea, reflux and food aversions. And they dovetail neatly with a major food trend: the rise in popularity of breakfast biscuits.
Lisa Olivo, "ERZO Delivers a Functional Prenatal Biscuit", Nutraceuticals World, November 11, 2015, © Rodman Media
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FDA Recommends Limits On Daily “Added Sugar” Intake

November 9, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The FDA has issued a recommendation that Americans limit "added sugar" consumption to no more than ten percent of daily calories. The agency also wants food labels to distinguish between natural sugar and added sugar. Except for children three and under, that would mean a limit of 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, of added sugar a day, about the same amount as in a can of Coca-Cola. The problem for American consumers is that sugar, honey and high-fructose corn syrup are not only found in obvious things like sodas, cookies and candy. They are also in healthful foods like low-fat yogurt, granola, wholegrain breads, ketchup, pasta sauce, canned fruit, prepared soups, salad dressings and marinades. Food industry skeptics argue that new labels distinguishing between natural and added sugar will only confuse shoppers.
Roni Caryn Rabin , "Placing a Cap on Americans’ Consumption of Added Sugar", The New York Times, November 09, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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Study Of Asthma Patients Finds No Benefit In Vitamin D Supplementation

November 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Researchers have long wondered whether vitamin D deficiency led to other health problems for asthma sufferers. New U.S. research has determined that vitamin D supplementation does not reduce the severity or frequency of cold symptoms in patients with “mild-to-moderate asthma” any better than a placebo. The study involved 408 patients with insufficient or deficient levels of plasma vitamin D divided randomly into two groups, one of which received an initial 100,000 IU dose of vitamin D3, followed by 28 days of a 4,000 IU daily dose.
Loren C. Denlinger et al., "Vitamin D Supplementation and the Risk of Colds in Patients with Asthma", American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, November 05, 2015, © American Thoracic Society
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Energy Drinks Are A – Potentially Harmful – “Guy” Thing

November 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The main consumers of energy drinks are men, suggesting a connection between “masculinity ideology” and energy drink use, according to a U.S. study. Drinking energy beverages may be a way of “performing masculinity... a way to raise masculine capital." The researchers analyzed data from 467 adult males who were asked if they agreed with statements that suggested traditional masculine attitudes. They also asked what participants expected from energy drinks and whether they felt that the drinks affected sleep patterns. Young white men especially associated the drinks with participation in extreme sports or leading an active and competitive lifestyle. But the researchers warned that the high caffeine content of the drinks can have adverse health effects, especially when it comes to sleep.
Ronald F. Levant et al., "Moderated mediation of the relationships between masculinity ideology, outcome expectations, and energy drink use.", Health Psychology, November 04, 2015, © American Psychological Association
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Will Birch Water Find A Market In The U.S.?

November 4, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Coconut water has been flying high as a trendy thirst quencher for quite a while now, But it might get knocked from its lofty perch by birch – water, that is. Birch water is nothing new. Scandinavians have been drinking it as a rejuvenating springtime tonic for centuries. Made from birch sap, the water in its natural form spoils quickly. But pasteurization now preserves it for up to a year, and some experts expect that fact to help it capture some attention in the U.S. The virtues of birch water, according to several purveyors? Hydration, improvement in athletic endurance and performance, reduced sugar intake, weight maintenance, and liver and kidney detox.
Shara Rutberg, "Birch of the next super drink", NewHope360.com, November 04, 2015, © Penton
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Adding Pumpkin Flavor Doesn’t Make Doughnuts A Health Food

October 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Pumpkin-flavored treats and foods containing pumpkin – pies, breads, etc. – pop up frequently at this time of the year. Pumpkin has some healthful properties but not everything flavored with pumpkin is good for you, except in moderation. Pumpkin itself is rich in fiber and low in cholesterol It also contains vitamin A, phytosterols, magnesium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, protein, zinc and iron. But pumpkin snacks and desserts, not to mention the lattes and coffees, offer none of the benefits of pumpkins, and may contain a lot of salt, fat and sugar.
Suzy Weems, "Pumpkin foods may not live up to healthy reputation", News release, Baylor University, October 30, 2015, © Baylor University
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Calcium Supplements Increase Risk Of Kidney Stone Formation

October 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
After reviewing urine collections and CT scans of 1,486 kidney stone patients, U.S.  researchers concluded that calcium supplements – but not foods rich in calcium – increase the risk of a recurrence of stones. Patients who took calcium supplements had lower levels of the components of kidney stones in their urine. However, they also had a faster rate of kidney stone growth. Vitamin D supplements, however, may help prevent stone formation.
"Calcium supplements may increase the risk of kidney stone recurrence", News release, study to be presented at ASN Kidney Week, October 30, 2015, © American Society of Nephrology
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Lack Of Movement – Not Just Sitting – Is Unhealthy Behavior

October 30, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
British researchers say that, contrary to other recent studies, sitting for long periods of time does not lead to an early death. The study monitored 5,000 people for 16 years, finding no association between sitting and an untimely death. The real problem is lack of movement, not sitting or standing per se. “Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health,” the authors concluded. The results also cast doubt on the benefits of sit-stand workstations.
Richard M. Pulsford et al., "Associations of sitting behaviors with all-cause mortality over a 16-year follow-up: the Whitehall II study. ", International Journal of Epidemiology, October 30, 2015, © Pulsford et al.
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Fatty Diet Upsets Metabolism and Causes Anxiety, Depression

October 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A diet of fatty foods can adversely affect more than the body, according to new French research in mice. Immoderate fat consumption can increase body weight and boost blood sugar leading to anxiety, depression and measurable brain changes. The study also showed that a fatty diet can thwart the beneficial effects of an antidepressant. The researchers noted that the metabolic impairments were reversed when the mice were taken off a high-fat diet, and their anxious symptoms decreased.
Juliane Zemdegs et al., "High fat diet-induced metabolic disorders impairs serotonergic function and anxiety-like behaviors in mice. ", British Journal of Pharmacology, October 29, 2015, © John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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Red Wine Safely Improves Cholesterol Balance, Reduces Cardiovascular Risks

October 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A two-year multinational study has determined that drinking a glass of wine each night could help people with type 2 diabetes better manage their cholesterol and cardiac health. Researchers said red wine was found to be not only safe, it was superior in improving overall metabolic profiles by modestly improving the lipid profile and increasing good (HDL) cholesterol and apolipoprotein A1 (a major constituent of HDL). It also decreased the ratio between total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. Diabetics are more susceptible to developing cardiovascular diseases than the general population and have lower levels of "good" cholesterol.
Yftach Gepner et al., "Effects of Initiating Moderate Alcohol Intake on Cardiometabolic Risk in Adults With Type 2 Diabetes. ", Annals of Internal Medicine, October 29, 2015, © American College of Physicians
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Vitamin D/Calcium Supplements Do Not Prevent Regrowth Of Intestinal Polyps

October 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Vitamin D and calcium supplements do not prevent the regrowth of colorectal polyps, the precursors of cancerous tumors, a large U.S. study has found. The random, controlled study was conducted at 11 hospitals and involved 2,200 adults aged 45-75 who took 1,000 IU of calcium and/or 1,200 mg of vitamin D each day, or a placebo. Each study participant had a history of colorectal polyps without any remaining polyps after colonoscopy. After 3-5 years, researchers found that daily supplementation did not reduce the risk of recurrent colorectal adenomas.
John A. Baron et al., "A Trial of Calcium and Vitamin D for the Prevention of Colorectal Adenomas. ", New England Journal of Medicine, October 29, 2015, © Massachusetts Medical Society
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Increased Calcium Intake Offers No Bone Benefits For Older Adults

October 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
For many years, physicians have advised older patients to increase their intake of calcium, either through food sources or supplements, to strengthen bones and prevent fractures. But two studies by New Zealand researchers now confirm that the advice was worthless: boosting calcium intake neither improves bone health nor prevents broken bones. Increasing intake of calcium and vitamin D – recommended for older adults by some guidelines – provides no meaningful health benefit and may increase the risk of adverse outcomes linked to calcium supplements. A balanced diet provides enough calcium and vitamin D for most people, they said.
Mark J. Bolland et al., "Calcium intake and risk of fracture: systematic review. ", BMJ, October 24, 2015, © Bolland et al.
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People With A Genetic Inclination To Type 2 Diabetes Have To Exercise More

October 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Swedish researchers have determined that people with increased risk of type 2 diabetes – because of family history – have to exercise a lot harder to achieve the same results as others. A person with a mother, father, sister or brother who is a type 2 diabetic is three times more likely than others to acquire the disease. For the seven-month study, healthy but unfit and overweight men were divided into a high-risk and control group. Though the exercise routines were equally hard, the risk group attended more sessions and expended more energy. Both groups benefited: they all lost weight, reduced waist size and increased fitness. But the risk group had to exercise more to achieve the same results as the control group.
Carl Ekman et al., "Less pronounced response to exercise in healthy relatives to type 2 diabetics compared to controls. ", Journal of Applied Physiology, October 24, 2015, © Journal of Applied Physiology
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Avoid Toxic Bacteria This Fall: Refrigerate Those Caramel Apples

October 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have found that a dangerous bacterium known as Listeria monocytogenes increased 1,000-fold on a favorite fall treat: unrefrigerated caramel apples with sticks. By contrast, listerial growth was delayed on caramel apples without sticks stored at room temperature for three days. Refrigeration was the key difference, the scientists said. Caramel apples with sticks had no listerial growth for up to a week, and only a little growth over the next three weeks. Those without sticks had no listerial growth during four weeks of storage.
Craig et al., "Growth of Listeria monocytogenes within a Caramel-Coated Apple Microenvironment", Blog entry, study to be published in October 2015 issue of mBio, October 24, 2015, © Craig et al.
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Milk Boosts Bioavailability Of Vitamin E In Obese People

October 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A new U.S. study finds an association between vitamin E absorption and metabolic syndrome, the cluster of symptoms like obesity and high blood pressure that are a precursor of type 2 diabetes. The researchers at Ohio State University discovered that people with metabolic syndrome – 35 percent of Americans – do not absorb vitamin E. But that problem can be solved by adding cow’s milk to the diet. Study participants who drank milk along with the natural form of vitamin E – found in spinach, sunflower seeds, peanuts, etc. – absorbed between 26.1 and 29.5 percent of the vitamin. Participants with metabolic syndrome absorbed less vitamin E than healthy people. The bioavailability of vitamin E when taken with a glass of milk was nearly three times higher than expected.
Emily Caldwell, "Metabolic syndrome leads one in three Americans to need more vitamin E", News release, scientific study, October 23, 2015, © Ohio State University
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Packaged Food Purchases Are On The Rise – An Unhealthful Trend

October 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
American consumers are buying more packaged foods, but the packaged foods they buy – especially at non-grocery sources – are less healthful than fresh foods purchased at supermarkets, according to a U.S. study. Packaged food purchases (PFPs) accounted for 78 percent of store-based food expenditures. Mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs and convenience stores are seeing an increase in food purchases. The top sources of calorie purchases are savory snacks, grain-based desserts, fruit drinks and juices, fresh plain milk, and regular soft drinks across all types of stores, including grocery stores. But these food and beverage groups are major sources of added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium.
Dalia Stern et al., "The Nutrient Content of U.S. Household Food Purchases by Store Type. ", American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 23, 2015, © American Journal of Preventive Medicine
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Sit-Stand Desks May Be One Weapon In The Fight Against Obesity

October 23, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have shown that employees using a sit-stand desk burn as much as 87 calories more a day than peers who sit all day. It’s a small number of calories, but the researchers say it is significant enough to make a difference in the fight against obesity. Office workers sit more than 80 percent of the workday, increasing their risk of many sedentary-related problems, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. The cross-sectional study monitored employee activity over a five-day workweek. Participants – who had their sit-stand desks for an average of 1.8 years prior to the study – stood 60 minutes more each day than their sitting coworkers.
Lucas J. Carr et al., "Cross-sectional Examination of Long-term Access to Sit–Stand Desks in a Professional Office Setting. ", American Journal of Preventive Medicine, October 23, 2015, © American Journal of Preventive Medicine
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China: Many Barriers To Health Food Land Of Milk And Honey

October 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Health food marketers may think of China as a sort of “promised land” of sales opportunities, if a Chinese food industry five-year plan is to be believed. By 2019, health food sales in the country are expected to reach $48 billion, for several reasons: a growing overall obesity rate (up 67 percent between 2002 and 2012), a doubling of the obesity rate for children and adolescents, severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and mounting high blood pressure and cancer rates. Though Chinese consumers want high-quality foreign health foods, it’s still a daunting procedure for multinationals to get their products to market. It can take two to three years, and up to $15,800, to get one health food product registered under China’s blue hat system. The new Food Safety Law, now in effective, adds other hurdles.
Hua Deng, "Chinese New Regulation for Health Food Products", Natural Products Insider, October 20, 2015, © Informa Exhibitions LLC.
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Millennials Not Content With Popping Nutritional Supplement Pills

October 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Younger generations of Americans, particularly Millennials, are no longer content with knowing that their vitamin C tablet contains, well, vitamin C. They want to know more about the dietary supplements they take, and because they grew up in an age of information explosion, they know they can get that information somewhere, if not from the manufactuer. Where Boomers are content to know what’s in a supplement, Millennials want to know how the pill was made and where the ingredients were sourced. They want, in other words, transparency and traceability. Other important desirables: whole food ingredients (like nutritional greens), and functional foods and beverages delivered – not by pills – but alternatives like gummies, satchels, powders, etc.
Todd Runestad, "Millennials demand transparency in supplements", NewHope360.com, October 20, 2015, © Penton
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Excess Fructose In The Intestines Linked To Bronchitis

October 16, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. study reports that drinking beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is associated with an increased prevalence and risk of chronic bronchitis in American adults. Adults who drink non-diet soda five or more times per week are 1.8 times as likely to develop chronic bronchitis as people who drink them only once or twice a month. And it doesn’t matter if smoking is involved. The researchers suggested that poorly absorbed excess fructose in the gut interacts with proteins to form antigens (“enFruAGEs”) that work their way to the lungs, triggering an immune response and causing bronchitis. More research is needed to prove the connection.
DeChristopher et al., "Intake of high fructose corn syrup sweetened soft drinks is associated with prevalent chronic bronchitis in U.S. Adults, ages 20–55 y", Nutrition Journal, October 16, 2015, © DeChristopher et al.
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Wide Variety Of Breads Contain Carcinogenic Compound

October 14, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The Environmental Working Group reports that 86 breads and baked goods it analyzed contained a possible carcinogenic ingredient known as potassium bromate. The compound, linked in animal studies to cancer and development of tumors, is added to flour to firm up the dough, help it rise and give the finished bread an appealing white color. California is the only U.S. state that regulates potassium bromate. It requires a warning label on food containing it. Among the 86 products containing the potentially harmful compound are Hormel Foods breakfast sandwiches, Weis Kaiser rolls and French toast, and Goya turnover pastry dough.
Shannon Van Hoesen, "Scores of Baked Goods Contain Possible Cancer-Causing Additive", Report, Environmental Working Group, October 14, 2015, © Environmental Working Group
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Diet Of Dried Plums Seems To Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

October 12, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
U.S. researchers have found that a diet rich in dried plums might ward off colon cancer by helping the gut retain beneficial bacteria. Earlier research has shown that disruptions to the microbiota spur the onset or recurrence of intestinal inflammation that can increase the risk of colon cancer. Dried plums, however, contain phenolic compounds that serve as antioxidants to neutralize the effect of free radicals that damage DNA. The new experiments in rats found that a dried plum diet increased the proportions of two major phyla of bacteria in the gut, while the control diet lowered the proportions. The tests also showed that rats eating dried plums had fewer aberrant “crypts” in gut wall tissue, a strong cancer indicator.
Nancy Turner, "Dried plums can reduce risk of colon cancer, research shows", News release, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, October 12, 2015, © Texas A&M AgriLife Research
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Promising – And Delivering – Gluten-Free Cereals Is No Easy Task

October 11, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
General Mills is betting heavily that gluten-free food products – a hot industry trend – will help revive its slumping cereal sales. So it’s no surprise that the company acted quickly when reports started coming in that some Cheerios buyers were experiencing intestinal discomfort, a symptom of celiac disease, an immune response to gluten. Oats, of course, do not contain gluten. But oats mills and cereal manufacturing plants can often be contaminated with wheat, rye or barley flour. General Mills spent tens of millions of dollars to make sure its huge Fridley, Minn., flour mill was itself gluten-free. But the fail-safe systems in place somehow failed. The company last week recalled 1.8 million boxes of Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios made at a plant in Lodi, Calif., after discovering the cereal accidentally contained wheat.
Mike Hughlett , "Cheerios gluten-free misstep prompts quick actions by General Mills", Star Tribune (Minn.), October 11, 2015, © StarTribune
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Wine Contains Lots More Arsenic Than Water, But Poses Small Health Threat

October 7, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A U.S. researcher has determined that wine on average contains a lot more arsenic than the U.S. EPA allows in drinking water, but the risk of poisoning is small unless you’re also getting arsenic from other dietary sources, like apple juice, rice or cereal bars. The problem is especially worrisome for pregnant women, children and the elderly, the scientists said. They are more likely to consume large amounts of contaminated rice, organic brown rice syrup, seafood, wine, and apple juice. The study analyzed 65 wines from Washington, New York, California and Oregon. Washington wines had the highest arsenic concentrations, while Oregon's had the lowest. Arsenic leaches into water and soil – and then the food chain – when rocks containing the metalloid are eroded by rain, rivers or wind.
Denise Wilson, "Arsenic Content in American Wine. ", Journal of Environmental Health, October 07, 2015, © Denise Wilson
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Science Has Abandoned Its Advice To Avoid All Whole Fats... Will The Feds?

October 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Science has gradually reversed the conclusion first drawn by a scientist in the 1950s – namely, that America’s consumption of fat was the cause of the heart disease epidemic. Study after study over the last ten years has concluded that – contrary to the federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans – fat is not a cause of cardiovascular disease or obesity. And now a study shows that whole milk is not only not bad for you, it actually offers cardio-protective benefits. So, the question becomes, will the new federal dietary guidelines back off the warnings against consuming all fats? Will they suggest avoiding trans fats and encourage eating unsaturated fats found in fish, nuts and vegetable oils? One thing is sure, says one scientist: it is okay to have whole fat food, including whole fat milk, and that message “is slowly seeping into consciousness.”
Peter Whoriskey, "For decades, the government steered millions away from whole milk. Was that wrong?", The Washington Post, October 06, 2015, © The Washington Post
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U.S. Dietary Guidelines Not Based On Current Science, Journalist Says

October 6, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The nutritional science on which the latest version of U.S. Dietary Guidelines is based may be outdated and misleading, according to a journalist writing in a scientific publication. Nina Teicholz argues that the guidelines, based on an expert report by a 14-member advisory committee, do not reflect recent scientific findings. For example, the committee said the association of saturated fats with heart disease is strong. But the panel did not review scientific literature on saturated fats from the past five years that had failed to confirm a link between sat-fats and heart disease. Teicholtz says that the committee’s analyses of nutritional study findings were less than rigorous, and may simply have relied on the outdated conclusions of industry-funded organizations like the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. The article has prompted a congressional review of the expert report.
Nina Teicholz, "The scientific report guiding the US dietary guidelines: is it scientific? ", BMJ, October 06, 2015, © BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
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Simple Blood Test Could Speed Diagnosis Of Celiac Disease

October 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
To celiac diagnose celiac disease – a severe immune reaction to the protein gluten in wheat, barley, and rye – a physician has to take blood and intestinal tissue samples (gastroscopy), an uncomfortable, often painful procedure. Now Norwegian scientists have developed a simple test that may make it quicker and easier to diagnose the disease. The test is based on the fact that in celiac disease immune cells, known as T cells, analyze gluten molecules and decide that they are a harmful bacteria or virus. For the new test, a blood sample is taken, the blood is enriched with certain reagents, and gluten-reactive T cells are counted. People with celiac disease will have a much higher number of gluten-reactive T cells in their blood than non-celiacs.
Asbjørn Christophersen, "Simplified diagnosis of celiac disease", News release, University of Oslo, October 05, 2015, © University of Oslo
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Evidence Of Health Benefits Of Tea Is A Little Weak

October 5, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A New York Times health columnist recently assessed studies that examined the benefits of coffee, finding that drinking coffee is indeed healthful. He then looked at studies regarding tea’s benefits, finding that most of the research has been conducted in Asia, and conclusions may not apply to Americans (who drink a lot less tea daily). Studies, for example, somewhat inconclusively linked tea drinking with less risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, liver steatosis, cirrhosis, chronic liver disease, depression, stroke, heart disease, cardiac death, cerebral infarction and intracerebral hemorrhage. The upshot is that Aaron Carroll is “a little less impressed with the body of evidence regarding tea.” He says the data are not enough to “strongly recommend” drinking tea, but there may be some potential benefits, and no harms.
Aaron E. Carroll, "Health Benefits of Tea? Here’s What the Evidence Says", The New York Times, October 05, 2015, © The New York Times Company
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Replacing Sat-Fats With The Right Foods Reduces Heart Disease Risk

October 3, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Science for a long time has advocated removal of saturated fatty acids from the diet as a way to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease. But no one made any recommendations about what to replace those fats with. To find out what was best, U.S. scientists analyzed questionnaire data collected over at least thirty years from 84,628 women and 42,908 men free of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. They found that patients making lifestyle diet changes – specifically avoiding sat-fats – did best when they substituted unsaturated fats like vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, as well as healthy carbohydrates such as whole grains. Those who turned to processed foods with low-quality carbohydrates from refined starches or sugars barely reduced the risk of heart disease.
Vasanti S. Malik & Frank B. Hu, "Fructose and Cardiometabolic Health. Journal of the American College of Cardiology", Journal of the American College of Cardiology, October 03, 2015, © Elsevier B.V.
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To Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease, Increase Consumption Of Fruits, Veggies, Fiber

October 1, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are known to reduce the risk of inflammatory disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. SCFAs are produced by bacteria in the gut by fermenting insoluble dietary plant fiber. Which foods best promote SCFA production? For this study, Italian researchers collected a week's worth of daily diet information from 153 adults. They were equally divided into omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. After analyzing gut bacteria and metabolites from stool and urine samples, the researchers found that the highest levels of SCFAs were found in vegans, vegetarians, and those who regularly followed a Mediterranean diet. But no matter what dietary pattern was followed, high levels of SCFAs were strongly linked to regular consumption of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and fiber.
Francesca De Filippis et al., "High-level adherence to a Mediterranean diet beneficially impacts the gut microbiota and associated metabolome. ", Gut, October 01, 2015, © BMJ Publishing Group Ltd & British Society of Gastroenterology
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For Long-Term Weight Control, Avoid Starchy Vegetables

September 29, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
New data from a study by U.S. researchers show that some vegetables are not as good for dieters as others. Nutritionists have long advocated increased consumption of fruits and vegetables as a way to keep weight under control. The new study, however, finds that starchy vegetables, while certainly healthful, are less likely to help in weight loss and actually contributed to weight gain. Researchers analyzed data collected from national survey questionnaires submitted by 133,468 American adults over 24 years. Starchy vegetables like peas and corn were associated with long-term weight gain, while fruits and non-starchy vegetables were associated with weight loss.
Monica L. Bertoia et al., "Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies. ", PLOS Medicine, September 29, 2015, © Bertoia et al.
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Activating Nerve Cells In Fat Shrinks Fat Cells

September 24, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
The hormone leptin, which is produced by fat cells, tells the brain how much fat is available in the body. The hormone controls weight in the body by regulating food intake and metabolism. But no one knew how the brain signals the fat tissue to begin breaking down. Now Portuguese and U.S. scientists have determined in a mouse study that fat cells have their own nerve circuits, and these can be stimulated. They used a technique called optogenetics to locally activate the sympathetic neurons in fat. They saw fat cells break down and fat tissue shrink. The findings provide some hope that central leptin resistance – in which the brains of obese people do not react to leptin’s signals – can be treated.
Wenwen Zeng et al., "Sympathetic Neuro-adipose Connections Mediate Leptin-Driven Lipolysis", Cell, September 24, 2015, © Elsevier Inc.
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Company’s Scientists Find That Its Weight Loss Program Works Well

September 22, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A study conducted by scientists at weight loss company Medifast found the 4 & 2 & 1 Plan used at Medifast Weight Control Centers was effective for weight loss after 12 weeks. The scientists looked at the records of 310 customers, finding that the average weight loss was 24 pounds. The plan was also effective at preserving lean muscle mass and improving cardiometabolic risk factors. Customers – men, women, and younger and older adults – who stuck with the plan for 24 weeks lost an average of 35 pounds. More than 75 percent of active 12-week customers lost at least five percent body weight and more than 85 percent of 24-week customers lost five percent or more.
Christopher D. Coleman et al., "Effectiveness of a Medifast meal replacement program on weight, body composition and cardiometabolic risk factors in overweight and obese adults: a multicenter systematic retrospective chart review study", Nutrition Journal, September 22, 2015, © BioMed Central Ltd
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Older Men, But Not Women, Benefit From High Intensity Exercise

September 20, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Danish researchers report that high-intensity training (HIT) benefits older males but not older females. They monitored men and women age 62 and older who participated in an exercise regimen three times a week to see if their maximum muscle oxygen consumption (VO2max) would increase along with their mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) capacity. Each session included five one-minute bursts of HIT activity. The men increased their VO2max and OXPHOS in the muscle and reduced their body fat percentage after six weeks. But no changes were observed in females. The researchers said more study is needed to determine why there was such a big difference in outcomes between the sexes.
"High intensity training delivers results for older men, but not for older women", News release, study reported at APS Conference, September 20, 2015, © The American Physiological Society
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Changing Composition Of Gut Bacteria Offers Major Health Benefits

September 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Pasta enriched with indigestible fiber known as beta-glucan – found naturally in oats and barley – increases beneficial bacteria in the gut, reduces non-beneficial bacteria, and significantly lowers bad cholesterol in the blood, according to a new Italian study.  Researchers tested blood and fecal samples at the beginning and end of the two-month study. There was a notable increase in beneficial Lactobacilli, and a reduction in Enterobacteriaceae, and other non-beneficial bacteria. In addition, the average low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol fell from 107.4 to 93.8 mg/dl.
Loreto Gesualdo et al. , "The role of whole-grain barley on human fecal microbiota and metabolome. ", Applied and Environmental Microbiology, September 18, 2015, © American Society for Microbiology
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Causes Of Early Death Have Changed Globally Since 1980s

September 18, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Prior to the 1990s, the leading causes of death globally were child and maternal malnutrition, unsafe water, sanitation, and lack of handwashing. But a new study finds a whole slew of new culprits. The study, conducted by an international team of researchers led by the Universities of Washington and Melbourne, looked at 79 risk factors for death in 188 countries between 1990 and 2013. The top death risk factors include: high body mass index (Middle East, Latin America); household air pollution, unsafe water (South and Southeast Asia); alcohol (Russia); smoking (high-income countries, the U.K.); childhood malnutrition, unsafe water and lack of sanitation, unsafe sex, alcohol use (sub-Saharan Africa); high blood pressure (Australia) and HIV/AIDS (South Africa).
Christopher J. Murray et al. , "Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 79 behavioral, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks in 188 countries, 1990–2013", The Lancet, September 18, 2015, © The Lancet / Elsevier Ltd
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Possible Treatments Developed For Nerve-Based Conditions Like Epilepsy

September 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Swedish researchers who analyzed 71 different resin acids from conifer trees found 12 that might be developed into medicines that might be used to treat the overly high excitability levels of nerve or cardiac cells. Overly-excited nerve cells are the root cause of conditions like epilepsy, cardiac arrhythmia and chronic pain. The resin acid substances the researchers found act on potassium channels in nerve cells, where they keep cell transport pores open via an electrostatic mechanism and prevent harmful nerve activity.
Nina E Ottosson et al., "Resin-acid derivatives as potent electrostatic openers of voltage-gated K channels and suppressors of neuronal excitability. ", Scientific Reports, September 17, 2015, © Nature Publishing Group
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Vitamin C Works Like Exercise In Obese People

September 17, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
Vitamin C supplements seem to provide the same cardiovascular benefits as regular exercise in overweight and obese adults. The key problem is the increased activity of a small blood vessel-constricting protein called endothelin (ET-1) in overweight people, making them more prone to vascular diseases. Exercise reduces ET-1 activity, but more than half of overweight people never exercise. The U.S. researchers found that taking 500 mg of time-released vitamin C daily reduced ET-1-related vessel constriction as much as walking did.
"Vitamin C an exercise replacement?", News release, research presented at an American Physiological Society meeting, September 17, 2015, © American Physiological Society
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Kids Will Eat Healthier Lunches At School If Given More Time

September 16, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
School kids who have more time to eat lunch tend to eat healthier, a U.S. study finds. Data for the study were collected on six random days during the 2011 to 2012 school year as part a large controlled trial. When kids had less than 20 minutes in the cafeteria to eat lunch, they were much less likely to select a fruit. Peers who had at least 25 minutes were much more likely to eat a fruit (44 percent vs. 57 percent, respectively). Children with less than 20 minutes to eat lunch consumed 13 percent fewer entrees, 10 percent less milk, and 12 percent fewer veggies compared to students who had at least 25 minutes.
Juliana F.W. Cohen et al., "Amount of Time to Eat Lunch Is Associated with Children’s Selection and Consumption of School Meal Entrée, Fruits, Vegetables, and Milk. ", Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, September 16, 2015, © Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
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Healthy Ancient Grain Phenomenon Keeps Growing

September 16, 2015: 12:00 AM EST
A market research report finds that one-fifth of American adults have purchased menu items or grocery foods containing whole grains, including whole wheat and brown rice, but also ancient grains, because they believe they are more healthful. Quinoa is the most popular of the ancient grains, appearing more frequently than others on restaurant menus and in new food product announcements. But more readily sourced and generally cheaper ancient grains, such as sorghum and barley, are increasingly replacing conventional oats, corn or rice in grain-based products. An advantage for producers is ability to claim gluten-free, non-GMO and vegan in products using ancient grains.
Judie Bizzozero, "19% of U.S. Adults Buy Ancient Grains for Health Reasons", Food Product Design, September 16, 2015, © Informa Exhibitions, LLC
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