12 January - 20 June 2016

Other headlines

  • Survey shows ‘five-a-day’ message not getting through
  • Plans to bake bread in space revealed
  • Pasta comes from animals according to UK School Children
  • Drinking coffee and herbal tea may protect the liver
  • Effects of eating white and wholemeal sourdough bread on glycaemic response and gut bacteria
  • Can an egg a day reduce chances of stunted growth?
  • Can a description of a wine influence the taste?
  • Moderate drinking may damage the brain - study
  • Greater awareness needed – lactose intolerance links to lower vitamin D levels
  • Could genetics or metabolic factors explain anorexia nervosa?
  • It’s a big myth… human sense of smell is not inferior to animals!
  • Common sweetener, erythritol maybe a marker of weight gain – study
  • Early menopause risk may be lowered by higher dietary vitamin D and calcium intake
  • Study estimates over 700 million people were obese in 2015

Survey shows ‘five-a-day’ message not getting through
A survey commissioned for the charity Diabetes UK has indicated that 66% of adults eat less than four portions of fruit and vegetables per day, nearly 50% don’t eat fruit on at least three days per week and 75% aren’t sure what a ‘portion’ is. On the back of the survey, Diabetes UK warned that 11.9 million people in the UK are at increased risk of developing the condition but states that around 60% of cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes. Head of Prevention at Diabetes UK, Helen Dickens, is quoted as saying that “Everybody knows they should be eating ‘five a day’ and yet this survey suggests that this message simply isn’t getting through”. Dickens added that “Healthy eating is equally important for people living with diabetes as well as preventing Type 2” Amongst other results, the survey found that around 30% of people add salt to food without tasting it and that while nearly 60% wanted to eat more vegetables, 23% said they were too expensive and 10% said they took too long to prepare. Reinforcing Dickens’ message, Clinical Advisor Emma Elvin is quoted as saying that “Simple lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, eating more fruit and vegetables and getting more exercise are an important part of managing all types of diabetes and can reduce the risk of serious of long term complications such as blindness, amputations and even early death”. Diabetes UK has launched a new campaign, “Food you love”, providing recipes to help people make small changes in diet. (Telegraph)

Plans to bake bread in space revealed
Amongst the challenges associated with space-flight missions is that of providing fresh food. On longer missions, it might not be practical for all food to be taken along and so growing and producing fresh food needs to be considered. Companies based in Bremen, Germany are collaborating with the German Aerospace Centre and others to develop processes and ovens to test baking fresh bread on the ISS as part of the ESA’s Horizon mission in April 2018. This goal presents many challenges including that any oven can only use 250 watts, around a tenth of the power typically used by ovens on earth, that the outside of the oven cannot exceed 45°C and that crumbs from bread floating around inside the ISS could be extremely dangerous. “Bake in Space” is working to try and produce a dough and a baking process that will make a palatable, crumb-free bread. OHB System AG are trying to develop a suitable oven for use in the ISS, as well as looking at ‘vacuum’ baking where low pressure is used to lower required baking temperatures. The project, presented at the recent UK Space Conference, will trial various techniques on the mission next year with the entire process controlled from earth. (New Scientist)

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable expertise in developing a wide range of food and drink products at a laboratory and pilot scale.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Pasta comes from animals according to UK School Children
Research conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation’s Annual Healthy Eating Week is reporting that 13% of 8-11 year old think that pasta comes from an animal, 18% of 5-7 year olds surveyed said that fish fingers were made of chicken and 10% of 11-14 years old didn’t know that carrots and potatoes grow underground. The survey involving 5000 school children, also found that 6% of 14-16 years old say that dairy cows produce eggs and 14% of 5-7 years thought that bacon is the produce of cows, sheep or chickens.  The children were also asked about the Government’s Eatwell Guide with 23% of 5-7 year old thinking that bananas, roast chicken, broccoli and wholegrain bread belong in the dairy group, and that bread, yogurt, chocolate and salmon belong in fruit and vegetable food group. Children were questioned on where they source information on healthy eating, with 54% of 11-14 years old saying they used the Internet, with this figure increasing to 64% for 14-16 year olds.  The second biggest source of information was schools, 51% for 14-16 years old, and 59% 11-14 years old.  BNF’s Managing Director, Roy Ballam is quoted in a press release as saying: “With no formal professional support provided to teachers centrally, schools and individual teachers take on the responsibility for interpreting and delivering the curriculum in their own way. This approach means that there is a risk of conflicting or misleading messaging being disseminated through schools across the UK. This, combined with the latest results of the survey showing that the Internet is one of the most popular sources of information for teenagers, means that it has never been more important for schools and teachers to be armed with the correct information so that children and young adults are able to decipher between fact and fake news.”

Drinking coffee and herbal tea may protect the liver
Drinking coffee and herbal tea may protect hardening of the liver, known as liver fibrosis, according to a study published in the Journal of Hepatology.  Murad et al. analysed data from 2424 participants aged 45 and over, who were involved in the Rotterdam study, a large population-based cohort. Using a Food frequency questionnaire, they analysed the participants’ food and drink consumption including detailed items about tea and coffee intake. Each participant also underwent a full physical check-up, which included anthropometric measurements such as body mass index (BMI), height, blood tests, and abdominal scans for analysing the liver. The participant were then divided into three groups based on their overall tea and coffee consumption: none, moderate (0-3 cups per day), and frequent (more than 3 cups per day).   Tea was categorised into herbal, green, or black tea. Using regression analysis Murad et al. found that frequent coffee consumption was significantly associated with lower risk of high liver stiffness and when they analysed for liver stiffness values, both frequent coffee and herbal tea consumption, even in small amounts, were associated with lower stiffness values.  The effect of coffee on lowering liver stiffness was significant in both those who had liver fat and those who didn’t.  The authors caution that more studies are needed to understand the mechanisms responsible for this association.

RSSL’s Functional Ingredients Laboratory can quantify caffeine in foods and beverages.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Effects of eating white and wholemeal sourdough bread on glycaemic response and gut bacteria
A small randomised cross-over trial involving 20 people and highly cited by the media, has investigated the effects of eating white bread and wholemeal sourdough bread on Gut microbiome, and glycaemic response.  The study, published in Cell Metabolism, recruited 20 healthy participants who were told to eat at least a certain amount of each bread per day for a week and consume no other wheat products.  After a two week break the participants changed to the other bread type.  During and after the study the researchers took blood tests and measured triglycerides, LDL and HDL cholesterol, levels of liver enzymes, iron, calcium, creatinine, urea, thyroid stimulating hormone and C-reactive protein. They also measured blood pressure, weight, metabolic rate, analysed stools for bacteria and measured glucose levels 15 minutes after waking up.  The scientists found no significant difference when the participants consumed white or wholemeal sourdough bread. Although they did find that in some people glycaemic response increased and in some people glycaemic response decreased after a week of eating white bread.  For the majority of the participants, gut bacteria was not affected by the type of bread consumed although the researchers found two types of bacteria were more common after people had eaten white bread for a week. The scientists conclude by discussing the importance of personalisation in dietary recommendation, however NHS choices state that “There are many reasons why you may choose wholemeal bread over white bread and results from a week-long study in 20 people aren’t going to change all of these.”

Can an egg a day reduce chances of stunted growth?
The media are reporting that an egg a day appears to help young children grow faster.  The headlines are based on a randomised controlled trial published in the journal Pediatrics.  The study involved 163 mothers or caregivers with a child ages 6-9 months who was in good health.  At baseline and at six months the babies were weighed and measured.  The children were split into two groups, one group consumed 1 egg per day for 6 months and the other group was the control.  The egg group children were visited weekly to monitor the health of the child.  No allergic reactions to the eggs were reported.  At the end of the study, the researchers discovered that the children given an egg daily were 47% less likely to be stunted at the end of the study and were 74% less likely to be overweight.  The children in egg group also consumed 29% less sweet food than the control. The researchers conclude by stating that “In our view eggs have the potential to be an affordable and environmentally sustainable high-quality food source in population at risk for both undernutrition and overweight and obesity.”

Can a description of a wine influence the taste?
According to University of Adelaide researchers the same wine appeared to taste better when given descriptive labelling.  The description was found to influence emotions, expectation and willingness to drink.  The researchers reporting in Food Research International used three popular Australian white wines.  One hundred and twenty six wine drinkers were asked to blind taste the wines with no information about them.  A week later the participants were told they would be trying six new wines, however they were actually the same wines they had tasted before.  This time three of the wines were given simple descriptions, and the other three wines more elaborate descriptions.  The researcher found that the “elaborate information level evoked higher expectations before tasting the wines, plus resulted in higher liking ratings and elicitation of more intense positive and less negative emotions.”

Moderate drinking may damage the brain – study
A study by researchers from the University of Oxford and University College London and published in the British Medical Journal has suggested that moderate drinking may damage the brain.  The researchers followed 550 participants over 30 years and examined their weekly alcohol consumption and cognitive performance over time.  On completion of the study the brains of the participants were scanned and the researchers looked at grey matter density, hippocampal atrophy and white matter.  The participants were divided into different groups based on their alcohol consumption: abstinent (less than one unit of alcohol a week), light drinking (between one and less than seven units), moderate drinking (7 to less than 14 units a week for women and 7 to less than 21 units for men) and unsafe drinking (21 united a week for men and 14 units for women). Cognitive function was assessed using a number of tests including semantic fluency, trail making test, Hopkins verbal learning test, and digit substitution test. Overall moderate drinkers were found to have three times higher risk of hippocampal atrophy compared with abstainers.  In lighter drinkers there was no difference in brain structure compared with those who didn’t drink alcohol.  Higher alcohol consumption showed a faster decline in lexical fluency.  The researchers concluded by stating that “the finding that alcohol consumption in moderate quantities is associated with multiple markers of abnormal brain structure and cognitive functions has important potential public health implication for a large sector of the population.”

Greater awareness needed – lactose intolerance links to lower vitamin D levels
Scientists from the University of Toronto are reporting in the Journal of Nutrition that people genetically intolerant to lactose, the main sugar found in dairy, have lower blood levels of vitamin D than the general population. The scientists analysed blood samples from 1,495 Canadian men and women from different ethnicities.  They found that participants with just one – instead of two copies – of a variant gene associated with lactose intolerance, had lower levels of vitamin D.  These people consumed lower amount of dairy products particularly skimmed milk, which are often fortified with vitamin D, than those without the variant.  The author of the study Ahmed El-Sohemy states “We were not surprised that lactose intolerant people ate less dairy, but we were surprised that they did not compensate by supplementing or eating other foods fortified with this crucial nutrient.”  The scientists suggest that their findings indicate a need for a greater awareness for those who limit dairy, and report that lactose intolerant individuals need to get vitamin D from other fortified food, or consider trying lactose-free dairy products. 

RSSL provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets, including the analysis for Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.  It provides a full vitamin and mineral analysis service to assist with labelling, due diligence, claim substantiation and stability. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Could genetics or metabolic factors explain anorexia nervosa?
Researchers from Kings College London, and the University of North Carolina, have found after studying DNA from 3495 individuals with anorexia nervosa and 10,982 unaffected individuals that genetic variations are significantly more frequent in people with this disorder compared to unaffected people.  The scientists, reporting in the American Journal of Psychiatry, “identified one genome-wide significant locus for anorexia nervosa on chromosome 12, in a region previously shown to be associated with type 1 diabetes and autoimmune disorders.” The team also found “strong genetic correlations with various metabolic features including body composition (BMI) and insulin-glucose metabolism.”  The researchers are continuing to increase sample sizes and note that they see this as the beginning of genomic discovery in anorexia nervosa.

It’s a big myth… human sense of smell is not inferior to animals!
A neuroscientist from Rutgers University-New Brunswick has been studying the human olfactory system, or sense of smell, for 14 years and has revealed in a recent paper in Science that human sense of smell is just as good as in other mammals, like rodents and dogs.  McGann, reports that humans can discriminate maybe one trillion different odours.  “Folk wisdom and poorly sourced introductory psychology textbooks,” he states, have previously insisted that humans could only detect about 10,000 different odours.  McGann states “although the human olfactory system has turned out to have some biological differences from that of other mammalian species, it is generally similar in its neurobiology and sensory capabilities. The human olfactory system has fewer functional olfactory receptor genes than rodents, for instance, but the human brain has more complex olfactory bulbs and orbitofrontal cortices with which to interpret information from the roughly 400 receptor types that are expressed. The olfactory bulb is proportionately smaller in humans than in rodents, but is comparable in the number of neurons it contains and is actually much larger in absolute terms”. McGann notes that we are more sensitive than dogs and rodents to some odours, and suggest that there is no support for the notion that a larger olfactory bulb increases sense of smell. 

Common sweetener, erythritol maybe a marker of weight gain – study
According to researchers from Cornell University and the University of Luxembourg, the sugar alcohol erythritol, that naturally occurs in foods such as pears and watermelon but also used as a sugar replacement sweetener, maybe associated with an increase in fat mass.  The study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, discovered that young student adults who gained weight and abdominal fat over the course of the year had fifteen-fold higher blood erythritol at the beginning of the year compared with their counterparts who were stable or lost weight and fat mass over the academic year. The scientists’ report that compared to previous assumptions and research they found that erythritol can be metabolised by, and even produced in, the human body.  They note that "With the finding of a previously unrecognized metabolism of glucose to erythritol and given the erythritol-weight gain association, further research is needed to understand whether and how this pathway contributes to weight-gain risk."

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Early menopause risk may be lowered by higher dietary vitamin D and calcium intake.
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Massachusetts and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that higher levels of vitamin D and calcium from diet may lower the risk of an early menopause. Early menopause is defined as the cessation of ovarian function before the age of 45 and is thought to affect 1 in 10 women. It is also associated with a higher risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. The study used data from the Nurses' Health Study II. This involved over 116,00 female US nurses who completed a questionnaire in 1989 and were followed up with lifestyle, medical and diet assessments over a 20-year period. Purdue-Smithe et al. examined vitamin D and calcium intake from food and the incidence of early menopause and found that those in the highest quintile of vitamin D consumption has a significant 17% lower risk of early menopause than those in the lowest quintile. For calcium, those in the highest quintile showed a “borderline significantly lower risk of early menopause” than those in the lowest consumption quintile. Purdue-Smithe et al additionally found that associations were stronger for vitamin D and calcium from dairy sources and that “high supplement use was not associated with lower risk”. The researchers were concerned that higher vitamin D and calcium intake from foods might just be pointers towards better overall nutrition and so other potentially confounding factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking stats and BMI were taken in to account. Purdue-Smithe however is quoted as saying that “The large size of this study allowed us to consider a variety of potential correlates of a healthy lifestyle that might explain our findings; however, adjusting for these factors made almost no difference in our estimates”. (MedicalXpress)

RSSL provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets, including the analysis for Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.  It provides a full vitamin and mineral analysis service to assist with labelling, due diligence, claim substantiation and stability. For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

Study estimates over 700 million people were obese in 2015
According to a study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, conducted by researchers from the University of Washington and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, over 603 million adult and 107 million children worldwide were obese in 2015. The study analysed 1800 sets of data from 195 countries and found that in 2015, high BMI had a hand in 4 million deaths worldwide with around 40% of these in overweight rather than obese people. More than 66% of these deaths were cardiovascular disease related. The data also showed that between 180 and 2015 while obesity rates continuously increased in most countries, in 72 countries, including Turkey and Venezuela, they doubled over this time. The study notes that while “prevalence of obesity among children has been lower than that among adults”, in many countries, the rate of increase of childhood obesity outstrips that for adults. The US showed an increase in childhood obesity from 5% in 1980 to 12.5% in 2015. The US also had the largest overall percentage increase up 16% to 26.5% of the population being obese. Lead author, Dr Ashkan Afshin is quoted as saying that “Most of the obese people are dying because of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.” Afshin noted that in the US and other developed nations that has been mitigated by using drugs but Afshin added that “we cannot have all people on drugs.  Ideally, we want to go to the root causes and address the problem of overeating.” (New York Times)

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