12 January - 20 June 2016

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  • Consuming a fibre-rich diet may be good for bone health
  • Active constituent of black pepper found to have anti-obesity properties
  • All plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030
  • PHE launch Change4Life campaign promoting healthier snacks
  • Mediterranean diet may help protect against frailty
  • Processed meat but not red meat consumption may be associated with higher risk of breast cancer
  • Can taking folic acid and multivitamins reduce a child’s risk of developing autism?
  • Iceland supermarket to replace plastic packaging on all its own label products
  • Gluten free foods are more expensive and less healthier than regular foods
  • Does taking calcium and vitamin D help to protect bones?

Consuming a fibre-rich diet may be good for bone health
Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have revealed that a fibre rich diet can have a positive effect on chronic inflammatory joint diseases. The researchers reporting in Nature Communication were able to show that a healthy diet rich in fibre is capable of changing intestinal bacteria in such a way that more short-chained fatty acids (SCFAs), in particular propionate, are formed. They note that it is not the intestinal bacteria themselves, but rather their metabolites which affect the immune system and therefore have a knock-on effect on autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.   A higher concentration of SCFAs in bone marrow were found to cause a reduction in the number of bone-degrading cells, slowing bone degradation down considerably. Treatment of mice with SCFA as well as feeding them a high fibre diet was found to increase bone mass, and prevent inflammation-induced bone loss. (Science Daily)

Active constituent of black pepper found to have anti-obesity properties
A rat study published in Nutrition and Metabolism is reporting that that black pepper or Piper nigrum has anti-obesity properties.  The scientists fed rats a high fat diet for 22 weeks.  At 16 weeks the rat’s diet was supplemented with piperonal, an active constituent of Piper nigrum seeds.  Whilst the high fat diet was found to increase body weight, fat percentage, tissue lipids profiles as well as increase blood levels of insulin, insulin resistance and leptin amongst others, a high fat diet supplemented with piperonl (20, 30 and 40 mg/kg b.wt) for 42 days attenuated HFD changes in a dose dependent manner. The supplemented rats were found to have lower body fat percentage and body weight as well as having lower blood sugar levels and stronger bones compared to rats fed only the high fat diet.  The maximum therapeutic activity was seen at 40 mg/kg b.wt. The team report that piperonal seem to modulate genes associated with adipogenesis and lipid metabolism

All plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030
The European Commission has adopted a Europe-wide strategy on plastics. Under the new plans, all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastic will be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics will be restricted. The goal is to protect the environment whilst at the same time lay foundations to a new plastic economy, where the design and production fully respect reuse, repair and recycling needs and more sustainable materials are developed.

PHE launch Change4Life campaign promoting healthier snacks
Public Health England (PHE) have launched a Change4life campaign, that focuses on snacking and encourages parent to 'look for 100-calorie snacks, two a day max' to cut children’s sugar intake. It notes in a press release that “each year children are consuming almost 400 biscuits; more than 120 cakes, buns and pastries; around 100 portions of sweets; nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams; washed down with over 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink.”  It reports that children are consuming over 3 unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, resulting in consuming 3 times more sugar than is recommended.   PHE are offering money off vouchers to encourage parents to try alternative snack options. 

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Mediterranean diet may help protect against frailty
A meta-analysis of studies related to the Mediterranean diet conducted by researchers from University College London and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society indicates that following such a diet may help lower the risk of frailty in older adults. Older adults classified as frail often have low energy levels, lose weight and have weak muscles. This leads to them being more likely to suffer from falls, broken bones, disability, dementia, and premature death. Walters et al. included studies which looked at the levels of adherence to a Mediterranean diet and the development of frailty in the elderly. The meta-analysis includes over 5500 individuals across four studies from France, Italy, Spain and China. The researchers found that keeping to a Mediterranean diet may help maintain muscle strength, weight, and improve energy and activity levels. Dr Kate Walters is quoted as saying that “We found the evidence was very consistent that older people who follow a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of becoming frail. People who followed a Mediterranean diet the most were overall less than half as likely to become frail over a nearly four-year period compared with those who followed it the least”. Walters noted however that it was unclear whether this was the Mediterranean diet itself or other characteristics of the individuals following this that had the effect. Walters added that “While the studies we included adjusted for many of the major factors that could be associated -- for example, their age, gender, social class, smoking, alcohol, how much they exercised, and how many health conditions they had -- there may be other factors that were not measured and we could not account for. We now need large studies that look at whether increasing how much you follow a Mediterranean diet will reduce your risk of becoming frail”. (Science Daily)

Gluten free foods are more expensive and less healthier than regular foods
A study by researchers from the University of Hertfordshire and published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics has found, after comparing more than 1700 food products, that gluten free foods are not healthier than regular foods and are much more expensive. They found that gluten free foods often contain more fat, salt and sugar than their gluten containing equivalents.  For example gluten free brown and white bread contain more than double total fat content to regular products, and also was over four times the price of the regular equivalent. In general gluten free foods were 159% more expensive than their regular food equivalent.  A gluten free diet is the only treatment option for individuals with coeliac disease.  The researchers analysed gluten free foods from Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrison and Asda and the online food retailer Ocado from 10 food categories (brown bread, white bread, white flour, wholegrain flour, breakfast cereals, wholegrain pasta, regular pasta, pizza bases, crackers and biscuits).

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Processed meat but not red meat consumption may be associated with higher risk of breast cancer
After analysing data from the UK Biobank cohort study, researchers are reporting in the European Journal of Cancer, that those who consumed processed meat were at a higher risk of breast cancer.  Pell et al. report that this finding was independent of sociodemographic, lifestyle, obesity and dietary factors.  The study states “Over a median of 7 years follow-up, 4819 of the 262,195 women developed breast cancer. The risk was increased in the highest tertile (>9 g/day) of processed meat consumption.”  The scientist included the results from this study in a meta-analysis of 10 prospective cohort studies that found that processed meat consumption was associated with overall and post-menopausal, but not pre-menopausal, breast cancer.  Findings from both the UK Biobank and meta-analysis, indicate that red meat consumption was not associated with breast cancer.

Can taking folic acid and multivitamins reduce a child’s risk of developing autism?
According a study of just over 45000 Israeli children, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, taking folic acid and multivitamins during pregnancy could reduce a child’s risk of autism.  Levine et al. analysed data from children born in Israel between 2003 and 2007 and followed them until 2015.  Using prescription data, the authors noted whether a mother had been prescribed folic acid or multivitamin supplement either prior to or during pregnancy.  Those who took the supplement before pregnancy were 61% less likely to have an autistic child compared to those who didn’t take supplements.  Those who took supplements during pregnancy were found to have a 73% reduced risk of a having a child diagnosed with autism.  However only 1.3% children in the study received an autistic diagnosis.  The scientists note the importance of folic acid in foetal neural development but report that they are not sure how the protective effect of multivitamins might work.  The scientists do note that a major limitation of the study is that whilst prescription records show the women were given the supplement it doesn’t necessarily mean they took them, and some may have taken them without a prescription.

RSSL's provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets.  To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

Iceland supermarket to replace plastic packaging on all its own label products
Iceland supermarket is to become the first UK supermarket to remove plastic packaging from all its own label products.  The initiative will be completed within five years, and will affect 1400 product lines.  Changes will involve over 250 suppliers.  The Daily Mail report that the first items to be replaced will be plastic ready meal trays. These will be replaced with wood-pulp alternatives, although initially these will be coated with a thin layer of plastic, which will eventually be replaced with a water-based non-plastic spray coating. Paper bags will be used to replace plastic bags used for frozen vegetables and other foods.  It is noted that the company is already investigating alternatives for plastic bottles and milk cartons. 

Does taking calcium and vitamin D help to protect bones?
It has always been thought that taking calcium and vitamin D together could help prevent bone fractures.  However researchers are reporting, after carrying out a literature reviews, that there is no clear link and no sign that the supplements are helpful.  Zhao et al. analysed data from 51145 people included in studies investigating the role of calcium and or vitamin D in prevent bone fractures.  The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included 14 trials which examined calcium supplements against either a placebo, or no treatment, and risk of suffering a hip fracture, and 17 trials which examined the role of vitamin D, supplement use, hip fracture risk and spinal issues and 13 trials involving people who took a combined calcium-vitamin D supplement.  The authors conclude by stating that calcium and vitamin D supplementation may be useful for those living in nursing homes, due to a combination of poor diet, and less sun exposure.  However for older adults living on their own they state “These findings do not support the routine use of these supplements.”

RSSL's provides vitamin analysis in a wide range of matrices including drinks, fortified foods, pre-mixes and multi-vitamin tablets.  To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

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