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Diet News 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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June 15, 2017, to July 15, 2017

Vegetarian Diet And Exercise Reduce Fat In Thighs

Researchers in the Czech Republic have determined that a vegetarian diet combined with exercise are more effective than a calorie-reduction diet at reducing subfascial fat in the thighs, a significant contributor to type 2 diabetes. Both subfascial and intramuscular fat are markers of insulin resistance in obesity. The study, conducted among 74 people with type 2 diabetes, found an association between changes in total leg area and subcutaneous fat and subfascial fat on the one hand, and markers of glucose and lipid metabolism on the other hand. Further research is needed to determine how different dietary interventions might affect fat in thighs.

Study Warns That Too Much Vitamin D Can Be Harmful

Vitamin D supplements are beneficial for bone health, but a new study that analyzed data on more than 39,000 adults finds that Americans may be overdoing it. The number of U.S. adults taking daily vitamin D supplements between 1999 and 2014 increased by more than 17 percent, with three percent of the population exceeding the recommended upper dosage limit. Too much vitamin D poses a risk of adverse effects, including abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood and soft tissue, leading to vascular calcification. The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 IU/d for adults 70 years or younger and 800 IU/d for those older than 70 years.

Olive Oil Protects Memory, Learning Ability

U.S. and Italian researchers have determined in an animal study that extra virgin olive oil, a major component of the Mediterranean diet, protects memory and learning ability and reduces the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy, the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins. The researchers now plan to see whether olive oil added to the diet after the onset of brain disease will stop or reverse it.

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May 15, 2017, to June 15, 2017

Juice Maker Creates Profit From Waste

The problem for the high-pressure processed juice maker was, What to do with all that leftover pulp? The Forager Project came up with a profitable solution that also helps reduce food waste. Instead of dumping the pulp by-product, also known as pomace, into a landfill, it found a way to press it into different kinds of vegetable-based snack chips. It was a departure – actually quite a leap – for the juice company, but it has worked. It produces three chip varieties (greens, beets and roots). The most-popular green variety will soon be offered in three flavors: chipotle barbecue, (vegan) cheesy and wasabi.

Study Adds To Evidence Of Health Benefits Of Vegetable-Rich Diet

Spanish scientists who analyzed long-term questionnaire data from more than 16,000 study participants found that those following a vegetarian style diet reduced their risk of obesity by half compared to those whose diet was rich in meat and animal fat. The researchers concluded that a “pro-vegetarian” diet tends to shield its adherents from cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The researchers acknowledged, however, that their study was observational and, while it supports current recommendations regarding plant-based diets, does not confirm a cause-and-effect relationship.

High-Protein, Natural Ingredient Spheroid Snacks Available In U.K.

A British company has launched a new natural food brand – Boostball – that features six high-protein spheroidal snacks made with only seven natural ingredients. The snacks are rich in fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, B, E, B12, calcium, iron and zinc. They are made with raw, cold-pressed ingredients such as natural sugars found in fruits and plants, and produced without baking or refining. The product range includes two vegan varieties.

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April 01, 2017, to May 15, 2017

Starbucks Unveils Gluten-Free Menu Items

One of the more fascinating phenomena in the food industry in recent years has been the transformation of gluten into a dirty word. A tiny fraction of Americans with celiac disease, a severe intestinal allergic reaction to gluten, needs to avoid the wheat protein. But a whole anti-gluten movement – and a multibillion-dollar industry – has arisen to accommodate people convinced that gluten is generally unhealthful. Researcher Technavio says the gluten-free food market is expected to grow at an annual rate of roughly 12 percent through 2021, Tecnomics advises food companies to go along: "if you're not speaking their language, you risk losing [them]." The latest company to “speak their language” is Starbucks, which is launching gluten-free food options – like the gluten-free smoked Canadian bacon and egg sandwich – in U.S. stores.  

Starbucks Tests Vegan-Friendly, High-Protein Lunch Menu In The Windy City

One hundred Starbucks stores in Chicago are testing the new Mercato lunch menu targeted at diners looking for a vegetarian, protein-based lunch. The new menu items include salads, sandwiches, yogurt and fruit. Salad options, available at $8 or $9, include za'atar (Mediterranean spice blend) chicken and lemon tahini, green goddess avocado, seared steak and mango, and turkey and fire-roasted corn. Sandwiches ($5 to $8) include a Cuban, a burrata and basil pesto, and an almond butter with strawberries and jam. If the new lunch items are successful, the menu will roll out nationally.

Protein-Rich Diet Contributes To Fatty Liver Disease In Obese People

About a billion people globally have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition most commonly associated with obesity. U.S. researchers who conducted a large epidemiological study found that an animal protein-rich diet is associated with a high risk of NAFLD, and that consumption of fructose may not be as harmful as previously supposed. NAFLD can lead to permanent scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver, cancer and liver malfunction. Sometimes the only solution is a transplant. The researchers said their findings jibed with other research indicating that a Western-style diet rich in animal proteins and refined foods may damage homeostasis and glucose metabolism. They also said their studydid not find a harmful association of fructose with NAFLD.

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March 01, 2017, to April 01, 2017

Study Demonstrates How Fasting-Mimicking Diet Suppresses Diabetes

U.S. researchers have developed a diet food available commercially that imitates the effects of fasting and appears to reverse diabetes. Earlier studies have shown that periodic cycles of fasting reprogram pancreatic cells and restore insulin production. The new study in mice shows that a fasting-like diet (using a food product called L-Nutra) promotes the growth of insulin-producing pancreatic cells. The researchers placed diabetes-model mice on the L-Nutra diet for four days each week. The diet switched on genes that spur production of a protein (neurogenin-3) that, in turn, generated healthy, insulin-producing beta cells. The mice regained healthy insulin production, reduced insulin resistance and demonstrated more stable levels of blood glucose. The researchers look forward to a clinical trial of L-Nutra among diabetics.

EC Urges Schools In Member States To Help Curb Rising Childhood Obesity Rates

The EurActive media network reports that the European Commission, responding to an alarming increase in childhood obesity rates, is calling on member states to take action in the procurement of healthy food for schools. The EC advises its members to focus on improving student eating behaviors in schools, where children eat at least one main meal a day. Better access to healthy food in schools would lead to development of better childhood dietary habits, lower rates of childhood obesity, and better school attendance and performance, the EC said.

Company Launches Crisp Ingredient That Is 60 Percent Pea Protein

Food ingredients supplier PGP International has launched a snackcrisp that is 60 percent pea protein. The new crisp is targeted at food manufacturers developing snacks and other foods that will meet consumer demand for protein and clean foods. The company says the new chip can be incorporated into cereals, snack bars, energy foods and confectionery. The company uses an advanced extrusion technology that ensures the chips contain high levels of protein but are free from hexane, a neurotoxic petrochemical solvent. The chips are gluten free, vegan, kosher, easily digested, and hypoallergenic for those intolerant to animal-based proteins or soy.

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February 15, 2017, to March 01, 2017

Restaurants React To Demand For Gluten-Free Menus

The demand for gluten-free foods continues to rise in the restaurant sector and, in fact, is spreading to segments like quick-service sandwich and other fast casual eateries. Demand is driven by the increase in the number of people diagnosed with gluten-related disorders. It is expected that gluten-free menu items among U.S. restaurants will double over the next three years to $24 billion, up from $1 billion in 2006 and $11.6 billion in 2015. Also of note: the gluten-free trend has spawned some interesting innovation, for example, the growth of rice and potato flour producers. Smart Flour Foods has used food history to find and produce food sources for gluten-free doughs sing ancient grains, such as teff. 

Government Food Consumption Report Shows Shifting Patterns Since The ‘70s

A new USDA report based on U.S. food availability data (adjusted for food loss) shows that Americans are eating more of the major food groups today than in the 1970s. But within that broad conclusion are some interesting shifts and new patterns. The avocado supply, for example, is up by a whopping 1,342 percent and the lime supply is up 1,654 percent. How about a margarita with your guacamole? Mango consumption is up 3,200 percent, but grapefruit, oranges, peaches, and plums are down. (Apples, melons, and bananas are constant.) Broccoli and mushrooms are way up, though potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce are constant. Lastly, people are eating more fat, but less animal fat (lard and butter). Salad and cooking oils like canola and olive are up 248 percent.

Clean Label Frozen Treats May Lead To Sales Growth

The food industry has gotten the message from consumers that sugary, nutrition-free and calorie-packed ice cream is no longer acceptable They are now making healthier, “yet still decadent,” frozen treats, says researcher Packaged Facts. Today there are a growing number of ice creams and frozen desserts that eschew soy, gluten, artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, and genetically modified ingredients, not to mention much less fat and sugar. Some of the new products are organic. Consumers are apparently pleased with the results. Ice cream and other frozen treats are a mature market – 85 percent of households buy ice cream routinely. Sales have been steady in recent years. But Packaged Facts says the new attention being paid to clean label frozen desserts could spark a revival of sales growth. 

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February 01, 2017, to February 15, 2017

Body’s “Natural Cannabis” System May Be Why Western Diet Leads To Obesity

Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Scientists have long known it was mainly because their Western diet is rich in sugar and fat. Now new U.S. research shows that a Western diet leads to overeating and obesity because of elevated "peripheral endocannabinoid signaling." The endocannabinoid system – a sort of “natural cannabis” consisting of lipid signaling molecules called endocannabinoids – is found in the brain and all peripheral organs. It helps control food intake, energy balance, and reward. Endocannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors on body cells. The researchers believe that targeting cannabinoid receptors with pharmacological inhibitors could be a safe way to treat overeating and diet-induced obesity, 

Saving Time Is Not The Only Reason Parents Buy Frozen Meals

Prepackaged, processed frozen meals are popular among parents, despite the fact that they are high in calories, sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. A U.S. study has found that the main reason for their popularity is that they save time for busy moms and dads: 57 percent indicated that in a survey. But that wasn’t the only reason. Forty-nine percent of parents surveyed said they bought the frozen meals because their families liked them. One-third chose them because children could help prepare them, and 27 percent liked the cost savings. The findings, however, raise some concerns among nutritionists. Cooking frozen packaged meals means choosing fewer fruits and vegetables and fewer nutritious foods generally. It also means people are not developing cooking and meal-planning skills. 

Foods Rich In Resistant Starch Offer Several Health Benefits

Resistant starch, found in bananas, potatoes, grains, and legumes, is not digested in the small intestine and is therefore considered a form of dietary fiber. Over the last decade, resistant starch has been the subject of numerous studies showing it has a significant impact on post-meal blood sugar metabolism, satiety, and intestinal health. This new comprehensive review of these studies summarizes the effects of resistant starch consumption and looks at potential mechanisms of action that underpin them. One possible conclusion is that resistant starch foods may be particularly useful for managing diabetes. However, the British researchers found no evidence of an impact on other metabolic markers, such as blood pressure and blood lipids. 

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November 15, 2016, to February 01, 2017

Consumer Magazine Assesses Current Food And Drink Trends

Food and nutrition experts at Consumer Reports evaluated food trends and advised on which should become a part of a healthy diet and which can be ignored. A few dark chocolate chips, for example, added to oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast once or twice a week could boost memory and concentration. But consumers should avoid calorie-packed chocolate cake, cookies, and brownies for breakfast. Jackfruit’s texture is similar to shredded meat. As a meat alternative, it is low in sugar but also very low in protein, And the ”pulled-pork” sandwiches made with jackfruit come with sugary sauces. The magazine looked at other food and beverage trends, including: plant waters (maple, artichoke, cactus, and cucumber); riced cauliflower; alternative pastas (chickpeas, lentils, other legumes); savory yogurts; fermented foods, “ugly produce;” purple foods; and power bowls.

Look For A Revival Of French Cooking In 2017

Culinary textbook author Priscilla Martel predicts that French cuisine will gain in popularity in 2017. Calling it the “new golden age of French food,” Martel sees especially a resurgence of French bread and classic French pastries. Look for American versions of patisserie, including well-crafted viennoiserie, the formal name for croissants, Danish and other pastries made with buttery flaky dough.

Even Guys Are Getting Into Veganism

Food and restaurant industry observers have noticed an upsurge in the number of men eating vegan. For example, the lunch crowd at a Philadelphia eatery that offers vegan alternatives to fast-foods like burgers and chicken sandwiches is mostly guys in suits. Male food bloggers, cookbook authors, and food personalities praise nutritional yeast and beet pepperoni, signaling some kind of culture shift. Lastly, the journal Appetite in 2015 published a study whose participants said they did not associate veganism with low levels of masculinity. Veganism is, in short, becoming a mainstream diet option for all.

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November 01, 2016, to November 15, 2016

Supplement Makers Enter New Era Of Transparency, Nutritionally-Rich Ingredients

Consumers increasingly demand not only greater effectiveness from dietary supplements but also greater transparency. Supplement makers, in turn, are benefiting from advances in nutrition science and recent botanical discoveries that make it easier to respond to those demands. Innovations affecting the industry include, for example, whole-food supplements and green powders that support health and wellness, enhance energy or promise vitality. In terms of bioavailability of nutrients, new liposome (fat) “bubbles” make it easy to deliver high levels of nutrients while bypassing destructive gastric juices and liver enzymes. Lastly, forward-thinking supplement makers are paying greater attention to transparency: origin of ingredients, nutrients within them, non-nutritive fillers, and even the brand’s business practices.

New Company Offers Personalized Nutrition Plans

An entrepreneur who was warned by a doctor that he was in dangerously poor health is launching a company that will help customers get back on track with a personalized nutrition plan. The $299 plan includes a blood test – you have to draw your own blood at home and mail it in – then analysis of 60 biomarkers, including amino acids, vitamin levels, blood sugar, and some genetic variants. The genetic information suggests how you may respond to diet. A metabolic rate "challenge" involves drinking a special milkshake and sending in more blood to determine response to fats, carbs and sugars. Lastly, the company provides a 30-minute consultation with a registered dietitian who offers nutrition advice (but not disease diagnosis).

Dairy Proteins Decrease Risk Factors For Heart Disease

British researchers have determined in a clinical trial that whey protein supplements may have significant health benefits for regular people, not just bodybuilders. Participants in the study with mild hypertension drank two protein shakes a day for eight weeks. They decreased their risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as eight percent. They had lower blood pressure and cholesterol and healthier blood vessels. The study is good news for people who not only take whey protein supplements, but who eat or drink dairy foods rich in protein.

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September 15, 2016, to November 01, 2016

For A Healthier Diet, Eliminate Processed – Not Whole – Grains

People who try to eliminate all grains from their diet – many say it makes them feel better – are missing the point. Grains are in fact an excellent source of nutrients, but only when they are not highly processed. Whole grains retain B vitamins and fiber, minerals like selenium and copper, as well as carbohydrates and varying amounts of protein. Processed grains contain significantly lower amounts of these nutrients. Studies have shown that eating whole grains is associated with lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and death from all causes. But diets high in refined grains seem to increase the risk of these health problems.

New Weight Loss Training Technique Shows Significantly Better Results

A study by U.S. researchers as found that treating obesity through improved diet and greater exercise could be more effective if supplemented with an approach called
Acceptance-Based Behavioral Treatment (ABT). The approach trains people to create weight loss goals that link to personal values, like living a long and healthy life; helps dieters accept that losing weight involves discomfort and reduced pleasure (e.g., taking a walk instead of watching TV); and, lastly, teaches people about the “cues” in life that affect eating and exercising. Participants who received ABT along with standard behavioral training (SBT) lost 13.3 percent of their weight at one year, compared to 9.8 percent weight loss among those who received SBT only.

Ancient Grains Significantly Reduce Risk Factors For Heart Disease

Ancient grains have a major advantage over modern grain varieties: because they are not heavily refined, they retain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and contain more vitamins B and E, magnesium, iron and potassium. Confirming these benefits is an Italian study that proves breads made with ancient grains significantly reduce the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The randomized crossover trial involved 45 healthy adults (average age 50) who ate breads made from conventional flour and ancient grains in three separate 8-week sessions. Researchers found that ancient grains breads significantly reduced total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as well as levels of blood glucose.

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September 01, 2016, to September 15, 2016

Paleo Diet May Help Protect People From Heart Disease

A small U.S. study presented at a recent heart disease conference found that people who stuck to the Paleo diet of minimally processed foods for eight weeks showed signs of improvement in heart health. The eight participants in the study – there was no control group – experienced a 35 percent increase in levels of interlukin-10 (IL-10), a signaling molecule secreted by immune cells. Low levels of IL-10 predict increased heart attack risk in people who also have high levels of inflammation. High IL-10 levels may counteract inflammation, providing a protective effect for blood vessels. The increase in IL-10 could suggest a lower risk for cardiovascular disease after following the Paleo diet.

Gluten-Free Dieting Grows, But Incidence Of Celiac Disease Is Steady

Six years of health survey data collected from more than 22,000 people shows that celiac disease remains a problem, but not a growing one, contrary to some reports. The proportion of people diagnosed with the disease, characterized by an allergic reaction to the gluten protein found in wheat-based products, has stayed the same. But U.S. researchers noted that the number of non-celiac people following a gluten-free diet has grown. The numbers gleaned from the sample were extrapolated to the general population: about 1.76 million Americans have celiac disease; 2.7 million non-celiacs follow a gluten-free diet. This may be due to public perception that gluten-free may be healthier; that gluten-free products are increasingly available; or that some people self-diagnose a gluten sensitivity.

Enzymes Found In Saliva May Someday Treat Gluten Intolerance

U.S. researchers have determined that a novel class of gluten-degrading enzymes found in saliva may have the potential to treat celiac disease, a severe allergic reaction to the protein found in wheat-based products. The enzymes were isolated from Rothia bacteria, which are natural colonizers of the oral cavity. The enzymes (subtilisins) belong to the S8 family of peptidases. Food-grade Bacillus species also produce such subtilisins, and these were also able to break down gluten compounds that cause the immune response. The main course of treatment for people with celiac disease is adherence to a strict gluten-free diet.
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