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Period: October 1, 2013 to October 15, 2013
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

DNA Testing Finds Contamination Of Many Herbal Dietary Products

A study using DNA barcoding to analyze the plant species found in samples of herbal supplements found that 59 percent were contaminated with plant species not listed on product labels. Worse, more than two thirds of the products tested contained plant species that were substituted for the plants listed on label. A third of the products also contained other species that may be filler or simply contamination. The U.S. study also found in some products plant species that were toxic, had side effects or had negative interactions with other herbs, supplements, or medications. The researchers suggested that the herbal industry use molecular diagnostic tools such as DNA barcoding to authenticate herbal products by testing of raw materials.

" DNA barcoding detects contamination and substitution in North American herbal products", BMC Medicine, October 10, 2013

Forty Years Of National Nutrition Survey Data Are “Implausible” – Study

U.S. researchers have found that the measurement protocols used in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) have significant limitations, rendering the nutrition data collected via the survey flawed and “implausible”. The NHANES survey, conducted by the CDC and USDA, combines interviews of self-reported food and beverage consumption over 24 hours and physical examinations to assess the health and nutritional status of the U.S. population. The researchers said data collected in the survey from 1971 through 2009 are not “physiologically credible”, because the "calories in" and the "calories out" reported by the 63,000 adult men and women don't add up. In fact, it would be impossible to survive on most of the reported energy intakes. ”It is time to stop spending tens of millions of health research dollars collecting invalid data and find more accurate measures," the researchers concluded.

"Validity of U.S. Nutritional Surveillance: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Caloric Energy Intake Data, 1971–2010", PLoS ONE, October 09, 2013

High Polyphenol Consumption Linked To Longer Life

Italian and U.S. scientists have for the first time used a nutritional biomarker – not just questionnaire data –  to prove that consumption of polyphenols – basically a diet rich in fruits and vegetables – increases lifespan. Polyphenols are compounds found in fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, nuts, legumes and cereals. They have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. The 12-year study followed 807 men and women aged 65 and over, measuring a biomarker known as total urinary polyphenol (TUP) concentration. Results showed that a high TUP – more than 650 mg of polyphenols a day – was associated with a 30 percent reduction in mortality.

"High Concentrations of a Urinary Biomarker of Polyphenol Intake Are Associated with Decreased Mortality in Older Adults", Journal of Nutrition, October 09, 2013

Efforts To Cut Funding Of The Cost-Effective Federal SNAP Program Are Ill-Advised

U.S. pediatricians warn that efforts to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) targeted at low-income children and families are a wrongheaded way to deal with persistent budget and economic woes. In fact, doctors from the Boston Medical Center say, the SNAP program, once known as the Food Stamp Program, is one of the country’s most cost-effective and successful public health programs, “a vaccine against food insecurity and hunger” for young children at the most critical stage of development of body and brain. SNAP benefits for pregnant women are associated with decreased rates of low birth weight; for children, SNAP enhances intake of B vitamins, iron, and calcium; lowers the risk of anemia, obesity, poor health, developmental delays, etc.

"SNAP cuts will harm children in the USA", The Lancet, October 03, 2013

Resveratrol Is Still Actively Beneficial Even After It Has Been Metabolized

British researchers have found that resveratrol, a beneficial compound found in the skin of red grapes, is not neutralized once the body has converted it into other compounds. The chemical  has been shown to have several health benefits, such as fighting cancer, protecting the heart and circulatory system, lowering cholesterol, and protecting against deadly blood clots. But because it is metabolized very quickly, scientists had thought that levels dropped too quickly to make it usable in clinical trials. The new research shows that it can still be absorbed by cells after it has been metabolized into resveratrol sulfates.

"Sulfate Metabolites Provide an Intracellular Pool for Resveratrol Generation and Induce Autophagy with Senescence", Science Translational Medicine, October 02, 2013

Researchers Report On Beneficial Compounds In “Super Grain” Oats

Oats contain a wide variety of biologically active, nutritious compounds, including carotenoids, tocols (vitamin E), flavonoids and a type of polyphenol known as avenanthramides, ingredients that support its reputation as a complex “super grain”, according to researchers from the Quaker Oats Center of Excellence. There are more than 25 avenanthramides in oats that all behave differently. Compared to compounds in grains like wheat and rye, oats may be more bioavailable and possess more anti-inflammatory properties. Avenanthramides, which are unique to oats, are widely used in skincare products because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-itching effects. In addition, oats and oat products that meet the minimum FDA level of beta-glucan can make the health claim for cholesterol-lowering benefits.

"New Research Emerging Around Role for Phytonutrients in Oats", Nutrition Horizon, October 02, 2013

Restricting Fish Consumption By Mothers-To-Be Because Of Mercury Content May Be Misguided

Guidelines for pregnant women that discourage excessive fish consumption because of mercury contamination should get another look, British researchers reported. Their study analyzed 103 food and drink items consumed by nearly 4,500 expectant mothers. They found that the 103 items together accounted for less than 17 percent of total mercury levels in the body. They also found that herbal teas and alcohol, especially wine, were also associated with the highest mercury blood levels. The researchers concluded that limiting fish consumption during pregnancy probably doesn’t reduce mercury intake significantly. But fish is beneficial for the unborn child, because of iodine and omega 3 content.

"Dietary Predictors of Maternal Prenatal Blood Mercury Levels in the ALSPAC Birth Cohort Study", Environmental Health Perspectives, September 30, 2013

FDA Approval Of Whole Grain Health Claim For Type 2 Diabetes Is Hardly A Ringing Endorsement

The FDA has approved a petition from U.S. food makers for a qualified health claim linking whole grain food consumption with a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes, despite an analysis of scientific studies that revealed “very limited credible evidence” of such a link. Nevertheless, one of the petitioners, ConAgra Foods Inc., said it was “thrilled” by the FDA decision, noting that the agency “is confirming that whole grains … can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.” Actually, the decision means that foods containing whole grains may carry the following claim: “Whole grains may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, although the FDA has concluded that there is very limited scientific evidence for this claim.”

"ConAgra Foods – Maker of 100% Whole Grain Orville Redenbacher's Popcorn and Ultragrain Whole Wheat Flour – Applauds FDA Approval of Qualified Health Claim", News release, ConAgra Foods, September 24, 2013


Americans Think They Eat Nutritious Foods, But Actually Don’t

Though four out of five Americans say they know a lot about nutrition, are eating adequate amounts of nutritious foods, they really aren’t. There is a wide gulf between perceptions of adequate nutritious intake and actual intake, according to research from the International Food Information Council. For example, 68 percent of those surveyed said they were consuming adequate levels of vitamin D, but only 32 percent actually were. Sixty-seven percent said they get enough fiber in their diet, but only five percent actually were. On the subject of functional foods (i.e., those that offer health benefits beyond nutrition), 90 percent agreed that such foods are available. But a third of Americans said they are not consuming enough of them, especially those containing omega 3 fatty acids, lutein, flavonoids or zeaxanthin, to realize any health benefit.

"Perception Does Not Equal Reality When It Comes to Knowledge About Nutrient Intake", International Food Information Council, October 02, 2013

"Healthy Snackers" Reveal Some Interesting Preferences

American consumers who prefer to eat healthy snacks look for good taste first of all, then low sugar and high protein, according to a study by market researcher Lab42. The survey also found that the vast majority of self-described healthy snackers – 86 percent – said snacks are important for losing or maintaining weight. Healthy snackers also said they are willing to pay a premium price for a healthy snack, especially “all natural” snacks (87 percent). Seventy percent said the word “organic” on a snack package meant the snack was healthy, while 64 percent felt the same about the words “all natural”.

"Research Reveals Purchase Decisions and Eating Habits of Healthy Snackers", Nutraceuticals World, September 26, 2013

Research, Studies, Advice  

Adolescents Who Eat Five Regular Meals A Day Have Reduced Risk Of Obesity

A Finnish study has found an association between the number of meals adolescents eat in a day and the risk of obesity. The study, which followed 4,000 children prenatally to age 16, showed  that eating five meals a day – breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks – was associated with a reduced risk of overweight and obesity in both boys and girls, and a reduced risk of abdominal obesity in boys. Skipping breakfast was associated with greater body mass index and a bigger waistline. The researcher said the effects of “predisposing genotypes” (linked to obesity) can be modified by lifestyle habits, such as regular meal frequency.

"Five Regular Meals a Day Reduce Obesity Risk Among Adolescents", News release, Ph.D. thesis of Anne Jääskeläinen, October 03, 2013

Problems From Folic Acid Deficiencies Are Passed To Future Generations

A lack of folic acid in a parent’s diet can have a rippling effect through future generations, according to a study in mice. Folic acid deficiencies during pregnancy can lead to birth defects or low birth weight, though scientists are not sure why. For the study, mice bred with a mutated MTRR gene (important to folic acid metabolism) were mated with normal mice. Some of the fetuses developed abnormalities such as heart defects and spina bifida. Siblings without defects were then mated with normal mice, and the same problems occurred. This was repeated for two more generations, even though the mutation was not passed on in the DNA, but in the gene-switching system, an “epigenetic” phenomenon.

"Mutation in Folate Metabolism Causes Epigenetic Instability and Transgenerational Effects on Development", Cell Magazine, October 02, 2013

Usually Beneficial Resveratrol Worsens Symptoms In MS Mice

Numerous animal studies of the polyphenol resveratrol, found in the skin of red grapes and in red wine, have demonstrated its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. But a new U.S. study in animal models of multiple sclerosis finds that resveratrol exacerbates MS-like neuropathology and inflammation, and has no neuroprotective effects. The findings were so significant in the lab mice that the lead researcher said resveratrol “should be discouraged for supplemental use by MS patients pending further research".

"Resveratrol Exacerbates Both Autoimmune and Viral Models of Multiple Sclerosis", The American Journal of Pathology, October 01, 2013

Research Confirms That Melatonin Helps The Body Burn Fat

Spanish and U.S. scientists have found that regular melatonin consumption induces the appearance of “beige fat” that burns calories rather than storing them. The discovery answers questions about why melatonin has metabolic benefits in treating diabetes and excess lipids in the blood (hyperlipidemia). The study in diabetic lab animal models showed that continual administration of melatonin sensitizes the thermogenic (heat creation through fat burning) effect of exposure to cold, heightens the thermogenic effect of exercise “and, therefore, constitutes excellent therapy against obesity”.

"Melatonin induces browning of inguinal white adipose tissue in Zucker diabetic fatty rats", Journal of Pineal Research, September 25, 2013

Omega-3s Do Not Slow Cognitive Decline In Older Women

A U.S. study in older women found no difference in the decline of memory and thinking skills between women with high and low levels of omega-3s in the blood. The researchers said they did not recommend that women change their diet because of the findings, because there is strong evidence that omega-3s, found in fish oil and some nuts, have beneficial effects on the heart, blood vessels and brain. The study involved 2,157 women aged 65 to 80 who were given annual tests of thinking and memory for six years.

"Omega-3 fatty acids and domain-specific cognitive aging: Secondary analyses of data from WHISCA", Neurology, September 25, 2013

Low-Salt Diet Improves Health Outlook For Heart Failure Patients

Diet definitely plays an important role in the progression of heart failure, U.S. researchers report, and patients can reduce their blood pressure by following a low-sodium eating plan such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Researchers found that patients in their 60s and 70s who followed the DASH diet for 21 days saw a drop in blood pressure similar to taking hypertension medicine. The DASH diet is high in potassium, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants, but low in sodium – no more than 1,150 milligrams a day, much lower than the 3- 4,000 mg consumed by most adults.

"Living Better With Heart Failure by Changing What You Eat", News release, presentation at the Heart Failure Society of America meeting , September 24, 2013

Diet Plus Exercise Reduces Weight, Improves Symptoms Of Knee Osteoarthritis

A U.S. clinical study involving 454 overweight people age 55 and older with chronic knee osteoarthritis finds that diet and exercise together led to greater weight loss and reduced knee pain. The intensive diet and exercise regiment was compared to diet alone and exercise alone. Researchers found that diet exercise led to greater weight loss, better knee function, faster walking speed and better physical health-related quality of life. The researchers concluded that patients can safely lose 10 percent of their weight and improve osteoarthritis symptoms with the combined regimen.

"Effects of Intensive Diet and Exercise on Knee Joint Loads, Inflammation, and Clinical Outcomes Among Overweight and Obese Adults With Knee Osteoarthritis", JAMA, September 24, 2013

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