Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Organic food to have longer ‘life’

A new method keeps salmon fresh for a whole month, without the use of chemicals.
The technology is called superchilling, and it lies somewhere between freezing the fish and cooling it down. Now it is about to provide useful help to organic food producers.
This method of conserving food was developed in order to maintain fresh food quality over a long period of time, thus reducing the amount of food that ends up in the bin rather than in our stomachs.
Now it is going to be tested on ecological salmon and meat, and the hope is that it will make a difference to the shopping habits of ‘purpose-driven food consumers’.
The underlying thinking is that people who buy ecological food are more concerned about the environment and thus are more aware of emissions and resource utilisation than those who buy ‘ordinary’ raw materials,” says project manager Michael Bantle of SINTEF.
In fact, the technology is not widely used by ‘conventional’ food producers, because supermarket chains tend to prioritise the cheapest and simplest methods of chilling.

Joint research effort for small companies
SINTEF is going to test the method on Norwegian ecological raw materials among other products, as part of the European Union project SUS-Organic, which is aimed at helping smaller companies that produce organic food.
“These small companies don’t have the resources to develop and demonstrate the potential of superchilling, so that superchilled food can start to be accepted by consumers. This makes it a rather idealistic project,” says the SINTEF scientist.
For organic companies, it is particularly important that their products can be given a longer shelf life without the need for chemicals. This method will enable them to even out seasonal variations and supply their customers all the year round, since many of them do not produce continuously and therefore need to warehouse more stock, and for longer.

Tonnes of food go to waste
In Norway, hundreds of tonnes of food a year are thrown out every year, a figure that includes organic foods. The situation is the same
all over Europe, and this has inspired the European Union to look for solutions to the problem. If we can prolong the time during which food is regarded as perfectly fresh, this will help to reduce the food waste ‘mountain’.
“The initiative is very positive,” says Michael Bantle. “We already know that superchilling is an efficient method, and if we can demonstrate that if it can increase the shelf-life of organic produced foods as well as it does for conventional foodstuffs, we believe that there will be a market for superchilled products.
“We hope and believe that consumers who buy organic foods are more concerned about conserving resources than the average consumer. If we can manage our food better, we can also produce less even as we supply more markets. Today, every single Norwegian throws out an average of a kilo of food a week.”

Can be profitable – for shops too
The scientist also believes that the method can be profitable for food stores as well. They can advertise superchilled organic food as a mark of quality and demonstrate that they are showing social responsibility for a better environment and a reduction in wasted food.
“Is there anything to suggest that superchilling would not be suitable for organic salmon, for example? “
“No, but we know that among other things, organic salmon contain a higher proportion of marine lipids, which protect the body from cardiovascular disease, among other illnesses. They have also been fed less antibiotics and medicines. This may have some influence on how they respond to superchilling,” says Bantle.
“What we are hoping is that there will not be any difference. If that turns out to be the case, we can be fairly certain that superchilling will be adopted. In the long run, this could lead to more producers wishing to employ this technology, so that it can also be used to a greater extent on foodstuffs that have been conventionally produced. Longer shelf-life simply offers environmental benefits irrespective of whether or not the food is organic.
“The supermarket chains ought to have invested more in cold-stores that are capable of keeping both fish and meat superchilled at quite stable temperatures. Unfortunately, this is not being done today because these chains prioritise the simplest and cheapest solutions. However, I hope that this method will contribute to the adoption of the technology,” says Bantle.

Superchilling is also climate-friendly
Bantle has a number of explanations for why superchilling has not yet been adopted by food retailers: unfortunately, their customers’ habit of throwing out food has certain advantages for them; it increases demand, and sales increase.
The EU’s regulations regarding what can be classified as fresh or frozen also need to be revised. Today, superchilled food is regarded as frozen rather than fresh, even if it is of identical quality to fresh food. This ought to be changed, believes the SINTEF scientist.
Another reason is that transport is simply too cheap today, which means that producers can pay to freight large quantities of ice:
Today, fresh salmon are transported in boxes that contain about 30 per cent ice. They are then sent southwards to Europe, and by air to countries such as Japan. This ice could be eliminated by superchilling the salmon, because in this state, the ice is inside the fish itself. The weight reduction reduces fuel consumption, which in turn means lower CO2 emissions.

Facts about superchilling:
Superchilling involves cooling the salmon to about -2.5 degrees Celsius, i.e. to just below the temperature at which it begins to freeze. At -2.5 degrees below zero, the fish is not completely frozen. It thus retains its quality of freshness, and will not be perceived or experienced as a thawed frozen foodstuff.
• Fish keep their fresh quality for longer – as much as a month.
• This means lower CO2 emissions.
• Less food is discarded because the shelf life can be as long as 30 days.
• One challenge concerns how to put an exact sell-by date on superchilled food, because this will depend on the ability of the ice to keep the temperature constant.

- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/organic-food-to-have-longer-life/organic-food/#sthash.87VhZYKD.Urd1M5T4.dpuf

To shed weight, go vegan: Journal of General Internal Medicine


Review of vegetarian diet studies highlights benefit of vegan-eating plans
People on a vegetarian diet, and especially those following a vegan one that includes no animal products, see better results than dieters on other weight-reducing plans. In fact, they can lose around two kilograms more on the short term, says Ru-Yi Huang of E-Da Hospital in Taiwan after reviewing the results of twelve diet trials. The findings¹ appear in the Journal of General Internal Medicine², published by Springer.

Huang’s review includes twelve randomized controlled trials, involving 1,151 dieters who followed a specific eating regime for between nine and 74 weeks. It is the first study to combine the findings from various independent projects that weighed up the results of vegetarian diets against other eating plans. These include the Atkins diet, and ones recommended by the American Diabetes Association or the US National Cholesterol Education Program.

Overall, individuals assigned to the vegetarian diet groups lost significantly more weight (around 2.02 kilograms) than dieters who ate meat and other animal products. Vegetarians who followed a vegan diet lost even more weight. Comparatively, they lost around 2.52 kilograms more than non-vegetarian dieters. Vegetarians who do consume dairy products and eggs lost around 1.48 kilograms more than those on a non-vegetarian diet. People following vegetarian diets that prescribe a lower than normal intake of calories (so-called energy restriction) also shed more kilograms than those without any such limitations being placed on their eating habits.

According to Huang, the abundant intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables might play a role in the favorable results seen in vegetarian diets. Whole-grain products and vegetables generally have low glycemic index values and don’t cause blood sugar levels to spike. Fruits are rich in fiber, antioxidants, minerals and protective chemicals that naturally occur in plants. Whole-grain products contain soluble fiber. Such so-called good fiber helps to delay the speed by which food leaves the stomach and ensures good digestion. It also allows enough nutrients to be absorbed while food moves through the intestines. Several studies have reported that fiber consumption helps with weight loss.
“Vegetarian diets are more effective than non-vegetarian diets for weight loss,” says Huang, who added that longer term intervention trials are needed to investigate the effect of vegetarian diets on weight control and cardio-metabolic risk.

1. Huang, R-H. et al (2015). Vegetarian Diets and Weight Reduction: a Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of General Internal Medicine. DOI 10.1007/s11606-015-3390-7
2. The Journal of General Internal Medicine is the official journal of the Society for General Internal Medicine.

- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/to-shed-weight-go-vegan-journal-of-general-internal-medicine/nutrition-vegetarianism/#sthash.Gi7BmaJG.Fmm2W0dD.dpuf

Order of food during a meal may influence blood sugar



(Reuters Health) – Overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes may feel better after a meal if they start it off with vegetables or proteins and end with the carbs, suggests a new study of 11 people.
Finishing the broccoli and chicken before tucking into bread and fruit juice was tied to a lower rise in blood sugar levels over the next two hours, compared to eating the same foods in the opposite order, researchers report in Diabetes Care.

“When we saw the result, we were really encouraged that this is something that could potentially benefit people,” said Dr. Louis Aronne, the study’s senior author from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.

Approximately 29 million Americans – about 9 percent of the U.S. population – have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 30 percent of those people are undiagnosed.

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes and is often linked to obesity. In type 2 diabetes, the body’s cells are resistant to the hormone insulin, or the body doesn’t make enough of it. Insulin helps the body’s cells use glucose in the blood for fuel.
- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/order-of-food-during-a-meal-may-influence-blood-sugar/diabetes/#sthash.NHG7hEtH.g7yGXINl.dpuf

Athletes should drink only when thirsty, according to new guidelines


MAYWOOD, Ill. – At least 14 deaths of marathon runners, football players and other athletes have been attributed to a condition called exercise-associated hyponatremia, which results from drinking too much water or sports drinks.

But there’s an easy way to prevent hyponatremia, according to new guidelines from an international expert panel: Simply put, drink only when you’re thirsty.

“Using the innate thirst mechanism to guide fluid consumption is a strategy that should limit drinking in excess and developing hyponatremia while providing sufficient fluid to prevent excessive dehydration,” according to the guidelines, published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.
Loyola University Medical Center sports medicine physician James Winger, MD, is a member of the 17-member expert panel that wrote the guidelines. Dr. Winger, who has published studies on hyponatremia in athletes, is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Corresponding author of the guidelines is Tamara Hew-Butler, DPM, PhD, of Oakland University in Rochester, Mi.

Exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) occurs when drinking too much overwhelms the ability of the kidneys to excrete the excess water load. Sodium in the body becomes diluted. This leads to swelling in cells, which can be life-threatening.

Symptoms of mild EAH include lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, puffiness and gaining weight during an athletic event. Symptoms of severe EAH include vomiting, headache, altered mental status (confusion, agitation, delirium, etc.), seizure and coma.

EAH has occurred during endurance competitions such as marathons, triathlons, canoe races and swimming; military exercises; hiking; football; calisthenics during fraternity hazing; and even yoga and lawn bowling, the guidelines said.

Athletes often are mistakenly advised to “push fluids” or drink more than their thirst dictates by, for example, drinking until their urine is clear or drinking to a prescribed schedule. But excessive fluid intake does not prevent fatigue, muscle cramps or heat stroke.

“Muscle cramps and heatstroke are not related to dehydration,” Dr. Winger said. “You get heat stroke because you’re producing too much heat.”

Modest to moderate levels of dehydration are tolerable and pose little risk to otherwise healthy athletes. An athlete can safely lose up to 3 percent of his or her body weight during a competition due to dehydration without loss of performance, Dr. Winger said.

The guidelines say EAH can be treated by administering a concentrated saline solution that is 3 percent sodium – about three times higher than the concentration in normal saline solution.
The guidelines are published in an article titled “Statement of the Third International Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia Consensus Development Conference, Carlsbad, California, 2015.”


- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/athletes-should-drink-only-when-thirsty-according-to-new-guidelines/hydration/#sthash.FZuJhIoV.HYX7XPyU.dpuf

Monday, June 29, 2015

Oral Presence of Carbohydrate and Caffeine in Chewing Gum: Independent and Combined Effects on Endurance Cycling Performance.


Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015 Jun 24. [Epub ahead of print]
Oral Presence of Carbohydrate and Caffeine in Chewing Gum: Independent and Combined Effects on Endurance Cycling Performance.
Oberlin-Brown KT1, Siegel R, Kilding AE, Laursen PB.
Author information
1High Performance Sport New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand.


The oral presence of carbohydrate (CHO) and caffeine (CAF) may independently enhance exercise performance, but their influence on performance during prolonged exercise is less known.


To determine the independent and combined effects of CHO and CAF administered in chewing gum during a cycling time-trial (TT) following prolonged exercise.


Eleven male cyclists (32.2 ± 7.5 y, 74.3 ± 6.8 kg, 60.2 ± 4.0 ml·kg-1·min-1 O2peak) performed 4 experimental trials consisting of 90-min constant-load cycling at 80% of their second ventilatory threshold (207 ± 30 W), followed immediately by a 20-km TT. Under double-blinded conditions, cyclists received placebo (PLA), CHO, CAF, or a combined (CHO+CAF) chewing gum at 0, 5, 10, and 15-km points of the TT.


Overall TT performance was similar across experimental and PLA trials (%Mean Difference ±90%CL: 0.2 ±2.0%, 0.4 ±2.2%, 0.1 ±1.8% for CHO, CAF and CHO+CAF). Compared with PLA, mean power output tended to be higher in the first two quarters of the TT with CHO (1.6 ±3.1 and 0.8 ±2.0%) and was substantially improved in the last two quarters during CAF and CHO+CAF trials (4.2 ±3.0 and 2.0 ±1.8%). There were no differences in average heart rate (ES <0.2) and only small changes in blood glucose (ES 0.2), which were unrelated to performance. Blood lactate was substantially higher post TT for CAF and CHO+CAF (ES >0.6).


Following prolonged constant-load cycling, the oral presence of CHO and CAF in chewing gum, independently or in combination, did not improve overall performance, but did influence pacing.

- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/oral-presence-of-carbohydrate-and-caffeine-in-chewing-gum-independent-and-combined-effects-on-endurance-cycling-performance/exercise-capacity/#sthash.Tt7aBQSw.0cZNEy1G.dpuf

In Defense of Fiber: How Changing Your Diet Changes Your Gut Bacteria


You no longer live in a world where you can pretend you’re only eating for one; the trillions of bacteria in your gut, we now know, also feed on what you put in your mouth—and they behave very differently depending on what that is.

It’s increasingly clear that the composition of your gut bacteria likely influences your risk for many health problems, from obesity and type-2 diabetes and even certain autoimmune diseases. Scientists are hard at work trying to determine how and why that’s that case, as well as which bacteria are beneficial—and how to protect them. A recent study published in The BMJ adds to the growing evidence that fibermight be a critical gut-nourishing nutrient. (Unfortunately, less than 3% of Americans eat the government-recommended amount daily.)

“You really hold the reins to guiding this community [of bacteria] through the choices you make,” says Justin L. Sonnenburg, PhD, associate professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine and author of The Good Gut. Sonnenburg was not involved with this study, but research from his lab also suggests that fiber plays a big role in promoting good bacteria.

The authors of the new study wanted to look at what changes in diet do to one particular gut microbe species: Akkermansia muciniphila—a strain that’s been associated with leanness and better glucose tolerance in mice.

- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/in-defense-of-fiber-how-changing-your-diet-changes-your-gut-bacteria/nutrition-gut/#sthash.ZYjXBrYr.jqDFO3KL.dpuf

The majority of amateur athletes undergoing hypoxic training are not advised by specialists

Physical performance after periods of hypoxic training – in low-oxygen conditions – has become a matter of growing controversy within the scientific community. An international study, with the help of Spanish researchers, compared professional and amateur athletes’ knowledge and understanding of this type of training According to the results, just 25% of amateurs are assessed and monitored by specialists.

The most popular way of training in low-oxygen conditions is known as intermittent hypoxic training. This consists of creating natural or artificial conditions that result in increased oxygen deficiency in the subject either when they are exercising or at rest.
The technique has proved to be efficient in improving oxygen transfer in some sportspeople and, consequently, in improving their physical performance. However, this cannot be extrapolated to all the cases in which this type of training has been used.

Therefore, a study published in the journal Physiology & Behaviour involving Spanish researchers from the Faculty of Biology’s Department of Physiology and Immunology at the University of Barcelona (UB) and the University of Lleida’s National Institute of Physical Education, aimed to compare professional and amateur athletes’ use, methodology, knowledge and understanding of hypoxic training.

“Medical and scientific monitoring and regulation of the physiological responses to exposure to this type of training is not all that widespread among amateurs. Only 25% make use of it as opposed to 98% of professionals,” lead researcher Jesús Álvarez-Herms, of the UB, explained to SINC.
According to the authors, the data corresponds to the fact that professional athletes bear certain aspects very much in mind, such as nutrition to control breathlessness and avoid possible increased deficiencies. For instance, if professional sportspeople undergo hypoxic training they seriously consider using iron supplements. In contrast, amateurs – for the most part – follow programmes on their own, without specialist monitoring.

As a matter of fact, the lack of monitoring of their hypoxic training can lead to certain health problems for the sportspeople. “The risk that may be run is connected with individuals’ low tolerance to altitude,” indicated Álvarez-Herms, which relates to an increase in breathlessness, the onset of anaemia and loss of muscle mass as the possible adverse effects of hypoxia.

The differences in regulation between professionals and amateurs suggest that the latter group follow hypoxic training programmes “which they are responsible for themselves or which are assessed by people who are not fully trained in the area. The consequences of this are increased health risks and the possibility that their efforts will prove to be ineffective,” added the scientist.

Professional sportspeople: more cautious with their results

In order to conduct the study, the experts drew up a questionnaire with 17 questions, which was completed by a total of 203 sportspeople – 95 professionals and 108 amateurs – from different sporting disciplines (cycling, triathlon and endurance running) during the 2013-2014 season.
For the group of amateur sportspeople, the researchers selected athletes of a good standard with high physical performance levels, who did not take part in international events, but participated in Spanish tournaments and elite cycling races.

In general, a higher percentage of professional endurance sportspeople expose themselves to hypoxia to aid physical improvement – 84% of professionals as opposed to 19% of amateurs,” Álvarez-Herms explained.

The questionnaires show that all the sportspeople go through hypoxic training because they are confident that it improves their performance. However, professionals are less optimistic than amateurs in this regard.

“Higher level athletes believed their performance would improve by between 5% and 9%, whilst amateur athletes anticipated an improvement of between 10% and 48%,” stated Álvarez-Herms. A possible explanation for this is that the scope for physical improvement in professional sportspeople is smaller than in amateurs and therefore they are not as capable of improving.

The authors indicate that tailoring training and the use of hypoxia to each individual is key, stating: “The main recommendation we would make to sportspeople undergoing altitude training is to evaluate their individual physiological and physical response to altitude.”

According to the expert, the conclusions drawn from the study show “a significant difference in scientific application and professional monitoring between amateur and professional sportspeople with regard to the hypoxic technique. This leads to an even greater gulf in performance between sportspeople.”

- See more at: http://www.stonehearthnewsletters.com/the-majority-of-amateur-athletes-undergoing-hypoxic-training-are-not-advised-by-specialists/sports-medicine-injuries/#sthash.EpSDTY5l.204z6D1v.dpuf