8 for 2018

Swapping treats for a piece of fruit or walking an extra block each day are small, simple changes that could make a huge difference to a person’s health and wellbeing in 2018.

Being healthy is easier said than done but it does not have to be chore, says Kirstan Corben, executive manager of programs at Victorian Health Promotion Foundation in Australia.

“Setting small, realistic goals helps to make them more achievable and less daunting, which means you’re more likely to stick to them.”

HEALTHY HABITS TO EMBRACE IN 2018

1. CUT BACK ON SUGAR

One simple way to avoid excess sugar is to swap sugary drinks for water. Sugary drinks like soft drinks are the largest source of sugars in our  diet, and they can lead to weight gain and tooth decay.

2. REDUCE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

It’s all about moderation. Drink water in between alcoholic drinks. Remember, alcohol contains a lot of empty kilojoules.

3. MAKE EXERCISE PART OF THE HOLIDAY

Being active helps us to clear the mind, feel energised and importantly reduces our risk of nasty chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

Try parking the car at the far end of a car park, play a family game of cricket, or do some laps at the local swimming pool.

4. DON’T PASS THE SALT

Salt increases the risk of high blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. To cut back salt, fill up on fresh fruit and vegies and use herbs, garlic and pepper to food flavour.

Buy low salt versions of your favourite foods and where possible cook instead of getting takeaway.

5. STRESS LESS

Stress can impact our physical health, making a person more prone to illness, and it also impacts mental wellbeing. Make time to read a book, go for a run, listen to music or just sit in a park. Activities such as yoga, can also help keep stress at bay.

If you feel like you’re not coping, contact a support service like depression.org.nz.

6. HELP YOUR KIDS DITCH SCREEN TIME

Too much screen time can impact kids’ sleep and reduces the amount of time they spend being active. Swap screens for the great outdoors.

Take the kids to the beach or go for a walk.

7. LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER

Social connection is important for strong mental wellbeing but for many people Christmas and the New Year can be a lonely time. Keep an eye on your friends, neighbours and loved ones and offer support when needed.

8. QUIT SMOKING

It’s never too late to quit. Research shows smokers who quit at age 50 halve their risk of death caused by smoking, while quitting by age 30 avoids almost all of the excess risk associated with smoking.

2018 Food Predictions

Last year was all about plant protein, sprouted foods and healthy fats. My prediction is that 2018 will be focused on eating to prevent and manage health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and boosting digestive health.

This year’s Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo was held in Chicago and brought more than 13,000 nutrition professionals together to learn about food and nutrition research and innovation.

Here are the top food and nutrition trends you’ll see in the year ahead.

Ancient Romans used chicory root to help cleanse the blood and Egyptians used it to purify the liver. It's popular today ...

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Ancient Romans used chicory root to help cleanse the blood and Egyptians used it to purify the liver. It’s popular today as a caffeine free replacement for coffee.

OMEGA-9S

Why it’s a trend
Healthy fats are in, and in 2018 we’ll home in on omega-9s (also known as monounsaturated fats) for their potential to regulate blood sugar levels and promote a healthy weight.

Where you’ll see it
Algae has been touted as a superfood in its own right, but the newest use for algae is in the production of omega-9 cooking oil. The process doesn’t use genetically modified organisms or chemical extraction, further broadening its appeal. Thrive algae oil is high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. It has a high smoke point of 485 degrees, which means you can use it in baking, roasting and sauteing.

So what does algae oil taste like? It’s completely neutral and odorless, so you can use it in any recipes where you want healthy fat without changing the flavor of the food.

PLANT-BASED PROBIOTICS

Why it’s a trend
Probiotics have been a hot topic in the nutrition world for several years. They’re bacteria that provide health benefits such as better digestion and a stronger immune system. With plant-based eating becoming increasingly popular, people are looking for probiotic sources beyond yogurt and kefir.

Where you’ll see it
GoodBelly dairy-free probiotics come in tasty shots, juice, infused drinks and bars so you can get your daily dose of good bacteria any way you like. All GoodBelly offerings feature bacteria strain Lp299v, which has been scientifically proved to survive stomach acid and arrive safely in the intestines, where it can colonize in the gut. In other words, these probiotics go beyond “live and active cultures” – they survive and thrive to give you health benefits.

CHICORY ROOT FIBER

Why it’s a trend
It’s fantastic to introduce healthy bacteria into your digestive tract, but you also need to provide the right fuel to help those good bacteria thrive. That’s where prebiotics come in.

Chicory root fibers (inulin and oligofructose) are the only scientifically proven plant-based prebiotics with proven health benefits such as weight management, improved calcium absorption and digestive health.

Where you’ll see it
Expect to find chicory root fiber in a variety of foods, including nutrition bars (ThinkThin), yogurt (Oikos Triple Zero), smoothies and oatmeal. You can also find it as a powder (Prebiotin) that can be added to your food and beverages.

EATING FOR ‘TYPE 3’ DIABETES

Why it’s a trend
Alzheimer’s disease is now being referred to as “Type 3 diabetes” and “brain diabetes,” as both conditions involve insulin resistance and deficiency. In 2018, we’ll be focusing more on the importance of eating for brain health.

Where you’ll see it 
A randomized control trial of the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH intervention for neurodegenerative delay) diet is looking into the benefits of a nutrient-rich diet emphasizing foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and berries in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Frozen blueberries are being given to participants because they are rich in antioxidants that may be beneficial for the brain, particularly when it comes to memory loss in aging.

Recent research published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that daily consumption of the equivalent of one cup of fresh blueberries, given as 24 grams of freeze-dried blueberry powder, showed positive changes in cognitive function in older adults over a placebo.

Expect to see blueberry powder as a supplement and blueberries being used to create condiments and sauces in savory as well as sweet dishes.

PSEUDOGRAINS MADE CONVENIENT

Why it’s a trend
Getting healthy whole grains on the table has always been a challenge because of longer cooking times. That’s why food companies are coming up with ways to bring us whole grains and pseudograins (seeds that are served as grains) much more quickly.

Where you’ll see it 
Fast and portable amaranth, buckwheat and quinoa in single portions such as Ellyndale Q Cups in low-sodium flavors like Savory Garlic & Mushroom. They’re ready in five minutes; just add boiling water and steep and you’re ready to eat.

STEVIA 2.0

Why it’s a trend 
Stevia continues to rule as the sweetener of choice for people wanting to cut down on sugar or calories. As the demand for stevia grows, so do the product offerings.

Where you’ll see it
Look for stevia as an ingredient in more beverages, baking mixes and condiments as consumers look for calorie- and sugar-reduced versions of their favorites.

Stevia will be mixed with brown sugar, cane sugar and honey by companies such as Truvia to make lower-sugar and lower-calorie options. Because these stevia products are naturally sweeter than sugar, you need to use only half the amount.

COTTAGE CHEESE, THE NEW GREEK YOGURT

Why it’s a trend
Cottage cheese used to be only for dieters because it was seen as plain and, let’s face it, lumpy. Now it’s becoming more popular because we’re all obsessed with finding more ways to pack protein into our meals and snacks. This cousin to Greek yogurt is slightly higher in protein and is mostly casein, a protein that can help you feel full longer.

Where you’ll see it
Brands such as Muuna make cottage cheese with a texture that melts in your mouth and is sweetened with real fruit and no artificial flavors. Plus it’s low in sugar, with only four grams in the plain version.

 – The Washington Post

The keto diet burns 10 times more fat than a standard American diet

The keto diet burns 10 times more fat than a standard American diet – even without exercise, research suggests.

Researchers studied people who have or type 2 diabetes or were at risk of developing it. They found that those following the low-carb plan advocated by the diet saw the most health benefits compared to those on a typical diet, whether the latter carried out physical activity or not, reports the Daily Mail.

The controversial ketogenic plan is relatively high in fat and advocates moderate protein – the most well-known being Atkins and Paleo.

Fans of the diet – said to put the body into an ‘optimal’ fat burning state – include celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Rihanna.

Those following it saw significantly better results in terms of their weight, body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI), blood sugar levels and ketones which break down fat.

Additionally, their resting metabolic rate – the rate at which your body burns energy when it is at complete rest – was more than ten times than those who ate a standard diet.

KEY FINDINGS

Researchers from Bethel University in Minnesota studied 30 women and men between the ages of 18 and 65. All had previously been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, or type 2 diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome is the medical term for a cluster of conditions – increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels – that occur together, increasing your risk the heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Their BMI was greater than or equal to 25 (or waist circumference above 37 for men and 31.5 for women) and body fat percentage above 30 per cent.

They were randomly placed into three groups, in the order they signed up for the study.

For ten weeks the first group consumed a diet of less than 30 grams of carbohydrates per day and did not exercise.

The second ate their normal diet and also did not exercise.

The third ate their normal diet but exercised for three to five days per week for 30 minutes a session.

After ten weeks, the results showed that while ample evidence indicates that exercise is beneficial, the health benefits produced were not as strong as following a ketogenic diet.

The authors wrote: “All variables for the ketogenic group out-performed those of the exercise and non-exercise groups, with five of the seven demonstrating statistical significance.”

The findings were published in the journal Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.

WHAT IS THE KETOGENIC DIET AND HOW DOES IT BURN FAT?

A ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy.

It’s also known as a low-carb high-fat (LCHF) plan and the most famous include Paleo and Atkins.

Meat, fish, poultry and eggs are all allowed, as are non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens. Dairy, organic, full-fat is recommended for keto diets.

It involves limiting added sugars and white, refined carbs and only a small amount of fruit is allowed.

Eating high carbs causes your body to produce glucose and insulin. Glucose is the easiest for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source, it is believed.

Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body. Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored.

By lowering carb intake, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis, a natural process that helps us survive when food intake is low.

This makes us produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.

The goal of the keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state – essentially it’s a type of starvation but not of calories but carbohydrates.

However, some experts say low-carb diets bring heart and cancer risks from eating too much fat and protein.

Sugar is Addictive and Fuels Disease

How toxic is sugar?

A CHEAP ADDITIVE IN EVERYTHING

SUGAR IS ADDICTIVE AND FUELS DISEASE

Sugar and fructose feed the pleasure center of the brain. We feel good when we eat some sugar. Is a little bit okay? Sure. But how many people stop at just a little bit?

A huge proportion of processed foods contain sugar and its substitutes such as high fructose corn syrup. We consume far more sugar now than we ever have, and it’s taking a toll on our health.

This report from 60 Minutes talks about the consequences of our society’s addiction to sugar, and how the researchers are responding to their own findings.

Russia to become major supplier of organic food to Asia-Pacific Region

Measures taken by Russia to improve agricultural productivity will make the country a leading supplier of organic produce in the Asia-Pacific region, said President Vladimir Putin.
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© Sputnik

In an article published on the Kremlin website ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Putin suggests a common approach is needed to meet Asia’s rapidly growing demand for high-quality and healthy food.

“As a major Eurasian power with vast Far Eastern territories that boast significant potential, Russia has a stake in the successful future of the Asia-Pacific region, and in promoting sustainable and comprehensive growth throughout its entire territory.”

The Russian president said he supports the idea of forming an Asia-Pacific free trade area, saying that over the past five years, the share of APEC economies in Russia’s foreign trade has increased from 23 to 31 percent. Exports were 24 percent. “And we have no intention of stopping there,” said Putin.

“Russia is one of the world’s leaders in exports of grain, vegetable oils, fish, and a number of other foods. We expect to become the leading supplier of ecologically clean food to our neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region.” He added that measures are being taken to increase agricultural output and improve productivity.

The Russian leader explained that establishing effective cooperation to support innovation is the most important task. Russia has put forward a number of specific initiatives, including unifying the digital economy and trade rules, harmonizing national technical standards, coordinating strategies for forming high-tech markets, and creating a uniform conceptual framework for the digital space.

“We have also shared with our partners our experience in providing e-services to the public. In addition, we suggest starting consultations within APEC on international information security and protection of computer software,” said Putin.

Russia is serious about including small and medium-sized businesses in APEC economic integration processes, and supporting female entrepreneurship and start-up companies run by young entrepreneurs, he added.

According to the president, Russia is ready for a collaborative effort in finding “acceptable solutions to the challenge of supporting the steady, balanced, and harmonious growth of our shared region, and securing its prosperity.”

President Putin’s message was published ahead of the 25th APEC Economic Summit taking place in Vietnam on November 10-11.

How much protein is ‘right’ for you?

If there’s one claim that’s almost certain to boost sales of a food these days, it’s to say the item is high in protein.

Consumers cannot seem to get enough protein – they often turn to it because they’ve shunned carbohydrates, and also associate it with increased muscle mass. While many nutritionists say eating extra is usually harmless – if it’s part of a balanced diet and doesn’t all come from animal sources – and small increases can indeed help with weight control by increasing satiety, others are not convinced, citing the lack of long-term research on high-protein diets.

They’re especially uncertain about how the body reacts to or uses processed protein isolates and powders, which have skyrocketed in popularity.

A growing body of evidence suggests that some segments of the population should be cautious about hopping on the high-protein bandwagon, infants and young children in particular. Some studies have linked high protein intake in early childhood to a risk of obesity later in life. Researchers are still trying to understand what accounts for that link.

Pregnant women, meanwhile, are commonly advised to boost protein intake. But in a recent study of a group of women who consumed relatively high amounts of protein, children born to the mothers who consumed the most during pregnancy were shorter at birth and through mid-childhood than children of mothers who consumed the least protein.

Karen Switkowski, lead author of the study, said that “while it’s important for women to eat enough protein to support the growth of their baby, they might want to be cautious about going far beyond the recommended amounts.” (She said there’s not enough data yet, though, to set specific pregnancy-related recommended levels, adding, “I think that more research needs to be conducted in this area in different populations before translating the findings into any guidelines.”)

Walter Willett, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, extends that caution to people of all ages, citing protein’s role in cell multiplication. He explains that protein – especially from animal sources, and in particular from dairy – boosts a growth-promoting hormone that makes cells multiply faster, which is vital early in life but not necessarily later on in life.

“Overly rapid cell multiplication is one of the underlying factors for cancer,” Willett said. “It seems pretty clear that we don’t want to have our cell-growth accelerator to the floor from the day we’re born until the day we die.”

Some studies on later-life protein consumption, meanwhile, have raised an important concern.

One preliminary study, which evaluated the self-reported diets of more than 100,000 women between ages 50 to 79, appeared to find a significantly higher rate of heart failure among those who ate a lot of animal protein than among those who ate less of it.

Older adults are often told to seek out extra protein, largely to help them maintain muscle mass, which deteriorates as one ages. Willett said that’s not bad advice, but not to go overboard. “Having some hormonal boost from protein sources may not be a bad thing. It may be good – although the most important way to maintain muscle mass is resistance training,” he said.

HOW MUCH PROTEIN SHOULD WE BE EATING?

Most nutrition experts are reluctant to cite a single number because individual needs are so variable, but Willett offers some guidance – along with a few qualifications.

“I think a range for total protein between about 12 to 20 percent of calories is okay; pushing higher, especially with protein supplements, is certainly not necessary and has potential long-term hazards,” he said.

“I am particularly concerned about adding protein supplements, such as whey protein, which has a strong effect on cell multiplication,” he said, then added some practical advice: If protein is taking the place of foods high in sugar or refined starch – white bread, for example – it will benefit the body. But if it’s replacing foods rich in whole grains and healthy fats, it won’t.

John Swartzberg, a professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health, said certain groups definitely should ignore the increase-your-protein message.

It has long been known that too much protein is harmful for people with chronic kidney disease. (Kidneys are responsible for eliminating the products of protein metabolism, and those products accumulate in the blood when kidneys don’t function well.) But it can also exacerbate damage to kidneys that someone may not yet know are already impaired, before clear evidence of poor kidney function is apparent.

Swartzberg said some studies show that about 1 in 9 Americans have impaired kidney function, many of them unaware of it. For such people, following the high-protein trend will accelerate a decline in kidney health. “It’s an asymptomatic problem until it’s mid-stage kidney disease,” he said. People who want to assess their kidney status, he advises, can request a blood test for creatinine for initial screening.

Even for those with healthy kidneys, Swartzberg urges caution about excess protein. While some nutrition experts say there’s no evidence suggesting eating even twice the recommended daily allowance for protein, Swartzburg says there isn’t enough long-term data to conclude that such a high number is either good for you or safe. He suggests an amount somewhere between 100 and 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance, which is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight; that translates to between about 54 grams and 82 grams of protein for an adult who weighs 150 pounds. “I certainly would not eat excessive protein. I would never take any protein supplements. And I wouldn’t advise my children to, either,” he says.

Preventive cardiologist Stephen Devries, the executive director of the nonprofit Gaples Institute for Integrative Cardiology in Deerfield, Illinois, recommends avoiding or only eating only minimal amounts of animal protein; he is also cautious about what he calls “artificially enhanced protein,” such as protein powders, even ones derived from plants. He recommends getting your protein instead from beans, lentils, nuts and tofu. “These are terrific sources of protein, and they’re the ones we should concentrate on, rather than the artificial sources, whether they come from animals or plants.”

Some people think the benefits of extra protein give them a free pass to simply eat more – but protein calories are still calories.

Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said, “If you eat a lot of extra protein, you’re either breaking it down for energy or you’re turning it into sugar and into fat – one or the other.”

Her general advice is for people to stop obsessing over protein. “It is most definitely not a nutrient of concern. Most people get twice as much as they need without thinking about it,” she said. “My nutrition pet peeve is calling foods ‘protein,’ as in ‘Would you like some protein with that salad?’ If the salad has beans or grains or cheese, it already has protein.”

 – The Washington Post

Anthocyanins have hit headlines

Antioxidants called anthocyanins have hit headlines and are linked to a range of health benefits. We reveal what they are and which foods contain them.

At BBC Good Food we believe eating a balanced and varied diet, including at least five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, is best for health. But what’s so special about purple foods in particular?

Many purple foods contain anthocyanins

All brightly coloured fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants – compounds which play a key role in protecting our bodies – but many naturally purple-coloured foods contain a certain antioxidant called anthocyanin. These are beneficial plant pigments which give fruit and veg their deep red, purple or blue hues.

While studies are ongoing, it’s too early to say conclusively whether anthocyanins deserve the recent media headlines that label purple foods as ‘superfoods’. Previous research has linked anthocyanins to a wide variety of health claims, including increased longevity, cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and dementia.

Which foods contain anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins are found in high concentrations in blackcurrants, blackberries and blueberries, as well as in aubergine (in the skin), red cabbage, cranberries and cherries.

Blueberries


Blueberries are also high in vitamin C, which helps protect cells and aids the absorption of iron, and contain soluble fibre, which is beneficial to the digestive system. Read more about the health benefits of blueberries.

A study in the European Journal of Nutrition found that a supplement containing dried blueberry powder improved brain power in children aged 7 to 10.

Research from Tufts University suggests that consuming a blueberry supplement may be effective in improving or delaying short-term memory loss in rats.

However, the NHS points out that the existing studies into how blueberries might prevent cancer or improve memory have so far relied on small sample groups or animals, and it is not yet clear whether these findings will translate to larger groups of the human population. Read more from the NHS about the nutritional benefits of blueberries.

Pomegranate


Pomegranate is a good source of fibre, and also provides vitamins A, C and E, iron, and other antioxidants such as tannins.

One study found that pomegranate helped to strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis in mice through decreased inflammation and oxidative stress.

Another study found that consuming 50ml of pomegranate juice per day reduced damage to arteries and cut cholesterol build-up in people with narrowed arteries.

A further study found that a daily glass of pomegranate juice improved blood flow to the heart, resulting in a lower risk of heart attack. However, the NHS points out that as it was a very limited trial these positive results could have been down to chance.

Purple sweet potato


Purple sweet potatoes have recently been in the media spotlight. They are commonly eaten on the Japanese island of Okinawa, which is home to an exceptionally healthy elderly population – with a large number over the age of 100, and rates of dementia reported to be up to 50% lower than in the West. Some scientists think that the large quantities of purple sweet potato in their diet plays a key role in keeping their bodies and brains healthy well into old age. However, to date, there are not many studies into the health benefits of the purple sweet potato, and it’s impossible to say that the Okinawan’s longevity is down to this one food alone.

So should we be eating more purple foods?

There’s no doubt that naturally purple-coloured fruit and vegetables are an excellent addition to a varied diet, but it’s also important to remember that balance is key and include a rainbow of different colours of fruits and vegetables for optimum health benefits.

Registered Nutritional Therapist, Kerry Torrens

Gluten – The real deal

OPINION: I think we’ve all experienced this: Sitting at a restaurant with a group of friends, everyone orders, meals arrive, but there’s a problem. One of your friends has innocently ordered the chicken, only to find it’s not gluten-free when landing in front of them. To the embarrassment of the table the meal gets returned.

So, what’s the deal with gluten and why all the fuss?

Gluten is a complex protein found in wheat, barley and rye and testing shows that up to 70 per cent of people have an immune reaction to it. One study showed that gluten increased inflammation in everybody that ate it. When I say ‘inflammation’ think aches and pains. For many people reducing gluten in their diet and going gluten- free helps hugely to reduce this.

An example of this is my neighbour, a salt of the earth hunting/ fishing/ welding machine in his forties – the trouble is he’s worn out his knees and needs to take daily medication for pain control. Three months later on a gluten-free diet, gone are the pies and beers associated with his lifestyle – and gone is his knee pain. Another side effect of the new diet? He’s lost 17kg and is feeling years younger.

In fact, being gluten-free is now becoming so commonplace that some might say the end of the croissant nigh.

I hear you saying: “Hang on Ben, the croissant is sacrilege, haven’t we been eating wheat and gluten containing grains for years? How come it’s only become a problem in the last couple of decades?”

 


Nutritionist Ben Warren.