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At a glance, it is well known that diet plays an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes, but less is known about the influence of specific nutrients on non-Western populations. A report published in the March 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed a protective effect of calcium and magnesium against diabetes in a large group of Chinese women.

The study involved 64,191 women participated in the Shanghai Women’s Health Study, living in Shanghai,China. Analysis of dietary questionnaire responses determined calcium and magnesium intake.

Women whose intake was in the highest group at an average of 649.6 milligrams per day had a 27 percent lower risk of diabetes than those whose intake was in the lowest group at 277.5 milligrams. Women whose intake of magnesium was highest at an average of 318.1 milligrams per day experienced a 20 percent lower risk compared with those in the lowest category of intake. Dairy intake was also related to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers did not have information on vitamin D intake, but the protective effect of dairy products could be partly due to their vitamin D content as well as calcium. The combination of vitamin D and calcium has been associated with a reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes in previous research.

Source: Am J Clin Nutr 89: 1059-1067, 2009.


WASHINGTON – Government health officials are announcing the recall of popular weight loss pill Hydroxycut, after reports of liver damage and other health problems.

Food and Drug Administration officials said Friday the manufacturer of Hydroxycut has launched a nationwide recall of the dietary supplement, used by people trying to shed pounds and by body builders to sharpen their muscles.

Hydroxycut is advertised as made from natural ingredients. It accounts for about 90 percent of the market for weight loss supplements, with sales of about 1 million bottles a year.

Dietary supplements are not as tightly regulated by the government as medications. Manufacturers don’t need FDA approval ahead of time before marketing their products.

Eating a low GI (glycemic index) meal will keep you feeling fuller for longer, King’s scientists have discovered in what could be the key to how the GI diet works.

Researchers from the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics in King’s College London have found that low GI (glycemic index) meals increase gut hormone production which leads to the suppression of appetite and the feeling of fullness. This is the first study to provide clues as to how a low GI meal produces satiety.

GI is a ranking assigned to carbohydrates according to their effect on the body’s blood sugar levels. A low GI meal takes longer to digest and releases sugar into the bloodstream more slowly than a high GI meal. A low GI diet is known to cause reduced appetite but the mechanisms behind this have so far remained unknown. To address this Dr Tony Leeds, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, and Reza Norouzy at King’s College London looked at the effects of a single low versus high GI meal on gut hormone levels in 12 healthy volunteers.

Each participant ate an identical medium GI meal for dinner, fasted overnight, and was given either a low (46) or high (66) GI meal for breakfast. Blood samples were then taken every 30 minutes for 150 minutes, and levels of the gut hormone GLP-1 and insulin measured. GLP-1 is a hormone produced by the gut that has been shown to cause a feeling of fullness and suppression of appetite.

Volunteers who ate a low GI breakfast had 20 per cent higher blood plasma levels of GLP-1 and 38 per cent lower levels of insulin compared to those who had consumed a high GI breakfast. These results show for the first time that eating a low GI meal increases GLP-1 production and suggest a physiological mechanism as to why a low GI meal makes you feel fuller than a high GI meal.

Professor Peter Emery, Head of Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, and one of the paper’s author’s comments: “The findings of this study are an important first step in understanding how low GI foods can help to address issues of weight control and what part they should play in a balanced diet.”

Source: King’s College London Press Release 18 Mar 2009

Fish oil supplements and regular exercise both reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular and metabolic health.

A combination of prolonged exercise and fish oil can dramatically reduce levels of a fat that can cause hardening of the arteries, a leading cause of heart disease. Fat in the bloodstream is a primary contributor to atherosclerosis, or partial blockage of the arteries.

A recent study found that people who do prolonged aerobic exercise have muscle cells that are able to quickly break down and reduce levels of a fat called triglycerides. Taking a fish oil supplement can reduce triglyceride levels even more.

The researchers studied triglyceride levels in recreationally active men after they’d eaten high-fat meals. One group ate a fatty meal after they exercised. A second group ate a high-fat meal after taking a four-gram fish oil supplement. A third group ate a high-fat meal after exercising and taking the fish oil supplement. A control group ate a high-fat meal only.

The study found a 38 percent decline in peak triglyceride levels in the men who took a fish oil supplement before they ate a high-fat meal. Peak triglyceride levels dropped 50 percent in the men who exercised and took a fish oil supplement before they ate a high-fat meal.

Regular exercise and fish oil supplements may be beneficial for people who are concerned about maintaining a healthy triglyceride level.
Metabolism. 2004 Oct;53(10):1365-71.

In a similar, more recent study, combining fish-oil supplements with regular exercise improved both body composition and heart disease risk factors. Overweight participants with various heart disease risk factors were assigned to one of three groups: fish oil (approximately 1.9 grams/day of omega-3 fats), fish oil and exercise, or placebo (sunflower oil). The exercise group walked 3 days/week for 45 minutes. Heart disease risk factors and body composition were measured at 0, 6, and 12 weeks. The group taking fish oil had a significant reduction in triglycerides, increased HDL cholesterol, and improved arterial vasodilation (blood flow). Both fish oil and exercise independently reduced body fat.

This study showed that increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids could be a useful addition to exercise programs aimed at improving body composition and decreasing cardiovascular disease risk.

Source: AM J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1267-74.

Omega-3 fatty acids  derived mainly  from concentrated natural fish oil containing EPA and DHA.

The benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids:

1. Aids, assists or helps in the maintenance or improvement of general well-being.
2. May help reduce joint inflammation associated with arthritis.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain healthy joints
4. Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain healthy cardiovascular function
5. Fatty acids are key components of the brain and eye.
6. DHA is important in the growth and development of the foetal brain during pregnancy.

There are many brands of fish oil supplements in the market today. Just make sure you purchase one that is pure (free of mercury) and has the highest concentration of EPA and DHA in the fish oil.

EPA and DHA are two important Omega-3 essential fatty acids, meaning that they cannot be made by human body and have to be acquired from diet.

Most dietary source of EPA and DHA are from fish or seafood.  It has been recommended that people eat 1-2 fish meal every week.  This may not provide sufficient quantities of dietary Omega 3 EFA.  Therefore supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids is an excellent way to ensure that your diet includes a concentrated balance of EPA and DHA.

Some brands of fish oil are fortified with Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) and Tocopherols to prevent oxidation of the omega-3 fatty acids.   Emerging evidences have suggested many protective health benefits of vitamin D in addition to its role for building strong bones.  As vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, fish oil supplement provides an ideal delivery medium for vitamin D, to ensure sufficient daily intake of vitamin D.

A recent issue of Mayo Clinic:

Proceedings summarizes the latest findings on omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular health, and advocates supplementation for the groups most likely to benefit.

Large trials of over 32,000 participants using fish oil supplements have shown reductions in cardiovascular events (heart attacks, stroke) of 19% to 45%. Researchers recommend consumption of EPA and DHA at 1 gram/day for those with known coronary artery disease and at least 500 mg/day for those without disease.

The recommendation is increased to 3 to 4 grams/day for those with high triglycerides, a dosage shown to lower triglycerides by as much as 20% to 50%. Since 2 meals of oily fish per week generally provide only 400 to 500 mg/day of DHA and EPA, people with high triglycerides and heart disease are strongly encouraged to use fish oil supplements to reach beneficial levels. Researchers also state that the combination of omega-3 supplements and statin drugs provides significantly enhanced benefit over statin use alone in improving blood lipid levels.

This important review can be accessed in its entirety at the following link on the Mayo Clinic Proceeding swebsite.

Article Source: Mayo Clin Proc. 2008;83(3):324-332

A recent study among 252 women followed over 20 months investigated the impact of different types and amounts of fibre on body weight and body fat.

Across the 20 month time frame, almost 50% of the women gained weight and body fat. Among the women who did not gain weight, each gram of dietary fibre consumed on top of their usual intake contributed to a 0.25kg decrease in body weight and 0.25% decrease in body fat.

Different types of fibre appeared to contribute to the changes in body weight and body fat, most likely due to the fact that eating high fibre foods helps reduce the amount of energy (kilojoules) people eat over time.

It didn’t matter whether the women were active or how much dietary fat they ate – the effect of fibre on reducing weight and body fat was the same.

Take-home message: Adding wholegrain foods, fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts can boost your daily fibre intake, which may in turn help keep your weight in check.

Source: Journal of Nutrition, March 2009

New research has shown a significant correlation between fish oil intake during pregnancy and asthma incidence during childhood. Children whose mothers supplemented with fish oil during pregnancy were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with childhood asthma than children from non-supplementing mothers.

Current evidence suggests that asthma development may be associated with maternal intake of marine omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy. A recent study was conducted to examine whether an increase in omega-3 fatty acid intake during pregnancy could affect risk of asthma in their offspring.

A population-based sample of 533 women with normal pregnancies were randomly assigned 2:1:1 to receive either four one-gram fish oil capsules/day providing 2.7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, four similar looking one-gram capsules/day with just olive oil, or no capsules at all.

During the 16 years that passed since childbirth, the rate of asthma incidence was reduced by 63% and the rate of allergic asthma was reduced by 87% in the fish oil group as compared to the olive oil group.

Assuming that the intake of olive oil had no significant influence one way or another, these results support the theory that increased fish oil omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in late pregnancy may provide important preventive potential in relation to childhood asthma development. Additional studies on this subject are currently in progress, which should shed more light on the mechanism behind this promising discovery.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 88, No. 1, 167-175, July 2008

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High-glycemic diets and their impact on blood glucose levels are increasingly associated with a heightened risk of obesity, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. New research has shown that eating a low-glycemic breakfast comprised of certain whole grains can help moderate blood glucose responses for the rest of the day.

Researchers recently studied the extent to which high blood sugar levels and after-meal blood sugar increases are adjusted by the characteristics of cereal foods, including their glycemic index (GI) and content of indigestible carbohydrates (dietary fiber).

Twelve healthy subjects consumed two different test meals. In series 1, the test meals were consumed at breakfast, and after-meal blood glucose levels were calculated after a test breakfast, standardized lunch, and standardized dinner. In series 2, the subjects consumed test evening meals, and blood sugar levels were calculated after a standardized breakfast the following morning.

Breakfasts comprised of low-glycemic grains (such as barley or rye kernel) lowered blood glucose response levels at breakfast, at the following lunch, and cumulatively throughout the day (breakfast + lunch + dinner) when compared with white-wheat bread. An evening meal of low-glycemic grains resulted in lower blood-glucose responses at the following morning’s breakfast (again, when compared with white-wheat bread).

The study concluded that glucose tolerance and sensitivity at subsequent meals can be improved during the course of an entire day – or even overnight – by choosing specific low-glycemic, whole-grain cereal products.

Article Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 87, No. 3, 645-654, March 2008

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