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Green tea extract (GTE) is correlated with numerous health benefits related to cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Green tea consumption has been known to be associated with enhanced cardiovascular and metabolic health. Based on previous research showing that green tea extract has a positive impact on numerous health parameters, researchers at Poznan University of Medical Sciences in Poland hypothesized that supplementation with GTE would improve insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk factors in obese, hypertensive individuals.

Fifty-six obese, hypertensive study participants were randomized to receive either a placebo or 379 mg of GTE daily for three months. Several health-related measurements were taken at baseline and again at the end of the three month period. Some of the key measurements included blood pressure, plasma lipid levels, glucose levels, total antioxidant status, and insulin levels.

The results of this double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed a correlation between the GTE supplementation and several markers of health status. GTE supplementation was associated with a statistically significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure of 4.9 and 4.7 mmHg, respectively.

When compared with the placebo there was also a significant reduction in fasting serum glucose, insulin levels, and insulin resistance. A significant decrease in LDL and an increase in HDL cholesterol were also observed. In addition, total antioxidant status increased, while serum tumor necrosis factor α and C-reactive protein were lowered.

Results from this research continue to add strong evidence supporting the use of GTE supplementation. The researchers acknowledge that their study only apply to one particular group of individuals. However, because this group of individuals is overrepresented in many modern populations, the study authors recommend that the effect of GTE supplementation should be further evaluated.

Bogdanski P. et al. Nutrition Research (New York, N.Y.). 2012; 32(6):421-7.


In a new analysis of 66 research studies, increased consumption of fiber and whole grains is related to a significant decrease in risk of several vascular diseases.

High fiber intakes, including whole grains, are generally recommended for prevention of cardiovascular diseases, but comprehensive and specific research on dosages in humans is relatively unknown.

A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition analyzed longitudinal studies investigating wholegrain and fiber intake in relation to the risk of type-2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease (CVD), weight gain and metabolic risk factors.

Researchers identified 45 prospective cohort studies and 21 randomized-controlled trials conducted between 1966 and February 2012. After examining whole-grain and fiber intakes, study characteristics and risk estimates from these studies it was determined that compared with those that never or rarely consumed whole grains, those consuming 48-80 grams/day (3-5 servings of whole grains/day) had a 26% lower risk of T2D, 21% lower risk of CVD, and were less likely to gain weight.

In analyzing the randomized-controlled trials, the researchers also found that groups with higher intake of whole-grains had lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and fasting glucose than those that ate less fiber and whole grains.

The results from this meta-analysis offer evidence to support the beneficial effects of whole-grain intake in the prevention of certain vascular diseases and on maintenance of cardiovascular health.  More research is needed to determine the specific mechanisms responsible for the effect of whole grains on metabolic intermediates which correlate to the preventive benefits of fiber and whole grain.

Eva Qing Ye et al; J. Nutr. 2012. 142(7):1304-1313.



Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer.  Latest study indicates that increased fibre intake is associated with reduced risk for colorectal cancer.

Epidemiological evidence have demonstrated several health benefits associated with increasing fibre intake and replacing refined grains with whole grains, such as reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity.  A recent systematic review investigated the association between dietary fibre and whole grain intake and incidence of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer accounts for about 10% of all cases of cancer.  Evidence suggest that dietary factors are of major importance in the cause of colorectal cancer, particularly intakes of red and processed meat and alcohol are considered to be convincing dietary risk factors for colorectal cancer.  Whole grains are a major source of dietary fibre and contain nutrients that are removed during the refining process.  Whole grains are a major source of several vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which could plausibly influence the risk of colorectal cancer.

Statistical analysis of 25 prospective studies showed that there is a 10% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer for each 10 g/day intake of total dietary fibre and cereal fibre; and a 20% reduction for each three servings (90 g/day) of whole grain daily.

In summary, a high intake of dietary fibre, in particular cereal fibre and whole grains, was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.  Further studies are warranted to investigate in more details, including those for subtypes of fibre and other risk factors that may have public health implication in relation to risk reduction for colorectal cancer.

Dagfinn Aune et al; BMJ 2011;343:d6617


Some good news. A recent review shows that moderate intake of fructose, when used in place of other carbohydrates, may help improve blood sugar control.

Fructose is a sugar naturally found in fruit, vegetables and honey. There has been much controversy recently regarding the effect of fructose consumption on cardiovascular and metabolic health in humans.

A new study published in Diabetes Care indicates that moderate fructose consumption may not be detrimental as some studies suggested, and that in certain groups it may even provide some benefit.

Canadian Researchers reviewed 18 trials involving participants with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. In each trial, subjects were fed diets that included fructose incorporated or sprinkled onto test foods such as breakfast cereals or in coffee. The diets with and without fructose contained the same amount of calories. Data gathered included fasting glucose, insulin and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), which is an indication of average blood glucose control over 3 months.

The researchers found that isocaloric exchange of fructose for carbohydrate significantly reduced glycated blood proteins, an indication of improved blood sugar control. The level of improvement was similar to what are typically achieved using oral anti-diabetic medications. In addition, these benefits were seen with no evidence of adverse effects on body weight, blood pressure, uric acid
(gout), or cholesterol. Fructose consumption did not significantly affect fasting glucose or insulin.

The results of this study highlight the need to bring attention back to the concept of moderation. In the popular media, all the emphasis on fructose-related harm draws attention further away from the issue of eating too many calories. Although larger and more comprehensive studies are needed to further assess both possible glycemic benefit and adverse metabolic effects, the current study shows that fructose intake in moderation may have cardiometabolic benefits diabetic adults.

Adrian I. Cozma, et al. Diabetes Care July 2012 Vol. 35(7): 1611-1620.



Appropriate nutrition in early childhood is important for normal growth and may influence long-term health and chronic disease status.

There is concern that while the energy intakes of young children are increasing, this may not be matched by the nutrient density of their diets. This has been interpreted by some to indicate a modern phenomenon of malnutrition in the developed world – an increasing prevalence of childhood obesity co-existing with key micronutrient deficiencies.

A recent study published in Medical Journal of Australia conducted a cross-sectional survey of children aged 1–5 years from a representative population sample in Adelaide, South Australia, to determine the nutrient intakes and status of preschool children.

The survey found that overall energy contributions from carbohydrate, protein, fat and saturated fat intakes were 50%, 17%, 33% and 16%, respectively. 95% of children over 2 years of age had a saturated fat intake that exceeded the maximum recommended limit of 10% of total energy.  Only a minority of children achieved the adequate intake for omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (32%) and dietary fibre (18%).  32% of children had zinc deficiency.

The study author concluded that the dietary intake of children in the study was adequate for macronutrients and the majority of micronutrients. However, low intakes of fibre and n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and high saturated fat intakes have raised concerns that this dietary pattern may be associated with adverse long-term health effects.  There is a need for increased attention on establishing healthy eating patterns in early childhood, as dietary patterns established early in life often carry through to adulthood.

[Note: It is worth pointing out that this survey used the EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) as reference value when evaluating nutrients intake adequacy. EAR is much lower than RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake).  If RDI were used as reference value, the prevalence of deficiency for key micronutirents might be higher than findings from this survey.  Further studies are warranted to better define optimal nutritional requirements.]

Shao J Zhou et al; MJA 2012; 196: 696–700

Studies revealed that the majority of the pediatric population may fall short of recommended dietary intakes of omega-3 fatty acids.

According to NHMRC Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, the daily Adequate Intake of essential fatty acids and omega-3 fats such as DHA/EPA/DPA is 55mg/day for children aged 4-8 years of age. However estimates of actual dietary intake of these beneficial fatty acids are limited in children.

A study in the Journal of Nutrition has published direct quantification of fatty acid intakes in 41 children aged 4-8 years.  Identical portions of all food and dietary supplements consumed over 3 days were collected. Duplicate samples were analyzed for calories, macronutrients, and fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Based on the dietary analysis, the children averaged 1,404 kcal energy intake per day, and their fatty acid intakes were at the following levels in mg/day: alpha-linolenic acid 1,611; EPA 38.4; DPA 26.3; and DHA 54.1.

Based on the US government recommended Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), 61% of the children met the adequate intake for ALA, and only 22% met the recommended intake for DHA + EPA. These intakes were compared with recently established Australia/New Zealand recommendations for children, where only about half the children (51%) met suggested intakes for EPA + DPA + DHA.

The result of this study indicates a significant deficit in the actual intakes of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including DHA, among Canadian and Australian children when compared to recommended intakes. This deficit gap can be readily filled with an increased consumption of fish/seafood, foods (dairy products, breads, and others) that have been enriched with various delivery forms of omega-3 EFA, and the use of supplementation where necessary.

Madden SM et al; J Nutr. 2009 Mar; 139(3):528-32.

June 2012

At present the clinical importance of fluoride is not through its nutritional effects, but through its beneficial pharmacological or toxicological actions. Although fluoride is not considered an essential element, it is still considered a beneficial element.  The toxicity of fluoride has received much attention since it was discovered to cause mottled teeth.  Reviews of fluoride toxicity indicate that chronic toxicity through excessive intake, mainly through water supplies and industrial exposure has been reported in many parts of the world.   Toxicity of fluoride can be dental or skeletal fluorosis. As you can see the nature of fluoride remains controversal.

Although there is substantial scientific evidence that fluoride is essential for the formation of strong teeth and bones, there remains considerable debate regarding its use beyond childhood. In addition, many communities already fluoridate the water supply. Those who live in areas with unfluoridated water and wish to add fluoride to their dental care regimen, should discuss options with their dentist. Because of other available options, and due to the controversial nature of fluoride, a company has chosen to provide a fluoride-free toothpaste that everyone in the family can use and enjoy.



April 2012


It is estimated that 25% of the world’s population, and approximately 50% of pre-school children worldwide have anaemia.  50% of anaemia cases are due to iron deficiency.  Studies have shown that iron deficiency in infancy is related to poorer cognition in childhood.

Iron is an essential mineral that plays key function in oxygen transport and storage.  Iron deficiency is associated with fatigue, lethargy, impaired cognitive and motor function.  The risk factors of developing iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) include low iron intake, poor absorption of iron, and high iron demand particularly during infancy, growth spurts, adolescence, and pregnancy.  In observational studies anaemia and iron deficiency are associated with cognitive deficits, suggesting that iron supplementation may improve cognitive function.

A recent meta-analysis assessed whether iron supplementation improved cognitive functions including concentration, intelligence, memory, psychomotor skills and scholastic achievement.  Fourteen RCTs on iron supplementation in males and females aged 6 years and older were included in this analysis.

This analysis found that iron supplementation improved attention and concentration irrespective of baseline iron status.  In anaemic women and children, supplementation improved intelligence quotient (IQ) by 2.5 points, but had no effect on non-anaemic participants, or on memory, psychomotor skills or scholastic achievement.

Findings from this analysis provided evidence on the benefits of iron supplementation on cognitive function, however, further studies of at least one year’s duration with varying levels of baseline iron status and using well validated tests of cognition are needed to confirm and extend these results.

Falkingham et al. Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:4

April 2012


Korean Ginseng (Panax Ginseng) is an adaptogenic herb that has been used as potent energy tonic for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Modern clinical study has provided scientific evidence on its benefit in enhancing cognitive performance.

Although we do not yet fully understand the mechanism for many of Ginseng’s medicinal benefits, modern science using controlled clinical trials began to unravel scientific evidence on the health benefits of Ginseng supplementation.  Single doses of the traditional herbal treatment Panax ginseng have recently been shown to lower blood glucose levels and elicit cognitive improvements in healthy, overnight-fasted volunteers.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 27 healthy young adults completed a 10 minute “cognitive demand” test battery at baseline.  The 10 minute “cognitive demand” battery comprised a Serial Threes subtraction task (2 min); a Serial Sevens subtraction task (2 min); a Rapid Visual Information Processing task (5 min); and a “mental fatigue” visual analogue scale.

These young adults then consumed capsules containing either a Panax ginseng extract or a placebo, and 30 minutes later a drink containing glucose or placebo. A further 30 minutes later (i.e. 60 minutes post-baseline/capsules) they completed the “cognitive demand” battery six times in immediate succession.  The participants were divided into four groups: Placebo (0mg Ginseng/0 mg glucose); Ginseng (200mg Ginseng/0 mg glucose); Glucose (0 mg Ginseng/25 g glucose); or Ginseng/Glucose (200 mg Ginseng/25 g glucose).  Blood glucose levels were measured prior to the day’s treatment, and before and after the post-dose completions of the battery.

The results showed that both Panax ginseng and glucose enhanced performance of a mental arithmetic task, and ameliorated the increase in subjective feelings of mental fatigue experienced by participants during the later stages of the sustained, cognitively demanding task performance.  Accuracy of performing the Rapid Visual Information Processing task (RVIP) was also improved following the glucose load.  Panax ginseng caused a reduction in blood glucose levels 1 hour following consumption when ingested without glucose.

These results confirm that Panax ginseng may possess glucoregulatory properties and can enhance cognitive performance.

Reay JL etal; Journal of Psychopharmacology 2006; 20(6):771-81

Weight control strategies that are both safe and effective are needed to reduce the rate of the current obesity epidemic. People incorporating fortified meal replacements are more likely to have adequate essential nutrient intakes compared to a group following a more traditional food group diet.

A study published in the Nutrition Journal compared the macronutrient and micronutrient levels in the foods chosen by women following two different weight reduction programs.

Ninety-six generally healthy overweight or obese women randomly placed into two treatment groups: Traditional Food Group (TFG) or a Meal Replacement Group (MRG). The MRG included the use of 1-2 meal replacement drinks or bars per day. Both groups aimed to restrict energy levels to approximately 1,300 calories per day. After one year, weight loss was not significantly different between the groups, and both groups had macronutrient (Carbohydrate:Protein:Fat) ratios that were within the ranges recommended. Both groups experienced an improved dietary pattern with respect todecreased saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, with increased total servings/day of fruits and vegetables. However, the TFG had a significantly lower dietary intake of several vitamins and minerals compared to the MRG and were at greater risk for inadequate intake.

Although both groups successfully lost weight while improving overall dietary adequacy, the group incorporating fortified meal replacements tended to have a more adequate essential nutrient intake compared to the group following a more traditional food group diet. This study supports the need to incorporate fortified foods and/or dietary supplements while following an energy-restricted diet for weight loss.

Ashley JM et al. Nutr J. 2007 Jun 25; 6:12.

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