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Newly published research shows that adults with high fibre intakes are less likely to gain weight and inches around the waist.

It is known that dietary fibre may play a role in obesity prevention. However the role that different individual fibre sources play in weight change is less certain. In a recent paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers investigated the association of total dietary fibre, cereal fibre, and fruit and vegetable fibre with changes in weight and waist circumference.

The prospective cohort study included 89,432 European participants, aged 20–78 years, who were initially free of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Participants were followed for an average of 6.5 years. Adjustments were made for follow-up duration, dietary variables, and baseline anthropometric, demographic, and lifestyle factors.

Total fibre was inversely associated with weight and waist circumference change during the study period.  For a 10 gram/day higher total fibre intake, there was an estimated 39 g/year weight loss and waist circumference decreased by 0.08 cm/year. A 10 gram/day fibre intake from cereals results in 77 g/year weight reduction and 0.10 cm/year reduction in waist circumference. Fruit and vegetable fibre was not associated with weight change but had a similar effect on waist circumference as total and cereal fibre intake.

Over a period of 6.5 years, weight gain and increases in waist circumference would be expected in typical adults.  The findings of this research may support a beneficial role of higher intake of dietary fibre, especially cereal fibre, in prevention of weight and waist circumference gain.

Source :  Am J Clin Nutr Vol. 91, No. 2, 329-336, February 2010

It’s that time of year that we all look forward to so eagerly – a time for rejuvenation and re-energising, for new starts and to spring into action.  Spring is the perfect season to start reinstating a healthy lifestyle, after an indulgent winter.

Fresh air, fresh food and fresh starts are what we envisage when we talk about spring.  It is the perfect season for a brand new start.

On the flip side, it is also that time of year when you and your family are prone to sneezing, hay fever and allergies that prevent you from enjoying the outdoors.

Here are some tips to give you that extra boost to getting back into a healthy – nutrition, fitness and skincare regimen after the tendency to neglect ourselves in the cold, dark winter months.

1. For a great source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals opt for fresh vegetables. Now is the best time of year to shop at your local fresh produce market and buy fresh salads, spinach, and fruits.

2. Take some time out for jogging, swimming or even a relaxing walk. Take advantage of the brighter days and go to the park with your family or with a friend or two. This will definitely help you rejuvenate.

3. Watch out for the seasonal cold. You might believe that winter is the best season to catch a cold but during spring most people have a tendency to catch a cold or even flu. So avoid crowded places where viruses lurk, and maintain a good nutritional supplement regime.

4. Spring allergies arrive at the onset of spring. If you know that you are allergic to pollen it is best to use air filters indoors during these few weeks, and consult with a medical practitioner on appropriate preventative measures and medications, so that allergies do not overcome you.

5. As you will be spending more and more time outdoors don’t forget to use sunscreen to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. Protect your nose, lips and ears as they tend to get burned a lot more easily.

Some important ingredients to help through spring…

Vitamin D: Studies have shown that people who wake up earlier are healthier than night owls who completely miss the morning light. Especially after our long winter with no light, it will do you good to take advantage of the early morning light and the vitamin D it gives.

Antioxidants: Antioxidants are important components found in food that help to regulate bodily activities such as digestion and breathing! Some of the better known antioxidants include beta-carotene in carrots and vitamin C in orange juice. There are over 5,000 antioxidant components, including other vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenols which can be found in good, antioxidant-rich spring food sources.

Grape Seed Extract: An ingredient that is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect human cells from oxidation. This is a good thing, because oxidation of cells can lead to cell damage, which can lead to the beginning of degenerative diseases. Antioxidants, because they stop or slow down the oxidation of cells, are known to have a broad range of health benefits.

Omega: Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. They are necessary for human health but the body can’ t make them – you have to get them through food. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, other seafood including algae and krill, some plants, and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development.

It is important to have a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in the diet. It does also play a role in assisting protect the skin from damaging effects of the sun.

Probiotics: Probiotics are live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They are also called “friendly bacteria” or “good bacteria.” Probiotics are available in foods and dietary supplements. By consuming foods with probiotics, you can increase the number of healthy bacteria, boost your immunity, and promote a healthy digestive system.

Review your current nutritional, fitness and skincare regimes and make some positive changes that will benefit you in the long-term.

Spring time is the best time to cleanse your system and start afresh.


Several dietary factors are known to be risk factors for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness among persons over 65. New research indicates that high-glycemic-index diets may be a risk factor for early AMD and potential visual loss later in life.

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the association between dietary glycemic index and the 10 year incidence of AMD in the Blue Mountain Eye Study population.

This was a population-based study with 3,654 participants over 49 years of age. Volunteers were examined at the beginning (1992-1994); then were reexamined after 5 years and again after 10 years.

Over 10 years, 208 of the participants developed early AMD. After adjusting for age, smoking, other risk factors, and dietary constituents, a higher average dietary glycemic index was associated with an increased 10 year risk of early AMD. Conversely, a greater consumption of cereal fiber and breads and cereals (predominantly lower glycemic index foods such as oatmeal) was associated with a reduced risk of early AMD. No relation was observed with advanced AMD.

The research suggests that a high-glycemic-index diet is a risk factor for early AMD, and low-glycemic-index foods such as oatmeal may protect against early AMD.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 79, No. 5, 865-873, May 2004


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

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

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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

8 May 2010

Epidemiological data demonstrate that regular dietary intake of plant-derived foods and beverages reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.  Among many ingredients, cocoa might be an important mediator.  For many centuries, cocoa has been known for its good taste, now recent researches based on epidemiological observation studies suggest that cocoa intake was inversely associated with risk of cardiovascular mortality.

The health benefits of cocoa are probably mediated mainly by its flavonoids, a heterogeneous group of compounds found primarily in fruits and vegetables.  Although still debated, a range of potential mechanisms through which flavanoiods, especially epicatechin which is rich in cocoa, might exert their benefits on cardiovascular health have been proposed including activation of nitric oxide (NO) and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiplatelet effects.  These in turn might improve endothelial function, lipid levels, blood pressure, insulin resistance, and eventually clinical outcome.

Over consumption of chocolate is associated with caries, obesity, high blood pressure, and even diabetes.  Therefore, many doctors currently tend to warn patients about the potential health hazards of consuming large amount of chocolate.  It is important to strictly differentiate between the natural product cocoa and the processed product chocolate, which refers to the combination of cocoa, sugar, milk and other ingredients. Although cocoa itself has potential beneficial health effects, the high sugar and fat content of commercially available milk chocolate may not provides the same benefits.

For a little indulgence, consider cocoa-based products that are rich in flavonols but low in sugar and fats.

Source: Circulation 2009; 119:1433-1441

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