Volume 22. Number 4. 2017

Whole Grain foods may fill critical nutrient gap

A study published in the journal Nutrients suggests that Americans’ consumption of grain foods such as bread, rolls, tortillas, and ready-to-eat cereals is very low, less than 15% of all calories in the total diet. However, this small quantity of grain foods is providing a disproportionately positive amount of critical nutrients needed to maintain health.

To conduct the study, more than 10,000 dietary surveys from adults aged 19 and over were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is a nationally representative survey of adults that asked people to recall what they had eaten in the past 24 hr. Data were analyzed for men and women, and looked at the consumption of all grains and various sub-categories (such as bread, rolls, tortillas, ready-to-eat cereals, cooked grains, quick breads, and sweet bakery products). The researchers also looked at the contribution of these products to vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. The researchers were especially interested in how grains contribute to under-consumed, or shortfall nutrients. These include fiber, folate, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

They found that all grain foods contributed less than 15% of all calories in the total diet, while delivering more than 20% of three shortfall nutrients—dietary fiber, folate, and iron—and greater than 10% of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin A. In addition, all grain foods collectively are nutrient-rich and are sources for several shortfall nutrients and nutrients of public health concern. This includes dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, calcium, and iron.

“These data show that grain foods are the foods we love that love us back—finally, we can enjoy bread again,” said study co-author, Yanni Papanikolaou, vice president at Nutritional Strategies, a scientific consulting firm. “The nutrient contribution of all whole and refined grain food products, including breads, rolls and tortillas, and ready-to-eat cereals, can play a key role in helping American adults meet recommendations for under-consumed nutrients and nutrients of public health concern.” IFT Weekly Newsletter. 7 Sept. 2017.

The Development of Low-Cesium Rice

Occurrence of radiocesium in food has raised health concerns after nuclear accidents. Despite being present at low concentrations in contaminated soils, cesium (Cs+) can still be taken up by crops and transported to their edible parts. Such a plant capacity to take up Cs+ from low concentrations has affected the production of rice (Oryza sativa L.) in Japan after the nuclear accident at Fukushima in 2011.

Manuel Nieves-Cordones from CEBAS-CSIC, together wuith researchers from various universities and institutions worldwide, recently reported the inactivation of the Cs+-permeable K+ transporter, OsHAK1, using the CRISPR-Cas system, which then reduced Cs+ uptake by rice plants.

In rice, Cs+ uptake is dependent on two functional properties of OsHAK1: a poor capacity of the plant system to discriminate between Cs+ and potassium (K+), and a high capacity to transport Cs+ from very low external concentrations. In an experiment with a Fukushima soil highly contaminated with 137Cs+, transformed rice plants lacking OsHAK1 function displayed significantly reduced levels of 137Cs+ in roots and shoots.

These results open new perspectives to produce safe food in regions contaminated by nuclear accidents. Crop Biotech Update 19 July 2017

For more information, read the article in The Plant Journal.

Microbiomics: The Next Big Thing?

It is estimated that we each have 10 trillion of our own cells, accompanied by an even greater 100 trillion "good" bacteria cells. These bacteria cells, along with assorted viruses, fungi and other microbes, collectively constitute what is often referred to as the microbiome. Researchers now believe the microbiome is essential for the proper functioning of the body -- and that antibiotics often deplete the microbiome, impairing body function and causing maladies.

Although it may sound weird, unappealing, even disgusting, fecal transplantation has piqued the interest of gastroenterologists and infectious disease specialists around the world. Meanwhile, patients suffering from severe diarrhea are demanding the procedure and the FDA has weighed in with restrictions on how this 'unapproved therapy' can be delivered.

Why all the excitement? Fecal transplantation is not new: Ben Eiseman, a surgeon at the University of Colorado, described it more than 50 years ago to treat a life-threatening diarrheal disease caused by a bacterium called pseudomonas enterocolitis. But until a few years ago, Eiseman's unconventional treatment was largely dismissed by the medical community, at least in the United States (it has been much more widely used in Australia). Then, in 2010, The New York Times ran a story about a doctor in Minnesota using fecal transplantation to successfully treat a patient with a severe infection caused by a bacterium called Clostridium difficile, or 'C. diff.' And this year, a randomized controlled trial of the treatment was stopped early when an interim review of the data showed not only that it worked, but that it was far superior to the standard treatment with powerful antibiotics. Fecal transplantation, also known as fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) or bacteriotherapy, had arrived. Penn Medicine. Date: Spring 2014.

Coffee may help us live longer

A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that daily coffee drinkers may be up to 18% less likely to die over the next 10–16 years, versus non-drinkers. The researchers note that previous studies have linked coffee consumption with reduced risk for death, but they noted that data for nonwhite populations are sparse.

Using the MEC (Multiethnic Cohort), a prospective population-based cohort study established between 1993 and 1996, the researchers analyzed the coffee intake of 185,855 African Americans, Native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Latinos, and whites, aged 45–75 at recruitment. At the study’s start, the participants reported on their diet and lifestyle habits, including coffee drinking.

During the next decade, more than 58,000 study participants died. The researchers found that those who consumed one to three cups a day were 12–18% less likely to die, versus non-drinkers. They also found that the pattern was consistent across racial groups. The researchers believe this finding supports the theory that coffee, itself, might have some beneficial biological effects. IFT The Weekly: July 19, 2017 Abstract.


Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers developed genetically engineered bananas enriched with vitamin A to save thousands of lives in Africa who are at risk of having vitamin A deficiency.

According to Professor James Dale, the lead scientist, they have boosted the vitamin A concentration of banana up to four times their target. They initially tested the genetic modifications on Cavendish banana in Queensland, Australia, then on highland or east African cooking variety of banana in collaboration with researchers at the National Agricultural Research Organization. The scientists were concerned about possible decline in the amount of pro-vitamin A produced over generations but were thrilled it did not occur even after five generations.

It is expected that it will take six years before the vitamin A-enriched banana will be available in Uganda due to regulatory testing. Crop Biotech Update. 12 July 2017

Read more from QUT

Waste not want not

The daily problem of retailers tossing out perfectly good unsold food is well known and contributes substantially to the circa 40% of "food"going to waste.

At the age of 20, Australian student Monica Davis hit on the idea of connecting retailers with the public in real time to solve the problem for which she received a Young Innovator Of The Year Award . At day's end retailers snap photos of surplous food and posts them on an "app" called Rumble, along with heavily reduced prices. With that information fed directly to your phone, customers, charities and others in need can zero in on nearby bargains.

Retailers gain a small profit for unsold food, those in need can get a meal at a discount and the amount of waste going to landfill is massivly reduced. A win win situation for all especially if the store can learn to control purchases more accurately. Readers Digest 2017.

Feasibility Study Of Iron Fortification Of Rice In Sub-Saharan Africa

As global food systems face the increasing burden of feeding a growing population while improving health outcomes, fortification of staple commodities is gaining renewed attention in many countries. This report specifically addresses the potential for iron fortification of rice in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is facing high rates of anemia in many locations, and where consumption and production of rice is highly variable. Despite the narrow scope of this report, information where available is presented on overall micronutrient status. It presents findings on a variety of indicators that illustrate the status of national health landscapes, and rice value chains to help further inform discussions about using rice as a vehicle for micronutrient fortification in Sub-Saharan Africa. As such, it provides a useful complement to the recent rice fortification feasibility and coverage study published by FFI and GAIN (2016). ILSI Research Foundation 2017.

Can Artificial Sweeteners Aid Weight Loss? Yes, But Don't Compensate!

Artificial sweeteners, also known as non-nutritive sweeteners, may help people reach their body weight goal, and also maintain a healthy body weight, researchers reported in two journals, Circulation and Diabetes Care. However, users have to make sure they do not "compensate" by eating high-calorie foods. An example of "compensating" might be ordering a diet coke and also a large slice of chocolate cake.
Non-nutritive sweeteners are also known as low-calorie sweeteners, artificial sweeteners, non-caloric sweetners, and intense sweeteners.
The American Diabetes Association stated that for diabetes patients, using artificial sweeteners on their own or in foods and drinks may help aid glucose control if "used appropriately".
In a new scientific statement issued by the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association, replacing added sugars in drinks and other foods with non-nutritive sweeteners can, if used appropriately, help people lose weight and keep it off.
However, according to the article in Circulation, there is limited compelling scientific evidence that using artificial sweeteners is effective in the long-term for reducing calorie intake and consuming fewer added sugars.

The American Heart Association (AHA) states that a high dietary sugar intake is a contributory factor for obesity, cardiovascular disease, and developing type 2 diabetes. Added sugar consumption should not exceed 100 calories per day for women and 150 calories for men, if the consumer does not wish to increase the risk of the diseases and conditions mentioned above, the AHA adds. MedicalNewsToday

Snippets - contributions are welcome. Edited and produced by Dr. B Cole. - / Fax 011 660 6444 with the help of the Northern Branch Committee.