1 July 2018

GI News - July 2018

GI News

GI News is published by the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre. Our goal is to help people choose the high-quality carbs that are digested at a rate that our bodies can comfortably accommodate and to share the latest scientific findings on food and diet with a particular focus on carbohydrates, dietary fibres, blood glucose and the glycemic index.

Publisher:
Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Scientific Editor/Managing Editor: Alan Barclay, PhD, APD AN
Contact GI News: glycemic.index@gmail.com

Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service
Manager: Fiona Atkinson, PhD, APD AN
Contact: sugirs.manager@sydney.edu.au

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

BACK TO THE FUTURE 
Researchers from Oxford University and the Swiss agricultural research institute, Agroscope, report that the same food can have very different environmental impacts – the best growing practices achieved the same yield with about a third of the impact. For instance, the worst 10 per cent of beef production produces 12 times more greenhouse gas and requires 50 times more land to produce 100 grams of protein, compared to the best 10 per cent of beef production. The trend was the same among the major crops — wheat, maize, and rice.
Legumes
The idea behind the study was to help inform food producers and consumers on better ways to reduce their environmental impact. To do this they created a comprehensive database on the environmental impacts of nearly 40,000 farms, and 1,600 processors, packaging types, and retailers for 40 major foods.

But the inescapable trend was that even the best managed livestock can’t produce the equivalent amount of protein as the worst managed vegetable crop, without causing a bigger environmental impact and why they conclude animal product-free diets are likely to deliver greater environmental benefits than changing production practices both today and in the future. Hence “Would you go vegan to save the planet?” headlines.

There’s no question in our minds here at GI News that making better choices about the food we eat – where it has come from, how it is grown and how animals are farmed – matters.

The researchers focused on environmental impacts. Not human health impacts. We are big fans of plant-based diets built around the foods the natural world has provided for us – good, wholesome carbs including fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts, and grains. These foods and the traditional staples we make from them are both sustaining and sustainable.

In fact, you only have to look around the world to see that plant-based dietary patterns such as the traditional Mediterranean and Japanese diets are associated with good health and long life. The “Blue Zones” story is the same. In these communities where people are ten times more likely to be living a healthy, active life until they are 100 than the rest of us, author and researcher, Dan Buettner reports they:
• eat food, not too much, mostly plants
• are active every day
• get plenty of sleep
• are not stressed out, and
• have strong social connections.

He also found that their diets are as noteworthy for their diversity as for what they share. In Loma Linda, California, they are vegans. In Costa Rica, their diet includes eggs, dairy, and meat. In Ikaria, Greece, and Sardinia, Italy, they practice variations on the theme of Mediterranean diets. In Okinawa, Japan, a traditional plant-based, rice-centric diet produces the same outstanding results.

After infancy, we have considerable flexibility in our food choices because we are omnivores. We evolved to be adaptable. We are not “One Diet Fits All” people and we don’t think the only choice we have to deliver environmental benefits is ditching animal products. But we do think it’s back to the future time where we feel good about the food we produce, buy, cook and eat and we enjoy the pleasure it brings each day with family and friends. Our goal here at GI News is to help people simplify their lives and choose the sustaining and sustainable good wholesome carbs that are digested at a rate that our bodies can comfortably accommodate. That’s why we wrote The Good Carbs Cookbook where we list the 10 reasons why we love them.

1. We love the way they power the brain.
2. We love the way they fuel the muscles.
3. We love the energy they give.
4. We love the good stuff (vitamins and minerals) that comes with them.
5. We love their keep-it-regular fibre habit.
6. We love preparing meals for family and friends with them.
7. We love the traditional foods they put on the plate.
8. We love the variety and pleasure they bring to the table.
9. We love the way they feed the world.
10. We love their lighter footprint on the planet.

Read more:

WHAT’S NEW?

SUPPLEMENTS MAY DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD 
The most commonly consumed vitamin and mineral supplements provide no consistent health benefit or harm, suggests a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology led by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto. “We were surprised to find so few positive effects of the most common supplements that people consume,” said Dr. David Jenkins, the study's lead author. “Our review found that if you want to use multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium or vitamin C, it does no harm - but there is no apparent advantage either.”

Dietary Supplements

The study found folic acid alone and B-vitamins with folic acid may reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke. Meanwhile, niacin and antioxidants showed a very small effect that might signify an increased risk of death from any cause.

“These findings suggest that people should be conscious of the supplements they’re taking and ensure they’re applicable to the specific vitamin or mineral deficiencies they have been advised of by their healthcare provider,” Dr. Jenkins said. “In the absence of significant positive data - apart from folic acid's potential reduction in the risk of stroke and heart disease – it’s most beneficial to rely on a healthy diet to get your fill of vitamins and minerals.”

Writing in The Conversation, Prof Clare Collins says: “Most people in Western countries don’t have an optimal diet. This review shows taking supplements as an “insurance policy” against poor dietary habits does not work. If it did, there would have been a reduction in early death … The bottom line is we need to eat more nutrient-rich whole foods, including foods high in folate such as green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, poultry, eggs, cereals and citrus fruits. Many breads and breakfast cereals in Australia are fortified with folate. Good food sources of niacin (vitamin B3) are lean meats, milk, eggs, wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts, leafy green vegetables and protein-containing foods.”

Read more:

THE VEG ADVANTAGE 
Over the past twenty years, Dr Neal Barnard has undertaken a number of studies looking specifically at the benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets for people with type 2 diabetes. “A plant-based diet is the preferred approach to type 2 diabetes,” he says. “It is easy, effective, and all the ‘side-effects’ are good ones—weight loss, better blood pressure and cholesterol, and less need for medications.”
Vegetarianism
In a 74-week randomised trial, 99 adults with type 2 diabetes were placed on either a vegan diet or the 2003 American Diabetes Association (ADA) diet guidelines, which emphasised limiting calories and controlling carbohydrates. The vegan diet proved better at controlling BGLs and cholesterol. After an additional year of observation, the vegan group still had an edge when it came to controlling blood glucose and cholesterol.

A 10-city study conducted at GEICO plants around the US again showed that a vegan diet can improve body weight and blood glucose control. The researchers found that it is also promising for people with advanced diabetes. A randomised controlled pilot study showed that a low-fat vegan diet led to substantial improvements in painful diabetic neuropathy.

Research scientists know that adhering to all therapeutic diets requires some effort by the participants. Dr Barnard’s team has specifically monitored the acceptance of the vegan diet and reports that it appears to be no more challenging than other prescribed diets for people with type 2 diabetes.

In a 2014 systematic review and meta-analysis of 255 people (average age 42.5 years) followed for an average of 24 weeks (range 4–74 weeks) his team found that vegetarian diets were associated with improved glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes – a significant 0.39% reduction in HbA1c.

Read more:
LOWER-FAT DIET AND BREAST CANCER 
Of the 1764 women diagnosed with breast cancer during the Women's Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial, those following a lower-fat diet had increased breast cancer overall survival, although the increase was likely partly due to better survival from several causes of death. In the trial, 19,541 women followed a dietary intervention to reduce their fat intake to 20 percent of calories and increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and grains they were eating, while 29,294 women served as a usual-diet comparison group.

Read more:
CUT BACK SAT FAT TO REDUCE DIABETES RISK 
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In this small and short-term overfeeding study, the researchers gave overweight people an extra 1000 calories a day from saturated fat, unsaturated fat and carbohydrates (simple sugars). They found that where the extra calories came from made a difference to increases in IHTG (intrahepatic triglyceride). Saturated fat induced greatest increase in IHTG, insulin resistance, and harmful ceramides. They suggest that decreased intakes of saturated fat could be beneficial in reducing IHTG and the associated risk of diabetes.

Read more:
TWO RELIABLE REFERENCES 
Catherine Saxelby’s Complete Food and Nutrition Companion (second edition) A leading nutritionist for over 25 years, Catherine has educated a generation of Australians about healthy eating and getting the most from their diet. This A–Z guide is a practical family nutrition reference with more than 500 entries covering whole foods, processed foods, additives, nutrients, supplements and more.

Understanding the Science of Food from Molecules to Mouthfeel. Sharon Croxford and Emma Stirling wrote this as a food science text book. But anyone interested in food science will enjoy it. They describe the key processes in food preparation and the chemistry behind them in detail including denaturation and coagulation of proteins, gelatinisation, gelation and retrogradation of starches, thickening and gelling, browning reactions, emulsification, foams and spherification, chemical, mechanical and biological leaveners and fermentation and preservation. They also cover the science behind cooking techniques and the senses.

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

PROTEIN POWER 
Protein is one of the more popular and positive nutrition buzzwords today, with a myriad packaged processed foods declaring that they are high in protein. But what exactly is protein, what are the best sources, how much are we consuming, and do we really need those protein balls and shakes?
Protein balls
Proteins are chemical compounds made up chains of amino acids which themselves are composed of the elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. There are 20 amino acids that are important to humans, and nine (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) of these are considered essential in that they must be obtained from foods and drinks in our diets, whereas the other non-essential amino acids can be synthesised within our bodies. Amazingly, all of the proteins in our body are made from these 20 amino acids.

Proteins are essential parts of the structure and function or every cell in our body and the body of an average 80kg adults will contain about 13g of protein, with 43% found in muscle, 16% in blood and 15% in skin. The protein in our cells are constantly turning over, over a period of minutes to months, through the process of protein synthesis and degradation, which is one reason why we ideally need to obtain a range of proteins from foods and drinks each day. In addition to being used to make proteins, amino acids can be used for specific purposes within cells, like the formation of nerve transmitters and hormones. Amino acids also can be used as a source of energy – particularly when other sources of energy like carbohydrate and fat are restricted.

In the great scheme of things, our body’s top priority is to meet its energy requirements, and when energy from other sources is limited, it will break down protein to meet its needs. It does this by stripping off the nitrogen from the rest of the amino acid molecule, leaving carbon, oxygen and hydrogen skeletons to be used as fuels, just like carbohydrate, and provides 17 kJ per gram of protein. On the other hand, if you consume adequate carbohydrate and fat, your body spares protein from being used for energy. When amino acids are used for energy, the nitrogen molecules are converted to urea and excreted in your urine.

Most people eat a variety of foods containing many different proteins. Some foods contain all 9 essential amino acids in amounts suitable for humans and these are called complete protein foods. Commonly eaten foods that are complete proteins include animal foods like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy foods and in addition, soy protein is considered to be complete. Proteins in plant foods (vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds) are rarely complete, but when they are eaten in combination, either at the same meal (e.g., rice and beans, or bread and peanut butter), or another time of the day, you nearly always end up with a complete source of protein, which is one of the reasons why vegan diets (where you do not eat any animal foods) can meet all of our nutritional requirements if well designed.

Unfortunately, most people don’t realise that both low and high protein intakes are detrimental to health. Low intakes can impair the functioning of our immune systems, making us more prone to infections, and of course will stunt the growth of children and adolescents, and slow the healing of wounds and rates of recovery after surgery, for example. It is also possible to eat too much protein as our kidneys don’t have an unlimited capacity to remove urea from our blood. The upper limit of protein consumption in humans is estimated to be 35% of energy from protein, which for a typical person consuming 8,700 kJ (2080 Calories) a day would be 179 grams a day. Needless to say, this rarely occurs under normal circumstances, but has been observed in populations where food is scarce, and people are forced to rely heavily on eating wild animals like rabbits for food, and that’s why it is known as rabbit starvation or mal de caribou. Symptoms include diarrhoea, headache, fatigue, low blood pressure and slow heart rate, and a vague discomfort and hunger that can only be satisfied by consuming foods that are high in fats or carbohydrates.

The Estimated Average Requirement (the daily nutrient level estimated to meet the requirements of half the healthy population) for protein for men is 0.68g per kg body weight per day and for women it is 0.60g per kg body weight per day. Australia’s most recent nutrition survey (part of the Australian Health Survey, or AHS) in 2011/12 determined that men consumed an average of 104.6 g of protein per day or 1.2 g per kg body weight and women consumed 77.9g of protein per day or 1.1g per kg body weight. In other words, the average Australian adult consumes nearly twice as much protein as the estimated average requirement each day.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Australians have increased the amount of protein they consumed each day since the last national nutrition survey in 1995 – as low-carbohydrate diets have become more fashionable, people have replaced some of the carbohydrate with protein. The primary sources of high quality protein in the Australian diet are lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs and alternatives (e.g., soy-based products, other legumes, nuts and seeds, etc…) and milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives. The AHS found that only 17% (less than 1 in 5) of Australian adults consumed the recommended number of serves of meats and alternatives and less than 14% (around 1 in 7) consumed the recommended number of serves of milk, yoghurt, cheese and alternatives. Legumes are also a good source of protein, but again, less than 10% of Australians consume the recommended number of serves. Overall, these results suggest that most of the extra protein Australian adults are consuming is coming from discretionary foods. This may be highly refined protein devoid of other nutrients – or in other words “junk” protein.

In Australia at least, we should beware the high protein health halo – we don’t need to eat more processed foods high in refined proteins. We should instead be eating more of those high-quality protein-containing foods like lean meats, poultry, seafood, dairy and alternatives that generally don’t make protein claims on their packaging.

Read more:
• This edited extract is based on text from Dr Alan Barclay’s book Reversing Diabetes
• Australian Health Survey – Protein

Dr Alan Barclay  
Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian and chef (Cert III). He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 . He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and author/co-author of  The good Carbs Cookbook (Murdoch Books), Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York).

Contact: You can follow him on Twitter or check out his website.

KEEPING IT GREEN – EATING FOR BODY AND PLANET

PLASTIC-FREE JULY
Grocery shoppers in Montreal recently made headlines ditching excessive plastic packaging at the door of their supermarket in protest. Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza introduced a plastic-free aisle. Australian supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths will stop offering single-use plastic bags this month. Chile has boldly approved a nation-wide ban on single-use plastic bags. The anti-plastic movement is growing. We now have a whole month to focus, laser-like, on our own habits: plastic-free July.

The plastic-free challenge In preparation for ‘Plastic-Free July’ and to share our experiences with you, we decided to take the plunge and ditch single use plastic for a month. Did we succeed? Not entirely. Plastic is so omni-present as to be nearly impossible to avoid. Some swaps were simple; others not so much. It’s really about a shift in mindset and planning. It’s not easy going plastic free, but neither is a dying planet. Here’s what we did.

To avoid plastic shampoo bottles, we resorted to bar soap instead that left us with scarecrow hair. We are still looking for cosmetics in plastic-free or reusable packaging, and instead have settled for recyclable packaging rather than go completely native. Unwell with a cold? Try seeking relief for a sore throat with lozenges that don’t come in plastic-foil blister packs – impossible. We’d suggest sipping home-made lemon juice and honey and taking it with you in a small re-usable glass jar. Need a nice hot cup of tea or coffee to warm up from the inside? Most tea and coffee come in plastic packaging and take-away cups are lined with plastic making them near impossible to recycle. The best we could do is buy loose-leaf tea and coffee in larger amounts to reduce packaging or take our own re-usable containers to a bulk-produce store. And of course, say no to take away coffee cups and take our own. Grabbing some food on-the-go? It’s a disposable plastic nightmare that made us think twice about doing it at all or search hard for restaurants that use real cutlery and crockery. If you’d like to try ‘Plastic-Free July’ we’ve got the following tips to help you avoid single-use plastics.

Plastic-free hacks on-the-move 
Keep these eco-friendly alternatives in your bag and say “no thanks” to disposable plastics:

  • Metal spork: An easy (and less flimsy) alternative to disposable plastic cutlery. 
  • Reusable coffee cup: Some cafes even offer discounts if you BYO reusable cup! 
  • Metal drinking straw: Ditch plastic straws that harm marine life in favour of reusable metal straws. 
  • Glass storage container: Useful for bringing lunch to work or taking leftovers home from restaurants. 
  • Cloth bag: For those unplanned trips to the grocery store. 
  • Choose full eat-in restaurants with proper crockery and cutlery, or seek out take-aways with biodegradable packaging 
  • Avoid disposable plates, cutlery and cups for parties and picnics. Use re-usable or biodegradable. 
Plastic-free food shopping hacks 
  • Buy large quantities and decant them into smaller reusable containers, rather than buying single serves. 
  • Reusable produce sacks/bags: are handy for bringing smaller fruits and veggies like cherries or green beans to the checkout to be weighed. 
  • Make your own: bread, yoghurt and snacks to save packaging (and money) 
  • Shop local: farmers market, butcher, baker or greengrocer to reduce packaging 
  • Ditch plastic food wrap: re-usable wraps are available or use washable containers instead. 
Plastic-free food wrap

Plastic-free bathroom hacks 
  • Metal safety razor: Not only do metal razors look great on your vanity; you can also change the blades and re-use the metal razor for a lifetime. The blades are cheap as chips and give you a really close shave! 
  • Face cloth: An alternative to facial scrubs with plastic micro beads and make-up wipes. Keep them fresh by them drying them out after each use, ideally in the sun (have two on the go and alternate) 
  • Bar of soap: The humble but effective alternative to plastic bottles of body wash. 
  • Olive oil or coconut oil: Use a few drops as a moisturiser or anti-frizz serum for unruly hair. 
  • Bamboo toothbrush: A compostable alternative to plastic toothbrushes. 
  • Arrowroot powder: A package-free (and cheaper!) alternative to dry shampoo for those with oily hair. 
  • Female hygiene: ladies, join the army of enviro-crusaders ditching disposable feminine hygiene products and try re-usable menstrual cups and underwear (saves money and avoids waste in landfill). 
Read more:
Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

 Nicole Senior    
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.   Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.

GOOD CARBS FOOD FACTS A TO Z

BROWN RICE
Grains are at their most nourishing when we eat them as whole as possible or as minimally processed staples. They certainly figure prominently in the diets of the long-living Blue Zones folks and observational studies around the world (think of these as head counts) suggest that eating plenty of whole grains may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. That’s why health professionals tend to worship at the altar of wholegrains and “consume more whole grains” is enshrined in dietary guidelines around the globe.

BROWN RICE

Nutty tasting brown rice with just the inedible hull removed is the rice with whole grain credentials (it’s a good source of niacin and magnesium) and there are now 2-minute microwave options to help you get a meal on the table fast. Look for lower GI varieties (check out the database at www.glycemicindex.com) and store in a cool, dry place in a resealable packet or airtight container. Remember to keep portions moderate, because even when you choose a low GI rice, eating too much can have a marked effect on your blood glucose.

We think all whole foods that are core foods (minimally processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds) should be assigned five stars. Australia’s health star rating system (like traffic lights elsewhere) however, was designed for processed packaged foods not core foods like brown rice. The ratings system is currently being reviewed to see what needs to be done to align it better with existing dietary guidelines.

 Peas nutrition facts
 Source: The Good Carbs Cookbook

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN

THE GOOD CARBS COOKBOOK 
The Good Carbs Cookbook (by Alan Barclay, Kate McGhie and Philippa Sandall) published by Murdoch Books helps you choose the best fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts and grains and explains how to use them in 100 refreshingly nourishing recipes to enjoy every day, for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert. The recipes are easy to prepare, (mostly) quick to cook, long in flavour and full of sustaining goodness, so you feel fuller for longer. There is a nutritional analysis for each recipe and tips and helpful hints for the novice, nervous, curious or time-starved cook.

THE GOOD CARBS COOKBOOK

WILD AND BROWN RICE PILAF WITH MUSHROOMS AND ALMONDS 
A sensational combination of nutty chewy brown rice, and equally toothsome, nutty wild rice – the wild card in this pilaf. Mix the mushroom varieties to intensify flavour. Choose several mushroom varieties to intensify flavor and deliver a complex, deep, earthy mushroom taste: brown mushrooms provide dense texture and robust flavour; delicate buttons; slightly spongy aromatic shitake; or shell-shaped succulent oyster mushrooms. Instead of buttons, consider cremini, which are firm and earthy, with a little more oomph.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1¼ hours
Serves: 8

WILD AND BROWN RICE PILAF WITH MUSHROOMS AND ALMONDS

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 small carrot, scraped, finely chopped
1 small stick of celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 cups sliced mushrooms
Salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
1 cup brown rice
1 cup wild rice
4 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoon lemon zest from the zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
½ cup coarsely chopped raw almonds

Put the oil and butter in a large sturdy pot with a close fitting lid. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and gently cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften. Add the mushrooms, increase the heat to medium and cook and stir 5 minutes. Rinse the wild and brown rice, drain well and add to the pot. Stir until the grains are well coated with vegetable and oil mixture. Pour in the stock, (vegetable stock can replace chicken stock), bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to as low as you can. Put the lid on the pot (if it is not tightly fitting, cover the pot with foil and then ram the lid on) and cook for 50 minutes. It is important that you do not lift the lid during this time. • Remove the pot from the heat and lift the lid. Taste the rice—it should be al dente. If not, re-cover the pot and cook for another 10 minutes. The rice should not appear wet and must have a slight crunch. Add salt and pepper to taste with the lemon zest and juice. Replace the lid, remove from the heat and let the rice rest for 10 minutes. Add the parsley and almonds and fluff with a fork.

Per serve 
1045kJ/250 calories; 8g protein; 13g fat (includes 2.5g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.23); 22g available carbs (includes 2g sugars and 20g starches); 4g fibre; 370mg sodium; 390mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.96

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Nutritional analysis To analyse Australian foods, beverages, processed products and recipes, we use FoodWorks which contains the AusNut and Nuttab databases. If necessary, this is supplemented with data from www.calorieking.com.au or http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search.

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© ®™ The University of Sydney, Australia

1 June 2018

GI News - June 2018

GI News

GI News is published by the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre. Our goal is to help people choose the high-quality carbs that are digested at a rate that our bodies can comfortably accommodate and to share the latest scientific findings on food and diet with a particular focus on carbohydrates, dietary fibres, blood glucose and the glycemic index.

Publisher:
Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Scientific Editor/Managing Editor: Alan Barclay, PhD, APD AN
Contact GI News: glycemic.index@gmail.com

Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service
Manager: Fiona Atkinson, PhD, APD AN
Contact: sugirs.manager@sydney.edu.au

Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

SWEET TALK 
Hi Alan. I’ve still got a bee in my bonnet about oranges only getting 4½ stars when you ran them through the Australian Health Star Rating system for May GI News despite their being packed with good stuff like vitamin C, fibre, potassium, folate and over 170 different types of phytochemicals that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer effects. I find it hard to believe we have a star rating system that denies an all-natural whole food that comes straight off a tree and that’s been nowhere near a food manufacturing plant the full five. Next, you’ll tell me breast milk only gets 4½ stars. – Cheers, Philippa

Oranges

Hi Philippa. I’m going to disappoint you. Breast milk doesn’t get 4½ stars. It gets three. As Jennie wrote in “Old Nutrition, New Nutrition” (GI News, December 2014) “If breast milk were sold in the dairy compartment, it would have at least two red marks – one for saturated fat and one for sugars – human milk, along with the milk from donkeys and minks, has the highest sugar content (i.e. per cent lactose), of any mammalian milk.” – Cheers, Alan.

Hi Alan. This is heading into a classic Monty Python script. Only three stars for the food that Mother Nature designed for our babies as a perfect nutritional package with all the proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals they need to grow and thrive and fight infection because it contains lactose? – Cheers, Philippa

Hi Philippa. Well, it’s the sugars problem (as it was with oranges), but this time there’s also no dietary fibre to push the star numbers up. The nub of the problem is that while the real concern is about added sugars in our food supply, we currently can’t separate added sugars from the sugars naturally present in a food or drink on food labels. So current star rating systems use the total sugars which are on the labels for their ratings, and bonus-points for fibre to adjust for less-refined carbohydrates.

Some definitions. “Added sugars” according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) are all the mono- and disaccharides added to foods by food manufacturers, cooks or consumers. “Free sugars” include all those added sugars, plus all the sugars naturally present in honey, syrups (e.g., agave, maple, rice), fruit juices and concentrates. “Total sugars” are the added sugars; plus all the sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and concentrates; plus the naturally occurring sugars in whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, milk etc. Also, it’s important to remember that Australia’s health star rating system (like traffic lights) is actually meant for processed packaged foods not core foods – minimally processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. One solution is to assign 5 stars to all core foods. The ratings system here is currently being reviewed to see what needs to be done to align it better with existing dietary guidelines. Australia’s need updating though of course – Cheers, Alan.

Hi Alan and Philippa. The algorithms that underpin traffic lights and rating stars are based on the old nutrition that has long passed its use-by date. Here are some reasons why.

  • The energy content (calories/kilojoules) of a food is not alone the best way to judge a food – lentils and licorice have the same energy density. 
  • The fat content of food is not alone the best way to judge a food – nuts have more fat and are more energy dense than French fries. 
  • The sugars content is not alone the best way to judge a food – fruit is full of sugars. 
  • The sodium content is not alone the best way to judge a food – soft drinks are low in sodium. 
  • They ignore micronutrients – vitamins, most minerals (other than sodium) and phytochemicals. 
  • They ignore one important proven attribute of foods in the new nutrition – their glycemic load per serving. This factor is proven to influence appetite and the risk of developing diabetes. Appetite matters. 

Appetite is what drives our energy intake. It is not possible to balance energy intake and energy expenditure by counting calories. Firstly, no one knows how many calories they expend each day. Even if you could, the calories on the food label are not precise enough. Secondly, mathematical modelling shows that a small but persistent excess of only 7 calories or 30 kilojoules per day over and above energy requirements for 10 years underlies the current epidemic of obesity. Here in Australia, I’d like to see a food label system that: 
  • Focused on the positive – not just the negative. 
  • Tied in with our dietary guidelines (which need updating). 
  • Rated foods according to their contribution to desirable macronutrient and micronutrient intakes. 
  • Used Adam Drewnowski’s Nutrient Rich Foods Index, which rates individual foods based on their overall nutritional value, as an essential component. 
  • Encouraged higher protein intake, particularly from plant sources like legumes. 
  • Distinguished effectively between naturally occurring and added sugars. 
– Cheers, Jennie

Read more: 

WHAT’S NEW?

WHO ADDED ALL THAT SUGAR TO MAPLE SYRUP? 
Who knew that we could weave such a tangled web when we practice not to deceive, but to inform? Ted Kyle of ConscienHealth reports on Vermont maple producers and legislators protesting an FDA requirement to label all the sugar in maple syrup as added sugar.

Maple syrup  

Vermonters are ticked. It’s time to implement the new Nutrition Facts label and they’re afraid it will give their beloved maple syrup a black eye. The label calls out added sugar. And pure maple sugar is what their syrup is all about. Natural is good, right? But added sugar is bad. So, which will it be? All natural or loaded with added sugar? There’s no doubt in the minds of Vermonters. Congressman Peter Welch summed it up: There are no added sugars. Maple is a pure product. Consumers want pure products. Nothing is more pure than maple syrup. That sounds simple. But the countervailing view is that this lovely syrup has only one purpose. For adding sweetness – in the form of maple sugar – to your food. It’s 67% maple sugar. So, it’s nothing but a source added sugar for your diet.

According to Welch, consumers think that added sugars are the bad stuff, like corn syrup, that big food companies add to unhealthy junk food. So, consumers might think something unnatural has been added to maple syrup if we start telling them it has added sugars. And by the way, honey producers aren’t too happy with this situation, either. The American Honey Producers Association says: “Honey is a pure sugar with no need for added sugars. So, this will mislead the consumer.” By this logic, pure cane sugar would have zero added sugars as well. A tangled web indeed.

Read more: 

THE GOLDILOCKS SOLUTION: TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE, JUST RIGHT 
There’s considerable concern about the overall quality of our diet, especially the amount of “free sugars” (see Food for Thought for a definition) in the foods we are eating. This is a pretty technical paper, but it makes a useful point: when we go too high (over 25 per cent free sugars) or too low (under 5 per cent) we risk missing out on key nutrients. The researchers found for example, that those following a stringent less than 5% free sugars diet showed a drop in key micronutrients including folate and calcium. Peak intake for most micronutrients, report the researchers, was found in adults consuming between 5% and 15%. They also found that when “core food” intake (that’s the basics such as minimally processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dairy foods) went down and discretionary foods (that’s treats) went up there was an increase in free sugars intake. No surprises there because that’s how we define a discretionary food (a just-so story).

For his 2014 book, The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (with Philippa Sandall and Claudia Shwide-Slavin), Alan Barclay put together a couple of diet plans to show what 5 per cent and 10 per cent added sugars look like in an overall healthy 2000-calories (8000 kilojoule) diet. In the nutritional analysis for these plans he includes the amount of added sugars and total sugars (that’s free sugars plus the naturally occurring sugars in whole foods – fruit, vegetables, grains and seeds).

Read more: 
JUST AS TASTY, BUT MORE FILLING 
Thirty-two teenagers (average age 15) who volunteered for a randomized, crossover, controlled pilot feeding study rated the low 5% added sugar diet they were given to eat for one week as being just as tasty as the high 25% added sugar diet they tucked into for a second week. (The diets were calorie matched and there was a 4-week washout period in between.) They also reported that they found the low added sugar diet with its adequate fibre intake more filling compared with the high added sugar low fibre diet. Despite this, participants remained weight stable, and there was no difference in weight change between diet conditions.

This is just a small pilot study, but it does clearly suggest that if you have kids with hunger pangs and hollow legs, they won’t mind if you cut back the snacks and foods with added sugars (and we would add added refined starches to this) and boost their fibre intake with the good high-quality carbs – whole fruit, veg, beans and grains. 
CALM DOWN WITH A CUPPA 
This small study aimed to find out if there was a difference drinking tea sweetened with sugar or sucralose or stevia (non-nutritive sweeteners) on people who were stressed. There was a difference. Having a cuppa sweetened with sugar had a calming effect on consumers with acute stress; a cuppa with a non-nutritive sweetener didn’t. The researchers think the reason for the effect may not be sugar’s taste, but its calories.

Tea with sugar  

Read more: 
RUN RODENT
Because there are biological similarities, research scientists find rats and mice valuable trial subjects. However, here at GI News we are wary of publishing the results of rodent studies because they should only be used to back-up and complement the results of human studies, not for scare-mongering. A rodent’s carbohydrate requirements are very different to ours. In particular, they evolved to eat raw seeds, not ripe fruit. Here are two recent studies. We leave you to make up your own mind on their relevance.
Running Rodent
#1 BURP While the sugars added to fizzy drinks are in the firing line, until now, no one thought to look at the added carbon dioxide gas. In this small study, the researchers show that rats downing fizzy drinks over a year gain weight at a faster rate than rats who drank flat soda or tap water. The weight gain was associated with increased production of the appetite hormone ghrelin, which is produced by both rodents and humans. In a parallel study, they also found that the ghrelin levels grew in 20 healthy young men drinking carbonated beverages compared to those who didn’t.

As an aside, did you know rats can’t burp. They can't vomit either, and they don't experience heartburn. Rats can't vomit for several related reasons. They have a powerful barrier between the stomach and the esophagus. They don't have the esophageal muscle strength to overcome and open this barrier by force, which is necessary for vomiting.

Read more: 
#2 GULP The findings of a University of Sydney study published in Physiology and Behaviour, that modelled an added sugars to diet beverage switch in rats suggested swapping to artificially sweetened beverages may help improve metabolic and cognitive impairments that result from too much added sugars. The study included two experiments designed to assess the effect on female rats of switching to either water or a non-nutritively sweetened saccharin-based solution following unlimited access to a sucrose-based sugar solution. Although the results can’t be directly applied to humans the researchers suggest the study is important because it replicates the switch from sugar to non-nutritive sweetener, which is how sweeteners like saccharin are marketed. The authors also highlight a couple of study limitations:
  • Saccharin is a non-nutritive sweetener commonly reported in animal studies to promote weight gain and development of diabetes, but it is not as commonly consumed by humans as other sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and stevia, which may have different effects on metabolism. 
  • Previous studies with male rats have not come up with similar results. 
The study has other limitations. The amounts of sugar-sweetened beverages and saccharin were unrealistic because it was way higher than anything people consume. They were fed:
  • Between 33–51% of energy from sugar-sweetened beverages for 4–8 weeks, which works out at 5–7 cans of regular sugar-sweetened soft drink a day over 10–20 years in human terms. 
  • Saccharin intake for the rats was an average of 136mg of saccharin per kg body weight in experiment 1, and 298mg per kg body weight in experiment 2. The Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of saccharin for humans is 5mg per kg body weight. So, the rats were fed between 27–59 times the ADI, or around 25 to 60 times more than is considered safe for human consumption. 
Read more: 
YOU CAN’T FOOL A BIRD BRAIN 
Everything about hummingbirds is rapid. It takes only three quick licks to reject water when they expect nectar. The birds pull back their beaks, shake their heads, and spit out the tasteless liquid. They are not fooled by the sugar substitutes in diet sodas. Their preference for sweetness has long been plain, but scientists can now understand the complex biology behind their taste for sugar. In a paper in Science, the team showed how hummingbirds’ ability to detect sweetness evolved from an ancestral savory taste receptor that is mostly tuned to flavors in amino acids. The research underscores how much remains to be learned about taste and other senses says Harvard’s Stephen Liberles. “Sensory systems give us a window into the brain to define what we understand about the world around us,” he said. “The taste system is arguably a really direct line to pleasure and aversion, reward and punishment, sweet and bitter. Understanding how neural circuits can encode these differentially gives us a window into other aspects of perception.”

Hummingbird

Read more: 

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

Juiced? 
We have been juicing fruits for a long time. Here’s a short summary. Wine is fermented grape juice – the fermentation process is a way of preserving the fruit– and it looks like we’ve been making it for about 8000 years. Archeologists have found that the people living at Gadachrili Gora and a nearby village 20 miles south of Tbilisi, Georgia, were the world’s earliest known vintners—producing wine on a large scale as early as 6000BC. Now skip a few millenia. Lemonade became popular in the 1500s, and orange juice in the 1700s and we preserved them by adding sugar (sucrose) which in the right amount inhibits bacterial growth (a good thing). Louis Pasteur’s pasteurization process (1864) preceded the development of fresh (unfermented) 100% fruit juices in 1868. In 1930, the first commercial juicing machine was invented and around this time electric refrigeration became affordable. Home juicing became popular in the USA in the 1970s, thanks to affordable home juicers.

Fruit juices

Today, people enjoy 100% fruit juice worldwide and it’s a nutritious choice as the analysis of commercial unsweetened orange juice shows. (And if you are wondering why orange juice rates five stars while a whole orange picked straight from the tree only rates 4½, it’s because Australia’s star rating system currently uses different algorithms for solid foods and for beverages)

Oranges nutrition facts

The American Dietary Guidelines consider 1 cup (240ml) of 100% fruit juice as being equivalent to one serve of fruit, but they also recommend that at least half our recommended serves of fruit should come from whole fruit, which generally contains more dietary fibre and less calories.

What about the sugars? The carbohydrate in fruit and fruit juice is in the form of sugars (fructose, glucose and sucrose principally). Some people point out that fruit juices can provide nearly as much sugars as some sugar sweetened beverages, which nutrition epidemiological studies have associated with weight gain and risk of type 2 diabetes. Do 100% fruit juices pose the same risk? Fortunately, there is now a relatively large body of evidence that can help answer this important question.

Auerbach and colleagues investigated the association of 100% juice consumption with body mass index (BMI) in prospective cohort studies of children. The overall conclusion was that while consumption of 100% fruit juice is associated with a small amount of weight gain in children ages 1 to 6 years, the amount is not clinically significant. (Controlling for total energy intake, they reported that one 180–240ml (6–8oz) serve of 100% fruit juice a day is associated with a 0.087 unit increase in BMI in children aged 1 to 6 years, but not in children aged 7 to 18 years.) Similarly, systematic reviews of the evidence in adults show no detrimental effects of consuming moderate amounts of 100% fruit juice.

Murphy and colleagues investigated the effect of 100% fruit juice on blood glucose and insulin levels in randomised controlled trials which included a range of people including those who were overweight/obese and/or had diabetes. They found that 100% fruit juice had no significant effect on fasting blood glucose, fasting blood insulin or HbA1c. The overall conclusion was that 100% fruit juices have a neutral effect of on glycemic control, and they noted that these findings were consistent with findings from observational studies suggesting that consumption of 100% fruit juice is not associated with increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Sugars (e.g., glucose, fructose and sucrose) and other fermentable carbohydrates (i.e. maltodextrins and starches), provide food for oral bacteria, which lower our plaque and salivary pH, and in turn promote tooth demineralization. This is the main reason why the World Health Organisation recommends we limit our consumption of free sugars to less than 10% of energy – 100% fruit juices are a source of free sugars. However, most of the studies that make up the evidence base for the WHO guideline are based on added sugars – not juices. So, what does the evidence say about 100% fruit juice?

A recent clinical trial by Issa and colleagues found that a range of solid and juiced fruits (e.g. apples, oranges, grapes and tomatoes) could contribute to tooth demineralisation, but there were no significant differences between solid and juiced foods. A review by Touger-Decker and van Loveren found that many factors in addition to free sugars affect the risk of tooth decay, including the form of food or fluid, the duration of exposure, nutrient composition, sequence of eating, salivary flow, presence of buffers, and your personal oral hygiene. In particular, they noted that polyphenols such as tannins in cocoa, coffee, tea, and many fruit juices may reduce the cariogenic potential of foods and drinks. In addition, in a series of experiments in young adults that included fruits and juices (e.g. apples/juice, dates, bananas, orange juice, raisins), Edgar and colleagues found that while juices had a higher acidic potential than whole fruits, they only moderately increased risk compared to sugar-sweetened beverages and confectionery, which conferred a high risk. In summary, 100% fruit juices are not as likely to cause tooth decay as sugar-sweetened beverages or confectionery.

So, overall, the evidence we currently have supports the American Dietary Guidelines allowance of up to 1 cup of 100% juice a day as part of a healthy balanced diet.

Dr Alan Barclay  
Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian. He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 . He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and author/co-author of  The good Carbs Cookbook (Murdoch Books), Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York).

Contact: You can follow him on Twitter or check out his website.

KEEPING IT GREEN – EATING FOR BODY AND PLANET

ORGANIC – IS IT THE GREENER CHOICE? 
Organic foods are generally perceived to be healthier and better for the environment. But do they live up to this perception?

“Organic” generally refers to plant and animal products grown or raised without artificially made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and other chemicals. Instead they may use natural fertilisers such as compost or manure and manage pests using techniques like crop rotation. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) regulates the term “organic” and defines standards that “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.” In Australia, the government does not regulate the use of “organic”, so you have only the grower’s or manufacturer’s word for it. However, a “certified organic” product is regularly audited by an independent certifying body and must meet their particular requirements, some being stricter than others.

Do organically grown foods taste better? It depends. For example, exotic heirloom fruit and veg can be grown on smaller farms, and produce may be smaller or have lower moisture content therefore intensifying the flavour. The taste of organic meats may reflect a more diverse diet. However, there are other factors at play including the freshness of the produce, the soil and the climate. And a regular apple purchased fresh from the farm generally tastes better than an organic apple that has sat around for weeks in a cold store.

Are organic foods healthier? The jury is still out on this. For example, organic ingredients don’t add health benefits to highly processed foods. An organic cookie is still a “sometimes” food and typically just as high in calories/kilojoules as a regular cookie. For fresh whole foods, the picture is more complicated. A recent scientific review reports that while some organic crops may have slightly higher antioxidant levels the authors conclude that it’s not actually possible to quantify to what extent organic food consumption may affect human health as “there is virtually no published data from (1) long-term cohort studies focusing on chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative conditions) and (2) controlled human dietary intervention studies comparing effects of organic and conventional diets.”

So, if you want to eat better, buying organic is not the logical first step. The bigger picture is many of us eat too many highly processed “discretionary” foods for which the organic label is irrelevant. Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables, period. As organic veggies are generally more expensive, eating enough conventional vegetables (five-a-day) would have a greater nutritional impact than buying fewer organic vegetables. As for food safety, all food, both organic and conventional, must meet food safety regulations of the country in which it is sold. For example, FSANZ (Food Standards Australia and New Zealand) regulates all foods sold in Australia to ensure any chemical contaminants are in amounts below the maximum residue limit; this limit is set well below the level that could pose a safety risk to consumers.

Are organic farming methods more sustainable? While the answer to this question might seem instinctively “yes”, the scientific jury is still out. According to a recent meta-analysis, organic agricultural systems use 15% less energy. This is possibly because organic systems don’t rely on synthetic fertilisers and pesticides that require a lot of energy to produce. On the other hand, they noted conventional foods use less land (less deforestation) and had a lesser impact on nearby water ecosystems (which means less algal bloom and aquatic dead zones). The same study found that both organic and conventional systems had similar greenhouse gas emissions and comparable impacts on soil acidity (an adverse effect that reduces plant growth).

There is no clear winner when it comes to sustainability and more research still needs to be done. Moreover, organic agriculture is less intensive and therefore is unable to support our population growth projected to be nine billion people by 2050. We can’t feed the world with organic food, but a hybrid approach might work; combining aspects of organic farming methods such as composting and crop rotation with conventional farming to reduce energy usage.

Should I spend extra on organic? 

  • Safety: All foods, organic or conventional, must meet food safety regulations. 
  • Nutrition: For a nutritional boost, just eat more veggies (conventional or organic). 
  • Environment: Organic and conventional methods both have their pros and cons. You would have a greater impact by reducing food waste and eating more plant-based protein options instead of excessive amounts of meat. 
  • Get what you pay for: choose certified organic foods to ensure they really are organic 

Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

 Nicole Senior    
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.   Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.

GOOD CARBS FOOD FACTS A TO Z

PEAS 
Eating the youngest, most tender peas shelled straight after picking is a truly sweet experience. Peas are easy to grow and in the right spot with appropriate TLC are generous providers from late spring through the summer months. You keep picking, they keep providing. Most of us outsource the growing and shelling and buy frozen peas – we are busy; they are there. They are just as nourishing, so make the most of this family friendly veg as a side dish or rolled into the spotlight in soups, salads, stir-fries, fritters, frittatas, rice dishes and more. Look for bright pea green unwrinkled pods in season with no splits or blemished. Avoid prepacked trays of shelled peas. Snap frozen peas are a great standby to have in the freezer and are just as nutritious. Check the use-by or best-before date.
Peas
Peas are tricky when it comes to table manners. They can shoot all over the place like little green bullets. Being from British stock we were never allowed to do what seemed the sensible thing to do to a child, turn the fork over and scoop. We had to find a way to squash the peas on to the back of the fork which we eventually discovered we could do if “pre-loaded” with a little mashed potato or pumpkin. We are delighted to see that Debretts now tells us it is OK to “scoop with an upturned fork in more casual or solitary situations”.

 Peas nutrition facts
 Source: The Good Carbs Cookbook

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN

THE GOOD CARBS COOKBOOK 
The Good Carbs Cookbook (by Alan Barclay, Kate McGhie and Philippa Sandall) published by Murdoch Books helps you choose the best fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts and grains and explains how to use them in 100 refreshingly nourishing recipes to enjoy every day, for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert. The recipes are easy to prepare, (mostly) quick to cook, long in flavour and full of sustaining goodness, so you feel fuller for longer. There is a nutritional analysis for each recipe and tips and helpful hints for the novice, nervous, curious or time-starved cook.

THE GOOD CARBS COOKBOOK

OMELETTE WITH GARDEN PEAS, FETA AND MINT 
There are times when the yearning for an omelette is overwhelming, but for some reason, many cooks shy away from this gloriously simple light meal. Practice makes perfect, but don’t be too fussed about how it looks when turned out. The refreshing, lively filling makes up for any imperfection in the looks department. Ring the filling changes as you fancy: cooked prawns, flaked cooked fish, diced fresh tomato and plenty of fresh chopped herbs are all delicious options. And if you are a family of smaller eaters, it will easily serve three people as a light meal with a slice of grainy bread and a garden salad with ripe-red tomatoes. Preparation time: 15 minutes • Cooking time: 8 minutes • Serves: 2

THE GOOD CARBS COOKBOOK

⅔ cup (100g/3½oz) cooked peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
6 eggs (60g/2oz eggs)
Salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup (60g/2oz) crumbled feta
3 tablespoons shredded mint leaves

Put the peas in a bowl with the oil, lemon zest, and spring onions. • Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper in a bowl. Heat the butter in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. When the butter foams and turns nut brown, add eggs and gently cook, without stirring for about 3 minutes or until large curds form. Reduce the heat to medium-low and using a broad spatula gently push the eggs around in the pan until they are almost set. Spoon the pea mixture, feta and mint over the top, and with the aid of the spatula, gently roll the omelette up and over the filling. This is easier if you hold the pan at a slight angle to assist the rolling. Cook for 1 minute more and then slide the omelette onto a plate. Divide into two and serve topped with extra mint and spring onion if you wish.

Per serve 
2350kJ/560 calories; 28g protein; 47g fat (includes 21g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.81); 6g available carbs (includes 2g sugars and 4g starches); 4g fibre; 740mg sodium; 310mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 2.4

COPYRIGHT AND PERMISSION

University of Sydney

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Nutritional analysis To analyse Australian foods, beverages, processed products and recipes, we use FoodWorks which contains the AusNut and Nuttab databases. If necessary, this is supplemented with data from www.calorieking.com.au or http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search.

Disclaimer GI News endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-newsletter by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. GI News provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. All recipes that are included within GI News have been analysed however they have not been tested for their glycemic index properties by an accredited laboratory according to the ISO standards.

© ®™ The University of Sydney, Australia

1 May 2018

GI News - May 2018

GI News

GI News is published by the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre. Our goal is to help people choose the high-quality carbs that are digested at a rate that our bodies can comfortably accommodate and to share the latest scientific findings on food and diet with a particular focus on carbohydrates, dietary fibres, blood glucose and the glycemic index.

Publisher:
Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Scientific Editor/Managing Editor: Alan Barclay, PhD, APD AN
Contact GI News: glycemic.index@gmail.com

Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service
Manager: Fiona Atkinson, PhD, APD AN
Contact: sugirs.manager@sydney.edu.au

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

WHY IS PUSS PORTLY? 
As our waistlines have expanded, so have those of our pets. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s ninth annual clinical survey (2016) reports that nearly 54 percent of dogs and 59 percent of cats were clinically overweight or obese in the US. To put some numbers on that, they reckon that equals an estimated 41.9 million dogs and 50.5 million cats (based on 2016 pet population projections provided by the American Pet Products Association). Being overweight puts puss and puppy at an increased risk for weight-related disorders such as type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension and many cancers.

Portly puss

A recent Swedish cross-sectional study using data from medical records for cats visiting an academic medical centre and from a questionnaire on insured cats found that the factors associated with increased risk of puss being obese were: “Eating predominantly dry food, being a greedy eater, and inactivity”.

What’s the ideal weight for a cat? The Cat Bible author and Radio Pet Lady, Tracie Hotchner, says “it is hard to judge since cats come in so many shapes and sizes. However, if your cat has a belly that hangs down and swings when she walks, you need to make some plans to reduce her weight. Oftentimes this will simply mean removing all dry food and feeding canned or raw instead, which research shows is the best diet for every cat.”

Dry food is not appropriate for domestic cats she says. “Numerous veterinarians who share my dismay over the widespread use of dry food are concerned about a cat's digestive system being challenged to process foods it is not designed to eat. Cats are not ‘little dogs’ yet a dry food developed for canines was then manipulated to give to cats.” Hotchner views dry food for cats as an addictive harmful source of nutrition which she calls ‘kitty crack’ as she believes it encourages felines to consume carbohydrate-heavy plant-based food sources which their body is not designed to digest and metabolize. Keep in mind the wild ancestors of puss snoozing on the sofa were obligate carnivores and their diet was essentially the small animals they hunted. Despite appearances, the domestic cat still closely resembles its wild ancestor.

Who thought of dried food for cats and dogs? And when? It has a fascinating past as GI News editor Philippa Sandall discovered researching Seafurrers, her book on ships’ cats. The story goes that in the late 1850s, an Ohio electrician named James Spratt journeyed to London to sell lightning rods. He noticed dogs hanging around the docks at Portsmouth tucking into scraps of hardtack (ship’s biscuit) and had a eureka moment. He patented a similar biscuit for dogs (they can digest carbohydrate-based foods) and the rest is history. Spratt’s Patent Meal Fibrine Dog Cakes were a baked mixture of wheat, beet root, and vegetables bound together with beef blood. Dried food (kibble) for cats followed.

To whet your appetite, here’s a World War 2 “dry food incident” reported by a 17-year-old Massachusetts seaman who saved the ship’s cat after they were torpedoed. “We were in the lifeboat seven and a half days with not much to eat besides hardtack,” he said. “The cat didn’t like hardtack and wouldn’t eat a bite until some flying fish landed in the boat. Before we got to shore, though, she ate hardtack and liked it.” It’s likely the lifeboat lad improvised a grainy seafood salad to tempt puss’s taste buds (and his own) by tossing crumbled hardtack with flying fish flakes moistened with a little water and puss focussed her attention on the fishy bits surmises Seafurrers author Philippa Sandall.

Read more: 

WHAT’S NEW?

DIABETES IN CATS 
Diabetes in cats resembles type 2 diabetes in people. The causes aren’t fully understood, but both genetic and environmental factors are believed to contribute. However, for those quick to point the wagging finger at “sugar” causing obesity and diabetes, cats don’t eat sugar. They don’t have a sweet tooth. A small Swedish case-control study using a web‐based questionnaire sent to owners of cats with diabetes and cats without diabetes (the control) found indoor confinement, being a greedy eater, and being overweight were associated with an increased risk of diabetes. As dry food is commonly fed to cats worldwide, “the association found between dry food and an increased risk of diabetes in cats assessed as normal weight by owners warrants further attention” say the authors.

Fat cat

In Perspectives this month, Alan Barclay looks at the pancreas, what it is and what it does, and why understanding the causes of diabetes are complicated in people let alone in cats.

Read more: 

HIGH FIBRE DIET MAY HELP MANAGE BGLS 
A high fibre diet rich in good carbs (fruit, veg, beans and grains) can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels – and it seems to do this by changing the bacteria in the gut. The findings of a recent study showed a diversified high-fibre diet can promote some 15 strains of gut bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids that can help in reducing inflammation in the gut, help regulate hunger and also provide energy to gut cells. “It’s early days,” says study leader Prof Liping Zhao from Rutgers University, “but it lays the foundation and opens the possibility that fibres targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become a major part of your diet and your treatment”. The research reinforces the fact that eating certain kinds of carbohydrate foods rich in dietary fibres can help restore the gut microbiota responsible for better digestion and overall health.

Fiber

Read more: 
IT’S NOT JUST IN YOUR HEAD: SEROTONIN AND OBESITY 
Maybe it’s not on the tip of every tongue writes Ted Kyle in ConscienHealth. But serotonin is a bit more familiar than most neurotransmitters. Most people think of it as a happy hormone for the central nervous system that becomes depleted in a state of depression. However, the gastrointestinal system has far more of it than the central nervous system. And new research now tells us that in the small intestine, this substance might influence obesity and metabolic health.

Scientists have long known that serotonin in the brain plays a role in eating behaviour. Food intake is higher when levels of this hormone are lower in the brain. But animal studies have suggested a very different relationship between serotonin and obesity in the gut. There, it seems to promote obesity and higher blood glucose levels. Now, we have confirmation in humans that this is true. Richard Young and colleagues showed that the small intestines of people with obesity produce more serotonin. In fact, the levels were twice as high when compared to normal controls. The gut secretes this hormone in response to glucose and it appears to play a role in developing obesity and diabetes.

This research is important for two related reasons says Kyle. First, it gives us more insight into how both obesity and diabetes develop, and why some people are more susceptible than others. In their research, Young et al found more cells that produce serotonin in the small intestines of people with obesity than in those at a normal weight. With a better understanding of this pathway, we might have a promising new target for treating obesity and diabetes. Says Young: “This has revealed new ways that we may be able to control the release of serotonin from within the gut, and in turn, further improve the outlook for people living with obesity.”

Read more: 

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

THE PANCREAS – UNLOVED, BUT ESSENTIAL 
The pancreas is an essential organ responsible for both the digestion of food and blood glucose regulation. It was first identified by Greek anatomist and surgeon, Herophilus, around 2300 years ago. A few hundred years later, Rufus of Ephesus, another Greek anatomist, gave the pancreas its name. “Pancreas” originally meant sweetbread, a name that is still commonly used in culinary circles for calf or lamb pancreas.

The pancreas is located behind the stomach in the upper left part of the abdomen. It is surrounded by other organs including the stomach, small intestine (duodenum), liver, and spleen. It is spongy, about 15–25cm (6–10in) long, 2.5cm (1in) thick, and is shaped a bit like a flattened pear or a fish extended horizontally across the abdomen. The bulk (95%) of the pancreas consists of tissues and cells that produce pancreatic secretions for the digestion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The remainder consists of little islands of cells called islets of Langerhans. These look a bit like small bunches of grapes and produce hormones that regulate blood glucose and help regulate pancreatic digestive secretions.


The Pancreas

Source: www.medicalook.com

Food digestion Once food has been chewed in the mouth, then mulched and partially digested in the stomach by acids, it is released into the first part of the small intestine known as the duodenum. The pancreas then releases its own digestive juices and enzymes into the partially digested food, via a small duct connected to the duodenum. Pancreatic juices contain enzymes that help breakdown carbohydrate, fat and protein. They are activated once they reach the duodenum to prevent the protein-digesting enzyme trypsin from breaking down the proteins in the pancreas itself, or in its duct. Other enzymes produced by the pancreas and released into the duodenum include amylase (to break down starches and maltodextrins into sugars) and lipase (to break down fats into monoglycerols and fatty acids). The pancreas also secretes sodium bicarbonate, which helps to neutralise the stomach acids in the partially digested food.

Blood glucose hormones Two of the most important pancreatic hormones are insulin produced by beta cells and glucagon produced by alpha cells in the islets of Langerhans which manufacture and release these hormones directly into the bloodstream.

Insulin regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood into liver, fat and muscle cells. In these cells the absorbed glucose is converted into either glycogen (a kind of starch found in the liver and muscles) via a process known as glycogenesis or fats (triglycerides) via lipogenesis. Circulating insulin also affects the synthesis of proteins in a wide variety of cells and tissues. It is therefore an anabolic hormone, promoting the conversion of small molecules in the blood into large molecules inside the cells.

Glucagon stimulates the liver to break down glycogen into glucose, which is then released into the blood. It also activates gluconeogenesis, the conversion of certain amino acids from proteins into glucose. Finally, it facilitates the breakdown of stored fat (triglycerides) into fatty acids for use as fuel by cells. It is therefore a catabolic hormone, promoting the breakdown of large molecules in cells into smaller molecules in the blood.

Pancreatic beta cells are sensitive to blood glucose concentrations. When glucose levels are high, they secrete insulin into the bloodstream and when glucose levels are low, secretion of insulin is inhibited. On the other hand, alpha cells secrete glucagon into the blood in the opposite manner to insulin: when blood glucose levels are low, or in response to vigorous exercise, secretion is increased, and when blood glucose levels are high, secretion is decreased.

The secretion of insulin and glucagon into the blood in response to changes in blood glucose concentrations is the primary mechanism of blood glucose homeostasis. In other words, the two hormones work in partnership with each other to keep blood glucose levels balanced. Optimal maintenance of blood glucose levels is critical to the functioning of key organs including the brain and nervous system, liver, and kidneys.

If the beta cells are destroyed by an autoimmune reaction, insulin can no longer be synthesized or secreted into the blood in sufficient quantities. This results in the development of type 1 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, the destruction of beta cells is less pronounced than in type 1 diabetes and is not primarily due to an autoimmune process. The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is not fully understood but people have a reduced number of islet beta cells, and of those that survive there is a reduced secretory function, and there is also frequently (but not always) peripheral tissue insulin resistance (the insulin that is produced does not work as efficiently in the target cells as it should). Type 2 diabetes is also characterized by high rates of glucagon secretion which are less responsive to the concentration of glucose in the blood, but insulin is still secreted into the blood in response to concomitantly increasing blood glucose concentrations. As a result, insulin levels are typically much higher than they are in people without type 2 diabetes.

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Dr Alan Barclay  
Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian. He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 . He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and author/co-author of  The good Carbs Cookbook (Murdoch Books), Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York).

Contact: You can follow him on Twitter or check out his website.