Sweet Prebiotic Fibers Could Replace High-Calorie Sugars

OptiBiotix is developing sweet, natural, healthy fibres which are not digested in the human gut, and are therefore calorie-free

An independent study has shown a sweetener developed by OptiBiotix Health PLC scored well against competitors.

The Flavour and Sensory Science Centre at the University of Reading tested eight different samples.

It found the company’s oligosaccharides were significantly sweeter than the other products tested, while being low in all “off-flavours” such as bitterness, sourness, staleness and saltiness.

The company is developing sweet, natural, healthy fibres under the SweetBiotix brand, which are not digested in the human gut, and are therefore calorie-free.

Big potential market

This would give the research firm entry to the US$100bn a year global sweetener market, which is still dominated by sugar.

OptiBiotix chief executive Stephen O’Hara said he was pleased with the results of the Reading study.

“This development creates the potential to replace existing unhealthy sugars with low calorie, healthy non-digestible fibres (SweetBiotix) with gut microbiome functionality.

“With growing concerns over the impact on health of traditional sugars and artificial sweeteners, the ability to develop sweet functional fibres puts OptiBiotix at the forefront of product development in this area of growing industry and commercial interest.”

Human microbiome

The company’s specialism is the human microbiome, an ecosystem of bacteria and yeasts that reside in the gut and on the skin.

It is thought changes to the human flora can have an impact on health, hence the proliferation of functional foods such as yoghurts filled with probiotic, or good bacteria.

OptiBiotix’s focus is mainly on the gut with advances designed to tackle obesity, cholesterol and diabetes although the company does have a separately-quoted business developing skincare products.

Source: Proactive Investor

Chinese-style Stir-fried Shrimp with Red Fermented Beancurd Sauce


600 g fresh shrimp
1-1/2 stalks green onion, white parts, chopped


1 piece red fermented beancurd (南乳)
6 tbsps sugar
1 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
dash ground white pepper


  1. Remove shells of the body parts of the shrimp. De-vein and reserve heads and tails. Wipe dry. Marinate with 1/2 tsp salt for 30 minutes.
  2. Mash beancurd with a fork. Mix with other sauce ingredients.
  3. Heat oil in wok and saute shrimp till 60% done (when they roll up and turn red). Remove and drain on paper towel.
  4. Discard oil and wipe clean the wok. Heat 2 tbsps of oil in the wok and stir fry green onion until fragrant. Add beancurd sauce and stir-fry until it bubbles.
  5. Return shrimp to wok and cook until done. Remove and serve.

Source: Xi Yan Cuisine

Infographic: More than 100 Million Americans Have High Blood Pressure

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The number of Americans at risk for heart attacks and strokes just got a lot higher. An estimated 103 million U.S. adults have high blood pressure, according to new statistics from the American Heart Association. That’s nearly half of all adults in the United States.

“With the aging of the population and increased life expectancy, the prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to continue to increase,” said epidemiologist Dr. Paul Muntner, co-chair of the group that wrote the AHA’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2018 Update, published Wednesday in Circulation.

The death rate from high blood pressure increased by nearly 11 percent in the United States between 2005 and 2015, and the actual number of deaths rose by almost 38 percent — up to nearly 79,000 by 2015, according to the statistics. Worldwide, high blood pressure affects nearly a third of the adult population and is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease-related deaths, said Muntner, a professor and vice chair in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Guidelines published last November redefined high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, as a reading of 130 on top or 80 on the bottom. The standard used to be 140 over 90. The percentage of U.S. adults with high blood pressure jumped from 32 percent under the old definition to nearly 46 percent.

“Before this guideline, if your blood pressure was at 130, you weren’t supposed to do anything,” said cardiologist Dr. Kenneth Jamerson, an author of the high blood pressure guidelines.

“With the new [high blood pressure] guideline, we’re having patients do something about it,” he said. For his patients, that includes 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week and the DASH diet, plus medication if the patient has additional heart disease risk factors, Jamerson said.

According to the statistics, only about one in five Americans gets enough exercise and poor eating habits contributed to 45 percent of U.S. deaths in 2012 from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Overall, cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death in the world, claiming nearly 18 million lives in 2015. In the United States, heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death and stroke is No. 5.

Even so, these latest statistics show progress is being made, said Dr. Emelia Benjamin, who led the group that wrote the statistics report.

“We’ve made incredible inroads in cardiovascular disease,” said Benjamin, a professor of cardiology at Boston University’s School of Public Health. “There’s a real focus on improving health by adopting a healthy lifestyle, not just waiting to develop disease before one focuses on risk factors.”

Source: American Heart Association

Who Really Needs to Go Gluten-Free

Julie Davis wrote . . . . . . .

It seems like “gluten-free” labels are popping up everywhere, including on foods that never had any gluten to begin with. Is this a health bandwagon you should jump on … or shy away from?

Gluten is a protein found mostly in wheat, barley and rye. A gluten-free diet is a must for the 2 percent of the population diagnosed with celiac disease, to avoid serious intestinal inflammation.

Some people have a lesser condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity and may feel better on a gluten-free diet.

What to avoid when you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity:

  • Wheat in all forms including durum flour, farina, graham flour, semolina and spelt.
  • Barley and products with malt.
  • Rye.
  • Triticale.

But for everyone else, gluten-free may just be more costly and could negatively affect digestive health because you’re missing out on fiber. Consumer Reports also found that some gluten-free foods have more fat, sugar and/or salt than their regular counterparts, and are short on nutrients like iron and folic acid — found in foods with enriched-wheat flour.

Many products also replace wheat with rice. This is a concern because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been monitoring rice and rice products for the presence of small amounts of arsenic, which finds its way into rice from both natural and human sources. So, it’s important not to overload on this grain, even whole-grain brown rice.

If you must cut out gluten, get fiber from other whole grains like amaranth, kasha, millet and quinoa, and from fruits, vegetables and nuts. And always read labels to be sure you’re not replacing gluten with sugar and fat.

Source: HealthDay

Winter Weather Skin Savers

Julie Davis wrote . . . . . . . .

Winter can be harsh on your skin, especially your hands and face. Try these fast, easy and inexpensive steps to avoid the chapping and flaking that comes with the season.

Resist taking hot showers and long soaks, both of which remove your skin’s natural oil barrier, causing it to dry out more easily, suggests the American Academy of Dermatology. The water temperature should be between the high 90s and 100 degrees, no higher.

Immediately after bathing, seal in any moisture your skin absorbed by slathering on a thick moisturizer. Choose an ointment or a cream, not a thin lotion. For daytime, use nourishing products with sun protection. The sun’s rays can still age you, even in cold weather months.

Washing hands frequently is essential to avoid the spread of cold and flu germs, but to avoid chapping, moisturize them after every rinse. And always wear warm gloves when outdoors and protective ones when using cleaning products or washing dishes.

Don’t forget your lips, which can also fall prey to dryness. Dab on lip balm to prevent chapping. It can be as simple as plain petroleum jelly. Resist licking lips that are dry — that actually increases dryness.

If your skin is easily irritated, avoid all scented products and harsh deodorant-type soaps. Wear cotton or silk clothes next to your skin before layering on woolens.

If the air in your home is dry from your heating system, use a humidifier, especially at night, to put moisture back in the air. If the same situation exists at work, consider a desktop unit.

Don’t wait to see signs of dryness. Be proactive to save your skin from winter’s wrath.

Source: HealthDay

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