Nestlé Is Using DNA to Create Personalized Diets in Japan

Chase Purdy wrote . . . . . . .

The world’s largest food company is experimenting with people’s DNA to build and sell personalized nutrition plans that, it says, will extend lifespans and keep people healthy.

Nestlé is rolling out these new products in Japan first. Some 100,000 people are taking part in a company program there that gives consumers a kit to collect their DNA at home. The program also encourages them to use an app to post pictures of what they’re eating. Nestlé then recommends dietary changes and supplies specialized supplements that can be sprinkled on or mixed into a variety of food products, including teas, according to Bloomberg.

For years Nestlé been positioning itself to straddle the line between pharmaceuticals and food. In December 2016, then-chairman, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe made the case to Quartz that personalized, fortified foods would be the future. The dream, according to Brabeck-Letmathe, is to invent a new suite of food products that could prevent diseases from occurring. Pizzas that can ward off Alzheimer’s disease, for instance.

Brabeck-Letmathe has since retired from the company, but his vision is intact. It’s setting Nestlé apart from its food industry peers

The world’s largest food manufacturers have spent the last several years trying to regain footing with consumers in America and Europe, who lost faith in many packaged goods products because of its artificial flavors and coloring, sugar, and salt content. Nestlé, in particular, saw sales in its US frozen-foods plummet. General Mills and Kellogg’s watched as their breakfast cereals became less popular. And Coca-Cola and Pepsico both saw consumers drift away from sugary sodas, opting instead for healthier teas and flavored waters.

The shift in purchasing habits sparked companies to reformulate products to persuade consumers back into buying their foods. For Nestlé, that meant changing the ingredient lists on a whole host of well-known brand’s products, including California Pizza Kitchen, Hot Pockets, and Digiorno’s Pizza. The company sold off its US candy unit earlier this year, and recently announced a $7.15 billion licensing deal with Starbucks that will allow it to sell the Seattle-based coffee maker’s teas and coffees around the world.

Customizing meals via DNA analysis takes this recent mentality to a new level, and it’s complimenting its food efforts with investments in medical research. Since 2007, Nestlé has spent billions acquiring firms such as Novartis Medical Nutrition, Atrium Innovations, Vitaflo, Prometheus Laboratories, a minority stake in Accera, and Seres Therapeutics, Inc., to name a few.

Japan may wind up informing how Nestlé will rolls out the program in other places around the world. Until then, people will just have to wait for their personalized wonder pizzas.

Source: QUARTZ

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Nutrient-Rich Diet May Help Heart Failure Patients Avoid Hospital, Death

A varied, quality diet could help prevent hospitalizations and even death among patients with heart failure, a new study suggests.

Researchers investigating nutritional deficiencies found that people with heart failure who lack seven or more micronutrients had nearly double the risk of dying or being hospitalized than those who didn’t have any or only a few deficiencies. The University of Kentucky-led study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“This establishes the importance of nutrition and why it really has to become a higher priority when it comes to treating heart failure,” said lead author Terry Lennie, senior associate dean at the University of Kentucky’s College of Nursing. “Nutritional deficiencies really can put patients at risk, more so than I think we understood or appreciated before.”

The study examined data from 246 patients recruited from three heart failure clinics in Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky. Patients kept detailed diaries of everything they ate and drank for four consecutive days.

Researchers assessed the intake of 17 micronutrients — 11 vitamins and six minerals — from the food diaries. They also kept tabs on patients every month for the following year.

The study found that 44 percent of patients with deficiencies in seven or more micronutrients were hospitalized or died within the year, compared to 25 percent of patients who had no deficiencies or only a few.

Calcium was the most commonly deficient micronutrient in patients’ diets, followed by magnesium, vitamins D and E, zinc and vitamin C.

One reason for the lack of these micronutrients could be “diet monotony,” or the tendency to eat the same foods every day instead of incorporating variety into meals. The study found many patients consumed the same foods for multiple meals across all four days of the food diary. Older adults are more vulnerable to this habit “due to a decreased drive to consume varied foods,” the study said. The average age of patients was 61.

A majority of the participants were overweight or obese, dispelling the notion of a link between a person’s weight and nutritional deficiencies.

“When we see individuals who are overweight, people tend to think they’re well-nourished, and that we only have to worry about people who are underweight as far as nutrition goes,” Lennie said. “But we found no relationship between patients’ body mass index and whether or not they had nutritional deficiencies.”

Dr. Frank Hu said the use of four-day food diaries did a good job capturing patient dietary patterns. But Hu, chairman of the nutrition department at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said he would have liked to have seen a much larger study size.

Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology who was not involved in the research, said the findings demonstrate the role that well-rounded, varied diets can play in keeping heart failure patients alive. He noted the study did not address whether any single nutrient played a more important role than others. It instead looked at overall dietary health.

“It’s very important to pay attention to both nutrition quantity and quality. When we talk about nutrition quality, we’re not talking about just popping a vitamin or mineral supplement,” he said.

“Micronutrients come mostly from plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes,” Hu said, adding that including some animal foods such as moderate amounts of fish and dairy products is also helpful in achieving adequate micronutrient intakes.

“It’s more important to pay attention to the quality of the foods when we try to make sure patients eat a balanced, nutritional meal,” he said.

Source: HealthDay


Today’s Comic

Complete Protein Combinations for Vegans

Shereen Lehman wrote . . . . . . . . . .

If you’re a vegan, or “strict vegetarian,” you may want to pay closer attention to the types of protein sources you consume because most plant-based foods are incomplete proteins. Being incomplete doesn’t mean plant-based foods are low in protein, you can get plenty of protein from plants, but almost every plant-based food is low in one or more essential amino acids that your body needs to thrive.

How much of a problem is this and what can a vegan do?

It may sound bad, but as long as you eat a variety of protein sources every day you’ll be just fine. The combination of different protein sources will ultimately ensure you get an ample supply of all the amino acids every day.

First, A Little Amino Acid Chemistry

Let’s talk about amino acids for a minute. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Your body needs them to make the protein structures that build and maintain the tissues in your body.

There are many different amino acids; they all have similar structures but are differentiated by their side chains. All proteins, no matter what food they come from, are made up of amino acids. But the number and order of the amino acids that make up a cow’s rump or a navy bean are different from the ones that make up your body parts.

When you eat round steak or baked beans (or anything that contains any protein at all, even a tiny amount), your digestive system breaks it down into amino acids that are absorbed into your bloodstream. From there, the amino acids are used to build the proteins that make up your muscles, organs and lots of other tissues.

Back to Essential Amino Acids

Not all amino acids are essential. Your body can make many amino acids from the leftover bits of old amino acids and a few other raw materials found in the body, but there are some amino acids that the human body can’t manufacture. These amino acids are called the essential amino acids because you have to consume them.

These are the essential amino acids:

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Animal proteins all contain every single one of these essential amino acids, so they’re called complete proteins. If you’re an ovo-lacto-vegetarian (only eggs or dairy products), you can get complete proteins when you eat the eggs or dairy products.

Plant proteins are a little different. Each plant that you eat has a different amino acid profile. For example, grains and cereals are extremely low in lysine. So low that they can’t even be considered a source of lysine. If you only eat grains and cereals, you won’t get enough lysine, and that’s bad.

However, legumes such as peanuts, peas, dry beans and lentils contain a lot of lysine. On the flip side, legumes aren’t good sources of tryptophan, methionine, and cystine, but those amino acids are found in grains and cereals. As long as you eat some grains and some legumes, you’ll get some of each essential amino acid.

Grains and legumes are called complementary proteins because when you combine them, you get all of the essential amino acids. Nuts and seeds are also complementary to legumes because they contain tryptophan, methionine, and cystine.

You don’t need to eat complementary proteins together at every meal. As long as you get a variety of proteins throughout the day, you’ll get ample amounts of each amino acid. But, just in case you’re interested, here are some ways to combine your complementary proteins.

Grains and legumes:

  • Black beans and rice
  • Pasta and peas
  • Whole wheat bread and peanut butter
  • Bean soup and crackers

Nuts and seeds plus legumes:

  • Roasted nuts, seeds, and peanuts
  • Hummus (chickpeas and tahini)
  • Lentils and almonds

Soy is one plant protein that contains all the essential amino acids. It’s also a good source of healthy fats and phytochemicals (plant chemicals that may be good for you). It’s usually served as tempeh or tofu, and soy milk is a popular replacement for milk. Amaranth, quinoa, hempseed, and chia are also complete proteins, so adding any of these foods, along with combining your other protein sources, will help you get all your essential amino acids met every day.

Source: Very Well Fit

Vegetarian Protein Is Just As ‘Complete’ As Meat, Despite What We’ve Been Taught

Kristen Aiken wrote . . . . . . . . .

“If you eat a dish with black beans, you’re not getting complete protein. You have to add another kind of bean to get the same kind of protein you’d get from meat.”

This suggestion came from a generally well-informed acquaintance of mine while we were on a long car ride, making me wonder if the fumes had gone to her head.

Simmering with skepticism, I asked, “Adding any kind of beans will make it complete?”

“Yes, any kind of beans,” she replied with supreme confidence. “White beans, kidney beans, lima beans, lentils. When you combine any two beans, it’s just as good as eating animal-based protein.”

My instinct was to tell her she was wrong. But our drive through a countryside without cell towers or access to Google prevented me from doing so with absolute certainty. Now, however, I’m armed and ready to bust this myth.

It turns out my acquaintance was referring to a diet fad called “protein combining” that became popular in the 1970s. It was based on the premise that vegetarian and vegan diets provide insufficient content of essential amino acids, making it necessary to combine plant-based proteins to get the same “complete” protein you’d get from an animal. Protein combining has since been discredited by the medical community, but there are still people out there who adhere to this practice, and even more people who still believe plant-based protein is incomplete.

Concepts like “good fat vs. bad fat” and “good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol” are somewhat well-known these days, but chatter about “incomplete protein vs. complete protein” hasn’t quite made it into the nutritional zeitgeist. You may have heard about complete protein if you’re vegan or vegetarian, but that doesn’t guarantee you fully understand what it is.

Case in point: quinoa. Quinoa is often marketed as one of the only vegetarian sources of complete protein, but that’s a misleading claim because every plant-based protein is complete. There’s no information to support the idea that quinoa is a more complete source of vegetarian protein than other plant-based foods. Nor is meat, for that matter. Let’s get to the bottom of why.

What’s a complete protein, anyway?

Just to be clear, a “complete protein” is a protein that contains all nine of the essential amino acids our bodies need to function: tryptophan (the stuff in turkey that supposedly makes us sleepy), threonine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine+cystine, phenylalinine+tyrosine, valine and histidine. Those amino acids are “essential,” but our bodies can’t make them, so they must be derived from the foods we eat.

Though many vegans and vegetarians worry about getting enough protein, concern about “complete protein” intake has more to do with the quality of our protein than the quantity.

Animal protein is not more complete than plant-based protein.

Dr. Michael Greger explains at his site NutritionFacts.org that all nutrients come from the sun or the soil. Cows, for example, get their nutrients from the sun and from plant-based foods like grass and hay. So if cows eat plants, and plants provide cows with all the nutrients they need, why would we assume steak is a more complete protein than the food that provides the steak with its nutrients? The answer: We shouldn’t.

While it’s true that some plant proteins are relatively low in certain essential amino acids, our bodies know how to make up for it.

“It turns out our body is not stupid,” Greger explains. “It maintains pools of free amino acids that can be used to do all the complementing for us. Not to mention the massive protein recycling program our body has. Some 90 grams of protein is dumped into the digestive tract every day from our own body to get broken back down and reassembled, so our body can mix and match amino acids to whatever proportions we need, whatever we eat.”

Greger told HuffPost that there’s no such thing as incomplete vegetarian protein. The only incomplete protein in the food supply is gelatin, which lacks tryptophan.

So why have we been led to believe that animal protein is more complete than vegetarian protein?

Misleading studies sparked the popularity of a bogus practice called ‘protein combining’ in the 1970s.

In 1909, the biochemist Karl Heinrich Ritthausen formed a theory that vegetarian and vegan diets provide insufficient amounts of essential amino acids, making it necessary to combine plant-based proteins to get the same “complete” protein you’d get from an animal. Another 1914 study out of Yale also suggested that plant-based protein is incomplete ― but this research was conducted on infant rodents and lacked context.

Protein combining gained popularity in 1954 with the publication of Adelle Davis’ book Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit. The concept gained even more steam in 1971, when Frances Lappé published the best-selling book Diet for a Small Planet, which echoed the same idea. Vogue and the American Journal of Nursing even talked about protein combining in 1975. By then, America was on board.

But in 1981, Lappé changed her position on protein combining in a revised edition of her book, in which she backpedaled on the entire theory and apologized for reinforcing a myth.

The biggest pushback to the theory came in 2002, when Dr. John McDougall issued a correction to the American Heart Association for a 2001 publication that questioned the completeness of plant proteins.

McDougall asserted that earlier research about plant-based protein was misleading. “It is impossible to design an amino acid-deficient diet based on the amounts of unprocessed starches and vegetables sufficient to meet the calorie needs of humans,” he said. “Furthermore, mixing foods to make a complementary amino acid composition is unnecessary.”

He went on to say:

The reason it is important to correct this misinformation is that many people are afraid to follow healthful, pure vegetarian diets ― they worry about ‘incomplete proteins’ from plant sources. A vegetarian diet based on any single one or combination of these unprocessed starches (eg, rice, corn, potatoes, beans), with the addition of vegetables and fruits, supplies all the protein, amino acids, essential fats, minerals, and vitamins (with the exception of vitamin B12) necessary for excellent health. To wrongly suggest that people need to eat animal protein for nutrients will encourage them to add foods that are known to contribute to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and many forms of cancer, to name just a few common problems.

Other doctors supported this hypothesis, including Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and the medical community followed.

So if all protein is complete, is all protein equal?

If protein combining isn’t necessary, is it all the same? Do 10 grams of protein from lentils have the same effect on our bodies as 10 grams of protein from steak?

Though they are both considered complete proteins, Greger told HuffPost there are differences. For example, he said, “lentil protein doesn’t raise IGF-1 levels as much as beef protein, which is one reason beef is a probable human carcinogen and legume consumption is associated with lower cancer risk. The lentils would probably also be better for our kidneys as well as longevity.”

How much protein do we really need, anyway?

Whether we’re vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous, protein intake is one of our key daily dietary concerns. But how much do we actually need per day to maintain a healthy lifestyle? According to Greger, it’s not nearly as much as we think.

“As long as we’re eating enough calories of whole plant foods, one shouldn’t have to worry at all,” he said. “We only need 0.8 to 0.9 grams of protein per healthy kilogram of body weight. In other words, one PB&J could get you a third of the way there.”

Now that we can do.

Source: Huffpost


Read also:

Protein and Amino Acids . . . . .

Are Potatoes Good for You?

Julia Calderone wrote . . . . . . . . .

They’ve been maligned in nutrition circles for decades, with links to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. But they’re also highly satisfying and provide many essential nutrients.

So are potatoes good for you or not?

“Potatoes have gotten a bad rap because of the way they’ve been eaten and processed in the modern food system,” says Charles Mueller, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University.

Undoctored potatoes are healthy, says Mueller: They supply a good mix of nutrients. It’s when people deep-fry them in oil or smother them in butter, sour cream, or salt that spuds turn into nutritional duds.

Tuber Nutrition

A medium white baked potato (about 6 ounces) with skin has 159 calories, 36 grams of carbs, and nearly 4 grams of fiber. Potatoes also are packed with a healthy mixture of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B6 and C. A medium potato, for example, supplies about 15 percent of your daily need for magnesium; and about 20 percent of your daily potassium need.

“Most people don’t get enough potassium their diet,” says Ellen Klosz, a Consumer Reports nutritionist. “It’s very important for helping to control blood pressure.”

And few Americans get the daily recommended amount of fiber, which has a slew of health benefits, from helping curb cholesterol, protect against diabetes, control weight, and even lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Dietary recommendations say most adults need around 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. If you eat a medium potato with skin, you’ll get about 4 grams. If you eat one without it, you’ll only get about 3 grams. “It’s always good to eat potatoes with the skin,” says Mueller, “because you pick up some fiber.”

Still, many diet experts advise going easy on potatoes because of their high glycemic index rating. The carbohydrates in a food with a high GI are digested quickly, leading to a rapid spike and then dip in blood sugar and insulin levels. These effects can cause people to overeat and may raise the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

But Mueller says that you can greatly minimize the boost in blood sugar from potatoes if you eat them as part of a healthy meal that includes protein.

Another way to minimize the GI effect of potatoes is to cool them after cooking and either eat them cold (as in a potato salad) or reheat them. This alters the chemical structure of the potato’s carbohydrates, and forms resistant starch, a type of fermentable fiber that may lower blood sugar levels after a meal and have other health benefits.

Additionally, Klosz says, when you compare potatoes with other some other high GI staples, such as white rice, they’re actually much lower in calories and carbs, and supply more fiber.

For most people, having potatoes a couple of times a week can be part of a healthy diet, says Mueller. But only if you watch your serving size and what you put on them.

“Potatoes are among the most popular vegetables in the American diet,” Klosz says. “But most are consumed in their processed form, such as fries and chips. Only 26 percent of the potatoes we eat are fresh or unprocessed.” And even when eaten fresh, dousing them in butter or cream might negate their health benefits.

That might at least partially explain the findings of some observational studies, such as those from Harvard researchers, which found that eating potatoes frequently may increase the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.

In one of the studies, people who ate potatoes two to four times per week had a modest increase in type 2 diabetes risk—7 percent—compared with those who ate them less than once a week. Those who had 7 servings a week, however, had a 33 percent increased risk. While all forms of potatoes—baked, boiled, fried, and mashed—were linked to the disease, French fries were most problematic.

That was also the case in the other Harvard studies. For instance, people who ate four or more servings of baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes had an 11 percent increased risk of high blood pressure compared to those who ate them less than once a month. For French fries, the risk was 17 percent higher.

People often make the mistake of counting potatoes as a vegetable in their meals. “While it is a tuber and it’s in the vegetable family,” says Mueller, “it is a starch, and should be considered equivalent to eating pasta, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, or brown rice.” The Harvard studies suggest that if you replace potatoes with a nonstarchy vegetable or a whole grain in your meals, it helps protect against chronic health problems.

A Range of Colors

In addition to white potatoes, you can find yellow, purple, and red-fleshed varieties. The colors come from compounds in the plants called phytochemicals such as anthocyanins, carotenoids, and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and may protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Red- and purple-fleshed potatoes have nearly twice the flavonoids as white ones.

What about sweet potatoes? Technically, they’re not really potatoes—they aren’t part of the same plant family—and they may be a little healthier. A medium sweet potato is just slightly lower in calories and carbs (147 calories; 35 grams of carbs) than a same-sized white version, but has about one more gram of fiber. And it provides enough carotenoids to supply more than five times your daily recommended dose of vitamin A. Purple sweet potatoes offer the highest levels of anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid linked to heart and liver benefits, compared with white, yellow, and orange-fleshed types.

How to Prepare Potatoes Healthfully

It’s pretty simple: Go easy on the potato toppings and add-ins. Just one pat of butter and two tablespoons of sour cream adds about 100 calories and 9 grams of fat. “When you add a lot of cream and butter and salt,” says Mueller, “you can increase the caloric value of them and you’re more likely to overeat.” Why? Because they taste good.

The same goes for sweet potatoes. Adding marshmallows, butter, and brown sugar ups the fat and sugar load significantly. There are 14 grams of sugars, and 9 grams of fat in a half-cup of sweet potato casserole vs. about 7 grams of sugars and no fat in a medium sweet potato. Avoid canned varieties packed in heavy syrup.

Fortunately, potatoes—whether sweet or regular—don’t need much to make them tasty. Cut them into cubes and roast with a little rosemary, olive oil, and salt and pepper; or boil or microwave them whole. When eating them baked or mashed, keep the condiments to a minimum.

Source: Consumer Report