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Culinary Uses for Thyme

May 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a perennial subshrub with small grey or green leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is commercially cultivated in many European countries, as well as Morocco and the United States. Thyme is also collected wild from European countries such as Albania and Bulgaria. The leafy parts of thyme and its essential oil have been used in foods for flavor, aroma and food preservation.

United States: Thyme flavors traditional American dishes such as clam chowder and stuffing for Thanksgiving turkey. Thyme also complements beef, poultry, pork, lamb and fish dishes. Bouquet garni, a bundle of herbs tied with twine, contains sprigs of thyme and is used to add flavor to stews, soups and stocks. In modern American cuisine, thyme adds a unique note to sweets such as thyme-roasted plums and orange thyme tea cake. Gumbo, a traditional Creole stew, obtains some of its flavor and aroma from thyme. Jambalaya, a rice-based Creole dish containing some combination of ham, chicken, sausage and shellfish, is flavored with celery, onions, peppers, tomatoes and a spice mix containing thyme. Cajun cuisine uses thyme in dishes such as Cajun ratatouille and crawfish étouffée and in Cajun spice blends.

Mexico: Mexican cuisine incorporates thyme in fish, seafood, meat, cheese, rice, beef, chicken, and vegetable dishes, as well as fish stocks and tomato soup. Examples include carnitas (a dish of braised or roasted, then shredded and caramelized beef or pork), vegetable escabeche (pickled vegetables), quesadillas and paella.

Jamaica: Thyme is a common herb in Jamaican cuisine. The famous Jamaican jerk chicken, a hot and spicy marinated dish, is flavored with a complex combination of spices such as thyme. Other Jamaican foods featuring thyme include Jamaican beef patties, Jamaican ackee and salt fish (a sweet and salty dish made with Jamaica’s national fruit, the ackee, and salted cod), callaloo (a green commonly prepared in Jamaica), curried goat, oxtail soup, rice and peas and brown stew chicken.

Brazil: Thyme is used to give flavor and aroma to meat, poultry and fish dishes. Empadão de galinha, a Brazilian chicken pie, has a flour- and fat-based crust and is filled with chicken spiced with bell pepper, onions, garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, chili pepper, salt, pepper and thyme. Some versions of moqueca de peixe, a Brazilian fish stew, are made with stock seasoned with thyme. Alcoholic beverages can be flavored with thyme, such as Brazilian thyme, a cocktail made from lemon, orange, thyme and açaí spirit.

Colombia: Ajiaco is a Colombian “pot” dish, prepared with potatoes, onions, chicken, and chicken stock and spiced with garlic, bay leaves, parsley, oregano and thyme. Fish escabeches, a type of marinated fish, are seasoned with basil, thyme, capers, olives, onions and red bell peppers. Sancocho, a soup with root vegetables, is prepared with thyme and a variety of meats and poultry such as beef, chicken, chorizo and pork ribs. Sopa de carantantas, a corn fritter soup, is made with a beef stock flavored with thyme sprigs, oregano, cilantro, garlic and onions.

Venezuela: Arepas, a corn-based bread that is thought to have first been made in Venezuela, is sometimes stuffed with a mixture of meats spiced with cumin and thyme. Venezuelan fish escabeches are prepared with a marinade of vinegar, oil, basil, bay leaves, cloves, garlic, oregano and thyme. Sancocho de gallina, boiled chicken with root vegetables, is prepared for family celebrations and picnics and is flavored with a thyme-containing bouquet garni.

England: Classic British recipes spiced with thyme are roasted pork with thyme, lemon thyme jelly, and cottage pie (also known as shepherd’s pie), a meat casserole flavored with thyme and bay leaves and topped with a mashed potato crust. Thyme is also used to season fish, lamb, stuffings, stocks and stews. Modern British chefs incorporate thyme into recipes such as thyme, onion and Gruyère tart; cauliflower, cheese and thyme; honey and thyme roasted carrots; and lemon thyme shortbread.

France: Thyme sprigs are a component of the classic French bouquet garni, a string-tied bundle of bay leaves, parsley and thyme, which may also include any of a number of other herbs, such as rosemary, chervil, basil or tarragon. Removed before serving, bouquet garni flavors soups, stews and stocks. Fines herbs, another traditional French seasoning mix, contains minced parsley, tarragon, chives and chervil, and may also include other herbs, such as thyme. Added at the end of cooking for the preservation of flavor and aroma, fines herbs is added to omelettes, seafood dishes and vegetables, such as asparagus. Herbes de Provence, an herb mixture originating from the French region of Provence, comprises basil, fennel, savory and thyme and is used to season vegetable dishes and grilled meats and fish.

Germany: Thyme is a commonly used herb in German cuisine. Salads, stews, soups and roasted meats are often seasoned with thyme. Examples include Hasenpfeffer (rabbit stew), poached trout, Weihnachtsgans (Christmas goose), Kartoffelsuppe (potato soup), and sour cream soup.

Greece: Thyme is used for flavoring many foods in Greek cuisine, including olives and olive oil, fish and meat marinades, and grilled lamb. Dolmas, grape leaves stuffed with rice, can be seasoned with thyme. Honey made by bees that collect nectar from thyme flowers is considered a delicacy.

Italy: Green herbs, such as basil, oregano, parsley and thyme, are an integral part of Italian cuisine. Italian cooks use thyme to season pasta dishes, meats, poultry and fish. Some modern Italian dishes containing thyme are tagliatelle bolognese with thyme, bocconcini steeped in a marinade containing thyme, beef braised with wine and thyme pesto.

Portugal: In Portuguese cuisine, seafood is considered very important and may be seasoned with thyme. For example, mussels à la Portuguese are seasoned with a combination of spices, including thyme.

Spain: Thyme is a commonly used herb in Spanish cuisine, often included in pork, seafood, chicken, and rice dishes. A classic Spanish dish, estofado de conejo (rabbit stew) is prepared with a sauce flavored with bay leaves, thyme, tarragon, garlic and onions. Patatas bravas, a fried potato dish, is spiced with paprika, black pepper, hot pepper sauce and thyme.

Switzerland: Thyme appears in some Swiss dishes, but it is not one of the cornerstones of Swiss cuisine. One version of raclette, a traditional Swiss cheese dish, includes a beef tenderloin marinated in an oil and vinegar mix containing thyme leaves.

India: Thyme is not common in traditional Indian cooking. Some modern Indian vegetarian recipes include thyme, such as shepherd’s pie, prepared with mung beans, instead of the traditional English version with meat.

Egypt: Thyme is a component of Egyptian cuisine, used to season chicken molokhia, lamb and eggplant dishes, and vegetables. Thyme may be included in dukkah, a well-known Egyptian blend of toasted seeds, nuts and spices. A customary way to consume dukkah is to dip bread in oil and then in dukkah.

Iran: Thyme is a component of Iranian cuisine. It is used to add additional flavor to roasted chicken and is an integral component of za’atar, a mix of sesame seeds, salt, marjoram, oregano and thyme.

Jordan: Jordanian za’atar includes thyme and is consumed with yogurt and bread dipped in olive oil.

Lebanon: Lebanese za’atar, a salted blend of sesame seeds, thyme and other herbs, often includes sumac berries or dried orange zest and is commonly eaten for breakfast. Shanklish, a type of cheese, may also be flavored with thyme.

Pakistan: In Pakistan, thyme is sometimes added to an herb and spice mix for roasted chicken. A modern Pakistani version of mutton soup is seasoned with thyme, bay leaf, parsley, rosemary, salt and black pepper.

Syria: Thyme is a key ingredient in Syrian za’atar, a mix of sesame seeds, salt, thyme and other herbs and spices. In Syria, bread dipped in olive oil is coated with za’atar and eaten with yogurt.

Turkey: In Turkey, thyme seasons roasted lamb, lamb kabobs, lamb and vegetable stews, and other meat and poultry dishes. Vegetable dishes are also sometimes seasoned with thyme.

Ethiopia: Telba fitfit is an Ethiopian appetizer prepared from roasted, ground flaxseeds seasoned with thyme, onion, and garlic. Berberé, a fiery dry spice blend used to flavor stews, soups, meats and vegetables, may include thyme.

Morocco: Tagine, a classic Moroccan spicy vegetable or meat and vegetable stew, may include thyme. Thyme is also sometimes used to flavor couscous dishes, olives and fish dishes. Fresh thyme leaves are added to salads.

Nigeria: Nigerian versions of fish stews, groundnut stews, akara (mashed bean fritters), and ogbono soup (a Nigerian soup based on ogbono seeds, which are produced by bush mango or wild mango) are seasoned with thyme.

Tunisia: Thyme is used to flavor Tunisian lamb dishes, fish soup and market ommalah, a Tunisian chickpea and lentil stew flavored with garlic, onions, cumin and thyme.


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How Misuse of Antibiotics Backfired

May 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl


When you learn about what life was like before we had antibiotics, you realise what is at stake as we struggle against today’s superbugs.

If we can’t overcome the bugs that resist antibiotic treatment, we might go back to a world where medicine seemed powerless against a whole range of conditions. Dr Richard Bax, a former GP who now works for the pharmaceutical company Chiron, said you only have to look at the graveyards full of Victorian children who died in infancy to realise what a world without antibiotics was like.

When the first effective antibiotic, penicillin, arrived during the Second World War, it seemed like a ray of hope amidst all the wartime gloom. It looked as if we could defeat infection as decisively as we were defeating fascism.

Panacea
At first there were only very limited amounts available of what the media hailed as a wonder drug, mostly reserved for the military.

Antibiotics were thought to cure baldness?
The famous film ‘The Third Man’ starring Orson Welles in seedy postwar Vienna depicts the desperate struggle to obtain supplies of the drug. So when antibiotics became available in much larger quantities demand was huge.

They were seen as the cure for everything. Kevin Brown, who’s written a new history of penicillin, says they were touted as a cure for baldness and tooth decay. There was even penicillin lipstick for “hygienic kissing”. But this laid the ground for growing resistance to antibiotics as they were used so widely and in insufficient amounts. The bugs could adapt and resist them.

Meanwhile doctors doled the exciting new medicines out in large amounts, grateful for a weapon against previously serious conditions, but also in response to huge patient demand.

David Kerr, who was a young doctor in the 1940s, says the tradition had always been that “you could never let patients go out of the surgery without a bottle of medicine in their hands”.

Impatience
What’s more, patients were ever more impatient – everyone thought that in the modern era no-one needed to be ill for more than a day or two, so antibiotics were given for ever more trivial conditions. Antibiotics spread through other channels too. They were used as growth promoters in agriculture and fishing. It became impossible to monitor their use. This was a global problem too.

Kathy Holloway, of the World Health Organisation, points out that in many countries antibiotics have been available without prescription in chemists. And some doctors depended on drug sales to boost their incomes, so the temptation to over prescribe was huge. And so resistance spread, and began to emerge in the most alarming of places – hospitals. Australian hospitals had some of the first serious “superbugs” in the 1980s. They had to remind staff to wash their hands routinely, just as British hospital staff are now being urged to do. It was always hoped that science would come up with a new miraculous answer. But researchers lost interest after the early postwar decades.

Richard Bax recalls the US Surgeon General’s complacent claim in the 1960s that “infection had been defeated”.
Pharmaceutical companies found there were much bigger profits to be made from other drugs, such as those combating heart disease, which patients had to take for years on end rather than in response to a single infection.

Some researchers still hope for a new generation of drugs as revolutionary as penicillin once was.
Whether or not that happens, there’s pressure for a major change in the way we use the antibiotics we have.
But it will be hard. Kathy Holloway says we’ve become too used to the “quick fix” approach for everything, including infection.

We haven’t yet realised that, if resistance spreads unchecked, old enemies like pneumonia will lurk again, routine operations will become much more hazardous, and all that post-war optimism about endlessly better health will seem like a distant dream.


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As Sweet As…or Even Sweeter Than Sugar

May 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl

Sugar means a lot of things in our culture, ranging from ideal children (“Sugar and spice, and everything nice”) to easing unpleasant situations (“A spoonful of sugar…”) to sexual desire (“Pour some sugar on me/ ooh, in the name of love” ). Sugar hardly ever means a bad thing in pop culture. But, when it comes to our health, it’s a different story.

In 2008, Americans consumed 20 million short tons (40 billion pounds) of caloric sweeteners, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). With four calories per gram, the weight adds up in American waistlines. In recent years, sugar has been implicated as a major factor in epidemic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. It also has a bad rap for causing tooth decay.

“Excess dietary sugar and unstable insulin levels are among the leading causes of disease and health challenges in the United States, including the rising epidemics of diabetes and obesity, and both food manufacturers and consumers are becoming more aware of this and responding,” said Wes Crain, vice president, Navitas Naturals. He added, “Food shoppers are reading product labels more than ever to see how their foods are sweetened, so food manufacturers want to have a more attractive natural ingredient list.”

Colleen M. Zammer, market development manager, health and nutrition, Jungbunzlauer Inc., attributes the growth of the natural sweetener industry to three factors: “1) The struggle with obesity and the need to reduce calories in foods and beverages, with a major target being sugar calories; 2) Sporadic studies or published comments questioning the safety of artificial sweeteners, which have been a longtime solution for reducing sugar calories; and 3) The opportunity to cater to niche markets that are high value and high profit using unique natural sweeteners that combine safety, good taste and a natural aura.”

However, there are those on both sides of the fence: those who say sucrose is evil, and those who say it is carrying the blame that should be attributed to the overall lifestyle trend of added calories and reduced activity. In fact, Audrae Erickson, president, Corn Refiners Association, noted people often forget glucose provides energy to the body and is a necessary carbohydrate for brain function.

Highly Natural?
Further, Erickson pointed out much-maligned nutritive sweeteners, such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are safe and natural. FDA feels the same way, as a 2008 letter from them to the Corn Refiners Association said it does not object to use of the term “natural” on a product containing HFCS because natural means “nothing artificial (including artificial flavors) or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in or has been added to a food that would not normally be expected to be in the food.”

The Corn Refiners Association, which represents the corn wet milling industry, has faced an uphill battle trying to remove the scorn attached to HFCS, which they say is undeserved. Erickson noted HFCS has the same caloric value as sucrose (aka table sugar), honey, fruit juice concentrate, agave nectar and cane sugar. And, HFCS offers great benefits to product manufacturers, she said. “Because of its viscosity, it lends thickness to products, and it also keeps ingredients evenly mixed in salad dressings, jams, jellies and sauces. It’s a highly prized ingredient in a vast array of beverage and food applications. It bakes well, it freezes well, and it sits on the shelf well in product applications.” She added HFCS comes at lower cost than sucrose, honey and agave.

Studies have found the body reacts to HFCS and sucrose the same metabolically,1 and they both raise triacylglycerols the same amount.2 In 2008, the American Dietetic Association released a statement that said HFCS is “nutritionally equivalent to sucrose. Both sweeteners contain the same number of calories and consist of about equal parts of fructose and glucose. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”

Still, HFCS has been the newest ingredient to avoid with many products touting “high-fructose corn syrup free,” and many shoppers passing on products that contain HFCS. John White, Ph.D., president of White Chemical Research, a consulting firm to the food and beverage industry, said the trouble for HFCS started with a 2004 paper published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition that developed the hypothesis that HFCS was responsible for obesity.3 The researchers looked at the use of HFCS and obesity rates and found a correlation. “Unfortunately, there is a tendency in human nature to accept as fact things that we read,” White said. “People didn’t read it, as ‘here’s an interesting hypothesis,’ they read it as ‘here is an interesting fact: HFCS is responsible for obesity.’”

White warned against formulators replacing HFCS in products with other nutritive sweeteners. “There is a lot of pressure to formulate away from HFCS. However, food manufacturers should reformulate for the right reason. If they are reformulating to change the nutritional value of the food, reformulating from HFCS to sucrose will not change the nutritional value of the food. There are those who take HFCS out and replace it with evaporated cane juice, which is a fancy name for sugar, yet there is no nutritional gain for doing so. It looks better on the label, but it’s misleading to consumers. If they are looking for a nutritional improvement, they get none.”

Naturally Nutritives
However, it seems consumers have jumped on the HFCS-free bandwagon, as Peter Sokoloski, general manager, HealthCo, noted along with reducing calorie consumptions and eating an organic diet, consumers, and therefore manufacturers, are driven by a need to eliminate HFCS in the diet.

One such sweetener sugar affecting the natural market is palm sugar, which is lower on the glycemic index (GI) than sucrose—the lower the GI, the smaller the fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels. Eating foods lower in GI can lead to reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, and is a key to sustainable weight loss, according to Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service (SUGiRS). Sucrose has a GI of 68, honey has 55, agave has 42, while palm sugar’s GI sits at 35. Crain noted Navitas Naturals’ Sweet Tooth Organic Palm Sugar is high in amino acids, potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron, and is a good natural source of B vitamins

Navitas Naturals also offers Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius), with a much lower GI at about 1, which gets its sweet taste from fructooligosaccharides (FOS). FOS is a mixture of glucose-terminated fructose chains that contains fiber, and is considered a prebiotic. Yacon also contains inulin, which has been shown to increase calcium absorption,4 and is also a prebiotic. Yacon offers about half the calories of honey and research shows it offers additional health benefits. Study have showed yacon can reduce oxidative stress,5 may help prevent and treat chronic diseases involving oxidative stress, particularly diabetes.6 It did not increase hypoglycemic activity in rats and significantly reduced serum triacylglycerol levels.7 On the human side, yacon syrup produced a significant decrease in body weight, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) in obese and slightly dyslipidemic pre-menopausal women.8 Additionally, a decrease in fasting serum insulin was observed as well as an increase in defecation frequency and satiety sensation. Fasting glucose and serum lipids were not affected and a positive effect was found in serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.

In addition, “It is an excellent source of nutrients, including bioavailable protein, potassium, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and phosphorus, as well as fiber,” Cain said. “Yacon is also an excellent source of antioxidants and is known to help strengthen the immune system.”

Lucuma powder is naturally sweet, but also low on the glycemic index. “Navitas Naturals’ Lucuma Powder is high in iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B3, and it is a great source of beta carotene, fiber and bioavailable protein,” Cain noted.

Stevia—a Sweet Sensation
If manufacturers are looking for a way to add sweetness to products without adding calories or a glycemic load, they may look to one of the biggest ingredients to hit the sweetener market in the past decade: stevia. Since stevia (Stevia rebaudiana), which can be 300-times sweeter than sugar, was affirmed generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by several firms in 2008, its popularity is has risen dramatically.

“The issuance of GRAS designations for stevia resulted in an explosion of possibilities for this natural sweetener in the marketplace,” Sokoloski said. “Stevia has long been sold in the United States as an herbal dietary supplement rather than as a sweetener. In the past couple of years, that has changed and many companies are furiously looking at how to use this new sweetener in foods and beverages.

Stevia can be a sweet deal for those looking to reduce blood pressure. A Chinese study found 500 mg/d of stevioside power decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure blood pressure compared to placebo after two years.9 Similar results have been found in rats.10 In type 2 diabetic patients, stevia reduced postprandial blood glucose levels, indicating beneficial effects on the glucose metabolism.11

This small, green plant can also be friendly for formulations. Jason Hecker, vice president global marketing, PureCircle Limited, said its Reb A ingredient offers high solubility, is suitable for cooking because it is heat stable, is pH stable, does not ferment, offers a long shelf life, and is photo stable

However, Stevia is not problem-free for formulators, as noted by Jim May, president and founder of Wisdom Natural Brands. “Many manufacturers are finding stevia alters the taste of their product. An entire industry of making masking agents has evolved for stevia.” He added Wisdom eliminates this problem with its stevia ingredients by extracting with purified water instead of chemicals and alcohols.

The true reason stevia, and all other sweeteners, show up in finished goods is the taste; and if that taste is off or different from the last batch, consumers may switch to other products. This is why manufacturers must be diligent to ensure consistency. “In the case of the more exotic organic sweeteners we source, the primary challenge is to initiate and maintain a consistent supply that tastes the same every time,” Cain noted, adding Navitas Natruals also offers a, Green Stevia powder. “In addition to finding the right farming and supply partners, it is a delicate balance to get the low temperature processing just right to maximize the favorable natural flavors and negate any potential off-flavors.”
To combat this taste issue, Jessica Jones-Dille, senior manager, Industry Trends and Market Research, WILD Flavors Inc., said WILD offers an array of taste modification solutions for its portfolio of Sunwin Stevia products. “These systems address mouthfeel, masking, sweet enhancement and blocking of bitterness that improve the taste profile of foods and beverages containing Stevia,” she said.

For HealthCo, stevia’s taste profile is improved with enzymes. “Enzyme-treated Stevia FSE provides a better-rounded sweetening profile that is ideal for numerous food applications,” Sokoloski said. “Stevia FSE utilizes the whole stevia leaf and is not an isolated fraction, like Reb A, which is said to require additional added substances to mask the bitter aftertaste. No flavorings or masking agents are used in Stevia FSE because none are needed. The natural enzyme treatment enhances its organoleptic (sensory) properties.”

Still, these taste issues can drive manufacturers away from stevia entirely, just like it did for Catherine Wilbert, N.D., Ph.D., chief innovation officer, Wellness Innovations. “After about a year of trying to use stevia,we abandoned the whole idea,” she said, explaining, “No matter what you do to stevia, it still has an aftertaste and it changes over time; it can’t quite be standardized. It was hard to get consistency and mask the aftertaste. When you have pure stevia with stevioside and rebaudioside, they fall off at different times, so you have different sweetness and bitter notes happening over the aging of the product.”

Engaging Erythritol
Wilbert’s answer was turning to another no-calorie, no-GI-load sweetener for its Swerve line of sweeteners. Erythritol occurs naturally in various fruits and fermented foods, and it contains 0.2 calories per gram, which is typically rounded to zero calories on product labels. It does not affect mean plasma glucose or insulin levels,12 and it has been shown to offers protection against tooth decay.13

“Swerve is an erythritol-based sweetener, with about five other ingredients, that looks, measures, tastes, bakes, candies, freezes just like sugar,” Wilbert said. “It is a one-to-one granular product, which makes it remarkable and easy to reformulate products. It’s a blend of oligosaccharides that literally makes the erythritol act like sugar.”

Zammer said erythritol is different from high-intensity sweeteners in that it has a bulk density similar to sugar, so it can provide bulk in packaging and manufacturing as well as bulk functionality in formulations. This means other bulking agents are not required. “It also provides a full mouthfeel similar to sugar, which is often lacking in high-intensity sweeteners. Erythritol also has a higher digestive tolerance than other polyols and is non-cariogenic.” She added erythritol is stable in manufacturing and processing, and has a negative heat of solution, which results in a cooling effect while it is dissolved in liquids. “This effect dissipates upon complete dissolution, and is not an issue in beverages, but in low moisture systems such as confections, it can contribute to the flavor experience of the product.”

The Bitter with the Sweet
Besides for taste, sweeteners can pose potential formulation challenges, including temperature, quality control, moisture and supply issues. Noted Cain, “For the products that are low-temperature processed, keeping them in as raw a state as possible is challenging. It is important to closely monitor the production to maintain these low temperatures. With raw and organic products, it is also important to continually test for microbes, and to store and handle the products with great care.”

Wilbert said, “Erythritol is awesome, but it has an odd cooling effect. It dries products out, so we had to figure out how to add [moisture] back in.” Another one of Wellness’s biggest challenges is making sure it always has abundant raw material. “With more people coming into the market, obviously, the raw materials become scarcer. With Coca-Cola and Pepsi starting to use erythritol, we had to make sure we secured the ability to have the supply we need.”

Sweet-Tempered Future
Hopefully, that supply will last long into the future, as many in the industry expect future growth for the natural sweetener market. “The future is bright for natural sweeteners as more people are reading labels and keeping track of the substances they consume,” Cain predicted. “People will always enjoy sweet-tasting foods, but they also now want the peace of mind provided by better-for-you sweeteners.”

Wilbert agreed, adding “The days of the blue, the pink, and the yellow as table-top sweeteners are long gone . There’s going to be a lot more players in the market; there won’t be as few big players, but there’s going to be a lot more options.”

And, with the food and beverage market headed in the direction of natural and healthier options in general, sweeteners will play an instrumental role in this shift, according to Hecker. “Alarming health trends regarding obesity and diabetes are the focus of consumers, government, interest groups and manufacturers alike. As a result, manufacturers are actively looking for natural ways to provide better options with calorie reduction as one important part of the solution. Natural, zero-calorie or reduced-calorie products can provide the solutions formulators are looking for and will play an increasingly important role in the sweetener category.”

As long as consumers still sing, “Sugarpie honeybunch/You know that I’m weak for you/I can’t help myself,” but still face the dilemma of obesity and diabetes, the market for natural sweeteners will exist. By meeting formulation challenges presented by alternatives that not only sweeten foods and beverages, but also include their own health benefits, product manufacturers are sure to secure sweet sales.

References for “As Sweet—or Even Sweeter Than—Sugar”
1. Melanson KJ, et al. “Effects of high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose consumption on circulating glucose, insulin, leptin, and ghrelin and on appetite in normal-weight women.” Nutrition. 2007 Feb;23(2):103-12.
2. Stanhope KL, et al. “Twenty-four-hour endocrine and metabolic profiles following consumption of high-fructose corn syrup-, sucrose-, fructose-, and glucose-sweetened beverages with meals.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 May;87(5):1194-203.
3. Bray GA, Nielsen SJ, Popkin BM. “Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Apr;79(4):537-43.
4. Abrams SA, et al. “A combination of prebiotic short- and long-chain inulin-type fructans enhances calcium absorption and bone mineralization in young adolescents.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Aug;82(2):471-6.
5. Valentová K, Sersen F, Ulrichová J. “Radical scavenging and anti-lipoperoxidative activities of Smallanthus sonchifolius leaf extracts.” J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Jul 13;53(14):5577-82.
6. Valentová K, et al. “The effect of Smallanthus sonchifolius leaf extracts on rat hepatic metabolism.” Cell Biol Toxicol. 2004 Mar;20(2):109-20.
7. Genta SB, et al. “Subchronic 4-month oral toxicity study of dried Smallanthus sonchifolius (yacon) roots as a diet supplement in rats.” Food Chem Toxicol. 2005 Nov;43(11):1657-65.
8. Genta S., et al. “Yacon syrup: Beneficial effects on obesity and insulin resistance in humans.” Clin Nutr. 2009 Feb 28
9. Hsieh MH, et al. “Efficacy and tolerability of oral stevioside in patients with mild essential hypertension: a two-year, randomized, placebo-controlled study.” Clin Ther. 2003 Nov;25(11):2797-808.
10. Jeppesen PB, et al. “Antihyperglycemic and blood pressure-reducing effects of stevioside in the diabetic Goto-Kakizaki rat” Metabolism. 2003 Mar;52(3):372-8.
11. Gregersen S, et al. “Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects” Metabolism. 2004 Jan;53(1):73-6.
12. F. Bornet, et. al. “Erythritol: A Review of Biological and Toxicological Studies” Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1996; 24, S296–S302
13. K.K. Mäkinen, et al. “Similarity of the Effects ofErythritol and Xylitol on SomeRisk Factors of Dental Caries” Caries Res 2005;39:207-215

The Desperate Need for New Antibiotics

May 19th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl


In recent years, efforts to combat drug-resistant bacteria have focused on the immediate goal of reducing rates of hospital-acquired infections. But now global health officials face an approaching crisis: the number of different antibiotics available to treat such infections when they do occur is dwindling because pharmaceutical companies have neglected to invest in the development of new types of drugs.

Bacterial and parasitic diseases are the second leading cause of death worldwide, according to a report on antibiotic research released Sept. 17 by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), with 175,000 deaths attributed to hospital-acquired infections each year in Europe alone. And because of the emergence of drug-resistant “superbugs,” like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), traditional antibiotics such as penicillin and its derivatives are becoming obsolete. New antibiotics are desperately needed, but the amount of money being spent on the research and development of these drugs is woefully inadequate. “The issue is quite dreadful,” says Elias Mossialos, a professor of health policy at LSE and author of the report. “When you look down the pipeline, there are only a handful of new antibiotics in development, and all in the early stages.” (See how to prevent illness at any age.)

There are several reasons why it’s not cost-effective for the major pharmaceutical companies to invest more in antibiotic research, according to the report. The course of antibiotic treatment is typically short because the drugs help patients get better quickly, and doctors tend to curtail the number of prescriptions they write so as to avoid patients’ developing resistance to the drugs. And when resistance to a certain antibiotic inevitably develops, the drug becomes largely obsolete. (See the top 10 medical breakthroughs of 2008.)

But the report points out ways to incentivize pharmaceutical companies to invest more in antibiotic research. One solution would be for governments to offer drug companies an extension on patents for new antibiotics and perhaps even allow companies to transfer the extension to a different therapeutic category. This would help major pharmaceutical companies protect their monopolies on lucrative blockbuster drugs. (Many patents for high-earning drugs like Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering medication worth $13 billion a year to Pfizer Inc., are due to expire in the next few years.) Governments could also offer companies rewards like vouchers for accelerated regulatory approval of new antibiotics. These, too, could be transferred internally to cover different drugs or even sold to other drug companies, the report said.

Such incentives, which health economists call pull mechanisms because they help pull a drug onto the market, would particularly help big drug companies, which have the capital to invest in early-stage research and development. For small- and medium-size biotech companies, which do not have the same abundance of capital, the report advocates more tax credits and government or NGO loans and grants to help support early-stage research and “push” new drugs onto the market. The LSE report recommends the European Union and the U.S. implement a hybrid of pull and push mechanisms to encourage antibiotic development, with bonus incentives linked to the drugs’ efficacy. (See pictures from an X-ray studio.)

Sweden, which took over the rotating presidency of the E.U. in July, is taking the lead on pushing for legislation on antibiotic development in Europe and the U.S. Otto Cars, head of the Swedish Strategic Programme Against Antibiotic Resistance, which advises the Swedish government, says Sweden will lobby for the E.U. to pass an incentives package for antibiotic research by the end of the year. Swedish leaders will also meet with U.S. officials in December to push for legislation there. “Physicians and the scientific community have been warning about this for years, but the political reaction has been very weak,” Cars told TIME. “We are working to bridge the gap.”

One of the few pharmaceutical companies concentrating on antibiotic development is Switzerland-based Basilea Pharmaceutica Ltd., which was founded in 2000 when Roche abandoned antibiotic development. Basilea recently began selling a new antibiotic called Ceftobiprole, which is effective against MRSA and other superbugs, in Canada, Ukraine and Switzerland. (It has submitted applications to market the drug in the U.S. and E.U. as well.) Basilea CEO Anthony Man says there is “no one-size-fits-all” incentive program to encourage companies to invest in antibiotic research. But he says major pharmaceutical companies and smaller, boutique firms both need to be lured back to the field. (Read: “A New Class of Antibiotics Could Offer Hope Against TB.”)

“We simply do not have enough companies working on this area. There should be a basket of different solutions available from governments and NGOs that companies could choose from depending on the maturity of the R&D project in their pipeline,” he says.

David Payne, head of GlaxoSmithKline’s Antibacterial Discovery Performance Unit, says incentives would certainly help his research team, which is one of the few left in major pharmaceutical firms that continue to develop new classes of antibiotics. “A lot of people don’t appreciate that in big companies it’s a pretty competitive environment for funding for each of the therapeutic areas. Incentives would offer a way for us to accelerate our program and increase our probability of success.” (Read “Big Pharma Faces a Crackdown in Europe.”)

But both Man and Payne also acknowledged that there are scientific obstacles to antibiotic research that cannot be solved by incentives alone. A deadly new class of antibiotic-resistant bacteria — so-called gram-negative bacteria — have a protective layer that has largely stymied drug developers. Drug-resistant bacteria “have multiple defense mechanisms to new drugs,” says Man. “There are difficult technical challenges.” (Read “The Year in Medicine 2008: From A to Z.”)

To Cars, the scientific challenges are more worrying than the financial obstacles. “Even if we got the incentives right, there’s a knowledge gap that needs to be filled,” he says. “The pharmaceutical companies have already picked the low-hanging fruit and developed drugs for the ‘easy’ bacteria. We are facing a rapidly spreading pandemic. And we are running out of ammunition. We need to do something now.”
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DEPSYL Facts!

February 24th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl

The prevalence of diabetes has reached epidemic proportions.

Prevalence of diabetes

  • Total: 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
  • Diagnosed: 18.8 million people
  • Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people
  • Prediabetes: 79 million people*
  • New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed in people aged 20 years and older in 2010
  • 26 million U.S. adults/kids have diabetes; 1.6 million new cases per year, 22.7 million households affected (Am. Diabetes Foundation, 2010).
  • Boomers are moving into the age group when most likely to be diagnosed with diabetes—age 40-64 (Am.Diabetes Foundation, 2010).
  • 58 million adults are pre-diabetic; 40 million households affected by Metabolic Syndrome.
  • Increasing ethnic mix fuels diabetes growth, incidence 6.6% Whites, 11.8% Blacks, 10% Hispanics, 7.5% Asian Americans (Am Diabetes Foundation, 2010).
  • Globally, 285 million diabetics in 2010: India 51 million #1; China 43 million #2 (World Diabetes Federation, 2010).

Diabetes Risk

  • Currently, diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Diabetes is the No. 1 reason for adult blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation, and it’s a large contributor to heart attacks and strokes
  • It’s also now linked to a form of dementia, some forms of cancer and some forms of lung disease.
  • Diabetes impacts so many systems in the body
  • Globally, the statistics are staggering.
  • Millions of people find out from their family physician that they will have to change their lifestyles as well as having to take medications and blood tests for the rest of their lives.
  • Conventional treatments help to control it, but only delay its devastating effects.
  • To control diabetes people need to make Long Life adjustments.  But drugs do not have to be part of the regime.
  • Ignored diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, nerve   damage, limb amputations and even death.
  • Prescriptive medications can have toxic side effects including, but not limited to, nausea, diarrhea, skin rash, weight gain, respiratory infections, liver damage, and headaches.

The good news is there is now a safe and effective solution.  DEPSYLTM was established in Spring of 2007 in Mason, Ohio after fourteen months of intense research and development.  Its purpose is to produce proprietary nutritional supplements as a healthy alternative to drugs.

DEPSYLTM

www.depsyl.com

DEPSYL Core Technology

February 24th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl

What is the DEPSYLTM Product?

DEPSYLTM has a newly developed blood sugar management product.  It is a composite or combination of seven natural ingredients.  Each ingredient is supported by extensive global research as noted elsewhere.

DEPSYLTM is prepared to release a weight loss and anti aging product in the Fall of 2011.

What are the Applications?

DEPSYLTM was developed to help consumers lower the glycemic impact on their body – and in the process potentially reduce the worldwide diabetes and obesity epidemic.

What are the Key Ingredients?

1.      Alpha-Lipoic Acid
2.      Banaba
3.      Chromium
4.      Cinnamon
5.      Fenugreek
6.      Gymnema Sylvestre
7.      Salacia Oblonga

Are the Key Ingredients Effective?

See Ingredient Claims listed on the following pages.

The claims are based upon the substantiation process.  This process was based upon a Literature Review generated and prepared by Natural Standard.  The Ingredient Claims were prepared by Venable LLP based upon their review and scrutiny of the Literature Review.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

  • Supports glucose metabolism*
  • Supports healthy blood sugar level (that are already in the normal range)* or Helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels (already within normal range)*
  • Alpha-lipoic acid plays a role in the metabolic process that turns glucose into energy for the body’s needs.*
  • Alpha-lipoic acid contributes favorably to metabolic production of energy*
  • Positively affects the metabolism, leading to increased energy*
  • Neutralizes free radicals*
  • Promotes healthy insulin levels*
  • Helps increase insulin sensitivity*

Banaba

  • Helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels (that are already in the normal range)*
  • Promotes healthy blood sugar levels (already within the normal range)*

Chromium

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin, a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrate, fat, and protein in the body.*
  • Promotes healthy insulin function*
  • Promotes healthy blood sugar level (already in the normal range)*
  • Helps maintain healthy  glucose level (that are already in the normal range)*
  • Helps regulate healthy blood sugar levels (already within the normal range)*
  • Supports metabolism in conjunction with insulin*
  • Supports glucose metabolism (already within normal range)*
  • Boosts metabolism*
  • Helps increase insulin sensitivity*
  • This claim needs to be made verbatim: “One small study suggests that chromium picolinate may reduce the risk of insulin resistance, and therefore possibly may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. FDA concludes, however, that the existence of such a relationship between chromium picolinate and either insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes is highly uncertain.”[1]
    • This claim statement about diabetes is approved by the FDA (Chromium Picolinate & Diabetes, Docket No. 2004Q-0144, 08/25/2005 enforcement discretion letter).
  • Promotes healthy blood glucose level (that are already in the normal range)*
  • Promotes satiety*
  • Helps maintain metabolic syndrome*
  • Helps promote cardiovascular health*
  • Promotes lean body mass*
  • Helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels (that are already in the normal range)*

Cinnamon

However, dietary supplement containing chromium should meet or exceed the requirement for a “high” level of chromium as defined in 21 CFR 101.54(b) (i.e., 24 mg or more per reference amount customarily consumed under the current regulation) for FDA to exercise enforcement discretion.  The claim must also meet all applicable statutory and regulatory requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, with the exception of the requirement that a health claim meet the significant scientific agreement standard and the requirement that the claim be made in accordance with an authorizing regulation.  In our view, this is a defensible structure/function claim; the FDA may disagree, however.

Fenugreek

  • Helps manage blood glucose level that are already in the normal range *
  • Helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels that are already in the normal range *
  • Supports glucose metabolism*
  • Helps maintain healthy insulin levels that are already in the normal range *
  • Helps reduce fat consumption*
  • Helps increase insulin sensitivity*

Gymnema Sylvestre

  • Promotes healthy blood sugar levels (already within the normal range)*
  • Helps maintain healthy blood glucose and insulin level (already in the normal range)*

Salacia Oblonga

  • Helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels (that are already in the normal range)*
  • Helps maintain healthy blood glucose and insulin level (already in the normal range)*
  • Helps regulate healthy blood sugar levels (already within the normal range)*

Are They Safe?

DEPSYLTM uses the highest grade materials.   They are tested for purity; potency and are safe 100 percent of the time.

Scientific Support

Listed below are sources used by Venable LLP in reaching the ingredient claims listed above.

List of Studies/Abstracts

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

  • Heinisch BB, et al. Alpha-lipoic acid improves vascular endothelial function in patients with type 2 diabetes: a placebo-controlled randomized trial.
    • “Intravenous ALA treatment improves endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in patients with type 2 diabetes, in the absence of effects on forearm vasomotor function.”
  • Lukaszuk JM, et al. Effects of R-alpha lipoic acid on HbA1c, lipids and blood pressure in type-2 diabetics: a preliminary study.
    • “Three months of R-ALA supplementation may lower HbAlc in a small number of individuals.”
  • Singh U; Jialal I. Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation and diabetes.
    • “Several clinical studies point to a beneficial effect of LA on whole-body glucose metabolism in patients with T2DM.”
    • “an antioxidant, LA directly terminates free radicals, chelates transition metal ions, increases cytosolic glutathione and vitamin C levels, and prevents toxicities associated with their loss.” (cf. not supported by a clinical study)
  • Kamenova P. Improvement of insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus after oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid.

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DEPSYL Offers an Alternative Solution to Blood Sugar Management.

February 24th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl

DEPSYLTM Offers an Alternative Solution to Blood Sugar Management.

Global health expenditures to prevent and treat diabetes and its complications will total at least $376 billion in 2010. By 2030, this number will exceed some $490 billion.  Expenditures spent on diabetes care are not evenly distributed across age and gender groups. More than three-quarters of the global expenditure in 2010 will be used for persons who are between 50 and 80 years of age. Also, more money is expected to be spent on diabetes care for women than for men.

The United States of America will spend $ 198 billion, or 52.7% of global expenditure on diabetes related initiatives.

At the societal level, diabetes leads to loss in productivity and economic growth. The American Diabetes Association estimated that the US economy lost $58 billion, equivalent to about an half of the direct health care expenditure on diabetes in 2007, as a result of lost earnings due to lost work days, restricted activity days, lower productivity at work, mortality and permanent disability caused by diabetes.   Source:  IDF Diabetes Atlas fourth edition

DEPSYLTM offers an alternative solution to blood sugar management and is comprised of  a naturally derived blend of herbs, vitamins and fatty acids that help support healthy blood sugar levels without changing eating behavior.  The formula is created in a manner which maximizes the potency and absorption of natural ingredients by using a unique 6-step proprietary blending and extraction process.

DEPSYLTM Key Ingredients
BANABA
CINNAMON CASSIA
GYMNEMA SYLVESTRE
FENUGREEK SEED
SALACIA OBLONGA
ALPHA LIPOIC ACID
CHROMIUM

Each DEPSYL™  component has been backed up by independent and academic research.  Complete ingredient claims can be provided. The claims are based upon the substantiation process.  This process was based upon a Literature Review generated and prepared by Natural Standard.  The Ingredient Claims were prepared by Venable LLP based upon their review and scrutiny of the Literature Review.

According to DEPSYL™  Executive Vice President, Myron Wolff,  “Diabetes is a real threat to our healthcare system and to individuals.  Currently, diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is the foremost reason for adult blindness, kidney failure and limb amputation, and a large contributor to heart attacks and strokes.”  He went on to explain that information about negative effects of diabetes is available; nevertheless many people think diabetes will not strike them or their loved ones. To control diabetes, people need to make life adjustments.  Wolff emphasized, “Ignored diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, nerve damage, limb amputations and even death.”

*  “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

Spice Up Your Life and Stay Well

December 30th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl

A herb is “a friend of physicians and the praise of cooks”. Herbs and spices have been used historically owing to their aroma, flavor and preservative properties. They have also been well known for their therapeutic benefits.

Knowledge of their healing power dates back to thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians prescribed coriander, fennel, juniper, cumin, garlic and thyme, cardamom, mint.

Greeks and Romans used herbs more than spices.

Chinese often used herbs and spices – Ginseng, Ginkgo biloba, galangal, nutmeg and cinnamon.

In traditional Indian medicine, herbs and spices were used for various ailments: turmeric for jaundice, basil to protect the heart, mace for stomach infections, cinnamon to stimulate circulation, and ginger as the universal medicine and relieving nausea and indigestion.

Many of these herbs and spices are still being used in for their therapeutic benefits and modern science has documented several of these.

What make herbs and spices so special are their high antioxidant concentrations. It is still not very clear how these constituents work in the body, however, they certainly possess anti-oxidant, cholesterol lowering, anti-clotting, anti-hypertensive (lowering blood pressure), anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, decongesting, hypoglycemic and even immune-boosting properties.

Given the long history of use of herbs and spices, they may be considered one of the first ever recorded functional foods. Cardio-protective benefits have been documented in several herbs and spices.

Garlic is loaded with nearly 100 active compounds. The most important of these is Allicin, a sulfur-containing compound. Research has shown that garlic exhibits a cardio-protective role by helping to lower blood cholesterol, especially the undesirable fraction of serum cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and serum fat.

Eating half a clove of garlic a day may lower blood cholesterol by 9 per cent, provided it is taken regularly.The anti-clotting and antihypertensive properties have been attributed predominantly to allicin.

Cinnamon, ginger, chili (capsaicin) and turmeric (curcumin) have also been associated with a decrease in LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and an increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels. Several herbs have been found to have anti-cancer properties. These include turmeric, garlic, basil, rosemary, mint and lemon grass.

Several studies have found that turmeric possesses chemo-preventive effects against cancers of the skin, stomach, liver and colon, and oral cancer. According to decade-long research at National Nutrition Institute, Hyderabad, a teaspoon of haldi a day can keep cancer at bay and it not only can prevent cancer, but may even be useful in reversing it. Sulfur compounds found in garlic increases the production of detoxification enzymes that help break down cancer-causing compounds and toxins and enhance their removal from the body.

Garlic has also been shown to protect against liver, lung and breast cancer. Research has shown that consuming on an average of six or more cloves a week lowers the risk of colorectal cancer by 30 per cent and stomach cancer by 50 per cent.

Inflammation has been associated with arthritis, asthma, ulcers and other conditions such as those of the skin, pulmonary, systems, aches, pains, wounds, and sprains. Natural anti-inflammatory herbs include turmeric, milk thistle herb, ginger and chilli. A study showed that turmeric worked in relieving pain and stiffness in arthritis patients as a prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

Garlic also reduces inflammation by blocking the formation of agents (prostaglandins) that induce it. Liquorice (mulathi) possesses anti-inflammatory properties and provides protection against asthma, chest problems and mouth ulcers.

Herbs have been used in the treatment of diabetes for years. Spices beneficial in the treatment of diabetes include fenugreek seeds, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and turmeric.

Fenugreek seeds contain trigonelline and are a rich source of fiber (50 per cent), which have anti-diabetic properties. Fenugreek seeds should not be consumed raw — they are better taken soaked or powdered.

Herbs and spices usually do not cause side effects, but in sensitive people they may cause allergic symptoms. Herbs do not always show the same health benefits when the active substance is isolated from food and ingested as a pure compound. So, spice up your life, tickle your taste buds and boost your health.


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Is Weight Loss Going Functional?

December 30th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl

Weight Loss Going Functional

SURREY, United Kingdom—The direction of the weight management industry is shifting away from “better for you” products like diet and low and light foods toward functional weight management products, according to Leatherhead Food Research. In a new report, the market research firm said the international weight management market was worth an estimated USD7.3bn in 2009, and it is set to grow year-on-year at between 6-8 percent for the next 5 years.

Leatherhead predicted a successful weight management product will need to be both convenient and offer a benefit which can be felt quickly, if not immediately. Consumers want a clear benefit and message, a good taste and a product that makes them feel satisfied.

Growth so far has largely been due to innovations within the bakery and cereals and the beverage markets (which currently hold shares of 33.5 percent and 28.4 percent respectively). Beverages and cereals (the latter of which includes cereal bars) remain the most prolific sectors for weight management claims across the globe. This is largely due to the functionality of the products (i.e. their ability to ‘carry’ other ingredients well), as well as the fact that they are generally perceived by consumers as both convenient and healthy.

The “Future of the Weight Management Market” presents information on the trends which help to shape this industry, with a focus on major market product sectors such as beverages, dairy and snacks. The report also details the latest ingredients being used in the weight management sector. The weight management product areas include products which make a claim (either direct or indirect) relating to weight management, satiety or weight control. This covers appetite suppressants, satiety products, fat and carbohydrate blockers, and metabolism boosters and regulators and also considers ‘low’ and ‘light’ foods (e.g. low in fat, calories etc.) when relevant.


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Is Diabetes Genetic?

December 30th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Depsyl

New Analysis Concludes Cause of Diabetes Not Genetic

Since sequencing the human genome, genetic researchers have searched intensively but unearthed little evidence to suggest that inherited genes cause common diseases….

For such diseases, which include heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes, and disorders such as autism, ADHD and dementia, as well as mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression, significant genetic causation can now be ruled out with a high degree of confidence.

The case for a substantial role of genes in susceptibility to the major human diseases is now scientifically refuted argues a groundbreaking new analysis published by the public interest science organization, The Bioscience Resource Project.

The analysis stems from the repeated failure of a new and comprehensive genome scanning method (called Genome-Wide Association studies, GWA studies) to find important human disease genes. It notes that more than 700 GWA studies by researchers from all over the world, covering over 80 different diseases and at a cost of many billions of dollars, have yielded essentially the same result. Of the approximately 1,000 genes identified that confer susceptibility to disease only a tiny handful are of even limited importance. The remainder are so weak in their effects as to be of negligible significance to human health1.

“Geneticists are repeatedly finding only genes with trivial effects, but since they have a strong incentive not to declare this search over, they are left invoking unlikely hiding places for the important disease genes they have always predicted,” says Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project2.

The Great DNA Data Deficit: Are genes for disease a mirage? which will be published on December 9th, 2010, points out that the hiding places on which geneticists’ hopes are now resting would require genes for disease to be located in places distinct from where almost all other genetic information has so far been found. These hiding places are thus scientifically highly implausible. Equally importantly, The Great DNA Data Deficit also observes that the underlying fundamental weakness of the original evidence for genetic susceptibility to disease is rarely acknowledged. “A genetic basis for susceptibility to common diseases was only ever a hypothesis,” says Dr. Latham.

As the analysis also points out, the findings resolve the biggest conundrum in human health. The epidemiological data have always indicated that Western diseases are determined overwhelmingly by diet and other non-genetic factors. Similarly, clinical data have frequently shown that many diseases can be reversed or accelerated by diet and other lifestyle choices. The crucial importance of the new genomic findings is therefore to show that genetic research does not after all contradict these environmental explanations of disease. Rather, it now very strongly supports them.

“Resolution of this conflict has tremendous implications,” says co-author Dr. Allison Wilson. “It means human disease is primarily of environmental and not inherited origin. It means that knowledge of the human genome is not going to fulfill most of the medical progress and therapeutic roles it was intended to. And it means that for most people personalized genomics is never going to be useful for predicting the diseases they will develop. And it also means we need to get serious about researching the broader environmental and dietary causes of all these diseases.”

The authors, however, believe that the results should not be seen as bad news. “It means that our fate does not reside in disease genes. Our health is in our own hands,” said Dr. Latham.
The Great DNA Data Deficit: Are genes for disease a mirage? is accessible in advance of publication at www.bioscienceresource.org.

Jonathan Latham, PhD, is Executive Director of The Bioscience Resource Project. Allison Wilson, PhD, is the Science Director and co-founder of the Bioscience Resource Project.

Notes
1. For a detailed description of the failure to find disease susceptibility genes in human populations see: Manolio T. et al. (2009) Nature 461: 747-753 and Dermitzakis E.T. and Clark A.G. (2009) Science 326: 239-240.

2. This analysis refers exclusively to a genetic basis for common diseases. It does not deny or diminish the significance of monogenic disorders such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease or sickle cell anemia that are scientifically well established. Further, as the article makes clear, there are a very few significant genes for common diseases, such as the breast cancer gene BRCA 1, that have been found.
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