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Articles from 2009 In January

Mark Blumenthal: a man of delightful contradictions

Mark BlumenthalIt is impossible to adequately describe Mark Blumenthal, founder of the Texas-based American Botanical Council (ABC), in one word, one sentence or even one magazine page. But attempting to do so is a delightful study of a man who has a distinctive gift for getting to the heart of what is truly important — the human condition. Fi editor Kimberly Lord Stewart caught up with Blumenthal as he was anticipating the birth of his granddaughter the first week of January '09.

Q. If I can draw from my Greek heritage, Hippocrates said: "It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has." His philosophy led to the systematic study of clinical medicine. As head of the ABC, you have systematically studied herbal medicine in a similar manner, but never forgetting the humanity of healing. For the many years I have known you, my best analogy for you is: "Hippocrates… in a cowboy hat." Where do you derive your connection to the human soul?

MB. Ever since my ancestors immigrated to El Paso, Texas, we have been in the service of others. They taught me a sense of social ethics, social responsibility and to give back to the community. Whether it was my maternal great-grandfather, Albert Mathias, selling dry goods in El Paso; my paternal grandfather, Maurice Schwartz, also a successful department-store owner who co-founded what would become the University of Texas, El Paso, or my mother who played a key role in desegregating El Paso two years before the Civil Rights Act passed, and starting the local Meals on Wheels programme — they taught me how important it is to make people feel valued.

Q. The herbal marketplace is maturing from hippie fad to a respected position in medicine, which is a bit like your own history. Where do you see the industry heading?

MB. There are more randomized, controlled trials being published, so that's more inventory for us. And the implementation of stricter good manufacturing practices, plus monographs and databases, are indications of the sophistication and maturation of the herbal marketplace. Companies are looking at patents and new products to protect their investments, so we're finding new uses for old herbs.

I also see more and more doctors, med students and pharmacists genuinely interested in this field, and more and more people in general who think herbs have value. I believe people will recognize herbs' role not just in treating or preventing disease or symptoms, but as adaptogens to enhance general well-being, promote immunity and increase our levels of sustainable energy — to live in a higher state of wellness overall.

Taken from interviews and an excerpt from 'Herbal Cowboy,' Natural Foods Merchandiser, Vickie Uhland, March 1, 2008. For more information on the American Botanical Council, see

Delicious Living

February 1, 2009

Red yeast rice


What it is. Derived from yeast grown on rice, this supplement is a dietary staple in several Asian countries. Its use for gastric problems and stomach health was first documented in China in 800 A.D.

Benefits. Substances in red yeast rice called monacolins may help lower cholesterol. Similar monacolin derivatives are used to make statin drugs.

News. In a large study of patients who had recently suffered heart attacks, researchers found that red yeast rice extract reduced the risk of repeat attack by 45 percent and cardiovascular mortality by one-third. Likewise, research last July suggested that a combination of lifestyle changes and supplementing with fish oil and red yeast rice may reduce LDL cholesterol by 42 percent. The research, however, did not indicate which component was responsible for lowering patients' cholesterol.

How to take it*. Adults may take 1,200 mg of concentrated red yeast rice powder in capsules twice a day with food. Don't take red yeast rice if you are taking immunosuppressants or lovastatin, or if you have liver disease.

Side effects. Red yeast rice occasionally causes dizziness, gas, and heartburn. It may also increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

*Talk with your health care provider before starting any supplement regimen.

Quiz: Is stress harming your heart?

Read our related article: Stress and your heart

1. You're on your way to work when you hit a traffic jam. What do you do?

  1. a. Honk your horn and grit your teeth.

    b. Use the time to check email on your iPhone or Blackberry.

    c. Sit and listen to music, using the time as a break before your busy day.

    Stress-o-meter says: A big source of stress is how you handle it, explains Paul Ratté, ND, a physician at Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minnesota. If you answered C, you've learned to let go of things you can't control. By using the time to be in the moment (rather than multitask), you're training your body to remain calm during stressful moments.

  2. Do you often feel fatigued during the day?

    a. Yes
    b. No

    Stress-o-meter says: While heart disease is a silent condition because symptoms like high blood pressure and high lipids don't have warning signs, stress can cause a host of physical symptoms, says Christie Ballantyne, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Physical side effects of stress include excessive fatigue, tremors, back pain, headaches, diarrhea or constipation, weight gain or loss, and insomnia.

  3. You go to the grocery store and forget your grocery list. Can you remember it off the top of your head?

    a. Sure. You just wrote everything down earlier in the day, so it's fresh in your mind.

    b. No. You keep walking the same aisle, forgetting what you were there for (is it coffee filters or coffee that you need?).

    c. You can remember almost everything, but have to make a second trip to the store for toilet paper.

    Stress-o-meter says: If you answered B, you may have overwhelming stress in your life. Mental symptoms of stress include difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, and worrying, says Ballantyne.

  4. True or false: You're eating more or less than usual lately.

    a. True
    b. False

    Stress-o-meter says: Changes in your eating, sleeping, and exercise schedule can all be signs that stress is interfering with your life, as can picking up nervous habits like nail biting and pacing, says Ballantyne.

For more about how to lower stress in your life, visit

Spice for your ayurvedic type

In Ayurvedic medicine, spices normalize digestion, helping balance a person's physiology and personality,or dosha. Read our related article, "What is your body type" to figure out which of the three doshas below best represents you.. Then feed your dosha the spices it needs.


Embodying air and wind, vatas tend toward lean physiques; creative, impatient, nervous personalities; and fragile digestion, says Mark Halpern, MD, founder and president of the California College of Ayurveda in Grass Valley. Try fresh ginger and ground cinnamon to stabilize digestion, plus salt to increase digestive fire and calm your nervous system.


The pitta dosha, containing strong elements of fire and bile, begets passionate personalities. Natural leaders, pittas have fair skin, warm hands, and average builds. This type requires spices that stabilize the body without overheating it. Use fennel and coriander to cool the body down and cardamom to balance your digestive system.


Kapha types, associated with the water element, tend to be heavier-set with slow digestion. When imbalanced, a kapha's loyal, loving, responsible character may turn into depression. Benefit your dosha with spices that stimulate metabolic activity and dry up mucus, such as black pepper, crushed red pepper, and cloves.

Makeup that rocks

Makeup made from ground-up rocks has been around for thousands of years (Cleopatra used it to style those iconic eyes). Yet it's enjoying new popularity thanks to the proliferation of brands marketing themselves as totally natural options. Indeed, some mineral makeups are healthier for skin because they don't contain common skin irritants such as preservatives, artificial fragrances, synthetic oils, and dyes. But don't be fooled — many mineral products do. “There are no industry standards for makeup,” explains Sean Gray, a senior analyst for the Environmental Working Group, the nonprofit that created the Skin Deep cosmetics safety database ( “It's buyer beware.”

When choosing a mineral makeup, search out optimal ingredients, such as oils derived from plants and flowers, as well as natural coloring agents such as iron oxide, manganese, and chromium oxide. Avoid products with filler ingredients such as talc — a potential carcinogen often used in powdered cosmetics — and remember that even natural additives like mica and bismuth oxychloride can aggravate sensitive skin.


Get enough SPF. Virtually every mineral cosmetic includes an SPF claim on its packaging. And although mineral cosmetics do provide some protection thanks to ingredients like titanium dioxide, a powdered metal that serves as a natural sunblock, you still need more, says Robin Ashinoff, MD, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology and director of cosmetic dermatology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. “You absolutely have to wear a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 with broad-spectrum UVB and UVA protection under the mineral makeup,” she says. “It's not enough to put on a moisturizer with an SPF of 15 and then a layer of mineral makeup that is also rated 15,” she warns, because adding them together doesn't yield an SPF of 30.

Women who switch from conventional makeup to minerals often find that problems like acne and rosacea disappear. “Minerals have natural anti-inflammatory and cooling properties,” explains Jennifer Devlin, a licensed aesthetician and makeup artist in Tampa, Florida. And because mineral makeup sits on the skin's surface rather than soaking in, it doesn't clog pores the way some conventional cosmetics do, she says. It also reflects light — like a polished rock — to create a shimmery effect.

Rock stars:

  • Base: Jane Iredale Amazing Base Loose Minerals SPF 20 is a concealer, foundation, and powder all in one.
  • Powder: Ecco Bella FlowerColors Face Powder is pressed, talc free, and gets its pigments from iron oxides.
  • Blush: Colorescience Dual Finish Pressed Mineral Pigment Compact contains antioxidant vitamin A and comes in 12 shades.


“Most people who have reactions to eye makeup are reacting to the artificial dye,” says Devlin. “So when choosing a product, look for one that doesn't list any artificial colorants.” Mineral cosmetics contain powders sourced from around the globe. Blue often derives from Mexican lapis; orange from Arizona mudstone. Devlin notes that when applying mineral makeup to the eyes, women should use about one-fourth the amount they use with conventional products. “The minerals go a lot further,” she explains.

Rock stars:

  • Eye shadow: Zuzu Luxe Eyeshadows are vegan and come in 16 shimmery and matte hues.
  • Liner: Gabriel Eyeliner goes on smoothly thanks to jojoba oil, and it won't smudge.
  • Mascara: Larenim Mineralash Jet Black Mascara has vitamin E and rice-bran wax to separate lashes.


Just like the powdered products for your face, true mineral lipsticks get their pigments from ground rocks. The good news is that once you apply the color, it lasts for 12 hours, says Devlin. “Still, 90 percent of women who try mineral lip color find that it feels uncomfortably dry,” she says. If you fall into that 90 percent, you may prefer a product that also contains natural plant-based moisturizers.

Rock stars:

  • Gloss: Mineral Fusion Lip Gloss comes in seven subtle colors and moistens with grapeseed oil and tea-leaf extract.
  • Lipstick: Primitive's creamy, vanilla-scented lipsticks moisturize with shea butter and are free of artificial dyes and ingredients.

Research capsule

Vital Stats: Nutrition 21's Chromax chromium picolinate

Study claim: Nutrition 21's Chromax chromium picolinate significantly reduces hunger levels by 24 per cent, and food intake by 25 per cent, and also reduces cravings for high-fat foods in adult non-diabetic overweight women.

Published: Anton SD, et al. Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety. Diabetes Technol Ther 2008 Oct;10(5):405-12.

Abstract: Chromium picolinate (CrPic) has been shown to attenuate weight gain, but the mechanism underlying this effect is unknown. Researchers assessed the effect of CrPic in modulating food intake in healthy, overweight, adult women who reported craving carbohydrates (Study 1) and performed confirmatory studies in Sprague-Dawley rats (Study 2). Study 1 utilised a double-blind, placebo-controlled design and randomly assigned 42 overweight adult women with carbohydrate cravings to receive 1,000mg CrPic or placebo for 8 weeks. Study subjects were allowed to eat any type and amount of food throughout the study. Food intake at breakfast, lunch and dinner was directly measured at baseline, week one, and week eight. CrPic, as compared to placebo, reduced food intake, hunger levels and fat cravings, and tended to decrease body weight. The participants who received CrPic reduced their caloric intake by an average of 365 calories per day between their baseline and final (week eight) visit. These results clinically significant; it is also noteworthy that participants receiving CrPic did not report increased hunger levels despite significantly reducing their food intake.

For Study 2, Sprague-Dawley rats were fasted for 24 hours and subsequently injected intraperitoneally with 0, 1, 10 or 50mcg/kg CrPic. Subsequently, rats were implanted with an indwelling third ventricular cannula. Following recovery, 0, 0.4, 4 or 40mcg CrPic was injected directly into the brain via the intracerebroventricular cannula, and spontaneous 24-hour food intake was measured. Rats experienced a subtle decrease in food intake at only the highest dose. However, when administered centrally, CrPic dose-dependently decreased food intake, suggesting CrPic has a role in food-intake regulation, which may be mediated by a direct effect on the brain.

Potential applications: Appropriate for weight management, sports nutrition and metabolic health supplements, and functional foods and beverages.

More info:
Bill Levi: [email protected]
+1 914 701 4549

Vital Stats: Nutratech's Advantra-Z brand Citrus aurantium

Study claim: Advantra-Z brand Citrus aurantium makes exercise less difficult, and it has no side effects.

Published: Haller CA, et al. Human pharmacology of a performance-enhancing dietary supplement under resting and exercise conditions. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2008 Jun;65(6):833-40.

Abstract: In clinical trials performed under resting conditions, performance-enhancing supplements raise blood pressure and affect glucose homeostasis, which is not ameliorated by exercise. Performance-enhancing supplement use modestly improves exercise tolerance. Researchers aimed to characterise the pharmacology and performance-enhancing effects of a Citrus aurantium (synephrine) supplement under exercise conditions.

Ten healthy adults (three women) aged 20-31 years participated in a three-arm, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Subjects ingested one dose of a supplement containing 21mg synephrine and 304mg caffeine under resting conditions and one hour prior to moderately intense exercise, with a placebo (PLC)/exercise control. Plasma synephrine and caffeine concentrations were measured over 12 hours, and vital signs, serum electrolytes, oxygen consumption and perceived exercise exertion were monitored.

No significant adverse events occurred. Synephrine and caffeine pharmacokinetics were unaffected by exercise. Post-exercise diastolic blood pressure was higher after taking the supplement (peak mean 71.7 +/- 8.7mmHg) than PLC (63.0 +/- 4.9mmHg). There were no substantial treatment-related differences in post-exercise HR, systolic blood pressure or temperature. Postprandial plasma glucose increased to 121.0 +/- 31.6mg dl(-1) in the treatment group vs 103.7 +/- 25.5mg dl(-1) with PLC and exercise. No treatment differences in exercise-related oxygen consumption, serum lactate or insulin were observed. Exercise was rated less difficult with the supplement than PLC.

Blood pressure and plasma glucose increased post-exercise with synephrine use, which could be detrimental in some people. Exercise was perceived as less strenuous after the supplement, presumably due to the stimulant effects of caffeine.

Potential applications: For sports-nutrition and weight-management supplement formulas.

More info:
+1 973 822 7773

New functional ingredients - February 2009

Acai Power from Navitas NaturalsAçai, hemp and flax powders
Navitas Naturals is expanding its product offerings with organic Açai Power, Hemp Power and Sprouted Flax Power powders, which can be added to such products as yoghurts and cereals, or baked into breads, cookies, muffins and pancakes to help achieve whole-food nutrition.

New launches by BergstromNew launches by Bergstrom
Bergstrom Nutrition has introduced three new ingredients: Celacor, SunActive and MenaquinGold. Celacor is a proprietary standardised extract of celery seed, which has been credited with containing 25 anti-inflammatory compounds. A combination of SunActive Iron and OptiMSM addresses athletic recovery and iron-dependent physical and cognitive performance. MenaquinGold is highly stable, bioavailable, and supports bone integrity and cardiovascular health.

New grade of Bellalean
AHD International now offers a 50 per cent grade of Bellalean, its brown-seaweed fucoxanthin extract for weight management, making it the highest grade currently available for dietary-supplement use, the company says. AHD has cultivated and extracted brown seaweed's fucoxanthin, an antioxidant carotenoid, to produce a concentrated dose that can be distributed in capsule form. Fucoxanthin stimulates production of UCP1, a protein responsible for facilitating fat burning around the abdominal region, resulting in total body weight-loss reports of 5-10 per cent.

Organic fruit powdersOrganic fruit powders
Synergy Production Laboratories has added pomegranate, apple and Concord grape-juice powders to its line of Synergized certified-organic, bioactive, whole-food powdered ingredients. Each is kosher and fully water soluble, and ideal for a broad range of applications, including powdered drink mixes, liquids, tablets, capsules, food bars, functional foods and cosmetics.

Sugar alternative now in China
Cargill has brought its Zerose erythritol to China's leading food and beverage manufacturers after obtaining regulatory approval with no restriction on Zerose's applications. Zerose has zero calories and no aftertaste, and is nonglycaemic and noninsulinaemic, making it a useful sugar alternative for people on diabetic diets. It also is resistant to metabolism by oral bacteria and thus does not promote tooth decay.

Cinnamon extract
Cactus Botanics has launched a water-soluble cinnamon extract that preserves its naturally occurring polymeric polyphenols. Cinnamon extract has been more widely studied for its applications in promoting a healthy insulin response by mimicking the action of insulin-induced signaling via its receptor. The extract is manufactured in a pharmaceutical-grade facility.

Clean-label emulsifier
National Starch has debuted its newest clean-label ingredient, Q-Naturale quillaja, for beverage emulsification in sparkling beverages, new-age beverages, fortified waters and juices. Q-Naturale emulsifier is an organic, sustainable product produced by Desert King, Chile. It has excellent emulsification properties, including the ability to create high oil-load emulsions. It is delivered as an easy-handling liquid that is formulation friendly and quickly hydrates and disperses, National Starch says. Additionally, the new emulsifier provides long-term cold-temperature and pH stability. It is FDA approved/GRAS and also organic certified.

Red hot blend
OmniActive Health Technologies, a supplier of active nutritional ingredients, has created a proprietary blend of Capsimax, its capsicum — or hot red pepper — ingredient. Capsimax Plus Blend is a combination of natural ingredients including Capsimax Capsicum Fruit Extract, and has been clinically proven to increase the amount of calories burned before, during and after exercise by 12 times. Other ingredients include the thermogenic and performance-boosting agents caffeine and black-pepper extract, as well as niacin (vitamin B-3), necessary for converting food into energy.

Dealing with the diabesity epidemic

With crisis comes opportunity. The combination of diabetes and obesity offers many ways to utilise 21st century nutritional ingredients to improve glucose tolerance and promote weight loss. Jack Challem surveys the landscape

Coined back in 1980, the term 'diabesity' has gained considerable traction in the past several years.1 Simply, diabesity refers to the interlaced epidemics of type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Being overweight or obese sets the stage for diabetes. In fact, gaining as little as 10 pounds (4.5kg) of excess weight promotes insulin resistance, the hallmark of diabetes.2 Being obese (13kg or more over your ideal weight) boosts the risk of diabetes by 80 times.3 Diabetes and obesity significantly increase the risk of many other health problems, including inflammatory disorders, coronary artery disease, Alzheimer's and even some types of cancer.

Current trends paint a grim public health picture. In the United States, two of every three adults are overweight or obese, and an estimated 100 million have some form of prediabetes. Twenty million people have type 2 diabetes, and that number now grows by one million each year. A recent report predicted that by the year 2030, 86 per cent of Americans will be overweight or obese, and the incidence of diabetes will increase 72 per cent. In the United Kingdom, two of every three adults are also overweight or obese, and an estimated 13.6 per cent of adults have diabetes.4

The prevalence of diabesity has also increased worldwide. The World Health Organization has reported that there are 1.7 billion overweight people in the world — almost three times the number of those who are undernourished. According to a 2007 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, diabetes cases will increase by 32 per cent in Europe, 164 per cent in the Middle East, 150 per cent in India, 104 per cent in China and 148 per cent in South America. Worldwide, an estimated 246 million people have diabetes, and that number is conservatively expected to climb to 420 million in less than 20 years.5

What can be done to stem the tide — or rather, this tsunami? Although improved eating habits are essential for normalising weight and blood glucose, many supplement ingredients can enhance insulin function, improve glucose tolerance, reduce appetite and help people lose weight.

Alpha-lipoic acid: In 1970, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that this vitaminlike nutrient increases cellular uptake and burning of blood glucose.6 In the early 1990s, Germany approved alpha-lipoic acid (thioctic acid) as a prescription drug for the treatment of diabetic nerve disease. It serves as an antioxidant and enzymatic cofactor in the Krebs cycle and, in people, improves insulin function and sensitivity.7,8,9 Maintaining normal insulin sensitivity — that is, insulin function — is crucial for controlling blood glucose.

Alpha-lipoic acid might also have benefits in reducing appetite and weight, and increasing metabolism, according to an animal study. The study by South Korean researchers found that alpha-lipoic acid regulates hypothalamic AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), which strongly influences appetite. Supplemental alpha-lipoic acid led to decreases in food intake and weight in laboratory rats.10

Alpha-lipoic acid consists of R and S isomers, but the R form is the biologically active isomer.11 Although available as an ingredient, R-lipoic acid is more expensive than alpha-lipoic acid.

Chromium: This essential dietary mineral enables insulin to transport glucose into cells. Symptoms of chromium deficiency — including elevated blood glucose, insulin, total cholesterol and triglyceride — resemble those of diabetes.

All forms of trivalent chromium seem to enhance glucose tolerance. However, research in recent years has focused on the chromium picolinate and chromium polynicotinate (niacin bound) forms, both of which can significantly reduce blood glucose and insulin levels.12 In one study, large doses (1,000mcg) of chromium picolinate led to substantial decreases in blood sugar and insulin levels after just four months.13 In another trial, supplements of niacin-bound chromium significantly decreased fasting blood sugar, with modest reductions in triglyceride and glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) after three months.14,15

Biotin: The B-vitamin biotin enhances the benefits of chromium. Biotin is required for the manufacture of insulin, and it regulates genes involved in the metabolism of glucose, amino acids and fatty acids.16 A recent study of 348 people found that a combination of these nutrients led to an average six per cent decrease in fasting glucose.17 Doses up to 200,000mcg (200mg) have been found safe in humans, and in one study, even doses as high as 20,000mcg (20mg) were completely absorbed.18

Pycnogenol: This proprietary antioxidant extract of French maritime pine bark can reduce fasting blood sugar by about five per cent and postprandial blood sugar by about 10 per cent.19,20 It works in part by inhibiting alpha-glucosidase, a carbohydrate-digesting enzyme. This mechanism is similar to the diabetes drug acarbose, but experiments found pycnogenol 190 times more potent than acarbose in inhibiting alpha-glucosidase.19 Pycnogenol also has cardio-protective and anti-inflammatory benefits, important in reducing the risk of diabetic complications. It blocks the activity of the inflammation-promoting COX-2 enzyme.21 In a study of 30 patients with diabetes, European researchers found that pycnogenol (50mg, three times daily) reduced microcirculatory disease, which is involved in diabetic complications.22

Vitamin K: This vitamin is required for the carboxylation of osteocalcin, one of the key proteins in bones. In 2007, researchers discovered that osteocalcin also functions as a metabolic hormone-regulating pancreatic beta-cell activity, insulin, glucose and the size of fat cells.23 Several human studies by Japanese researchers have found that vitamin K improves glucose tolerance. In 2008, researchers at Tufts University, Boston, reported that supplements of vitamin K1 (500mcg daily) led to significant improvements in fasting blood glucose and insulin after three years. The benefits, however, occurred in men and not women.24

Increasingly, attention is shifting from vitamin K1 to vitamin K2 — and specifically to the MK-4 and MK-7 forms of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 appears better absorbed than vitamin K1. Synthetic MK-4 has a one-hour half life, meaning high pharmacological doses taken multiple times daily are required for a sustained benefit. Natural MK-7 has been shown to have a significantly longer half life, with an adequate dosage of 45mcg/day.25 Note: vitamin K supplements are contraindicated in people taking vitamin K-antagonist anticoagulants, such as warfarin, though MK-7 is said to be unlikely to have such effects at 45mcg/day.25

Vitamin D: Although vitamin D often seems like the latest miracle nutrient, its role in maintaining normal insulin function and glucose is well established. Part of the credit goes to calcium, which is also required for normal insulin function, and vitamin D is necessary for normal calcium utilization.26 A large clinical trial found that women who took 800IU vitamin D and 1,200mg calcium daily for 20 years were one third less likely to develop diabetes. Another study found that people taking 700IU vitamin D and 500mg calcium daily had virtually no increase in blood-glucose levels over three years, whereas blood-sugar levels increased more than 6mg/dl among people taking placebos.27

A study published in the January 2009 Journal of Pediatrics found 76 per cent of youths (ages 1.5 to 17.5 years, n=128) with type 1 diabetes had insufficient levels of vitamin D. Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center said subjects included those with recent onset of diabetes as well as those with long-established diabetes. They recommended children take 400IU/day vitamin D.

Resveratrol: Found in red wine and Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), resveratrol increases activity of SIRT1, a principal anti-ageing gene and one that also regulates insulin sensitivity.28 Mice given resveratrol maintained normal liver function and had relatively low levels of glucose, insulin and insulinlike growth factor-1.29 The average lifespan of the mice increased by about 15 per cent, which may be related to both changes in gene function and lower levels of glucose and insulin.30 In a small unpublished study of men with type 2 diabetes, researchers found that resveratrol reduced fasting blood sugar and improved insulin sensitivity.31 A study using 5g/day resveratrol to treat insulin resistance is currently underway at the University of California, San Francisco.32 Note: in 2007, GlaxoSmithKline paid $720 million to acquire Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, which has been researching resveratrol and developing similar synthetic molecules.33

Silymarin: This antioxidant extract of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) has long been used to enhance liver function, an organ that works in tandem with the pancreas to regulate blood glucose. Three clinical trials have clearly demonstrated the benefits of silymarin supplements in type 2 diabetes. In one of them, 51 patients with diabetes took 200mg silymarin three times daily for four months. The supplement led to a 15 per cent decrease in blood glucose, a 13 per cent decrease in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), and a 25 per cent drop in fasting insulin levels.34 One of the other studies found a 20 per cent decrease in fasting blood sugar, a 37 per cent decline in postprandial blood sugar and a 16 per cent decrease in HbA1c — plus an 8.5 per cent reduction in weight.35,36,37

Cinnamon: The research on cinnamon is conflicting, with some studies showing benefits and others not. In one of the positive studies, Richard A Anderson, PhD, of the US Department of Agriculture, and colleagues from Pakistan used cinnamon to treat 60 middle-age men and women with type 2 diabetes. After 40 days, fasting glucose decreased by 18-29 per cent. In addition, cholesterol levels declined by 7-27 per cent and triglyceride levels by 23-30 per cent.38

Soluble fibre: Soluble fibre — the type that turns into a gel when mixed with water — includes glucomannan, inulin and pectin. (Beta-glucan consists of both soluble and insoluble fibres.) The gel increases a sense of fullness and decreases appetite. In an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers analyzed 14 human studies on glucomannan, which is obtained from Amorpholphallus konjac.39 Although glucomannan is best known for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, it has impressive benefits in controlling blood glucose and weight. Daily glucomannan supplements were found to lower glucose by an average of 7.4mg/dl after five weeks. In addition, supplements promoted a 1.7lb weight loss over five weeks.39

Fenugreek: The seeds of this plant lower blood-glucose levels, and researchers have identified several possible mechanisms for the hypoglycaemic effect. Fenugreek is rich in 4-hydroxyisoleucine, an amino acid that increases insulin secretion. It also inhibits the activity of two carbohydrate-digesting enzymes, alpha-amylase and sucrase.40 Fenugreek also contains both soluble and insoluble fibre, which slow carbohydrate absorption and boost insulin activity.41 Clinical trials have found that fenugreek improves glucose tolerance in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.42,43

As always, formulators must evaluate the research on individual ingredients, identify their markets and regulatory issues, and design cost-effective formulas for managing normal glucose tolerance.

Jack Challem is the author of Stop Prediabetes Now and The Food-Mood Solution, both published by John Wiley & Sons.

Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's Really Making American FatFood is the answer: focus on protein, fibre & sugarless sweeteners
Although the responsibility for [obesity] lies on everyone's respective doorsteps, in the end, every workable solution to this problem leads to one place: the corner offices of the food industry's power brokers. The food industry can offer healthier and safer products, and still make a comfortable profit. I know because I've seen the figures.

— Hank Cardello, author of Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's Really Making America Fat (Ecco, 2009)

Eating cereal in the morning means more fibre and carbs and fewer fats.The food industry is responding by reformulating 'better for you' processed-food options. Three broad areas are ripe for exploitation: protein, fibre and sugarless sweeteners.

Eating cereal in the morning means more fibre and carbs and fewer fats. Furthermore, studies show a.m. cereal means eating more fibre, as well as less soda, throughout the day. Similar studies show men who eat a healthy breakfast (fruits, vegetables, high-fibre whole grains) weigh less, and women who eat any breakfast weigh less than those who skip the meal. Cereal manufacturers are no doubt working on translating that into consumer-friendly marketing.

A 2008 study at Purdue University found that eating a high-protein breakfast (18-25 per cent of calories, compared to 11-14 per cent) means more satiety — and weight loss — all day long. Another late 2008 study found that people with higher body fat burn fat better after a high-protein meal than people with lower levels of body fat.

So, how do you get more protein into more breakfast foods? One study found tofu and mycoprotein led to less food eaten later in the day compared to chicken. Soy also reduces fat while sparing muscle.

And what goes better with eggs than toast — fibre-rich, whole grains are the new way to formulate. The 2005 Food Guide Pyramid launched fibre for the nongeriatric set — vital, the guidelines noted, for people concerned with weight loss and diabetes.

Soluble fibres such as psyllium, flax, gums and oats form gels in the intestine and slow the rate of nutrient absorption, which lowers blood-sugar levels after meals. Insoluble fibres from whole grains increase bulk and slow the movement of matter through the bowel. Both fibre types prolong gastric emptying so you feel fuller longer.

'Slow' carbs such as oat beta-glucan and sucromalt are digested more slowly than your basic refined carb. New for 2009 is CarboStar, a blend of plant extracts that forms a layer of armour around the plant extracts, so they're digested at a lower rate. This can make a slow carb out of a fast carb.

Resistant starch is fermented like some dietary fibres to provide long-term energy, and can increase insulin sensitivity in healthy people. When substituted for flour, it lowers the glycaemic response of foods dose-dependently.

Salvia hispanica has been introduced into the market, and boasts high quantities of fibre and the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, as well as protein, calcium, magnesium, iron and antioxidants. More to the point, diabetics had better cardio outcomes compared to those eating wheat bran.

Functional-fibre options include prebiotics — a pilot study found Beneo's oligofructose acts as a trigger, limiting hunger feeling and energy intake. Prebiotic fibres also have half the calories of sugar, and blend well with high-intensity sweeteners to offer a low-cal sweetener option. Matsutani/ADM's Fibersol-2 has low viscosity, high solubility, and no odour or flavour, and can get you in excess of 5g/fibre per serving.

The story of the year, though, is stevia, which accounts for 40 per cent of the sweetener market in Japan and was approved by the FDA in late 2008 — watch out, sucralose and aspartame!

—Todd Runestad


Select suppliers target diabetes and obesity solutions

Fibersol-2 digestion-resistant maltodextgrin is a highly soluble fibre, licensed in North America from Matsutani. It is stable, has low viscosity, is transparent in solution and adds virtually no flavour.

AHD International
LuraLean condensed, water-soluble fibre promotes weight loss. The GRAS ingredient can be used in bars, breads, cookies, crackers and frozen foods.

VitaSugar is a prebiotic fibre sweetener that works well with high-intensity sweeteners and pH stable for acidic beverages.

Xtend sucromalt and isomaltulose are low-glycaemic, natural liquid sweeteners. OliggoFiber prebiotic inulin fibre can be added to most foods and drinks. Barliv is a barley beta-glucan extract that helps promote healthy blood-sugar levels.

Litesse polydextrose is a soluble prebiotic fibre sweetener low in calories. Fibrex, or sugar beet fibre, has a unique composition of both soluble and insoluble fibres. It is gluten-free.

Fabuless is a patented oil-in-water emulsion that can be incorporated into dairy or supplements. It is a mixture of palm oil and oat oil that triggers the natural appetite-control mechanism. Teavigo is natural green tea catechin EGCG with a purity of a minumum of 94 per cent on dry basis. InsuVital hydrolysed casein stimulates secretion of insulin from the pancreas. Available as a powder, it can be used in foods and beverages.

Fenulife is a concentrate of the beneficial galactomannans in fenugreek used for supplements. By regulating sugar absorption, it turns fast carbs into slow carbs.

Gencor Pacific Group
Slimaluma brand Caralluma fimbriata extract is for supplements, an edible succulent used for centuries in India as an appetite suppressant.

Humanetics Corp
7-Keto DHEA plays a role in up-regulating key thermogenic enzymes in the body, enhancing resting metabolic rate.

Integrity Nutraceuticals
Cinnulin PF is a cinnamon extract that results in lower fasting blood-glucose levels and an increase in lean body mass.

ChromeMate is a niacin-bound chromium compound that reduces insulin sensitivity. Super Citrimax, a Garcinia cambogia extract, targets weight and insulin.

FiberAid can be easily formulated into foods and beverages because it is freely soluble, stable at a wide temperature and pH range, and has little sensory impact.

Maitake Products
Grifron SX-Fraction maintains healthy blood-sugar levels and supports healthy sensitivity to insulin.

National Starch
Nutriose soluble prebiotic fibre is suitable for beverages, dairy and sauces. It adds texture and body to reduced-sugar and reduced–fat recipes.

Natraceutical Group
Viscofiber is a high-viscosity and high-concentration oat beta-glucan soluble fibre. Up to 12 times more concentrated than oat bran, Viscofiber improves glycaemic response and glucose management.

HoodiaPure is batch-certified with the South Africa Hoodia Growers Association, tested for heavy metals and pesticides.

Advantra-Z brand Citrus aurantium stimulates thermogenesis, reduces weight, increases ratio of lean-muscle mass to total body mass and suppresses appetite.

GlucoHelp contains at least 18 per cent corosolic acid, found in banaba leaves, which activates facilitative glucose transporters, thereby decreasing the need for insulin secretion. It also maintains a slight lowering of blood sugar without causing hypoglycaemia, even in healthy subjects with normal blood-glucose levels.

Beneo inulin and oligofructose fibres are fermented by beneficial bacteria in the colon, so they are lower in calories than sugar and don’t increase blood sugar.

Phase 2 starch blocker for supplements and StarchLite for food applications is a proprietary white-bean extract. It reduces GI of white bread when added to recipes.

Maltisorb is obtained from healthy grains, and makes baked goods without the sugar while reducing calories and improving glycaemic response.

ForsLean is a patented phytonutrient for weight management.

Terry Labs
Glysync is an extract of nopal cactus that supports normal blood-sugar levels.



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Marty Traynor Spencer's Blog

Nourish America is in jeopardy

For nearly a decade, Nourish America has helped people in need in America by providing a nutritional boost so they can live better, healthier lives. But the current economic downturn has hit this philanthropic organization hard—in the last four months Nourish America has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in pledged and projected donations. Because of this, Nourish America lacks the necessary money to run its programs in 2009. If Nourish America can’t raise $198,000 it may be forced to cease operations. According to an e-mail from Michael Morton, the executive director, that would mean 32,000 needy children and 34,000 low income seniors will no longer get the high-quality nutritional support they currently get every day. The organization also won’t be there to support victims of wildfires, hurricanes and floods. Nourish America needs donations. If you’d like to help keep the doors of this worthwhile organization open, please go to its website at