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Articles from 2011 In October


Natural Foods Merchandiser

New research sells digestive health products

New research sells digestive health products

Walk the aisles of any natural products store and you’ll likely find a plethora of “gut health” products aimed at quelling gas, bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain. But could such products also clear up acne, mollify depression, ease pain and kidney problems, and help people lose weight? Currently, the science is young, and lawsuit-weary manufacturers are remaining cautious about what they claim, yet mounting evidence suggests that unhealthy innards can, indeed, wreak havoc far beyond the bowels.

“The digestive system is key to everything,” says Elizabeth Lipski, PhD, a clinical nutritionist and author of Digestive Wellness: How to Strengthen the Immune System and Prevent Disease Through Healthy Digestion (McGraw Hill, 2011). “If it’s compromised for any reason, we can’t get nutrients in or waste out, and nothing works right.”

Lipski points out that roughly 70 percent of our immune cells and antibodies reside in the gut, and 90 percent of the mood-influencing brain chemical serotonin originates there. In addition, the digestive system is home to “about 4 pounds of bacteria, which, when in balance, make B-complex vitamins and vitamin K, protect us from infection, help combat toxins and keep us healthy,” Lipski says. “The gut microbiome is where most of the genes that tell our body how to run reside.”

For centuries, Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine have recognized that good digestion is the root of all health, but only recently has this notion moved West. In 2007, the National Institutes of Health launched the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year effort to better understand how resident gut microorganisms influence various body systems. Meanwhile, university researchers and biotech companies are conducting trials and exploring broader applications of products aimed at quieting bowel troubles. “Science-wise, we aren’t entirely there yet, but that doesn’t mean companies aren’t working madly on it,” says Mary Ellen Sanders, PhD, a Centennial, Colo.-based food microbiologist and probiotics consultant. “We’ll see major development in this area in coming years.”

The good news for retailers? As this science develops, so will opportunities for digestive health product sales.

Heal the gut, heal the skin?

Just how could a sour bowel lead to acne, sore joints or fatigue? The mechanisms are myriad and complex, but many experts suspect that an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a compromised intestinal lining are often to blame.

“If you are not having a bowel movement on a regular basis, your plumbing gets backed up and you can end up with an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestine,” explains Tracey Beaulne, ND, a Toronto-based naturopath who focuses on addressing skin problems via the gut.

Studies show that small-intestine bacterial overgrowth—or SIBO—can impair nutrient absorption, starving the skin and organs and contributing to syndromes such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. A 2008 study of 173 participants found that SIBO is nine times more prevalent in people with acne rosacea than in those without skin problems. Furthermore, the researchers found that treating acne with antimicrobials induced an “almost complete regression of lesions.”

Lipski adds that when the shield of friendly bacteria that lines the intestinal tract is compromised (via poor diet or medications, for example), it can, like a garden hose full of holes, allow harmful bacteria, toxins and food particles to pass into the bloodstream, setting off a system-wide inflammatory response, complete with skin woes.

Another culprit is food allergies. “Let’s say dairy doesn’t agree with you, but you keep eating it anyway—the gut responds with that same inflammatory response,” Beaulne says.

Thus far, the evidence supporting probiotics for skin health is lean but promising. One recent study of 56 people with acne showed that repopulating the gut with good bacteria, via daily consumption of a lactoferrin-enriched, fermented dairy beverage, decreased lesions significantly over 12 weeks. Several other studies have shown that supplementation with probiotics—particularly Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG—during pregnancy can prevent or alleviate eczema in children.

Only a few companies are currently marketing gut health products for the skin. For example, Nestlé recently launched Innéov Solaire with Skin Probiotic in Europe. Still, practitioners are already connecting the dots.

“If someone comes in with terrible skin and constipation or bloating, I prescribe probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids [which also address inflammation in the gut] and, if necessary, antimicrobials—like oil of oregano and grapefruit seed extract,” to address bacterial overgrowth, Beaulne says.

Weight and pain management, immunity and more

The gut-health links don’t end with skin and mood. Kibow Biotech, a probiotics manufacturer in Newtown Square, Pa., recently released a kidney support supplement that enlists the bacteria Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum to gobble excess toxins in the bloodstream and give the kidneys a rest.

Numerous companies, including Chicago-based Sunstar Americas (maker of PerioBalance) and Tampa, Fla.-based Oragenics (maker of EvoraPlus), now offer specific strains of probiotics aimed at preventing cavities and freshening breath.

Probiotics for vaginal health are gaining shelf space as well, thanks to studies showing that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR1 (found in Los Angeles–based Jarrow Formulas’ Fem-Dophilus and elsewhere) can prevent female urinary tract and vaginal infections.

And Ganeden Biotech, the Mayfield Heights, Ohio-based manufacturer behind the popular GanedenBC30 patented probiotic strain, is currently exploring new applications. “We are doing some interesting work looking at athletes, cardiovascular health and inflammation,” says Mike Bush, vice president of business development. “We are also looking at probiotics in the cosmetics industry, and we’ve published a study showing they can improve flexibility and reduce inflammation among people with arthritis.”

Other new research suggests gut bacteria can influence how efficiently we break down food—predisposing us to diabetes and obesity—and the way our pain receptors behave. One study, published in the journal Nature, found that oral administration of certain Lactobacillus strains prompted a pain-numbing effect “similar to the effects of morphine” in the intestinal tract.

As for evidence of overall immunity-boosting, a July 2009 study of 326 children published in the journal Pediatrics showed that those who took Danisco’s Howaru Protect probiotic formula (a blend of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07) twice daily for six months reduced fever incidence by 73 percent, coughing incidence by 62 percent and runny nose incidence by 59 percent compared to a placebo. The kids who took the probiotics also missed fewer days of school and used fewer antibiotics.

The gut-mood connection

Researchers have long known that people who ail from irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to be depressed and anxious, but many figured sufferers felt blue because their stomachs were upset. The answer, it turns out, may be much more complicated.

“Our bowel is a strong metabolic organ that produces many molecules that affect our brain,” says Premysl Bercik, MD, a researcher with the Hamilton, Ontario, Canada-based Farncombe Family Digestive Health Institute at McMaster University.

In a study published this year in the journal Gastroenterology, Bercik found that by manipulating the bacteria in the guts of mice (via antimicrobials), his team could turn a timid and reclusive mouse into a bold explorer and boost the production of brain-derived neurotropic factor, a protein that, when lacking, has been associated with depression. When the bacteria were changed back, so were the mice.

In another animal study, researchers gave probiotics to mice that had bacterial infections in their colons and exhibited anxiety-like behavior. Even though the probiotics didn’t quell the inflammation (which many assumed was causing the anxiety), the mice calmed down. “[The probiotics] basically acted like a medication for anxiety—changing the biochemistry in the brain,” Bercik says.

Stanford University School of Medicine researchers reported in May that lab rats exposed to stomach irritation early in life were more likely to display depressed and anxious behaviors later on. Meanwhile, other small, industry-sponsored trials have shown that administering probiotic drinks and prebiotic fiber supplements to normalize gut flora can boost mood and ease anxiety in humans.

Bercik isn’t ready to make that leap, however. Instead, his institute has launched a new human trial to gauge the impact of probiotic supplements on mental health. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but we are only at the very beginning of it,” he says.

Retailers can help shoppers weigh their gut health options

How can retailers best help shoppers as the science evolves? “They can play a big role in educating their customers to the fact that if they are taking in nutrients but not absorbing them in their gut, they’re going to be sick long term,” says Brenda Watson, a Florida-based nutritionist and author who recommends a regimen of fiber, omega-3s, probiotic supplements and digestive enzymes to promote overall health for her clients.

Sanders believes retailers should ask more questions and know their product options. “Find out why a customer is interested in a gut health product, and if he tells you something specific, find the product that has been tested for that use and recommend it,” she says.

And if the study hasn’t been done yet? Just wait a few months.

Organic dairy industry wins battle against Ohio labeling rule

Organic dairy industry wins battle against Ohio labeling rule

The state of Ohio conceded yesterday to no longer pursue labeling restrictions against organic dairy products, ending a three-year fight with the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and the International Dairy Food Association (IDFA).

In 2008, Ohio issued an emergency regulation that restricted farmers and marketers of organic milk from stating that the products were produced without antibiotics, pesticides or synthetic hormones. Shortly thereafter, the OTA and IDFA filed lawsuits. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found yesterday that Ohio's rule restricted free speech and was therefore unconstitutional.

The overturned dairy labeling rule had placed a ban on organic health claims by stating that: "Making claims regarding the composition of milk with respect to hormones, such as 'No Hormones,' 'Hormone Free,' 'rbST Free,' 'rbGH Free,' 'No Artificial Hormones' and 'bST Free,' is false and misleading. ODA [Ohio Department of Agriculture] will not permit such statements on any dairy product labels." However, due to litigation, the rule was never enforced in Ohio.

"Ohio's abandonment of this misguided rule is a victory for consumers, farmers and manufacturers alike," said Christine Bushway, executive director and CEO of OTA, a membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. "Consumers have the right to make informed choices about the foods they eat, and farmers and manufacturers can continue to communicate truthfully with consumers."

Horizon, owned by WhiteWave Foods, along with Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm, collaborated with the OTA in filing the lawsuit, while the IDFA filed its lawsuit in conjunction. The organizations said they are not aware of any organic dairy labeling rules such as Ohio's  in other states.

'Consumers have a right to know'

Bushway said the Sixth Circuit's opinion made it clear that states cannot restrict organic labels or consumers' right to know how their food is produced. The organizations are clearly hoping the Ohio case serves as a nationwide example to spread the message not just of organic dairy products, but of consumers' right to know what's in their food.

Perhaps ironically, Governor Ted Strickland's 2008 executive order [PDF] about the dairy labeling rule included the following phrase: "Ohio's citizens are best served when they have complete and accurate information with which to make choices about the products they buy."

In court, this phrase played out in favor of giving consumers information about the ingredients in their dairy products. "This outcome should send a message to state regulators about allowing organic producers and farmers to label their products accurately and fairly, with the information consumers want and deserve to know about what is—and isn't—included in a product," said Sara Loveday, spokesperson for WhiteWave. "It isn't just our opinion—the Federal Court of Appeals agrees with us."

Founding farmer and CEO George Siemon of Organic Valley echoed a similar sentiment: "When the question was asked—is organic milk different than milk from cows injected with bovine growth hormone?—it was clear to the judge that organic milk is different and consumers have the right to know and organic manufacturers have the right to shout it out. Consumer choice is a democratic principle that has won the day."

6 healthy, delicious pumpkin recipes

It's the great pumpkin! Full of vitamins A and C, potassium, iron, and fiber, pumpkin adds harvest cred to sweet and savory dishes.

Natural Products Expo East and West Receive Top Honors

Natural Products Expo East and Natural Products Expo WestFor Immediate Release

Contact: Heather Smith
New Hope Natural Media
Phone: 303.998.9232
hsmith@newhope.com

New Hope Natural Media announced today that Natural Products Expo East and West, the world's premier trade shows for the natural, organic and healthy products industry have recently been honored with top accolades from the top trade show and multimedia industry leaders.  Natural Products Expo East and West are produced by New Hope Natural Media, a division of Penton Media.

Trade Show Executive magazine awarded Natural Products Expo West with their Gold 100 Award as the leader in green initiatives amongst the trade show industry for the fourth year running.  The Natural Products Expos are committed to implementing the highest-level eco-friendly practices available to host the most sustainable events possible, including: elimination of a printed buyers' guide, providing an energy offset program for the venue and associated event travel; creating a donation plan for excess product from show floors to benefit charities and nonprofit organizations; providing a paperless press room; developing waste management programs inclusive of not just recycling but composting; and providing environmentally friendly booth package options for exhibitors.

The Natural Products Expo West show directory map was named winner of the green collateral printed piece by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) in their 2011 Art of the Show competition.  This piece has been condensed significantly from a book format, to a folded map style directory, drastically reducing paper usage; additionally, the map is printed on 60% post consumer, 100% recycled paper processed chlorine free, ancient forest friendly and FSC certified, through a local printer reducing the carbon foot print further.

Trade Show News Network (TSNN) announced Natural Products Expo West as one of their winners for 2011 Top 20 fastest-growing trade shows in attendance.   In 2010 Expo West drew an impressive 56,000 attendees and grew to over 58,000 attendees in 2011. Both Natural Products Expo East and West are on TSNN's 2010 Top 250 Trade Show list, which is ranked by net square footage; Expo West was No. 58 at 334,300 net square feet, and Expo East was No. 172 at 134,200 net square feet.

Natural Products Expo West received honorable mention from Min's 2011 Integrated Marketing Awards, and was among other top multimedia brands being recognized for innovation, creativity and community. The show was nominated based on its grand scale and production including exhibitions, education, events and sponsorships, and its impact in the natural products industry.

“We are committed to being progressive in our strategies to drive quality attendance to our events. We are passionate about providing an in-person experience aligned with our market.  The variety of recognition we have received is a testament of our holistic approach in delivering leading events in the tradeshow industry,” said Sandy Voss, director of exhibitions and conferences for Penton Media.

Natural Products Expo West 2012 will take place March 8-11, 2012 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California and Natural Products Expo East 2012 will be held September 19-22, 2012 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

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Attended by more than 58,000 industry professionals from across the globe, Natural Products Expo West is the premier trade show for the healthy products industry. Co-located with Engredea, the Nutracon conference, the Healthy Baking Seminar and the Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace, these combined events showcase the entire value chain of healthy products from start to finish, identifying the bestsellers of today and the trends of tomorrow. 
Natural Products Expo East is the largest natural, organic, and healthy products trade show on the East Coast. With the newest and best-selling products and branded ingredients available this show features the best in organic at All Things Organic-BioFach America, offers an extensive retailer training program and provides an advocacy platform through a strategic partnership with Natural Products Association East.

Food fright in the produce section

Food fright in the produce section

How about some processed mozzarella with those heirloom tomatoes? If you're buying avocados, might you also need tortilla chips? These questions might face shoppers more frequently if retailers give in to increasing demands from finished-product manufacturers. As the nation begins to connect healthy eating with the whole, real foods found in the produce section, makers of juice, cheese and other processed foods want permanent placement next to good-for-you fruits and vegetables.

“The produce section has become the equivalent of the popular kids' school-lunch table. The area is increasingly located near the supermarket entrance, so every shopper passes through it. And stores are finding that consumers consider even packaged foods placed there to be fresher and higher quality—researchers call this a ‘halo effect,‘” according to a recent Washington Post article.

Of course, Kraft Foods, maker of such nutritional stalwarts as Jet-Puffed marshmallows, Cool Whip and Lunchables, is a major player in the push to mix up traditional grocery store layouts. The company has envisioned a retail setting that moves refrigerated items to the front of the store, next to the kale and apples. Such a move would help the company "play up the fresh factor" of its products and "make it easier to inspire shoppers to make impulse purchases." Check out the proposed store layout.

With about one-third of all U.S. adults now considered obese and approximately 12.5 million children obese or overweight, tempting shoppers who are looking for veggies with optimally placed high-fat, processed foods seems a pretty obvious step in the wrong direction. Rather than tricking shoppers into thinking its products are healthy by putting them near nutrient-dense foods, why doesn't Kraft deliver better-for-us items that actually would belong in the produce section? Perhaps a twist on the high-sodium Lunchable that, rather than lunch meat, cheese and white crackers, incorporates green vegetables and whole grains?  

Luckily, so far stores aren't readily accepting this idea. In the December issue of Natural Foods Merchandiser, we profile several retailers moving in the exact opposite direction of Kraft's proposal. Stores such as Whole Foods Market, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage and Jimbo's Naturally are making it easier for shoppers to identify healthy foods. Each leads a store tour that for now highlights the benefits of shopping the perimeter. Let's hope it stays that way. 

Delicious Living

How to prepare lentils

How to prepare lentils

To cook. First check lentils for debris; then rinse thoroughly. Put in a pot with plenty of water (toss in chopped onion, bay leaf, garlic, or carrot if you like), bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender but retaining a bit of bite, 20–40 minutes. Drain, saving the broth for another use; season with salt and pepper.

Salad. Toss together cooked lentils; canned, drained, and flaked salmon; diced red bell pepper and red onion; chopped parsley; and lemon-dill vinaigrette. Serve in butter-lettuce cups.

Meat loaf. Instead of bread crumbs, mix half a cup of cooked, partly mashed black, brown, or green lentils into your regular meat-loaf recipe.

Dal. For a simple take on this Indian dish, mix cooked yellow or red lentils with premade red curry sauce, chopped fresh tomatoes, slivered onions, and cayenne pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro; serve with basmati rice.

Braised Le Puy lentils with Chard. This classic preparation pairs well with meats or stands on its own as a light supper with a green salad. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ½ diced yellow onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add 1 diced celery stalk, 1 diced carrot, and 3 minced garlic cloves; cook 3 minutes. Add 1½ cups Le Puy (green) lentils; stir to coat. Add 3 cups broth, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt. Top lentils with 2 cups packed sliced chard leaves, cover, and cook until wilted, 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve, sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese. Serves 4–6.

Fall in love with lentils: 6 delicious recipes

Lemony Red Lentil Soup with Chard

Serves 8 / When it comes to powerful proteins, you really can’t beat beans and legumes. They contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants called flavonoids, which are also found in tea, red wine, and cocoa. In addition to the antioxidant lentils, this recipe features kombu, a sea vegetable, which contributes valuable minerals like magnesium. View Recipe

Lentil, Mushroom, and Spinach Stew

Serves 6 /  Grayish-green French lentils stay firm when cooked; red lentils cook quickly but can lose their texture; and brown (often with a greenish cast and simply labeled “lentils”) soften but retain texture when cooked. View Recipe

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

Serves 4 / Smooth, whole-milk yogurt softens the spices in this fragrant, colorful dish. Prep tip: If you like things really spicy, double the amount of curry and cumin. Serving tips: Serve as a side with grilled fish and brown basmati rice; or increase the liquid and transform it into a flavorful soup. View Recipe

Lentil Burgers With Herbed Chevre Sauce

Serves 10-12 / The best of the burgers. Serve on burger rolls with all the trimmings. Try one of the mock mayonnaises as a topping or vata-balancing Herbed Chevre Sauce. View Recipe

Green Lentils and Seasoned Walnuts

Serves 4 / Ingredient tip: Lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. The best, most delicate lentils are the lovely peppery French green lentils used here; because they take a bit longer to cook than other lentils (about 30 minutes) but hold their shape well, cook them in advance and chill, adding salt at the end of cooking. Use ¾ cup dried lentils to yield 1½ cups cooked. View recipe

Red Lentil Dal

Serves 8 / One serving of this easy, flavorful dish provides about a fourth of your daily fiber needs. Serving tips: Try this over steamed brown rice, or in a bowl with whole-grain bread for dipping. View Recipe


 

 

 

 

 

Ambo Foods promotes Omega Cookie as way to boost learning

Ambo Foods promotes Omega Cookie as way to boost learning

Ambo Foods LLC, makers of Omega Cookie, celebrates the 10th anniversary of the “No Child Left Behind Act” by encouraging higher school nutritional standards in their local schools. Dr. Bo Martinsen and his wife, Dr. Anne-Marie Chalmers – a pair of South Florida physicians and Omega-3 specialists explain: “We’re betting that our healthy, yet tasty, EPA/DHA and fiber-packed snack will help ensure that children’s brains are ready, willing and able to learn.”

Since starting their Venice-based company, their desire to move ahead with new ideas has grown into a passion to help others get healthy and stay that way.

Because of their groundbreaking Omega Cookie, Ambo Foods LLC won an innovation award at the 2010 annual Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County’s Hall of Fame awards.

Adding omega-3 to food is not a new idea, according to Martinsen. “But, Ambo Foods is the first company in the world to have successfully created a non-fish food that contains an effective dose of omega-3.”

“Individually packaged in cranberry, tropical, chocolate chip and ginger-raisin flavors, the Omega Cookie is the perfect addition to a school lunch box, and equally effective for an adult lunch,” Chalmers says. “But, the best part is that the cookie that is so good for you actually tastes good.”

Each Omega Cookie contains five grams of fiber [as much as a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal], seven capsules worth of omega-3 fish oil, [a full day’s dose,] as well as 200% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin D and 35% of the daily value of calcium. The cookies also have less sugar than an apple, which Chalmers says easily meets the limits recommended by the American Diabetes Association.

“The Omega Cookie doesn't solve all of the country's dietary problems, but it can help ensure that children's brains can maximize the benefits of “No Child Left Behind,” Chalmers says, adding that is doesn't make sense to send a child to school after he or she has fasted all night. “Without breakfast, mistakes and slower thinking are inevitable.”

About Ambo Foods: Founded in 2003 by two Omega-3 specialists and physicians – Bo Martinsen, M.D., and Anne-Marie Chalmers, M.D. – Ambo Foods offers several varieties of healthy cookies. Each Omega cookie contains seven capsules worth of omega-3 fish oil, five grams of fiber, 200% of the daily value of vitamin D and 35% of the daily value of calcium. Ambo Foods was named a winner in the category of innovation at the 2010 annual Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County’s Hall of Fame awards. The honor came as the result of being the first company to create a bakery product that contains an effective dose of omega-3 fish oil. For more information about the Omega Cookie or Ambo Foods, visit http://www.omegacookie.com.

 

Delicious Living

Supplements to control blood sugar

Supplements to control blood sugar

A perfect storm is brewing, nutritionally—and it could easily sweep you away. One of every three Americans has some form of prediabetes (often undiagnosed), and 25 million have full-blown type 2 diabetes. Being overweight or obese are the primary risk factors, although family history, inactivity, race, and age also can contribute. Eating whole foods and avoiding junk foods and sugary drinks can help. Ditto for muscle-building resistance exercises.

People with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes often lack adequate levels of many vitamins and minerals, a consequence of poor eating habits. Supplements correct these deficiencies and help restore normal metabolic activity. They also complement a healthy diet and exercise. And there’s a bonus: When you control your blood sugar, hunger jags decrease and weight loss becomes easier. Lower doses of these nutrients can help with prediabetes, higher doses with type 2 diabetes. If you take more than one of them, opt for lower doses.

Silymarin. Three studies have proven this antioxidant extract of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) can lower fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels and reduce excess insulin. A longer-term indicator—HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) levels, which provide an average blood sugar level over six weeks—declined significantly, too. In one of the studies, people taking silymarin also lost about 8 percent of their body weight.

Dose: 200 mg one to three times daily.

Chromium. This mineral activates insulin, a hormone that helps the body burn blood sugar instead of storing it as fat. A study of 180 people with type 2 diabetes found that chromium supplements significantly improved blood sugar and insulin levels after just four months. And in a recent three-month study, chromium supplements lowered fasting blood sugar levels
by almost half in 40 people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Dose: 500 mcg once or twice daily.

Resveratrol. Best know for its antiaging benefits, this antioxidant boosts the activity of SIRT1, a gene known to slow the aging process; it also helps regulate blood sugar. A study published this year in British Journal of Nutritionreported resveratrol supplements improved blood sugar and insulin levels in men with type 2 diabetes.

Dose: 250 mg daily or 100 mg with each meal.

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). Doctors in Germany use this antioxidant to treat nerve numbness and pain in people with diabetes. It works in part by improving insulin function. A recent eight-week study found that ALA reduced fasting blood sugar, post-meal blood sugar, and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. ALA might also aid with weight loss, according to a new study in The American Journal of Medicine.

Dose: 100–200 mg with each meal.

Vitamin D. A study of 5,200 people in Australia found that high vitamin D levels lowered type 2 diabetes risk by 24 percent or more. Adding calcium might enhance the benefits. One study found that the vitamin D–calcium combination maintained normal blood sugar levels over three years, while blood sugar levels increased in people taking placebos.

Dose: 1,000 IU vitamin D and 500 mg calcium daily.

Magnesium. Three of every four people with type 2 diabetes lack adequate magnesium due to poor diets. In a recent study, prediabetic patients took magnesium supplements daily for six months; at the end, they had lower fasting blood sugar levels and better insulin function.

Dose: 200 mg twice daily.

Canada investing in flax and hemp research

Canada investing in flax and hemp research

The Government of Canada is investing in innovation that will help create new bio-composites derived from flax and hemp fibres. Member of Parliament Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South), on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, today announced an investment of more than $100,000 for the Composites Innovation Centre (CIC) to study flax and hemp fibres with the goal of eventually making composites that perform better than plastics and fibreglass.

"Finding new and innovative uses for our flax and hemp will greatly benefit farmers and the economy in Western Canada," said MP Bruinooge. "This investment will enable farmers to adapt their growth and harvesting regimes to optimize fibre performance, increasing the demand for their crops and resulting in increased profitability."

The investment through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP) is designed to help the CIC work with Canadian Light Source's synchrotron facility in Saskatoon to study the sub-molecular structure of flax and hemp fibres. The synchrotron is a source of brilliant light that enables scientists to study the micro-structure and chemical properties of materials.

"This exciting collaboration between the CIC and our world-class Canadian synchrotron facility will provide our local and national biomass industries with a key competitive edge in a growing international marketplace," says CIC Manager of Product Innovation Simon Potter. "The information we generate with the Canadian Light Source will support the high penetration of agricultural fibres into building materials and composites for automotive and aerospace products."

"The Canadian Light Source welcomes this opportunity to work with Manitoba's burgeoning bio-composite sector on a project that will not only benefit Manitoba, but fibre growers throughout Western Canada and manufacturers around the world," says Jeffrey Cutler, the synchrotron's deputy director and director of industrial science.

This project is being funded under the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Manitoba, CAAP is delivered by the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council (MRAC). CAAP is a five-year (2009-2014), $163-million initiative that aims to help the Canadian agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive.

The Next Phase of Canada's Economic Action Plan, coupled with other Government of Canada programs and initiatives such as CAAP, continues to help farmers by focusing on creating jobs and strengthening the economy. Investments in new and emerging market opportunities will help build an even stronger agriculture industry and Canadian economy for the future.

For more information on CAAP, please visit www.agr.gc.ca/caap.