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Articles from 2016 In March


Power up with beet juice?

More evidence suggests you might want to beet your way to the juicer if you’re hoping to buff up the bod. A small study found that a tiny serving of beet juice almost immediately boosted the muscle power of subjects.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis measured the changes among nine subjects with heart failure (selected because it’s easier to measure improvement in their muscles, as they’re not as powerful).

They gave subjects 140 milliliters of concentrated beet juice, tested them, and found that almost instantly their muscle power increased by an average of 13 percent.

That's a dramatic boost, on par with the sort of improvement a person can expect after two to three months of resistance training, Andrew Coggan, a study coauthor and assistant professor of radiology at Washington University in St. Louis, told NPR. The study appeared in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

Beets can also empower healthy people, as well, according to two other studies Coggan and coauthor Linda Peterson conducted. One that focused on 12 healthy individuals was recently published in the journal Nitric Oxide, and another recently submitted for publication looked at 13 trained collegiate athletes. All the groups experienced marked improvements in muscle power after drinking beet juice." And we're seeing these improvements within about an hour and a half to two hours after ingestion," Linda Peterson told NPR. "It's pretty dramatic."

How Bhakti created a powerful, playful brand with purpose

Watch the on-demand webinar here.

“A great product is a great product, but I just don’t think it’s enough,” said Brook Eddy, CEO of Bhakti, during a NEXT Accelerator CEO Brown Bag Luncheon webinar Wednesday. “Without a purpose, it’s just a SKU without a story.”

The beverage brand, which she founded in 2007 to sell concentrated teas to local cafes, has blossomed into a flourishing B Corp with a line of ready-to-drink iced chai teas and a new line of bubbling teas in retail stores across the country.

Two of the biggest contributors to the company’s success, Eddy said, is having a purpose that differentiates the company, and having fun. Bhakti has a platform that it calls GITA (give, inspire, take action) to bring awareness to and support small projects that are making a big impact in the global community, with a special interest in projects that support women and girls. Eddy noted that companies can’t just have a purpose – they have to make sure they’re communicating it to retailers, customers and investors, too.

In 2015, Bhakti purchased the first electric Tuk Tuk (a three-wheeled rickshaw) in the U.S., which the team named Ginger, and embarked on a 20-city tour of the U.S. handing out samples to people, visiting retail partners and participating in large consumer events. While it may not have been the smartest financial decision at the time, Eddy said, it brought great brand awareness to Bhakti and made the team really excited.  

“I haven’t been able to pay huge salaries, but I’ve been able to attract people with our purpose, our mission and how much fun we are as a brand,” she said. “People are willing to take some pay cuts to be a part of something bigger.”

To hear more of Eddy’s insights on growing the grassroots way and crafting a brand around a purpose, watch the webinar on-demand by clicking here or on the photo above.

Other webinars from this series:

John Foraker, CEO, Annie's

Arran and Arjan Stephens, Nature's Path

Allie Rabman, business development, CircleUp

Probiotics market is both booming and diversifying

Probiotics market is both booming and diversifying

Even while probiotics remain the fastest-growing functional food category in the world, there remains much shifting in the category—more delivery formats, more strains, more CFUs, more!

And while this has led to more opportunity, along with that comes more confusion.

“The amount of probiotics to consume has not been established, which is confusing for the consumer,” noted Lasse Sommer Mikkelsen, product manager at Bifodan, a Danish manufacturer of probiotic supplements. “However, in the U.S. there is a trend in the probiotic market toward more probiotic bacteria equals a better product. Why is the market going toward more probiotic bacteria in contrast to, perhaps, more well-documented strains of probiotic bacteria?”

It’s true that having multiple strains that add up to a lot of live active cultures won’t do your body any good if the product does not have the right amount of each strain, as determined by clinical studies.

Perhaps the first, and certainly the most researched, probiotic strain was Lactobacillus GG. It’s now found in the Culturelle supplement brand. It’s been through a number of owners over the years. Single probiotic strain, scores of studies on it. Even then, its various line extensions include anywhere from 2.5 to 20 billion CFUs.

Shifting formats

Between 2012 and 2015, probiotics in capsules is up from 37 percent of new product launches to 45 percent, and tablets up from 14 percent to 24 percent, according to Innova Product Insights. Candy, chewable tablets and powders are all roughly flat, but the “other/unknown” category has been cut in half, from 30 percent  to 13 percent. Perhaps this has to do with efficacious doses—it’s been the case that if you want a truly efficacious dose, look for a supplement, not a chocolate bar—that’s just label candy on a candy.

Perhaps in the market that Innova looks at, other delivery formats are down. Just don’t tell Ganeden Probiotics, which supplies the BC30 strain, a so-called spore-former, which has a protective coating that allows it to withstand the processing conditions inherent in producing foods and beverages.

While there appears to be a shift away from other delivery systems, probiotics are the fastest growing functional food category, at 7 percent worldwide, according to Mike Bush, VP of Ganeden Probiotics, which makes its BC30 spore-forming probiotic that is suitable for seamless integration into foods and beverages. “A spore is like a dormant probiotic that becomes active when it gets into the gut. Once it gets into the small intestine the spores themselves germinate but in food products as long as they are cool or dry they remain stable for years and years.”

Ganeden showcased dozens of products containing its BC30 at the Engredea show in Anaheim in March—everything from kale chips to baby food, granola to coffee. [For a video showing how BC30 found its way to finished products, click here.]

More, and more

Somewhere along the line, certainly within the last decade, two other things emerged: synbiotics—that is, using prebiotic fibers along with the probiotics, to enhance the efficacy of the probiotic bacteria—and multiple strains. The number of multiple strains became more or less settled in at eight being the magic number of probiotic strains with which to formulate and, importantly, label. It also seemed that one strain was doing the heavy lifting, and the remaining ones were there for label claim. That may be changing, but this is the important short story version: label claim. That is, Americans are all about bigger = better. In everything. Supersize me!

And so as a more recent offshoot of this “more is better” movement vis a vis the number of strains, is the amount of CFUs. And yes, research shows some strains, such as Bacillus coagulans, can get by with only a half a billion CFUs, while other strains show efficacy with numbers in the billions. But go back to the American conceit: More is better. In everything.

Maybe only two or three years ago, you wouldn’t see more than 10 billion CFUs in any supplement. Then you started seeing specialty lines, or physician lines, going to 20 billion. Then there was 50 billion. Within the last six months, NOW, a leading legacy supplement brand, launched a 100 billion CFU SKU, part of its Probiotic-10 line (it has 10 strains). Wow! That’s really getting to be therapeutic and not a maintenance dose if you ask me. (It’s in fact what I bought for my family in preparation for a spring trip to Mexico in order to protect our GI tracts from that second-world water.) 

We’re still years away from having a truly reputable and efficacious probiotics market. When the Human Microbiome Project gets completed, in a few years, the world will shift just as it has when the Human Genome Project finished mapping our genes. Today, DNA is used in all sorts of things from crime to medicine. Wait 15 years and we’ll be a lot closer to seeing how bacteria rules the roost that is the human body. 

Even then, when we figure out that just three probiotic strains plus inulin can decrease the severity and duration of colds (Institut Rosell already has such a product), and when we are able to match specific strains at specific counts for specific health conditions, there will continue to be products out there that will just use the most CFUs they can with the most strains they can. Why? Because in America, bigger = better. In everything. 

[email protected]: Sugar's rebirth, the cost of vanilla and the $700 juice machine Silicon Valley loves

5@5: Sugar's rebirth, the cost of vanilla and the $700 juice machine Silicon Valley loves

A $700 juice box for the kitchen that caught Silicon Valley’s eye

In recent years, venture capitalists have funded all manner of improbable ideas. An app that lets random people call and wake you up. A bathroom scale that posts your weight on Twitter. And then there is Doug Evans’s brainchild. With no experience running tech companies and a bungled juice-bar chain under his belt, he has extracted a remarkable $120 million in investments from Silicon Valley titans, including Google Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and big companies like Campbell Soup. Read more at The New York Times...

 

Soft-Drink makers have new secret ingredient: Sugar!

Soft-drink makers have a new way to pitch their sweet beverages: They contain sugar. Read more at The Wall Street Journal...

Amazon widens its push-button e-commerce horizons

The Dash Button is no joke. On Thursday, Amazon said it was expanding the program from the nearly 30 brands whose products have been available for ordering through the devices to more than 100. Read more at The New York Times...

 

Food porn psychology: New study reveals Instagramming your food makes it taste better

Turns out, all those people obsessed with taking snapshots of their food are actually on to something. A series of new studies have revealed the act of photographing food can actually make it taste better. Read more at Digital Trends...

 

Why booming demand is making vanilla taste worse

After concluding last year that people and the environment benefited from lower meat consumption, the Netherlands Nutrition Centre said this week that people should eat only two servings of meat per week. The U.K. also recently recommended less red and processed meat in diets. Read more at Bloomberg...

Natural product movers & shakers - March 2016

Natural product movers & shakers - March 2016

Nutralliance welcomed Tim Intfen as one of its regional account executives. Intfen brings more than 10 years of industry knowledge and ingredient sales expertise to Nutralliance and will play an instrumental role in managing the company's continued growth and expansion.

Dr. Ajax Mohamed has been named resident director, Sabinsa Europe GmbH, the EU division of the Sami-Sabinsa Group of companies. He has more than 20 years of experience in R&D, technical sales and marketing.

David Winter, director of business development for SPINS, was recently elected to the Naturally Boulder board. Naturally Boulder’s mission is to nurture start‐up natural foods companies and promote Boulder and Colorado’s Front Range as the epicenter of the natural products movement. David is one of four new board members who were elected for two‐year terms beginning in 2016.

Vitamin Shoppe Inc., a multi-channel specialty retailer and manufacturer of nutritional products, today announced that its board of directors voted to expand the size of the board to 12 directors and appointed Timothy J. Theriault as new independent member of the board of directors effective March 8, 2016, and a member of the Audit Committee.

The nonprofit American Botanical Council gave its second Champion Award: Ed Smith, medical herbalist and co-founder of Herb Pharm, an herbal products manufacturing company, in Williams, Oregon. In addition to Herb Pharm’s unwavering support of ABC and its educational mission and programs, Smith recently made a generous personal donation. ABC also announced John Thor Arnason, PhD, as the recipient of the 2015 ABC Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award. Arnason is a professor of biology at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, and his lab specializes in the phytochemistry and biological activity of plants.

Capstone Nutrition, a non-branded contract manufacturers of health and dietary supplements in the United States, appointed of Jared K. Leishman as its new chief executive officer. Leishman joined Capstone in December 2005 and in 2010 was promoted to chief financial officer. In March 2015, he was appointed to chief operating officer.

Lawsuit challenges FDA’s approval of genetically engineered salmon

Lawsuit challenges FDA’s approval of genetically engineered salmon

A broad coalition of environmental, consumer, and commercial and recreational fishing organizations today sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approving the first-ever genetically engineered—GE—food animal, an Atlantic salmon engineered to grow quickly. The man-made salmon was created by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. with DNA from three fish: Atlantic salmon, Pacific king salmon, and Arctic ocean eelpout. This marks the first time any government in the world has approved a GE animal for commercial sale and consumption.

The plaintiff coalition, jointly represented by legal counsel from Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, includes Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Kennebec Reborn, Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, Ecology Action Centre, Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Cascadia Wildlands, and Center for Food Safety.

In approving the GE salmon, FDA determined it would not require labeling of the GE fish to let consumers know what they are buying, which led Congress to call for labeling in the 2016 omnibus spending bill. FDA’s approval also ignored comments from nearly 2 million people opposed to the approval because the agency failed to analyze and prevent the risks to wild salmon and the environment, as well as fishing communities, including the risk that GE salmon could escape and threaten endangered wild salmon stocks.

AquaBounty’s GE salmon will undertake a 5,000-mile journey to reach U.S. supermarkets. The company plans to produce the GE salmon eggs on Prince Edward Island, Canada. The GE salmon will then be grown to market-size in a facility in Panama, processed into fillets, and shipped to the U.S. for sale. That complicated scheme is only for the initial approval, however. AquaBounty has publicly announced plans to ultimately grow its GE fish in the U.S. rather than Panama, and sell it around the world. Despite this, FDA’s approval only considered the current plans for the far-flung facilities in Canada and Panama, leaving the risk of escape and contamination of U.S. salmon runs unstudied.

The lawsuit challenges FDA’s claim that it has authority to approve and regulate GE animals as “animal drugs” under the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Those provisions were meant to ensure the safety of veterinary drugs administered to treat disease in livestock and were not intended to address entirely new GE animals that can pass along their altered genes to the next generation. The approval of the GE salmon opens the door to other genetically engineered fish and shellfish, as well as chickens, cows, sheep, goats, rabbits and pigs that are reportedly in development.

The lawsuit also highlights FDA’s failure to protect the environment and consult wildlife agencies in its review process, as required by federal law. U.S. Atlantic salmon, and many populations of Pacific salmon, are protected by the Endangered Species Act and in danger of extinction. Salmon is a keystone species and unique runs have been treasured by residents for thousands of years. Diverse salmon runs today sustain thousands of American fishing families, and are highly valued in domestic markets as a healthy, domestic, “green” food.

When GE salmon escape or are accidentally released into the environment, the new species could threaten wild populations by mating with endangered salmon species, outcompeting them for scarce resources and habitat, and/or introducing new diseases. Studies have shown that there is a high risk for GE organisms to escape into the natural environment, and that GE salmon can crossbreed with native fish. Transgenic contamination has become common in the GE plant context, where contamination episodes have cost U.S. farmers billions of dollars over the past decade.  In wild organisms like fish, it could be even more damaging.

The world’s preeminent experts on GE fish and risk assessment, as well as biologists at U.S. wildlife agencies charged with protecting fish and wildlife heavily criticized the FDA decision for failing to evaluate these impacts. FDA ignored their concerns in the final approval. 

Statements from counsel and plaintiff coalition:

“FDA’s decision is as unlawful as it is irresponsible,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. “This case is about protecting our fisheries and ocean ecosystems from the foreseeable harms of the first-ever GE fish, harms FDA refused to even consider, let alone prevent. But it’s also about the future of our food: FDA should not, and cannot, responsibly regulate this GE animal, nor any future GE animals, by treating them as drugs under a 1938 law.”

“FDA has not answered crucial questions about the environmental risks posed by these fish or what can happen when these fish escape,” said Earthjustice attorney Brettny Hardy and co-counsel for plaintiffs. “We need these answers now and the FDA must be held to a higher standard. We are talking about the mass production of a highly migratory GE fish that could threaten some of the last remaining wild salmon on the planet. This isn’t the time to skimp on analysis and simply hope for the best.”

“Atlantic salmon populations including our endangered Gulf of Maine fish are hanging on by a thread– they can’t afford additional threats posed by GE salmon,” said Ed Friedman from Friends of Merrymeeting Bay, one of the parties who successfully petitioned to classify most Maine Atlantic salmon as endangered. “The law requires agencies like FDA, who aren’t fisheries biologists, to get review and approval from scientists with that expertise. FDA’s refusal to do this before allowing commercialization of GE salmon is not only irresponsible, it violates the law.”

“On Prince Edward Island and across Atlantic Canada, indigenous peoples, anglers and community groups are working hard to protect and restore endangered salmon populations and rivers. Genetic contamination threatens all this work and in return there is little or no economic benefit to the region,” said Mark Butler, policy director at Ecology Action Centre in Nova Scotia.

There’s never been a farmed salmon that hasn’t eventually escaped into the natural environment. Why should we believe that long term, these frankenfish won’t be the same?” asked Golden Gate Salmon Association executive director John McManus.

“Once they escape, you can’t put these transgenic fish back in the bag. They’re manufactured to outgrow wild salmon, and if they cross-breed, it could have irreversible impacts on the natural world,” said Dune Lankard, a salmon fisherman and the Center for Biological Diversity’s Alaska representative. “This kind of dangerous tinkering could easily morph into a disaster for wild salmon that will be impossible to undo.”

“FDA’s action threatens and disrespects the wild salmon ecosystems, cultures and industries that are treasured here in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska,” said Gabriel Scott, Alaska legal director for Cascadia Wildlands. “These folks think a salmon is just a packet of protein, but we in Salmon Nation know better. From Alaska to California, Americans are intimately related with diverse runs of salmon and we’ve learned their unique attributes and incredible value. We’ve worked very hard to be good stewards of our natural heritage, and refuse to allow that to be undone by one company’s irresponsible experiment.”

“The FDA has failed to adequately examine the risks associated with transgenic salmon,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The long term effects of people eating genetically modified foods have never been adequately addressed—and this GE salmon is no exception. This fish is unnecessary, so why take the risk?”

“It’s clear that the market has rejected GE salmon despite FDA’s reckless approval,” said Dana Perls, food and technology campaigner for Friends of the Earth. “Major retailers including Costco, Safeway and Kroger won’t sell it and polls show the vast majority of people don’t want to eat it. Yet under this approval it won’t be labeled, violating our fundamental right to know what we are feeding our families.”

Dr. Ohhira passes away

Dr. Ohhira passes away

Iichiroh Ohhira

On March 1, Iichiroh Ohhira, Ph.D., developer of Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic® Formulations (known as OM-X in Japan), passed away after a brief illness. He was 80 years old.

“This is extremely sad news for everyone at Essential Formulas. I had the privilege of working with Dr. Ohhira for many years and considered him not only a brilliant scientist but also a friend. He was a visionary in the field of microbiology and biochemistry and his pioneering research developed the first clinically controlled natural fermentation process, thus setting the gold standard for probiotic supplementation worldwide,” said Michael Schoor, CEO and president of Essential Formulas Inc. “Dr. Ohhira was a true humanitarian who made it his life’s work to positively impact the health of millions of people, thus becoming a champion for a generation who were seeking naturally viable health alternatives.”

In 1974, Dr. Ohhira founded Bio Activity Research & Development Center in Okayama, Japan, later known as BioBank. Through his research he discovered Enterococcus faecalis TH-10, a strain whose proteolytic power is 6.25 stronger than other lactic acid bacteria (LAB) known to science. This strain became the foundation of Dr. Ohhira’s award-winning formulations. This discovery, along with his research in lactic acid bacteria, earned Dr. Ohhira a series of prestigious awards. He received the “Presidential Citation from Philippine Medical Association” and was named a “GUSI Peace Prize” winner, often referred to as the Philippine’s version of the “Nobel Peace Prize.”

Dr. Ohhira once stated, “Each capsule is filled with our passion and hope for bringing health and long life to all 7 billion people on the earth. We make our product with not only proven scientific protocol but tender care through the power of fermentation, inspired through nature’s blessings and the mighty lactic acid bacteria.”

Continuing to lead the company is Chief Executive Officer Masumi Ohhira, lead research scientist and Dr. Ohhira’s protégé, Dr. Muneaki Takahata, Ph.D., and his team of researchers, and Hiroaki Takahata, who oversees marketing operations in Japan and other regions.

For the time being, we would like to reflect upon Dr. Ohhira’s life and express our gratitude to an exceptional man who gave everything to his company and his passion. According to his utmost wishes, the company will continue to pursue and expand the exciting adventure that he initiated in 1974.

For a full list of Dr. Ohhira’s accomplishments, visit www.essentialformulas.com/efi.cgim?template=beta-dr._ohhira

Natural Foods Merchandiser

Farm to phone: How one co-op’s new app brings farmers' stories to the aisles

Farm to phone: How one co-op’s new app brings farmers' stories to the aisles

Steve Cook, creative director of marketing agency Neon, says he never really considered himself a foodie. It was only when his wife, then general manager of Reno-based Great Basin Community Food Co-op, encouraged him that he started tagging along on her drives out to the area’s farms. But then things started to change.

“I saw the passion and effort the farmers put into the food,” Cook remembered. “Meeting them really connected me to the food movement and I thought, how could we make that connection in the aisles of the co-op? Instead of driving out to the farms, how could we have thousands of people doing this in the store?”

The answer came in the form of the co-op’s newly launched Meet Your Farmer mobile app, which allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet to view short introductory films about the farmers whose produce stocks the co-op. Scattered throughout Great Basin Community Food Co-op, shoppers will find stickers near the produce, bearing the origin farm’s logo. Shoppers can point the app’s finder at the sticker to automatically load a short video introducing the farmer, farm and resulting produce; for those without smartphones, the store keeps an iPad handy. Because shoppers’ time is limited in the aisles, the videos are very short. But for those looking to learn more, extended versions are housed online.

Funding for the app’s development and implementation came from a grant awarded by Nevada’s Department of Agriculture. But stores looking to do something similar need only reach out to Cook to collaborate. “We are working with the National Cooperative Grocers Association to roll this out to every co-op across the country,” Cook said. “We are also talking to the Australian Department of Agriculture, since they obviously have huge farms spread out across their country, and they want to tell those farmers’ stories.”

In the meantime, Cook is glad to work with any natural food store interested in bringing this app to its shoppers. Interested retailers can email Cook at [email protected] for more information and to get started.

“It’s a great differentiator to be able to tell those farmers’ stories,” he said, noting that the app helps shoppers understand why local, organic food is worth the investment. “But what was most exciting for me was the farmers’ reactions. I thought they may not be interested in the technology, but once I showed them how simple it was, they were proud to share their stories. A lot of them have worked very hard for generations and are very proud of the level of produce they deliver. So that was the most heartwarming thing for me.”

More evidence links vitamin D levels and MS

More evidence links vitamin D levels and MS

Scientists have uncovered more evidence linking vitamin D levels to multiple sclerosis.

Last year, Harvard School of Public Health researchers published a study that suggests that the vitamin may slow the progression of the disease among patients in the early stages of MS. The new research, published online in JAMA Neurology, showed that among MS patients with the relapsing-remitting form of the disease treated with interferon (a drug that reduces the frequency of the relapses) those with higher levels of D had lower rates of MS activity.

Along with other recent research, the study provides "crucial complementary evidence" of the importance of correcting vitamin D deficiency in patients with MS and in helping to identify the optimal level of this vitamin, lead author Kathryn Fitzgerald, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow, Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts told Medscape Medical News.

The researchers analyzed data collected from 1,456 patients involved in Bayer’s Betaferon Efficacy Yielding Outcomes of a New Dose (BEYOND) trial, a large, phase 3 prospective blinded randomized trial with two types of interferon. Patients were monitored for at least two years, with clinic visits with MRIs every three months. MRIs reveal the lesions on the protective covering of nerves that are caused by MS.

The number of new active lesions among patients was “significantly” inversely correlated to their vitamin D levels. Those with higher levels of D had a 31 percent lower rate of new lesions.

Daily red for diabetics?

Daily red for diabetics?

A daily glass of wine, especially red wine, may help people with diabetes, according to a recent study.

In the two-year-long, randomized Israeli study, 224 subjects with well-controlled Type 2 diabetes were given a daily drink of 5 ounces of mineral water, white wine or red wine with dinner. All were not regular drinkers and all followed a Mediterranean diet without calorie restrictions.

After two years, the HDL or “good cholesterol” levels of the red wine drinkers increased by 10 percent compared to the levels of the water drinkers. White wine drinkers didn’t experience the same improvement, according to the study results, which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and noted in the New York Times.

There were two beneficial effects in all the wine drinkers: Triglycerides and fasting plasma glucose levels decreased significantly in both groups compared with the water-drinkers.

The upshot? “We found that a glass of red wine with dinner can improve cardiovascular health with Type 2 diabetes,” researcher Iris Shai of Ben Gurion University told NPR.

Another recent study suggests that resveratrol, the polyphenol-packed compound found in the skin of grapes, may help fight depression—at least among rodents.