1 June 2017

GI News - June 2017

GI News

GI News is published by the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Charles Perkins Centre

Publisher:
Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA
Editor: Philippa Sandall
Scientific Editor/Managing Editor: Alan Barclay, PhD
Contact GI News: glycemic.index@gmail.com

Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service
Manager: Fiona Atkinson, PhD
Contact: sugirs.manager@sydney.edu.au

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

GOING WITH THE GRAIN
We have just written a book called The Good Carbs Cookbook to share our enthusiasm for the plant foods the natural world provides us with: fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts and grains and to try and answer the many questions we have received over the years from our GI News readers.

Good carbohydrates

Homo sapiens has been going with the grain for a long time. Food diaries weren’t around, so we can’t put a date on when our forebears began pounding and grinding the tough little seeds they gathered, adding a bit of water and making gruel or porridge or kneading dough to bake bread, but it was long before they became farmers.

How do we know? Our genes provide evidence for this. “We have evolved multiple copies of the salivary amylase gene, AMY1, which kicks off the digestion of starch in cooked foods. AMY1 has no other function. Amylase cannot act on raw starch, only starch that has been gelatinised by the action of heat and water,” says Prof Jennie Brand-Miller in the foreword to The Good Carbs Cookbook.

Digging around in buried villages gives us an idea of the wide range of foods our forebears ate. For example, in the remains of the 23,000-year-old lakeshore camp now submerged under the Sea of Galilee (Ohalo II, in present-day Israel), scientists found charred seeds and bones revealing that the people who spent much of the year there hunted gazelle and fallow deer, and occasionally fox, hare and wild pig; fished in the lake and caught migratory birds – the great crested grebe a great favourite if bone count is any indication. And they gathered grains including wild barley, wheat and oats, as the scientists found these seeds all over the campsite along with a grinding stone with starchy traces of barley. They also ate acorns, legumes and wild fruit, and they may have used their hearth to bake bread.

“Seeds are our most durable and concentrated foods. They are the rugged lifeboats designed to carry a plant’s offspring to the shore of an uncertain future. Tease apart a whole grain, or bean, or nut, and inside you find a tiny embryonic shoot,” says Harold McGhee. Which explains why they are so nourishing: they are a baby plant’s healthy pantry.

Grains are at their most nourishing when we eat them as whole as possible or as the
minimally processed staples our forebears enjoyed. Milling and refining grains to separate and remove the bran and germ does give us a more shelf-stable and quicker-cooking product, but it lacks many of the vitamins, minerals, fats and fibre of the original grain.

Minimally processed wholegrains figure prominently in the diets of the long-living Blue Zones folks, and observational studies around the world suggest that eating plenty of these staples may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which is why health professionals tend to worship at the altar of wholegrains and “consume more wholegrains’’ features prominently in dietary guidelines worldwide.

So, if we really want to “go paleo”, we should probably eat a much wider variety of seeds than we currently do. To help you do this, try a spiced grain salad like the one from Drake’s at Bondi Beach shown in the photograph above. It contains quinoa, farro, freekeh, popped wild rice, pomegranate seeds, labneh, coriander leaves and secret ingredients …

Studies:

The Good Carbs Cookbook
The Good Carbs Cookbook: Available online and in store in Australia now. Publishes 13 July in the UK and can be pre-ordered online from Amazon and Book Depository. It should also be available on www.amazon.com for interested US readers to pre-order from June 1.

WHAT’S NEW?

GLUTEN FREE AND HEART HEALTH
In April, ConscienHealth’s Ted Kyle reported on research that found that people who ate less gluten had a slightly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Now a new study from Harvard finds that avoiding gluten won't lower your risk of heart disease. In fact, the researchers conclude from their findings that going gluten-free if you don’t have celiac disease could pose health concerns because “the avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. The promotion of gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged.”

As Ted Kyle says, “a gluten-free diet is a no-brainer for someone with celiac disease or confirmed non-celiac gluten sensitivity (gluten intolerance). But gluten-free fad diets have reached far beyond folks with actual gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Some people falsely believe it will help them lose weight or magically give them better health. This new data is a useful reminder that food fads can have a downside and becoming fixated on demonizing a particular food or nutrient can lead to surprises down the road.”

Study: Long term gluten consumption in adults without celiac disease and risk of coronary heart disease: prospective cohort study 

Contact: A T Chan ACHAN@mgh.harvard.edu

YOUR BRAIN REALLY DOES WANT YOU TO EAT MORE VEGGIES
Prof. Felice Jacka is a psychiatric epidemiologist with a strong interest in the prevention of mental disorders. Her research relates to the possible influence of diet on common mental disorders, depression and anxiety. In The Conversation, she reports on a trial to examine whether diet improves depression. This edited extract is published with permission.

As well as our physical health, the quality of our diet matters for our mental and brain health. Observational studies across countries, cultures and age groups show that better-quality diets – those high in vegetables, fruits, other plant foods (such as nuts and legumes), as well as good-quality proteins (such as fish and lean meat) – are consistently associated with reduced depression. Unhealthy dietary patterns – higher in processed meat, refined grains, sweets and snack foods – are associated with increased depression and often anxiety.

vegetables

Our recent trial was the first intervention study to examine the common question of whether diet will improve depression. We recruited adults with major depressive disorder and randomly assigned them to receive either social support (which is known to be helpful for people with depression), or support from a clinical dietitian, over a three-month period.

The dietary group received information and assistance to improve the quality of their current diets. The focus was on increasing the consumption of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, legumes, fish, lean red meats, olive oil and nuts, while reducing their consumption of unhealthy “extra” foods, such as sweets, refined cereals, fried food, fast food, processed meats and sugary drinks.

The results of the study showed that participants in the dietary intervention group had a much greater reduction in their depressive symptoms over the three months, compared to those in the social support group. At the end of the trial, 32% of those in the dietary support group, compared to 8% of those in the social support group, met criteria for remission of major depression. These results were not explained by changes in physical activity or body weight, but were closely related to the extent of dietary change. Those who adhered more closely to the dietary program experienced the greatest benefit to their depression symptoms. While this study now needs to be replicated, it provides preliminary evidence that dietary improvement may be a useful strategy for treating depression.

Depression is a whole-body disorder. It’s important to understand researchers now believe depression is not just a brain disorder, but rather a whole-body disorder, with chronic inflammation being an important risk factor. This inflammation is the result of many environmental stressors common in our lives: poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, overweight and obesity, lack of sleep, lack of vitamin D, as well as stress.

Many of these factors influence gut microbiota (the bacteria and other microorganisms that live in your bowel, also referred to as your “microbiome”), which in turn influence the immune system and – we believe – mood and behaviour. In fact, gut microbiota affect more than the immune system. New evidence in this field suggests they are important to almost every aspect of health including our metabolism and body weight, and brain function and health. Each of these factors is relevant to depression risk, reinforcing the idea of depression as a whole-body disorder. If we do not consume enough nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meats, this can lead to insufficiencies in nutrients, antioxidants and fibre. This has a detrimental impact on our immune system, gut microbiota and other aspects of physical and mental health.

Gut microbiota are particularly reliant on an adequate intake of dietary fibre, while the health of the gut may be compromised by added sugars, fats, emulsifiers and some artificial sugars found in processed foods. A diet high in added fats and refined sugars also has a potent negative impact on brain proteins that we know are important in depression: proteins called neurotrophins. These protect the brain against oxidative stress and promote the growth of new brain cells in our hippocampus (a part of the brain critical for learning and memory, and important to mental health). In older adults, we have shown that diet quality is related to the size of the hippocampus.

Now we know diet is important to mental and brain health as well as physical health, we need to make healthy eating the easiest, cheapest and most socially acceptable option for people, no matter where they live.

The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/food-as-medicine-your-brain-really-does-want-you-to-eat-more-veggies-74685
Study: A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial)
Contact: f.jacka@deakin.edu.au

ALTERNATE DAY FASTING HYPE SHOULD BE FADING FAST
As a spiritual practice, fasting has deep roots in many religions, but when spiritual practices try to make the leap into health practices, look out. For a prime example, it now looks like the hype about the alternate day miracle fast should be fading fast reports ConscienHealth’s Ted Kyle. A new randomized, controlled study published in JAMA Internal Medicine finds no benefit for alternate day fasting compared to daily caloric restriction.

Researchers randomized 100 people with obesity to an alternate day fast, a standard reduced-calorie diet, or a control group making no change in dietary habits. They followed the participants for six months of weight loss, and six months of weight maintenance. At the end of 12 months, both of the treatment groups had lost about five percent of their starting weight – virtually identical outcomes. And the control group of course had no change in weight. Likewise, the researchers found no difference in markers of heart or metabolic health. For two treatment groups, blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, insulin resistance, cholesterol, and a number of other measures were the same at the end of 12 months.

Hopefully, this will put a capstone on years of hype about the health benefits of fasting. We’ve seen claims that it will “reboot your body” and “slow aging.” Health reporters have hyped animal studies to suggest that it will prevent cancer, improve brain function, and cure diabetes. Enough. Fasting is a fine spiritual practice. It’s not a bad way to lose weight. But don’t count on it for miraculous health benefits. – Thanks to Ted Kyle of ConscienHealth for this report

Study: Effect of Alternate-Day Fasting on Weight Loss, Weight Maintenance, and Cardioprotection Among Metabolically Healthy Obese Adults. A Randomized Clinical Trial

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

A GRAIN OF SALT
For nearly four decades, dietary guidelines around the world have advised us to avoid consuming too much salt, or words to that effect. The salt they are talking about is sodium chloride, which has been used by humans for millennia, and is still the most common source of sodium today accounting for around 90% of all sodium consumed in developed nations. The guidelines are based on the relatively large body of evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) that provides compelling evidence that reducing sodium consumption decreases blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Long-term observational studies also indicate that increased sodium consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. However, emerging evidence from observational studies is also indicating that excessive restriction of sodium is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, suggesting that there is a U shaped relationship between sodium and cardiovascular health.

While consuming less sodium does lower blood pressure, the combination of a lower-sodium, high-potassium diet is even more beneficial, with greater reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure demonstrated in systematic reviews of RCTs, compared to low sodium diets alone, without any potential negative effects. Indeed, systematic reviews of RCTs now provide level 1 evidence that balancing the sodium : potassium ratio is effective in lowering blood pressure in people with and without high blood pressure, and is also associated with decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases in observational studies.

The WHO recommends a sodium : potassium ratio of no greater than 1 : 1. In other words, each day we should be aiming to consume at least as much potassium in our diet as sodium, to counter-balance any potential negative effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk. So keep up the fruit and veg!

This key recommendation is not well known perhaps because government regulatory food bodies don’t require potassium to be included in mandatory nutrition facts / information panels, and because public health campaigns focus very much on reducing salt intake rather than increasing potassium intake. However, in Australia and New Zealand, FSANZ requires the manufacturer to list the potassium content in the Nutrition Information Panel if they make a marketing claim about the salt / sodium content of a food or beverage. In this case, all you need to do is look for products that have more potassium than sodium – it’s as simple as that.

To help you follow WHO guidelines for sodium and potassium, the recipes in GI News include the sodium : potassium ratio in the nutritional analysis. Our recent books (Reversing Diabetes and The Good Carbs Cookbook, both published by Murdoch Books) also include the sodium : potassium ratio. Of course, recipes are rarely the complete meal, but if you see that sodium is higher than potassium, you know it’s important to up the potassium with a salad, some leafy greens, a piece of pumpkin or some sweet potato. It’s as easy as that.

But few cookbook recipes come with a nutritional analysis, and fewer the sodium : potassium ratio. So, here are some top sources of potassium to help you up your intake:

  • leafy green vegetables, such as bok choy (pak choy), silverbeet (Swiss chard) and English spinach 
  • vine fruits, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini (courgette), eggplant (aubergine) and pumpkin (winter squash) 
  • root vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots. 
  • Unprocessed bran 
Moderately good sources of potassium include:
  • beans (for example, baked beans, kidney beans, black beans) 
  • green peas 
  • dried fruits 
  • fresh fruits, such as apples, oranges and bananas. 
Milk, yoghurt, wholegrains and meat (beef, lamb, pork, chicken) also contain some potassium as does good old canned salmon, although not as much as vegetables and fruits.

The take-home: It is more important to balance out your sodium and potassium intake than to focus on the salt content alone. As usual, the one-nutrient-at-a-time approach will not ensure optimal nutrition.

Dr Alan Barclay 

Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian. He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 and is a member of the editorial board of Diabetes Management Journal (Diabetes Australia). He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and author/co-author of  Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York).

VIEWPOINTS FROM THE CHARLES PERKINS CENTRE, SYDNEY UNIVERSITY

PROF JENNIE BRAND-MILLER ON NUTRITION FOLLIES: #3 – WHOLEGRAIN FOLLIES

  • Wholegrain or wholewheat products have everything that’s in the original grain.
  • Substituting refined grains with unrefined grains improves your health.
  • Consuming wholegrain products reduces your risk of heart disease.
Wholegrain or wholewheat products have everything that’s in the original grain
Most consumers seeing “wholegrain” or “wholewheat” on a packaged food assume it has everything that’s in the original grain – all the vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre that make traditional grains such a healthy choice. That assumption is wrong. Products labelled “wholegrain” are rarely the whole grain that came in nature’s packaging (Why ‘whole grain’ is not always healthy). In many cases, the finished product has been soaked, ground, milled, cooked, flaked, toasted, puffed and/or popped beyond recognition. Indeed, this is why most breakfast cereals whether highly refined or not are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals.

Substituting refined grains with unrefined grains improves your health
Advice to consume “wholegrain foods” is enshrined in dietary guidelines around the globe. To put it simply, that means they are telling us we should consume most of our cereal products as wholegrains aka eat a “brown” diet (no white bread, not even sourdough, no white rice and no golden yellow durum wheat pasta). In my book, that’s quite a sacrifice. And there’s a question: does brown diet science convincingly show that substituting refined grains (a white diet) with less refined (brown) grains improve our health? Not yet.

It’s true that many observational studies report that consuming wholegrain products is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The Nurses’ Health Study showed women who ate the most wholegrains (an average of 2.5 servings per day), generally as wholegrain breakfast cereals, brown rice and wholewheat bread – were 30% less likely to develop heart disease than women eating next to none.

But such observational studies don’t actually prove wholegrains are responsible for the good health outcomes. It’s just an association. It’s probable people who choose to eat wholegrain foods are health conscious in all sorts of ways. They don’t smoke, they try to be active, they eat less red meat and more oily fish, fruit, vegetables and legumes. Of course, good studies statistically adjust for known confounders. But residual confounding may still be present. For example, to my knowledge, they never adjust for salt intake. And perhaps the person who chooses brown rice over white looks after their health in ways that having nothing to do with food at all, e.g. they breathe deeply, they sleep better, and they get less stressed.

The best test of the wholegrain hypothesis is whether wholegrain products produce improved outcomes when we switch from refined to wholegrain cereals as part of a randomized, controlled trial. You’ll find surprisingly few trials that have directly compared a brown diet with a white diet that was otherwise identical.

In the largest clinical trial of its sort to date, UK researchers provided 316 overweight men and women with a range of wholegrain foods and asked them to substitute them like-for-like for refined grain foods. Over a period of 2–4 months, there was not even a hint of difference in cardiovascular risk. In other words, there was no difference in blood cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin sensitivity and a range of common inflammatory markers between those who substituted wholegrain foods into their diet, and those who didn’t (the control group).

More recently, a very small American study in 33 participants found that wholegrain foods improved diastolic blood pressure but it had absolutely no effect on body weight, fat loss, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, or LDL cholesterol compared to the control diet.

Consuming wholegrain products reduces your risk of heart disease
So where does that leave the consumer wanting to make better food choices and reduce intake of saturated fat? What should replace those saturated fat calories? Foods with more carbs, or more good fats, or more protein, or a combination of all three? First of all, the nutritional attributes of the replacement foods are critical.
  • The carbs should be good carbs: slowly digested and absorbed foods such as beans, peas, lentils, pasta, cracked wheat, couscous, minimally processed grains and the traditional foods made from them. Have at least 5 serves of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • The fats should be good fats: avocado, nuts, olive oil, canola oil and rice bran oil.
  • The proteins should come from a combination of sources: fish and seafood, lean red meat, pork, poultry, eggs and legumes.
Secondly, don’t make the mistake of thinking any wholegrain product will be a good replacement for saturated fat. I say this because several studies have reported that replacing saturated fat with high GI carbohydrates (wholegrain or otherwise) was likely to increase future risk of heart attack. In contrast, replacing saturated fat with low GI carbs or polyunsaturated fats (e.g. safflower oil) appears to be protective. Low GI diets and low glycemic load diets have been associated with good health outcomes in scores of observational studies and clinical trials. Here are three useful studies to look at.
Barley salad

Source: Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook (Hachette Australia).

FAQ: Are all wholegrains low GI?
No. People assume wholegrains are low GI because they have more fibre. But this is wishful thinking. The reality is most processed cereal products today, white or brown, have a high GI. Nor is it correct to imply that all low GI carbs are less processed and refined. White pasta (cooked al dente) has a low GI, as do some varieties of white rice. Where does that leave the consumer? Choose those proven to be low GI, preferably whole grains, which contain more micronutrients. Here are some less processed staples we happily call wholegrain:

Healthy low GI wholegrains


Jennie Brand-Miller 
Professor Jennie Brand-Miller (AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA, MAICD) is an internationally recognised authority on carbohydrates and the glycemic index. She holds a Personal Chair in Human Nutrition in the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders and Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney. She is the co-author of many books for the consumer on the glycemic index and health. Her latest book (with Professor Arne Astrup and Dietitian Christian Bitz) is The Nordic Way (Pam Krauss Books).

FOOD UN-PLUGGED

ARE ANCIENT GRAINS BETTER?
Ancient grains lost popularity in the 1700s following the surge in wheat, oats and barley cultivation. Nowadays we can thank novelty-seeking, health conscious consumers for the revival of grains such as spelt, chia, amaranth and quinoa, and their often premium pricing. Clever marketing aims to convince us that these ancient grains are nutritionally superior to more modern variants but it begs the question: are ancient grains superfoods or just super expensive?

What are ancient grains?
While many spell-checks still think ‘quinoa’ is a typo, many people are now familiar with these retro grains. They are added to a growing array of foods – you may have eaten them without even realising it.

  • Spelt is an older variety of wheat; therefore it contains gluten and can be used to make pasta or a nice loaf of sourdough bread. You can buy spelt flour in many supermarkets nowadays. 
  • Chia is a type of seed; therefore similarly to other seeds, it is gluten-free, rich in healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats, protein and fibre. It has the remarkable ability to absorb water and swells to form a gel, therefore making it a popular ingredient for jams and tapioca-style puddings. If you can get over the fact that chia gel looks like frog eggs, it is quite fun to eat. We quite like it mixed with oats in Bircher muesli. 
  • Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that can be popped like corn. Popped amaranth has a high GI therefore for people with diabetes (and others) it is best eaten in combination with lower GI foods such as oats and nuts for a lower glycemic impact. This combination also makes delicious homemade muesli. 
  • Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that is high in carbohydrate (68%), low in fat (4.8%) moderate in protein (12%) and low GI. Quinoa works well as a substitute for couscous or rice and can be found at your local supermarket, although the flavour is quite different so don’t think you can get away with a sneaky swap – try it in combination with rice for the more steadfast members of the household. 
How do modern grains compare?
You can meet your nutritional needs with ancient or modern grains and seeds. The nutritional profiles are quite similar, including protein content (which many ancient grains claim to be high in). It’s sometimes said that modern crops aren’t as nutritious as they used to be but I have put together a table that shows that isn’t true. There are many environmental (and ethical) issues with modern intensive agriculture but loss of nutritional value isn’t one of them:

Nutrients in wholegrains

The standout difference is the folate content of quinoa - it is higher than many other grains. Folate is a B-group vitamin involved in DNA synthesis and it can help prevent neural tube defects in unborn babies and so is of benefit to women around conception and during pregnancy. However, in Australia and New Zealand most of our conventional wheat-based bread has folate added so there’s no need to switch to quinoa on that basis.

Quinoa porridge


Source: The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook, Hachette Australia.


What’s good about ancient grains?
Ancient grains are great because they add variety to the diet, giving us additional healthy food options. Instead of rotating between potatoes, rice and pasta at dinner, we now have more choices. These ancient grains also increase the biodiversity of ecosystems, which enhances crop survival and recovery during droughts or disease epidemics. It’s not ideal having most of the worlds food supply provided by a handful of crops if the unthinkable happens and one or several get wiped out by a new disease.

The unplugged truth
• Ancient grains are becoming more popular but are often more expensive.
• Ancient grains are nutritionally similar to modern grains.

Bottom line: old and new grains are equally good for you; whole grains are best because they are packed with vitamin, minerals and dietary fibre.

Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

Nicole Senior

Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.

Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.

KEEP GOOD CARBS AND CARRY ON

EAT YOUR VEG
It’s hard to imagine a dinner time when the spotlight wasn’t on “eat your veggies”. But it wasn’t long ago – a bit over 100 years. The discovery of vitamins and minerals in the early years of the twentieth century was the wakeup call, and “Dr Vitamin” (Elmer Verner McCollum, 1879–1967) was a key player. He claimed veggies were “protective foods” because “they were so constituted to make good the deficiencies of whatever else we liked to eat”. He wasn’t wrong because, as Harvard’s Professor Walter Willett says, “so far, no one has found a magic bullet that works against heart disease, cancer and a host of other chronic diseases as well as fruits and vegetables seem to do”.

Today, we are spoiled for choice. This is perhaps because “vegetable” is a culinary term, not a botanical one. So, we can take our pick from fruits such as avocado, cucumber, marrow, tomato, capsicum (peppers) and green beans; bulbs such as onion and globe artichoke; stalks such as celery and asparagus; flower stalks and buds such as broccoli and cauliflower; roots and tubers such as carrot, potato and sweet potato; as well as the proverbial leafy greens, including spinach, bok choy, lettuce and cabbage. And there’s more. There are the edible dried seeds from the legume family: beans, peas and lentils.

In the Sapiens story, cooking was the game changer. Cooking starchy roots, tubers, and legumes was central to the dietary change that triggered and sustained the growth of the human brain for our ancestors. “It’s hard to imagine the leap to Homo erectus without cooking’s nutritional benefits,” says primatologist Prof. Richard Wrangham, author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. He believes we have been cooking for a long time because about 1.8 million years ago our teeth and our gut became small, a change that can only be explained, he says, by our ancestors getting softer foods and more nutrition, and “this could only have happened because they were cooking. It’s what made our human diet ‘human’ and is the most logical explanation for our advances in brain and body size over our ape ancestors.”

Sweet potato and fig

Our ancestors weren’t boiling their veg. they were roasting the roots and tubers the women and children gathered over the day on the embers of the fire to soften them. Anyone who has tried Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fresh Figs (GI News, September 1914) will certainly agree that roasting does a lot more than mere softening. It transforms. The dry oven heat caramelises any natural sugars on the surface, evaporates some of the water and concentrates the flavour. There is an art to roasting if you want veg crisp on the outside, hot and steamy on the inside and with deep, delicious sweetness says chef and food writer Kate McGhie.

  • Cut potatoes, and sweet potato into pieces of about the same size. Roast for 15 minutes or so before adding quicker cooking carrots, parsnips, pumpkin, turnips or beetroot (whole or halved). 
  • Make sure veggies are dry before roasting. 
  • Lightly brush them with a thin layer of oil. 
  • Arrange in a roasting pan in a single layer. No cramming, they need good airflow. 
  • Season lightly to taste.

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN

GO SLOW TO WARM UP
As the weather turns cooler, thoughts turn to slow cooking, baked dinners, pot roasts and casseroles. In this issue,we have come up with recipes for three (almost) one-pot wonders to feed the family and warm the heart. Serve with salad or steamed greens and your favourite starchy veg or grains to round out the meal, up the potassium and fill hollow legs.
POT-ROASTED CHICKEN AND APPLES IN CIDER
In this simple pot roast from Apple Blossom Pie (Murdoch Books) Kate McGhie uses the fruit itself and apple cider which, added at different stages, builds the depth of flavour. Adding the slightly tart crème fraîche at the end blends the juices into a silky sauce. Make a meal of it with mashed orange sweet potato and steamed beans (and boost your potassium, too). Serves 6 • Cook: 1½ hours.

Apple

3 tbsp butter
4 granny smith apples, cored and sliced
200g (7oz) button mushrooms, halved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3 bacon rashers, sliced into matchsticks
1 large free-range chicken
2 cups dry apple cider (cloudy is best)
1½ cups chicken stock
salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper
4 tbsp crème fraiche or light crème fraiche
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). • Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large sturdy ovenproof casserole. Add the apples, cook until golden and then remove them and set aside. Add the remaining butter with the mushrooms to the casserole and cook until they release their juice. Remove them and put with the apples. • Add the olive oil to the casserole with the onions and bacon and cook for 3–4 minutes until softened, then remove from the dish and put aside. • Tie the chicken legs together, put it in the casserole and brown all over. (Brown on the sides first then the back and just lightly on the breast which will brown towards the end of cooking.) • Pour in the cider, scraping up any crispy bits then return the onions and bacon to the casserole. Add the stock. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 50 minutes. • Add the apples and mushrooms with salt and pepper to taste and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear when a skewer is inserted. Stir in the crème fraîche and sprinkle over the parsley.

Per serve (using light crème fraiche)
1585kJ/ 380 calories; 34g protein; 15g fat (includes 8g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 1.1); 19g available carbs (includes 12g sugars and 7g starch); 3g fibre; 1768mg sodium; 826mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 2.1.

BEEF AND BEAN NACHOS
You don’t need to wait for winter to enjoy this low GI family favourite that’s high in dietary fibre and potassium from Alan Barclay’s Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books). Here are a couple of tips. Spice up the tortillas by sprinkling them with cayenne pepper before baking. A crisp garden salad will complete the meal. Serves 4 • Prep: 30 minutes • Cook: 1 hour

BEEF AND BEAN NACHOS

4 jalapeños, thinly sliced
2 tbsp malt vinegar
4 low-sodium white corn tortillas
olive oil spray
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 green capsicum (pepper), finely chopped
300g (10oz) extra-lean minced (ground) beef
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
400g (14oz) canned diced tomatoes
800g (1lb 12oz) canned no-added-salt kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 small avocado
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 small handful coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped, plus extra sprigs to serve

Put the jalapeños in a small bowl with the vinegar and set aside to marinate. • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Lightly spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil. Cut each tortilla into 10 wedges and arrange on a large baking tray. Bake, turning once, for 10–12 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside until needed. • While the tortilla crisps are cooking, spray a large saucepan with olive oil and place over medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring, for 2 minutes or until softened. Add the celery and capsicum, and stir for 6–7 minutes or until browned and softened. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned. • Stir in the paprika, cumin and oregano, and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and ¾ cup water. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25–30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Add the beans and cook for 10 minutes. • Meanwhile, mash the avocado with a fork, then stir in the lemon juice and chopped coriander. Season with freshly ground black pepper. • Spoon the beef mixture into bowls and top with the extra coriander. Serve with the avocado, jalapeños and tortilla crisps

Per serve
2850kJ/ 679 calories; 48g protein; 24g fat (includes 6g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0 : 33); 51g available carbs (includes 14g sugars and 37g starch); 28g fibre; 400mg sodium; 1845mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.22.

STICKS, SEEDS, PODS and LEAVES
Kate Hemphill is a trained chef. She contributed the recipes to Ian Hemphill’s best-selling Spice and Herb Bible. You will find more of her recipes on the Herbies spices website. Kate’s recipes are made with Herbies spices and blends, but you can use whatever you have in your pantry or that’s available locally.

Lamb Rogan Josh
As it’s starting to cool down, we’ll be making slow-cooked one-pot meals like this deliciously “tomatoey” rogan josh to warm up. It is a great meal to make the day before eating. Serve with brown basmati rice. Serves:6 • Prep: 20 mins • Cook: 3½ hours.

Lamb Rogan Josh


1kg (2lb 4oz) lamb shoulder off the bone, excess fat removed and cut into roughly 5cm (2in) pieces
400g (14oz) plain low fat yoghurt
2 tbsp (30ml) rogan josh blend
3 tbsp (45ml) vegetable oil
6 brown onions, peeled and finely diced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
¾ cup tomato paste/puree
½ tsp salt (optional)
½ cup fresh coriander leaves
2 ripe tomatoes, diced

Preheat oven to 120°C/250°F. • Combine lamb, yoghurt and spice mix in a bowl and leave for at least 15 minutes. • Heat the oil and cook onions over medium heat for 20–30 minutes until softened and golden. • Add garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes, then stir in the yoghurt coated lamb plus all the marinade. Add tomato paste and salt (if using), and bring to a simmer, while stirring. Place lid on the cooking pot and cook in the oven for 2½–3 hours until meat is very tender. • Serve with fresh coriander leaves and diced fresh tomatoes to garnish.

Per serve (without rice)
1785kJ/ 425 calories; 36.5g protein; 23g fat (includes 7g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.44); 15g available carbs (includes 14g sugars and 1g starch); 6g fibre; 370mg sodium; 1345mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 0.28.

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Nutritional analysis To analyse Australian foods, beverages, processed products and recipes, we use FoodWorks which contains the AusNut and Nuttab databases. If necessary, this is supplemented with data from www.calorieking.com.au and http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search.

Disclaimer GI News endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-newsletter by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. GI News provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. All recipes that are included within GI News have been analysed however they have not been tested for their glycemic index properties by an accredited laboratory according to the ISO standards. 

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1 May 2017

GI News - May 2017

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

THE BRAINPOWER DIET

What other species gleefully jiggles their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or laps up the tongue curling delights of a lemon? In The Conversation, Dr Darren Curnoe took a look at why is it that humans are so unusual compared to all other life. The key to solving this riddle lies in explaining the evolution of our large brains and exceptional intelligence he says. This edited extract is reproduced with his permission.

Chillis

For as long as humanity has been contemplating our existence we must surely have been struck by the fact that we are the only species capable of doing so. I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that the evolutionary arrival of humankind – some 200,000 years ago – was a decisive moment in the long history of the universe. After 14 billion years in the making, and in the blink of an eye of cosmological time, human intelligence arrived and gave the universe the ability to comprehend itself. A new study finds that primate brain size is better predicted by diet than any measure of sociality, suggesting a revision is needed to prevailing hypotheses explaining brain size evolution.

To really understand how the human brain emerged we must first recognise that we share big brains with other primates. It’s our evolutionary inheritance, as primates are among the brainiest of all mammals; when taken kilo for kilo against body size. And apes are especially well endowed in the brains department. Why? Well, this has been a major puzzle for anthropologists for decades, and the most widely accepted explanation has been the cognitive demands placed on us by living in large social groups; the so-called ‘social brain hypothesis’ or ‘Dunbar’s Number’.

The main alternative has been that braininess evolved in response to the demands of sex. Polygynandrous species – where males and females have multiple partners in a given breeding season – possess larger brains than those using other systems of mating, such as a harem or monogamy.

Now a new study by Alex DeCasien and colleagues published in Nature, Ecology and Evolution has turned the debate completely on its head. They’ve found that the kind of diet a primate species consumes offers the best explanation for its brain size. While this idea is not an entirely new one, their work provides strong validation for the diet-brain connection.

When it comes to apes it turns out that fruit eating – the dietary niche present in most living apes and the one our ancient ape ancestors indulged in – is so cognitively demanding that it led to a big evolutionary leap in intelligence when it began. How come? Well, challenging diets require individuals to seek out or capture food; they have to judge whether it’s ready to be eaten or not; and they may even need to extract it, peel it, or process it in some way before it can be ingested.

Sound familiar? It should. Humans have the most specialised and challenging diets of all primates; and I have in mind here hunters and gatherers not urban foodies. The human dietary niche is exceptionally broad and involves behaviours aimed at not only obtaining food but also making it more palatable and digestible; activities like extraction, digging, hunting, fishing, drying, grinding, cooking, combining other foods to add flavour, or even adding minerals to season or make food safe to eat.

What other species would so gleefully jiggle their jaws on the flames of a Jalapeno or lap up the tongue curling delights of a lemon?

What’s more, our large fruit eating ape brains got even bigger late in human evolution because our diets became ever more challenging to obtain and prepare, especially as a result of our ancestor’s penchant for eating meat.

Hunter-gatherers typically have a diet comprising between 30% and 80% vertebrate meat, while for chimpanzees it’s only around 2%. Instead, chimps get 60% of their diet from fruit, but hunter-gatherers typically obtain only 5% or 6 % (on the odd occasion a lot more) of their nutrition from fruit.

Humans rarely eat raw meat though, and we cook many of our vegetables as well, so even after expending huge efforts to collect it we still have to process much of our food in drawn out ways.

All of this throws up a paradox for us. Why is it that our closest and now extinct relatives, such as the Neanderthals, who were capable of complex behaviours like hunting, cooking and perhaps even cultural activities like art, lacked the smarts to ponder the ultimate questions of life?

Why is it us, and not them, that are capable of pondering and explaining the existence of life and the universe, including human life itself? There is clearly something very unique about human intelligence and a lot more to this evolutionary tale than mere food for thought.

This is an edited extract. For Darren’s complete article, head over to The Conversation

Contact: Darren Curnoe is Chief Investigator, ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, and Director, Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre, UNSW
Study: Primate brain size is predicted by diet but not sociality

WHAT’S NEW?

APPLES AND ORANGES FRUITFUL IN REDUCING RISK OF TYPE 2 DIABETES

Eating more fruit is linked to a lower likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and diabetes-related complications reports a new study. The authors studied 500,000 Chinese people over seven years and found those who said they ate more fresh fruit were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than others. Those who already had diabetes but ate a lot of fruit were less likely to die within a five-year period. “This large prospective study of Chinese adults with and without diabetes showed that higher fresh fruit consumption was significantly associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes, and also with a lower risk of dying or developing vascular complications among those who have already developed diabetes. These associations appeared to be similar in both men and women, in urban and rural residents, and in those with previously diagnosed and screen-detected diabetes. Moreover, higher fresh fruit consumption was not associated with elevated level of blood glucose,” conclude the researchers

Study: Fresh fruit consumption in relation to incident diabetes and diabetic vascular complications: A 7-y prospective study of 0.5 million Chinese adults

Contact: huaidong.du@ctsu.ox.ac.uk; lmlee@vip.163.com

Oranges

KIDS AND JUICE

The findings of a meta-analysis published in Pediatrics reports that consumption of 100% fruit juice:

  • is associated with a small amount of weight gain in children ages 1 to 6 years, that is not clinically significant 
  • is not associated with weight gain in children ages 7 to 18 years. 
“I think caution is definitely in order and that when possible, parents should give whole fruit to kids, instead of fruit juice,” says lead author Dr Brandon Auerbach. "Water or low-fat unsweetened milk are other good alternatives to 100 percent fruit juice.”

While we agree water and low-fat milk are good drinks for kids, they aren’t alternatives to 100% fruit juice because they don’t deliver vitamin C. It’s worth remembering that some young children won’t touch veg and fuss a fair bit about eating enough whole fruit so they may miss out. Call us old fashioned, but we think whole fruit or 100% fruit juice is better than vitamin drops or a chewable supplement.

We asked dietitian Nicole Senior, who has a 4-year-old, for some words of wisdom for parents of picky eaters. “Pure fruit juices are fine for kids but in small quantities. Use them as a flavour base and add water in a 1:3 (that will make up 1 cup) ratio to obtain their nutritional benefits without too many kilojoules (calories)” she says, adding, “just so you know, ¼ cup (60ml) 100% home-squeezed orange juice will provide a pre-schooler with 32mg vitamin C (that’s nearly the recommended intake (35mg/day) for this age group).”

Study: Fruit Juice and Change in BMI: A Meta-analysis

Contact: Address correspondence to Brandon Auerbach, MD, MPH, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Washington, Harborview Medical Center, Box 359780, 325 Ninth Ave, Seattle, WA 91804. E-mail: auerbach@post.harvard.edu

Child with juice

MYTH BUSTERS 

Obesity myths are abundant, annoying, and problematic for people who want to move on to real solutions. Thanks to Ted Kyle of ConscienHealth for this report on Ruopeng An and Roland Sturm’s research funded by the Rand Corporation.

Myth #1: Obesity Is an Epidemic of Poorly Educated, Low SES People The truth is that people at all education and economic status levels are gaining weight. Different groups started with different rates of obesity. But all those groups have moved up in lockstep.

Myth #2: Obesity Is a Problem of Blacks and Hispanics Once again, different racial and ethnic groups are gaining weight in parallel. While black and Hispanic Americans have a higher prevalence, the problem is growing across all racial and ethnic groups.

Myth #3: The South is Where the Problem Is Growing This myth has two big problems. First, as An and Sturm explain, obesity prevalence appears to be growing across the board in every state. But even more important is the flakiness of the numbers for state by state obesity rates. Those numbers are based on self-reports of height and weight. Self reports are unreliable. Worse, the degree of their unreliability varies from place to place and from time to time. We’ve explained this one here.

Myth #4: People Don’t Have Time to Exercise The truth is that Americans have more leisure time than ever. They report working out more than ever. Now of course, those self-reports need a grain of salt. But it’s not clear that running around in our yoga pants is doing much to fight obesity. Mainly, it’s a fashion and virtue statement.

Myth #5: Missing Out on Fruits and Veggies Is Making Us Fat Overall, Americans are eating more. And we are eating more fruits and veggies – just not enough to keep Mom and our dietitian happy. The message of “eat more” works perversely. People eat more of whatever’s being promoted – without cutting back on anything else.

Moving on An and Sturm admit that rock-solid, evidence based solutions don’t exist. They suggest that the “eat more healthy stuff” and “do more healthy things” strategies are not changing obesity trends. Perhaps we have not adapted very well to abundance. Being economists, they like the idea of taxing empty calories to drive calorie consumption down across the board. It’s a reasonable theory, but it needs to be tested. Otherwise we risk creating a new myth. Let’s see what happens in Mexico. Just driving down soda consumption is not the same as driving down obesity rates.

Studies: Click here and here to read more from An and Sturm.

Afterword: Prof Manny Noakes’ and colleagues study shows Australians are eating less added sugar, drinking less soft drink and less juice, but eating more whole fruit and a greater range of veggies, including more beans and legumes and more whole grain cereals so they deserve a big pat on the back for that. However, Aussies are still prone to falling off the wagon – drinking more calories in the form of alcoholic beverages and consuming more chocolate and confectionery.

MONITORING BGL MONITORS 

We recently received a query from a reader re BGL meters whose new one reads on the high side. “I have done the recommended calibration test” he says “and while in the appropriate range the results are in the higher half of the range. My older meter still works well and seems to be much more accurate, judging by my HBA1c results and personal experience of lower readings. Info on this area would be very valuable, as it bears directly on food choices and insulin dosage.” Diabetes UK provide a monitor guide that may be of use. Seems to us this is something every diabetes organisation should be providing.

NORDIC FOOD PATTERNS GOING GLOBAL FOR HEALTH: TED KYLE REPORTS 

The Nordic Way

Seeing good science translated into something that can enhance both life and health is a true delight. So, if you’re looking for something different, consider The Nordic Way. Like the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet is a satisfying way of eating, with deep roots in culture. And it has an impressive body of science to document health benefits. Arne Astrup, Jennie Brand-Miller, and Christian Bitz have just published a fine volume on the subject.

Compared to the Mediterranean diet, the Nordic diet is barely a blip in popular culture. But, it’s beginning to generate some buzz. Some of the iconic foods of this Scandinavian food culture – whole grain rye, unsweetened yogurt, wild berries, root vegetables, herbs, and healthful fatty fish – are becoming favorites for avant-garde chefs.

Beyond the distinctive flavors of this cuisine, you can find some solid evidence for health benefits. In January, a Danish cohort study found a 14% reduction in stroke associated with following a healthy Nordic diet. The whole grains abundant in the Nordic diet help to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The collaboration behind this latest volume on the Nordic diet is a bit of a surprise. It started with a scientific feud. Brand-Miller, a distinguished nutrition scientist from Sydney, took issue with a small study published by Astrup and others in 2004. On the opposite side of the world in Copenhagen, Astrup had suggested that the benefits of low-glycemic diets might be overstated. Brand-Miller – a pioneering researcher on glycemic index – wrote a sharp response in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Though Astrup’s findings were “useful,” she said, “the conclusions should be tempered.” From that disagreement, a collaboration was born. Astrup embarked upon the largest clinical study of low GI diets ever. Based on the results, he reversed his views. Thanks in part to that skirmish, we now have an excellent book of good insights on the Nordic diet. It covers the science. It explains how to make it work. And most of the book is devoted to some beautiful recipes.

Study: Diets with High or Low Protein Content and Glycemic Index for Weight-Loss Maintenance

Book: Click here for the book and here for more on the Nordic diet from Harvard Health.

PERSPECTIVES WITH DR ALAN BARCLAY

DON’T LET YOUR LIFE BE FRUITLESS

Infants prefer sweet tastes from day one and this preference continues into early childhood. Human breast milk contains the highest concentration of sugars of all mammalian milks and sweet tasting vegetables (e.g., pureed or well-mashed pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, etc) and fruits (typically pureed) are some of the first weaning foods we give our babies. In nature, a sweet taste generally signals that a food is safe and desirable.

Most fruits that we cultivate and enjoy today are sweet. They are considered a core food group for the simple reason that they are highly nutritious. Depending on the type, they are good sources of a variety of good stuff including vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants.

Fruit


With a few notable exceptions (avocados, coconuts and olives), fruits are low in fat and high in water and carbohydrate (primarily in the form of sugars). Apart from melons and some tropical fruits, most have a low GI due to their naturally high fibre and fructose content (and acidity in the case of oranges). For these reasons, most fruits are not very energy dense (they don’t provide a lot of kilojoules per gram), so they generally fill you up without contributing to weight gain. Long-term observational studies indicate that people who eat more fruit weigh less and have a smaller waist circumference.

 “Sugar” is the dietary villain de jour. Because most fruits are good sources of a variety of sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose) they have been singled out by some ill-informed zealots as foods to avoid, or at least limit, in the mistaken belief they may be contributing to rising obesity and associated type 2 diabetes rates. This kind of dietary reductionism may unfortunately lead to unintended consequences like scurvy, which we recently saw in Australia for the first time in modern history, due in part to people avoiding fruit.

Putting ill-informed reductionism aside, how likely is it that excessive fruit consumption is responsible for rising obesity rates in Australia? Dietary guidelines in most parts of the world recommend that people enjoy a minimum of 2 serves of fruit each day:

What’s a serve of fruit?

  • 150g/5oz (1 piece) medium-sized fruit – apple, banana, orange, pear etc.
  • 150g/5oz (2 pieces) small fruit – apricots, kiwi fruit, plums etc.
  • 150g/5 oz (1 cup) diced, cooked or canned fruit
  • 125ml/4fl.oz (½ cup) 100% fruit juice
  • 30g/1oz dried fruit – 4 dried apricot halves, 1½ tablespoons sultanas
Australia’s most recent national nutrition survey conducted in 2011/12 found that 77% of all Australians aged 19+ years consumed less than 2 serves a day. The same survey found that 62.8% of all Australians were overweight or obese. The numbers don’t add up. Most Australians aren’t eating much fruit at all.

Finally, a recent clinical trial examined the effect of a low fructose (less than 20 g a day) versus “moderate” (50-70 g a day – moderately high by Australian standards) fructose kilojoule-controlled diet in 107 obese American adults over a 6 week period and found that weight loss was 50% higher in the “moderate” fructose group (4.2 kg) compared to the low fructose group (2.8 kg). The authors concluded “the moderate natural fructose diet was rich in natural fruits that contain many beneficial antioxidants. In addition, patients in the very low fructose diet had a higher glycemic index and glycemic load...”

Whichever way you look at it, avoiding fruit makes absolutely no sense at all.

 Dr Alan Barclay

Alan Barclay, PhD is a consultant dietitian. He worked for Diabetes Australia (NSW) from 1998–2014 and is a member of the editorial board of Diabetes Management Journal (Diabetes Australia). He is author/co-author of more than 30 scientific publications, and co-author of The Low GI Diet: Managing Type 2 Diabetes (Hachette Australia) and The Ultimate Guide to Sugars and Sweeteners (The Experiment, New York). You can read a review of his latest book, Reversing Diabetes (Murdoch Books), in Glycosmedia Diabetes News.

VIEWPOINTS FROM THE CHARLES PERKINS CENTRE, SYDNEY UNIVERSITY

CAN A DETOX ACTUALLY CLEANSE YOUR LIVER? 

Many over-the-counter products claim to “clean” your liver of “toxins”. But does the liver really respond to an over-the-counter product that claims to “detoxify” or “heal” its function? In The Conversation, Dr Nick Fuller recently took a look at liver detox or liver cleanse products. Here he answers a couple of basic questions: Can the liver be cleansed and what we do we need to do to have a well-functioning liver.

The human adult liver weighs about one-and-a-half kilograms, making it one of the largest organs in the body. It is responsible for a range of functions. It helps break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins into substances the body can utilise.

The liver acts as a storage unit for these substances (including vitamins and minerals) and supplies the body with them when they need it. For example, when your blood glucose level drops, the liver will release stored carbohydrate (glucose from glycogen) to rectify the problem. It also acts by metabolising toxins into harmless substances or by eliminating toxic substances from the body. Clever marketing has led us to believe it is the food that contains toxins and, hence, following a diet that eliminates certain foods and taking over-the-counter products that “cleanse” your liver of “toxins” will detoxify the liver.

Can the liver be ‘cleansed’? We have a misconception we can “cleanse” the body by following a “detox” diet. This is a complete fallacy. To explain this process one must first understand exactly what a toxin is. A toxin is a harmful substance that enters your body from the environment. Examples include carbon monoxide from motor vehicles, bisphenol A (BPA) from consumer plastics, and heavy metals such as lead and mercury. Toxins can also include drugs and poisons.

However, substances are only toxic based on the quantities in which we ingest them. The situation in which “detoxification” is required is when someone is being treated in a hospital for a dangerous level of a substance that is life-threatening.

The liver is otherwise working to eliminate unwanted substances in the body through our faeces and urine. These are the toxic by-products from metabolising food. For example, excessive amounts of protein can be dangerous to the liver.

A healthy liver To have a well-functioning liver you simply need to eat healthy foods and limit your consumption of substances, such as alcohol, that cause it to work harder. Excessive consumption of any one food may contribute to an increased load on the liver. Therefore, a healthy, well-balanced diet based on national guidelines is the best liver “cleanse” available, rather than spending disposable income on over-the-counter products that are not backed by scientific literature supporting such claims.

Complementary medicines are one of the largest growing markets in the world. Governing bodies must continue to incentivise companies to conduct innovative research to support the specific claims accompanying their products. It’s imperative companies are transparent in their advertising claims so consumers know what they are spending their money on from both an efficacy and safety point of view.

Evidence for approved ingredients should not be generalised from product to product. This is because the evidence supporting one such product is made up of a unique combination of ingredients and dosages. The most recent review of the regulatory framework for complementary medicines is available on the Department of Health website.

To read what Nick has to say about typical detox ingredients such as milk thistle and dandelion, head over to The Conversation

Dr Nick Fuller

Dr Nick Fuller is Research Fellow, Clinical Trials Development & Analysis, University of Sydney Charles Perkins Centre. His work focuses on the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity and associated mental and physical health disorders. He has worked across a diverse range of areas, including dietary and exercise treatments, conventional and complementary medicines, commercial weight loss programmes, medical devices, bariatric surgery, and appetite regulators. To take part in a weight-loss trial involving natural medicines, contact Nick here: www.metabolictrial.com

FOOD UN-PLUGGED

Nicole Senior pulls the plug on hype and marketing spin to provide reliable, practical advice on food for health and enjoyment.

DAIRY, DAIRY QUITE CONTRARY
For years, health professionals have recommended reduced-fat dairy products over their full-fat counterparts as a more heart-friendly option. Yet recent studies are showing that saturated fats in full-fat dairy products may not be harmful to our cardiovascular health after all. Does the fat content of dairy products still matter? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

Until recently, scientific evidence suggested that saturated fats from any source were associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Recommendations were made by the US MyPlate guidelines and the Australian Dietary Guidelines to reduce saturated fat intake across all food groups, including meat and dairy products. Reduced fat dairy products were also recommended to help reduce kilojoule (calorie) intake for weight control. However, there are now questions being raised whether such advice is necessary. A cohort study of 222,234 people found saturated fats in dairy did not significantly increase CVD risk, and were less risky than saturated fats in meat. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on the impact of dairy foods and dairy fat on cardio-metabolic risk found there is no apparent risk of harm from dairy consumption, irrespective of fat content. The authors concluded the advice to consume low-fat dairy foods wasn’t fully supported by the evidence. So, what’s going on here?

Dairy foods

 What’s special about dairy? Dairy products not only contain saturated fats, they are complex foods that also contain proteins, lactose, calcium and various vitamins, minerals and bioactives that may influence their impact on heart health. In emerging research, talking about food in its entirety rather than its component nutrients is referred to as the whole food matrix and it appears to be important in the case of dairy; a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. For example, the probiotics in yoghurt and cheese produced during the fermentation process may mitigate cardiovascular risk. Another study found that calcium might be protective against stroke. We need future research to investigate these mitigating components.

Are dairy products fattening? According to the evidence, dairy foods are probably not fattening, but they probably don’t help with weight loss either, although a meta-analysis showed they can help increase satiety and studies with yoghurt have shown weight control benefits. We know dairy foods like milk and yoghurt have a low GI, and that’s a plus.

A recent systematic literature review has recommended that more research is needed to determine if the amount of fat in dairy products influences weight gain. But maybe we should stop thinking about the fat content of a food and think more about the whole food. Dairy foods are nutrient dense and many of us don’t eat the recommended amount. You can’t go wrong swapping sugary drinks, confectionary, cakes and cookies for milk, cheese and yoghurt and you’ll feel satisfied after eating them. For weight-loss, reduced-fat, reduced-kilojoule dairy products might be a better option to meet calcium requirements within a smaller energy allowance.

Why is this important? The dairy sector says consumers prefer whole milk and that health professionals telling people to drink reduced fat milk, may in fact make them decide to drink less milk or stop drinking milk altogether because they don’t like the taste. Considering dairy foods are the richest source of bioavailable calcium and most of us don’t get enough calcium, this is a valid concern. On the other hand, reduced fat milk (not fat-free/skim milk, which tastes very different) has become so common perhaps we don’t miss the whole stuff anymore. When it comes to yoghurt, reduced fat yoghurt can have more sugars (natural and added) and starch thickeners to make up for the flavor and texture of whole milk, and may have a similar kilojoule content so this swap may not be an improvement. There may also be satiety benefits to the fat in whole dairy products too.

The un-plugged truth

  • When it comes to dairy food, the other good stuff in it appears to offset the adverse effects of the saturated fat on the heart
  • Dairy products (milk, yoghurt and cheese), regardless of fat content, have important health benefits and should be included as part of a healthy balanced diet.
  • For those wanting to lose weight, reduced-fat dairy products may help you to meet your calcium requirements while maintaining a lower energy intake.
–Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.

Nicole Senior

 Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.

Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.

KEEP GOOD CARBS AND CARRY ON

VEG SOUP VEG

It’s so good to pull out the soup pot when those icy blasts announce there’s a change in the weather. Good carbs and good soup are joined at the hip and without the good carbs there’s no good soup, it’s as simple as that. There’s nothing like a hearty veg soup that’s a meal in a bowl. In the GI cookbooks we have published with Hachette Australia – The Low GI Family Cookbook and The Low GI Vegetarian Cookbook – you’ll find numerous hearty soups. A favourite with GI News readers is Anneka Manning’s Chicken and Pumpkin Soup. However, Monday Morning Cooking Club’s Chicken and Barley Soup is hard to beat when you want a serious winter warmer.

Chicken and Barley Soup

Soups like these start with the magical mirepoix and its key ingredients: onion, carrot and celery. Carrots and celery are easy. But which onion? Here are Kate McGhie’s tips on which onion to use where.

Dry onions

The good pantry staples are brown onions. These have the longest storage life, the most pungent flavour and the longer you cook them the sweeter and milder they become.
Super-crisp white onions have a sharp strong taste making them ideal in chutney, stir-fries and spicy dishes.

  • Red onions are milder and sweeter than brown, which is why you can eat them raw. Often added for a splash of colour in salads, or gently sautéed as a base for soups or stews.
  • Pickling onions are the small brown onions that are ideal for dropping whole into stews or casseroles and of course for pickling.
  • Shallots are good raw for crunch, and gently cooked for mellow sweetness. Browning makes them bitter.
Fresh onions
  • Spring onions (scallions, or shallots, green onions or eschalots) are mild immature onions with long green hollow fleshy tops. They are most often used raw, but can be lightly cooked or pan-fried as a garnish.
  • Salad onions (sweet onions) with long fleshy green tops and a golf-ball sized white bulb are mature spring onions. They have a stronger flavour than the juvenile version and can be used raw or cooked

IN THE GI NEWS KITCHEN

SOUP IT UP WITH SIAN

First-ever Great Australian Bake Off winner, Sian Redgrave, dropped by the GI News Kitchen and effortlessly threw together a minestrone to make the most of new season winter veg. She may have taken out top prize in 2015 with her impressive layered dessert of profiteroles topping a chocolate mud cake (not one for us), but what she loves to cook most of all is simple, flavoursome Italian fare. Watch this space.

Minestrone

The key to making a minestrone (or any soup) says Sian is not rushing to get a meal on the table, but relaxing and enjoying the cooking time in the kitchen, adding each vegetable at the right moment to preserve and enhance its flavour. Sian used ditalini pasta, a tiny pasta that’s perfect for minestrone or pasta e fagioli. Barilla was the brand she found. As for the potato, look for a lower GI one if you can such as Carisma, Nadine or Nicola.
Prep: 15 mins • Cook: 45 mins • Serves: 6

Minestrone

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeded, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 red onion, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
3 lean rashers bacon, diced
Chunk parmesan rind
1 bay leaf
1 medium potato, diced
4 cups good quality chicken stock
1 can cherry tomatoes, drained (reserving the liquid)
½ cup ditalini pasta
1 can borlotti beans, drained
1 zucchini, cut into rounds
2 handfuls finely sliced cabbage
2 handfuls finely sliced cavolo nero

To serve

1 tablespoon basil pesto
Grated parmesan
Handful basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste


In a soup pot, place the olive oil, garlic, chilli, oregano and onion and cook until the onion is translucent and caramelised. • Stir in the carrots, celery, and bacon and continue cooking until they start to soften. • Add the parmesan rind, potato, reserved tomato juice, and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is nearly cooked. • Add the pasta and cook until almost al dente. • Stir in the beans, then add the cabbage, cavolo nero, zucchini and cherry tomatoes and let them heat through for 1–2 minutes – no longer as you want them to retain the vibrancy and texture of the greens. • Serve with parmesan cheese (grated or finely peeled with a vegetable peeler), little dollops of pesto dollops and basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Per serve 
1520 kJ/ 365 calories; 17g protein; 16g fat (includes 4g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.33); 31g available carbs (includes 10g sugars and 21g starch); 12g fibre; 1348mg sodium; 1007mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 1.34.

STICKS, SEEDS, PODS and LEAVES

Kate Hemphill is a trained chef. She contributed the recipes to Ian Hemphill’s best-selling Spice and Herb Bible. You will find more of her recipes on the Herbies spices website. Kate’s recipes are made with Herbies spices, but you can use whatever you have in your pantry or that’s available locally.

Mexican Carrot Soup
One of the highlights of a trip to Mexico was discovering soup with slices of avocado and soft cheese. Add them just before serving so they warm and melt into the soup. If the chipotle powder garnish is too hot for you, sprinkle with smoked paprika instead.
Prep: 10 mins • Cook: 40 mins • Serves: 4

 Mexican Carrot Soup

1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Mexican spice blend
1 kg (1lb 2oz) carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
250g (9oz) queso asadero or firm mozzarella, cut into 1cm (½in) dice
1 cup fresh coriander leaves

To serve
crème fraiche or light sour cream
Chipotle powder
Toasted corn tortillas

Sweat the onions, covered, in a little oil until soft. Add spices, cook for 1 minute, then add carrots and stock. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until carrots are very tender. Puree soup until smooth, and season to taste. • Divide avocado and mozzarella between shallow soup bowls, then ladle over soup. Add a dollop of crème fraiche and garnish with coriander leaves and chipotle powder and serve immediately.

Per serve
2270 kJ/ 542 calories; 21g protein; 30g fat (includes 14g saturated fat; saturated : unsaturated fat ratio 0.88); 40g available carbs (includes 17g sugars and 23g starch); 14 fibre; 1855mg sodium; 1080mg potassium; sodium : potassium ratio 1.72.

FEEDBACK 

RYE AND CARAWAY BREAD

We ran this recipe from Alan’s book, Reversing Diabetes, in 2016. Peter Johnson, one of our readers, recently made it on a very warm morning in Sydney, enjoyed some with lunch with his wife and sent us feedback and a photo. Here’s his report.

“Firstly, although I rested the dough for 15 minutes before attempting to knead it, I found it to be far too wet for comfort. I added flour using a shaker and I guess about 125 grams before it seemed ‘right’. I did add 1½ teaspoons salt. The dough only took 1 hour to complete the first rise. The second rise in the bread tin was very quick too; in fact, I barely had time to preheat the oven. However, the loaf cooked beautifully. It is a dense loaf – which I like – and is very tasty. Next time though I won’t sprinkle seeds on top. They simply fell off after cooking and created a mess. I hope the feedback gives an incentive to others to make this loaf. I've been trying other similar recipes but yours is a winner and I will be making it again. I've been making bread, purely as an unqualified cook, for over 40 years and still love the process – and the product.”

RYE AND CARAWAY BREAD

 Daily bread For trivia fans, we have just discovered thanks to the Dutch Anglo-Saxonist, that “the etymology of the Old English words for lord, lady, retainer and slave reveal rather traditional (perhaps pre-Anglo-Saxon) role patterns in a household based on bread.

  • hlāford ‘lord’ (< *hlāf-weard ‘guardian of the bread’) 
  • hlǣfdige ‘lady, woman’ (< *hlāf-dige ‘kneader of the bread’) 
  • hlāfǣta ‘dependant, retainer’ (< *hlāf-ǣta ‘eater of the bread’) 
  • hlāfbrytta ‘slave’ (< *hlāf-brytta ‘dispenser of the bread’)
“Vocabulary reflects culture. Indeed, Old English words such as gafol-fisc ‘tribute fish’, cēapcniht ‘bought servant’, þri-milce-mōnaþ ‘May; lit. three-milk-month’, demonstrate that the Anglo-Saxons could pay tribute in fish, buy servants and milked their cows three times a day in May.”

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Nutritional analysis To analyse Australian foods, beverages, processed products and recipes, we use FoodWorks which contains the AusNut and Nuttab databases. If necessary, this is supplemented with data from www.calorieking.com.au and http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search.

Disclaimer GI News endeavours to check the veracity of news stories cited in this free e-newsletter by referring to the primary source, but cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the articles so published. GI News provides links to other World Wide Web sites as a convenience to users, but cannot be held responsible for the content or availability of these sites. All recipes that are included within GI News have been analysed however they have not been tested for their glycemic index properties by an accredited laboratory according to the ISO standards. 

© ®™ The University of Sydney, Australia

1 April 2017

GI News - April 2017

GI News

Publisher: Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, AM, PhD, FAIFST, FNSA

Editor: Philippa Sandall

Scientific Editor/Managing Editor: Alan Barclay, PhD

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

TELL-TALE TEETH: WHAT NEANDERTALS ATE

With no toothbrushes or toothpaste let alone dental floss or oral hygiene products, Neandertal teeth were plaque heaven, that’s the unsightly build up that makes teeth feel fuzzy to the tongue. Hardened plaque (dental calculus) is a goldmine for scientists who study human evolution. It “traps microorganisms that lived in the mouth and pathogens found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, as well as bits of food stuck in the teeth, preserving the DNA for thousands of years,” says Dr Laura Weyrich, lead author of a new paper published in the journal Nature. “Genetic analysis of that DNA ‘locked-up’ in plaque, represents a unique window into Neandertal lifestyle, revealing what they ate, what their health was like and how the environment impacted their behaviour.” It also tells us they were locovores as well as omnivores.

An international team of researchers led by the University of Adelaide's Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) and Dental School, with the University of Liverpool in the UK examined two Neanderthals from El Sidrón cave, Spain, and one from Spy cave in Belgium and found drastic differences in their diet that correlated with changes in their microbiomes. The samples range from 42,000 to around 50,000 years old.

“We found that the Neandertals from Spy Cave in Belgium (on the edge of a steppe-like environment of grassy hills and plains, populated with megafauna) consumed woolly rhinoceros and European wild sheep, supplemented with wild mushrooms. On the other hand those from El Sidrón Cave (in dense mountain forest) showed no evidence for meat consumption, but appeared instead to have a largely vegetarian diet, comprising pine nuts, moss, mushrooms and tree bark,” says Professor Alan Cooper, Director of ACAD.

“One of the most surprising finds, however, was in a Neandertal from El Sidrón, who suffered from a dental abscess visible on the jawbone. The plaque showed that he also had an intestinal parasite that causes acute diarrhoea, so clearly he was quite sick. He was eating poplar, which contains the pain killer salicylic acid (the active ingredient of aspirin), and we could also detect a natural antibiotic mould (Penicillium) not seen in the other specimens.”

“Apparently, Neandertals possessed a good knowledge of medicinal plants and their various anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, and seem to be self-medicating. The use of antibiotics would be very surprising, as this is more than 40,000 years before we developed penicillin. Certainly, our findings contrast markedly with the rather simplistic view of our ancient relatives in popular imagination.”

Neandertals, ancient and modern humans also shared several disease-causing microbes, including the bacteria that cause dental caries and gum disease. The Neandertal plaque allowed reconstruction of the oldest microbial genome yet sequenced (Methanobrevibacter oralis), a commensal that can be associated with gum disease. Remarkably, the genome sequence suggests Neandertals and humans were swapping pathogens as recently as 180,000 years ago, long after the divergence of the two species.

The team also noted how rapidly the oral microbial community has altered in recent history. The composition of the oral bacterial population in Neandertals and both ancient and modern humans correlated closely with the amount of meat in the diet, with the Spanish Neandertals grouping with chimpanzees and our forager ancestors in Africa. In contrast, the Belgian Neandertal bacteria were similar to early hunter gatherers, and quite close to modern humans and early farmers.

“Not only can we now access direct evidence of what our ancestors were eating, but differences in diet and lifestyle also seem to be reflected in the commensal bacteria that lived in the mouths of both Neandertals and modern humans,” says Professor Keith Dobney, from the University of Liverpool.

“Major changes in what we eat have, however, significantly altered the balance of these microbial communities over thousands of years, which in turn continue to have fundamental consequences for our own health and well-being. This extraordinary window on the past is providing us with new ways to explore and understand our evolutionary history through the microorganisms that lived in us and with us.”

Study: Neanderthal behaviour, diet, and disease inferred from ancient DNA in dental calculus. Nature 10.1038/nature21674

Contact: Dr Laura Weyrich, lead author, laura.weyrich@adelaide.edu.au; Professor Alan Cooper, study leader, alan.cooper@adelaide.edu.au