Sunday, June 28, 2015

Foods in the Limelight: Blueberry Smoothies, Egg Protein & 'Healthy Eating' | Plus: How to Diagnose Gluten Sensitivity?

Yes, blueberry smoothies are heart healthier than those without blueberries, but can't replace blood pressure meds.
In today's installment of the SuppVersity short news we will take a look at a bunch of recent studies that have been published in the open-source journal Nutrients in the last months. Some of them deal with foods, others with behavioral aspects that are related to one's diet and its effects on body weight and health.

I will try to adapt the length of the summary to the appeal of the article, but if you feel that a specific topic has not been covered "in-depth enough" for your liking, you can always type the title of the study from the references into google and take a closer look, yourself.
If you want training, not nutrition articles, here you go!

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  • We don't see the dietary mistakes we make (Sproesser. 2015) - In contrast to our perception of physical weaknesses like love-handles and co our perception of our eating habits is often not critical enough. According to a recent study from the University of Konstanz in Germany, people considered what they ate always healthier than what others ate, even if an objective assessment said that there were no significant differences.
    Figure 1: Annotated photo of the foods subjects chose from when they put together
    the meals for themselves and their peers (Sproesser. 2015).
    What is particularly interesting is that this became a self-fulfilling prophecy, when the participants were asked to compose a meal for their peers and chose (a) more energy for a peer than for themselves (M = 4983 kJ or 1191 kcal on average for the peers’ meals vs. M = 3929 kJ or 939 kcal on average for the own meals) and (b) more high-caloric food items for a typical meal - a behavior that is highly indicative of a so-called "self-other bias", which would confirm that at least many of us really think they were eating healthy even if that's in stark contrast to epidemiological data indicating overall unhealthy eating habits.
  • Egg yolk protein delays, egg ovalbumin (the white stuff) boosts the recovery of your iron levels (Kobayashi. 2015) - In spite of the fact that the study at hand was conducted in female rats, it's safe to assume that the yolk and white protein will have different effects on iron absorption and thus the the induction of iron deficiencies in man and women on low iron diets, too.
    Figure 2: Body weight gain, food intake, hematocrit, hemaglobin and red blood cell count in response to different iron deficient diets compared to control = iron sufficient diet (Kobayashi. 2015).
    In other words, if you are eating 20 full yolks per day and your iron-levels are suppressed, you may reconsider this practice. If it's just the occasional egg yolk, let alone egg protein powder (which is usually ovalbumin, only), don't worry. 
  • Blueberries are good for the heart, but they are no replacement for your blood pressure meds (Stull. 2015) - ed. In a recent double-blind and placebo-controlled study was conducted in 44 adults (blueberry, n = 23; and placebo, n = 21). The subjects were randomized to receive a blueberry or placebo smoothie twice daily for six weeks.
    Table 1:  Nutritional composition and ingredients in the smoothies (Stull. 2015).
    A snack that didn't have any effects on either the blood pressure or the insulin sensitivity of the >20 year-old subjects suffering from metabolic syndrome. That the blueberry smoothie still had beneficial effects on the endothelial function of the subjects can be seen by the improvements in reactive hyperemia index (RHI - an index that is among other things used for the noninvasive identification of patients with early coronary atherosclerosis" | Bonetti. 2004), which remained statistically significant even after adjusting for confounding factors, i.e., the percent body fat and gender.

    Accordingly, the study does support the notion that eating blueberries - even in form of a smoothie - can have beneficial effects on your heart health. In view of the fact that in this particular study a comparison of no-blueberry vs. blue-berry smoothies was conducted, you could also argue that the inclusion of blueberries in a smoothie may smooth out the negative effects of another (unnecessary) snack on your health and suggest: If you want to eat blueberries don't add them as a snack, but use them as a replacement for other foods.
Is Noneliac Gluten Sensitivity Legit? A Recently Published Review of the Latest Scientific Evidence on NCGS by Alex Leaf (Guestpost) May Help You Decide Whether you Even Want to Do the Painstaking Test | more
What? A, yes, the PLUS: How to diagnose gluten sensitivity? Well, as Catassi et al. point out, "[a] full diagnostic procedure should assess the clinical response to the gluten-free diet (GFD) and measure the effect of a gluten challenge after a period of treatment with the GFD" (Catassi. 2015). As a clinical evaluation tool the scientists suggest that the patient uses a self-administered instrument incorporating a modified version of the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (see it). The test is then used during a double-blind placebo-controlled gluten challenge (8 g/day): One week on gluten / placebo is followed by a one-week washout on a strict gluten-free diet (GFD) that is, again, followed by 7 days on either 8g of gluten or placebo (depending on what was administered on day 1).

To make sure you don't mess up the results by using a placebo that may promote another gastrointestinal problem like small intestinal bacteria overgrowth as Jane pointed out in a comment on this article if you use the rice starch which is what Catasi et al. suggest, it may be wise to use something as innocent as EAA powder as your placebo.

Whatever you use as a placebo, NCGS, i.e. non-celiac gluten sensitivity, as scientists call the symptoms that occur in people who are non-celiac, is then diagnosed if there is at least a variation of 30% of one to three main symptoms between the gluten and the placebo challenge | Comment on Facebook!
    • Bonetti, Piero O., et al. "Noninvasive identification of patients with early coronary atherosclerosis by assessment of digital reactive hyperemia." Journal of the American College of Cardiology 44.11 (2004): 2137-2141.
    • Catassi, Carlo, et al. "Diagnosis of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS): The Salerno Experts’ Criteria." Nutrients 7.6 (2015): 4966-4977.
    • Kobayashi, Yukiko, et al. "Egg Yolk Protein Delays Recovery while Ovalbumin Is Useful in Recovery from Iron Deficiency Anemia." Nutrients 7.6 (2015): 4792-4803.
    • Sproesser, Gudrun, et al. "I Eat Healthier Than You: Differences in Healthy and Unhealthy Food Choices for Oneself and for Others." Nutrients 7.6 (2015): 4638-4660.
    • Stull, April J., et al. "Blueberries Improve Endothelial Function, but Not Blood Pressure, in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial." Nutrients 7.6 (2015): 4107-4123.