June 2018 - Proportion Foods
Proportion Foods - Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

Nutrition for Active and Healthy Aging

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‘APAC Healthy Ageing Summit’ day 1: health is the new wealth

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Jun 26, 2018 in Cognition, Diabetes, Food Science, Research


This month saw the launch of the Healthy Ageing APAC Summit in Singapore on 12-13 June, covering a smorgasbord of topics related to nutrition and healthy ageing throughout the Asia-Pacific region.


Currently more than half of the world’s over-60s live in the Asia-Pacific. And the region’s number of older adults is expected to double from 547 million in 2016 to nearly 1.3 billion by 2050.


The summit was launched to explore how the nutrition and food industry “can meet the needs of the rapidly ageing populations of today, and more crucially, tomorrow.”


Nikki attended the summit. “There was just so much information and networking, it really was a fabulous couple of days! I’m very lucky to have been able to attend and learn a lot.” Here are some highlights.



Healthy living trend


Presenter Chin Juen Seow from Euromonitor pointed out that healthy living has become a major trend – and not just in ageing.


He suggests this is driven by an array of social and cultural influences spanning economics, population change, technological advancement, concerns about the environment and sustainability, and changing values: “Health is the new wealth.”


As a result, 37 percent of packaged food sales in Asia are presented with a health focus, and this is predicted to increase.



Latest research


Dr Lesley Braun from Blackmores presented new research suggesting that omega-3s may benefit sarcopenia. Bolstered by animal studies that show increased stimulation of muscle protein synthesis, human trials provide some evidence of improved muscle-related biomarkers in older adults after taking omega-3 supplements.


Dementia is now the second highest cause of Australian deaths. It is risky and expensive for pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs for Alzheimer’s disease – the most common form of dementia – according to Dr Shawn Watson from Senescence Life Science, with a 99.6% failure rate of clinical trials. Their focus on amyloids could be the limiting factor.


Increasing research shows that nutrition and sleep can support healthy brain function with ageing, preventing risk of Alzheimer’s via several biological mechanisms including reduced inflammation and oxidative stress. Watson reported positive results from supplementation with turmeric and ginseng.


Alzheimer’s disease has also been nicknamed “diabetes type 3.” When people eat too much sugar, cells are bombarded with insulin, which tells them to take in the glucose for energy. Over time the cells become insulin resistant, leading to diabetes and a host of related health problems. Research has linked a lack of insulin to the formation of plaques associated with Alzheimer’s – one more reason to avoid excess sugar and refined carbohydrates.


Accordingly, the glycemic index (GI) was developed to rank foods by how quickly sugar is released into the blood stream. Kathy Usic from the Glycaemic Index Foundation told the audience about an impending global roll-out of the Low GI Symbol on food packaging to help address the soaring epidemic of chronic disease.


Amidst a wave of related research on low carbohydrate/high protein diets, a study is currently underway to investigate the effects of a low-GI high-protein diet on pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes prevention. Watch this space!

















The basics of protein digestibility

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Jun 20, 2018 in Digestion, Muscle, Nutrition, Protein


Protein, an indispensable part of our diet, has multiple roles in the body – particularly in aging for growth, repair and maintaining muscle mass. But dietary proteins are not all equal. Here are some nuts and bolts of this exquisitely complex nutrient.



Inside protein


Protein, carbohydrate and fat are all macronutrients formed by different ratios of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Additionally, protein contains nitrogen.


Proteins come in all shapes and sizes. They are created from twenty amino acids joined in fifty to tens of thousands of different combinations to make enzymes, antibodies and hormones, transport molecules and regulate the body’s acid-alkaline balance.


Nine amino acids are essential – the body cannot make them, so they must come from dietary sources. These are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Six amino acids are conditionally essential (needed in special circumstances like illness) and five are dispensable as the body can synthesise plenty of them.




Measuring protein quality


The biological activity and nutritional benefits of protein vary according to how the amino acids are configured and how the body digests them. Based on this, various methods have been devised to measure protein quality – availability of its amino acids – and digestibility – how the protein is best used.


The biological value (BV) scoring system assumes that protein is the only dietary source of nitrogen. It measures protein quality by calculating a ratio of how much nitrogen is absorbed versus the amount excreted then multiplied by 100 to give a percentage of nitrogen used by the body.


The protein digestibility-corrected amino-acid score (PDCAAS) ranks protein quality by comparing its amino acid profile with a reference score, corrected for faecal nitrogen digestibility. This score was backed jointly by the Food and Agricultural and World Health Organisations (FAO/WHO) in 1989 as the best way to assess protein quality.


But the PDAAS has limitations; for instance measuring amino acid synthesis in the small intestine would be a better assessment of their digestion than in the large bowel (colon). Further analysis has suggested that the PDCAAS tends to underestimate high-quality proteins and overestimate low-quality proteins.


The FAO now recommends the digestible indispensable amino acid score (DIAAS), which measures the digestibility of individual amino acids at the end of the small intestine and may therefore be more accurate.




Which foods are the best protein sources?


Despite some variation, the quality ratings generally agree on high protein food sources. Animal protein contains all the essential amino acids and is therefore complete. Eggs and dairy protein are ranked as high-quality proteins, followed by meat, chicken and fish. Eggs and dairy are easily digested and are good options for people with digestive disorders.


Vegetable protein typically lacks one or more amino acids. But the following combinations provide all essential amino acids and are therefore highly ranked: rice and peas; grains and legumes; grains and vegetables; grains, nuts and seeds; legumes, nuts and seeds. Importantly, the body doesn’t necessarily need all amino acids in one meal – they can be spread out over the day.


Some vegetable proteins do contain all essential amino acids. This includes hempseed, pea protein and quinoa.


This is good news in light of mounting research showing the superior health benefits of a plant-based diet. Plant foods provide fibre and nature’s medicinal cabinet of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Concerns over ethics of animal farming and environmental sustainability are also driving a growing demand for diets higher in plant foods.

















New standards earmarked for aged care

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Jun 12, 2018 in Aged Care

At a life stage of increasing frailty and dependence, older adults deserve to be treated with care and respect. A hallmark of a humane society.


However, a recent enquiry into the Oakden Older Person’s Mental Health Facility highlighted continued gaps in the quality of aged care.


An independent report exposed inadequate resources, medication overdosing, inappropriate restraining and a toxic culture – finally leading to its closure in 2017 following complaints extending as far back as 2007.


The report led to a Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes, now completed. It’s been a long time coming, but the government has announced a new national Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission in an effort to seal the gaps.



Overview of the new commission


Through the new commission, to be implemented on 1 January 2019, the government promises to “ensure Australians in the aged care system are better cared for, through raising the quality benchmarks that homes must meet.”


It aims to provide an independent body to guarantee quality standards of care are upheld. “The unified new Commission will be a responsive, one-stop shop to prevent failures, highlight quality concerns and have them quickly rectified,” says Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care.


Mr Wyatt acknowledges that most facilities provide quality care, but says, “We must ensure that disasters like Oakden are never repeated.”


This includes the development of a Serious Incident Response Scheme for reporting and investigating complaints regarding aged care.


The new commission will merge departments regulating aged care and dealing with compliance and complaints to ensure that risks and substandard care are identified and rectified faster. Older Australians and their families will have one point of contact for getting help with poor quality care.


This extends recent plans to undertake impromptu audits in all residential aged care facilities. A new performance rating will be introduced to compare sites with quality standards, and consumers will be able to access a comparison tool on the My Aged Care website.



Nutrition in aged care


This welcome reform is a step forward in the gradual rehabilitation of aged and mental health care services.


As Mr Wyatt said in a press release, “Our senior Australians have built the nation that we enjoy today. They have rightly earned the respect of the community and must be cared for with the dignity they deserve.”


This includes food quality – critical in aging to prevent risk of malnutrition, sarcopenia, falls, wound healing, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Not to mention enhanced quality of life through improved wellbeing and enjoying good food.


Currently, despite growing attempts by isolated individuals and organisations to address this issue, aged care has no mandatory meal and nutrition standards – which are needed to ensure any systemic change.


Malnutrition is already rife in residential care. Hopefully it won’t take so long to address that issue as it has to enforce quality standards for safety and clinical care.


















Medicinal applications of the cannabis plant

Posted by ProPortion Foods Blog on Jun 4, 2018 in Aged Care, Hemp, Nutrition, Research

Cannabis is popularly known for its mind-altering properties. But this controversial plant boasts abundant secret delights that are now (re)emerging following its prohibition.


The Australia China Nutrition and Health Association recently showcased medicinal cannabis and hemp products in a forum with professional guest speakers at the Pullman Hotel in Melbourne.



‘Tsunami of change’


Attendee Nikki was impressed that cannabis had so many different uses, including clothing, textiles, construction and a “myriad of health benefits.”


Presenter John Easterling, founder and president of Amazon Herb Company USA (and husband to Olivia Newton-John), says cannabis has been used for food, medicine and shelter for at least 10,000 years.


Easterling forecasts that after 17 years of battling to legalise hemp in food products, we are facing a “tsunami of change in the world of cannabis and hemp.”



Unravelling cannabis


Oil derived from the nutritious hemp seed is rich in healthy fats including omega-3. The trichomes (oils) at the end of the cannabis flowers contain the plant’s active properties: at least 113 cannabinoids – compounds that have receptors in the body and brain.


Two primary cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is responsible for the ‘high’ and other side effects that are induced by smoking or ingesting marijuana cooked in foods.


Marijuana is grown to produce high quantities of THC. But industrial hemp varieties of cannabis contain CBD and very little, if any, of the psychoactive THC.


Importantly, CBD does not produce a high – in fact it dampens it. In 2017 the World Health Organisation announced that CBD is safe for humans, with no adverse health effects.



Health and medicinal benefits


There are reports of CBD’s anticonvulsive, anti-epileptic and antimicrobial properties.


While THC has been associated with anxiety and risk of schizophrenia in susceptible individuals, CBD could help reduce anxiety and symptoms associated with neuropsychiatric disorders like epilepsy and schizophrenia.


It has even been studied for potential applications in cancer, type 1 diabetes, acne and Alzheimer’s disease.


Speaker Professor Ian Brighthope referred to a case in which a NSW father, out of desperation, treated his two daughters’ Crohn’s disease with juice from the hemp plant. Despite their vastly improved symptoms, he is currently facing imprisonment.


One of Brighthope’s friends tried cannabis for Parkinson’s. He reported that after four days she regained her sense of smell. Travelling overseas, she forgot her medication and used medicinal cannabis. Over nine days she noticed reduced tremors.


In January 2017, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a review of the evidence for cannabis’s health benefits. The report concluded that “There is conclusive or substantial evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective:


  • For the treatment for chronic pain in adults
  • Antiemetics in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
  • For improving patient-reported multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms”


They reported moderate evidence for its ability to improve short-term sleep in people with sleep disturbance related to chronic conditions like fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. More evidence is needed to support other medical applications.



Chronic pain in aged care


An estimated five million Australians suffer chronic pain. And older adults are most afflicted.


Estimates of chronic pain prevalence in community-dwelling older adults are 25-50%, and up to 70% for nursing home residents. It is typically managed using opiates and other painkillers, all of which can have serious side effects and adverse interactions with other medications.


Dementia and aged care consultant Leah Bisiani says 73% of people in aged care facilities are not having their pain managed effectively, and will continue to deteriorate on opioids. Baby boomers are demanding alternative approaches like medical cannabis with less unwanted side effects.


Bisiani contends that we “need to look at medicinal cannabis as a humane philosophy of care.” She argued that access to effective pain relief is “a basic human right” that “cannot be ignored.”