Latest in an occasional series of reports on food matters of interest to consumers, compiled by Consumers SA Executive member Elaine Attwood. 

 Gut microbiome link to high blood pressure from high salt diets

 High sodium intake and blood pressure go together like French fries and salt, but scientists have just discovered even more about how the connection works – and it’s something to do with your gut bacteria. In fact, their findings propose the gut microbiome as a potential therapeutic target.

A study has been published in ‘Nature’ which has found that a high salt diet reduced Lactobacillus bacteria in mice. After 14 days of high salt consumption several microbial species were decreased in the mice that had a high salt diet compared to the normal salt diet. The diet also caused the increased production of T  helper (TH17)  immune cells which are linked to high blood pressure. Using gene sequencing, they found the decrease of the bacteria Lactobacillus murinus from the Lactobacillus genus was most strongly associated with the high salt diet

The researchers took the next step to even demonstrate replenishing the guts of the salty mice with L.murinus reversed the effects. To top it all off they even did a small pilot study with healthy humans who increased their salt intake and found the same high blood pressure side effects as the mice.

The scientists suggest further trials with probiotics to see if they can prevent or treat salt related conditions like high blood pressure.

Source: Australia’s Science Channel: Gut microbiome linked to high blood pressure from high salt diets. 27/11/17


Researchers sugarcoat work looking into extending food shelf life’

 Scientists have outlined a simple way to protect food from bacterial contamination that uses a “sugar–glass” coating containing virus–killing bacteria, which could be used in the food packaging and processing industries.

The technique embeds these viruses into food packaging, using a combination of sugars to keep them stable for up to 3 months, proving effective against the cheese – dwelling pathogenic bacteria Listeria monocytogenes.

“This study describes a method of preserving bacteriophage activity in a dry format that has great potential for use as a coatings,” said the study, led by Dr Carlos Philipe, Professor and chair of the Department of chemical engineering at McMaster University. “This can be used to create antimicrobial surfaces for food preparation and for food preservation.”

Bacteriophages or “phages’ are viruses that infect and kill bacteria and have proved useful for selectively decontaminating cheese – a food that uses beneficial bacteria to cultivate its flavour. Present on fruits and vegetables, phages do not affect the odour, taste, safety or appearance of foods, leading to possibilities that these “bacteria – eaters” could have a role in food safety.

Source: https:

Author: Will Chu 20/11/17

Credit:  2017 William Reed Business media Ltd

Original source: ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering

Published online ahead of print DOI:10.1021/acsbiomaterials.7b00468

‘Long-term preservation of Bacteriophage Antimicrobials Using Sugar Glasses.’

Authors: Carlos Filipe, M. Monsur Ali et al


Diabetes from dairy? Cow’s milk ingredient may trigger type I condition: review

 An ingredient in cow’s milk has been identified as a potential type I diabetes trigger in those with genetic risk factors, but researchers say they have been frustrated in efforts to make the findings available to the wider public. Seven researchers assessed 71 studies on population epidemiology, animal trials, in vitro laboratory experiments, biochemistry and pharmacology. The paper on the findings, originally published in the Journal of nutrition and diabetes, said that the A1  beta casein in cows’ milk is a primary causal trigger of the disease. However so far there have been no clinical trials on the subject.

Two of the seven researchers, the University of Auckland’s Professor Boyd Swinburn and Lincoln University’s Professor Keith Woodford explained: “People who are genetically susceptible to developing type I diabetes would need to be identified at birth, and half of them randomly allocated to a diet free of A1 beta-casein for many years.

The paper revealed that the sudden growth in the incidence of type I diabetes in China is correlated with the country’s threefold increase in dairy consumption per capita (from 6 kg in 1992 to 18 kg in 2006, with substantial increases thereafter). The paper also stated: “accordingly, the technological epidemiological data, although not proving causation, provide powerful evidence that A1 beta casein is a causal factor in the pathogenesis of type I diabetes.”

Note: some time ago the company producing cow’s milk free from A1 beta casein was forced to withdraw their advertising making a a health claim in this regard.  

On his WordPress site, Woodford revealed that he and Swinburn had intended to make the paper free for public perusal, but in order to do that, they had to find a sponsor to pay a one – time fee to make the article free of charge. The a2 Milk Company stepped in and paid the US $3500 required to make the paper free – access.

Woodford wrote that one of the paper’s authors was a former a2 Milk Company employee, but said none of the authors were paid to write the paper.


Author: Cheryl Tay 7/11/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd


Australia’s top 10 food firms by revenue revealed, and soon none will be wholly home – owned.

 A study of Australia’s  largest food firms show 9/10 are at least partly owned by foreign companies… but with Murray Goulburn about to be sold to Canadian rival Saputo, that number will soon be zero.

Kiwi dairy giant Fonterra tops the revenue list followed by Coca-Cola Amatil – which is listed on the ASX but Coca-Cola is the largest shareholder – and Lion. Murray Goulburn took fourth spot, George Weston foods, Wilmar International, Nestle, Mondelez, Parmalat and Asahi make up the rest of the top 10.

A food map has been produced by the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia

(PHAIWA), which is now drawing attention to the fact that these 10 firms “either own or are connected to hundreds of different products, ranging from healthy to unhealthy options.”

 PHAIWA director Dr Melissa Stoneham added the research showed that just 10 companies own a large share of Australia’s food industry. “We want Australians to be more aware of the connections between products they purchase and other companies, particularly when they may be unhealthy,” she said.


Author: Gary Scattergood 2/11/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Limited.


Low sugar and GMO-free foods resonate more with today’s health – conscious consumer.

 Nearly half of all consumers class low–sugar or sugar-free products as “extremely” or “very” important when deciding what to eat or drink with similar results for products free from genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.

The study, carried out by market research firm Gfk, also revealed that factors such as low–salt, organic, low-fat or fortified with vitamins or minerals score highly in the minds of the 23,000 consumers surveyed online. Worldwide, results found 48% of respondents thought products that were low-sugar or sugar-free were “extremely” or “very” important with equal number preferring products free from genetically modified ingredients. Low-sodium or low-salt products came third (45%) followed by low-fat or no fat (44%), use of local ingredients (38%) and gluten – free (26%).

Source: Low-Sugar

Author: Will Chu 30/10/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd.


Diet will “become Australia’s biggest killer” – can apps help reverse the threat?

Experts are warning that diet will become the number one modifiable actor for disease and death in Australia, overtaking cigarettes. University of Sydney Professor of Dietetics Margaret Allman-Farinelli, said: “Obesity may take over from smoking as the number one risk for cancer, with a lack of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, exercise and increased alcohol consumption to blame.”

She was speaking ahead of a seminar reflecting on 50 years of dietetics in the country, which also heard that middle aged women are increasing their alcohol consumption. This trend could be linked to bigger serves of increasingly alcoholic wine. These women, whose tipples are closing the gap on men, are also gaining weight. The event also heard that PhD candidate Monica Nour has recently published research highlighting that young Australian men eat the fewest vegetables, which is linked to health problems including increased obesity.

To address this, she is developing an app to influence fruit and vegetable intake among young adults through gamification. With 90% of Aussies owning a smart phone and 91% on social media, she said it seems like the best platform to utilise. The app will include a self-monitoring veggie tracking program – a specialised function similar to apps like MyFitnessPal -  though hers will focus on nutrient dense food intake rather than calories. “We demonstrate what an adequate serving of vegetable looks like and demonstrate how preparing your own food can be cheaper.”

Source: Diet-will….campaign

Author: Gary Scattergood  9/11/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd.


Sugar fuels aggressive cancer growth confirms breakthrough study.

 The mechanism of action that show cancer cells’ use of sugars to “awaken” cancer cells and promote aggressive cancer growth provides further insights into creating tailor–made diets for cancer patients. Nature Communications report on further evidence to explain why tumours convert significantly higher amounts of sugar into lactate compared to healthy tissues, otherwise known as the Warburg effect.

Scientists from the Flanders Institute of Biotechnology believe they may have answered the question as to whether the effect is a symptom of cancer or a cause.  “Our research reveals how the hyperactive sugar consumption of cancerous cells leads to a vicious cycle of continued stimulation of cancer development and growth,” explained Prof Johan Thevelein, co– lead study author from the University of Leuven.

“ Thus, it is able to explain the correlation between the strength of the Warburg effect and tumour aggressiveness.”

The nine-year joint research project conducted by the two institutions provides a new direction for and extensively studied area. As well as providing guidance for a more beneficial diet for cancer patients, the general population could well take heed of one more piece of evidence about the dangers of excessive sugar consumption.

For the food industry, attempted self-regulation have not been the expected success. So much so that governments have had to step in to impose various levies in an attempt to curb excess sugar consumption. The UK will introduce its soft drinks industry levy in April 2018.


Author: Will Chu 17/10/17

Credit: 2017 William Reed Business Media Ltd

Original Source: Nature Communications

Published online ahead of print doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01019-z

“Fructose-1,6-bisphosphate couples glycolytic flux to activation of Ras”

Authors: Johan Thevelein et al

Please check references for the full account of the articles mentioned. 

AuthorRay Dennis