Calorie levels on food packaging ‘wildly misleading’ “OMG WHAT FIBER AGAIN?”

EEV: The lead story now in two lead publications, seems to have misunderstanding of fiber. This appears to be more of an experiment on hype and misinformation, then actually health or news.

Calorie levels printed on food packaging are wildly misleading and should not be relied upon by dieters, nutritionists claim.

ScreenHunter_74 Feb. 18 12.09


By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent

2:17PM GMT 18 Feb 2013

Manufacturers’ measurements of energy levels in their food do not include fibre, which accounts for about five per cent of our calorie intake.

Dieters who eat Muesli for breakfast, for example, may wonder why they are struggling to lose weight because the packaging ignores “invisible calories” contained in its high fibre content.

In contrast, those eating large amounts of protein may be taking in less energy than they realise because the current system overestimates the number of calories it contains by 20 per cent.

To add to the confusion, nutrition advice also fails to account for whether the food is raw or cooked and processed or unprocessed.

Cooking and processing food can alter calorie levels by up to 30 per cent because we burn more energy digesting things which are hard and uncooked, experts explained.

It means people trying to stick to the daily recommended calorie limits of 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women may be taking in significantly more or less energy than they realise, researchers said.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Monday Dr Geoffrey Livesey, an independent nutritionist, explained: “In Britain we have not assigned a value for fibre, so calorie counts have normally been lower – on average around five per cent of energy in food is fibre.

“So consumers have been eating more calories than they thought they were, particularly if the food was high-fibre….when people eat muesli, it is a healthy food but they are often putting on lots of weight.”

For decades calorie levels in Britain have been calculated according to the “general factor system”, a simple formula based on how many grammes of fat, protein and carbohydrates there are in the food.

Each gram of protein or carbohydrate contains four calories, according to the system, while a gram of fat contributes nine calories to the total displayed on the package.

But research in the early 1990s established that each gram of fibre is worth another two calories, and this additional information has yet to be included on food in Britain.

Nutritionists recommend that an adult should consume 18g of fibre per day, the equivalent of an additional 250 calories per week.

Rules introduced by the European Commission last year require food manufacturers across the continent to include fibre in their calorie calculation, but Dr Livesey said it remains unclear how many are complying with the new system.

Studies have also established that each gramme of protein contains 3.2 calories rather than four, but there is currently no move to update the general factor system to take this into account.

Prof Richard Wrangham, of Harvard University, added that nutrition advice should also factor in the difference in energy contained in raw and cooked foods.

“There are two basic reasons why raw food provide less calories than cooked foods – they are less digestible and also the bits that can be digested cost more to break down,” he explained. “We are talking at least a difference of between 10 to 30 per cent.

“There is a lot of misinformation around calories, and it is crucial for the consumer, whether they are on a diet or not, to have the correct information about what they eat.”

High fiber diet prevents prostate cancer progression


By Garth Sundem in In the Lab · January 9, 2013 ·


Komal Raina, PhD, shows that prostate cancers in mice fed a high-fiber diet fail to progress.

A high-fiber diet may have the clinical potential to control the progression of prostate cancer in patients diagnosed in early stages of the disease.

The rate of prostate cancer occurrence in Asian cultures is similar to the rate in Western cultures, but in the West, prostate cancer tends to progress, whereas in Asian cultures it does not. Why? A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published in the January 2013 issue of the journal Cancer Prevention Research shows that the answer may be a high-fiber diet.

The study compared mice fed with of inositol hexaphosphate (IP6), a major component of high-fiber diets, to control mice that were not. Then the study used MRI to monitor the progression of prostate cancer in these models.

“The study’s results were really rather profound. We saw dramatically reduced tumor volumes, primarily due to the anti-angiogenic effects of IP6,” says Komal Raina, PhD, research instructor at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, working in the lab of CU Cancer Center investigator and School of Pharmacy faculty member, Rajesh Agarwal, PhD.

Basically, feeding with the active ingredient of a high-fiber diet kept prostate tumors from making the new blood vessels they needed to supply themselves with energy. Without this energy, prostate cancer couldn’t grow. Likewise, treatment with IP6 slowed the rate at which prostate cancers metabolized glucose.

Possible mechanisms for the effect of IP6 against metabolism include a reduction in a protein called GLUT-4, which is instrumental in transporting glucose.

“Researchers have long been looking for genetic variations between Asian and Western peoples that could explain the difference in prostate cancer progression rates, but now it seems as if the difference may not be genetic but dietary. Asian cultures get IP6 whereas Western cultures generally do not,” Raina says.

The research provides the cover image of this month’s issue of the journal.

Support provided in part by NCI RO1grant CA116636, the NCI Cancer Center P30 CA046934, and the NCRR CTSA UL1 RR025780

My doctor’s orders? Crisps, doughnuts and strictly no veg

*If we have a contest for worst medical advice EVER!!! I think we have a pretty good contender here – Engineering Evil

By Jo Waters

PUBLISHED:20:07 EST, 27  August 2012| UPDATED:20:07 EST, 27 August 2012

When Justin Hansen was told his gut condition  meant he’d have to follow a severely restricted diet for the rest of his life,  he was devastated.

But then he learned exactly how it would be  restricted.

‘Apparently, burgers, chips, chocolate,  full-fat milk, cakes, biscuits and sausage rolls are all ideal foods for me,’ says Justin.

Crohn's disease: Only half of the nutrients will be absorbed, so generally a patient needs to eat 50 per cent more food to make it upCrohn’s disease: Only half of the nutrients will be  absorbed, so generally a patient needs to eat 50 per cent more food to make it  up

‘The dietitian recommended I boost my calorie  intake with snacks such as sugary doughnuts, crisps and treacle  pudding.

‘I could hardly believe it. I’d have to eat  almost exclusively junk food to stay alive.’

Justin, a 51-year-old former IT consultant  who lives with his girlfriend in  Brighton, has Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory  bowel condition affecting 60,000 Britons.

Crohn’s  causes symptoms including pain,  diarrhoea, vomiting, weight loss and  fatigue, but in some cases, such as  Justin’s, it leads to a complication known as intestinal failure.

Here, the inflammation destroys the tissue of  the bowel so badly that surgeons must cut out sections of the intestine.

Patients can live without a complete bowel,  says Dr Simon Gabe, a consultant gastroenterologist at St Mark’s Hospital in  Harrow, London, who treats 300 intestinal failure patients a year.

‘The average gut varies in length between 3.5  and eight metres and the critical amount you need to stay alive is one metre,’ he says.

The problem is that when the intestine is  shortened, food passes through so quickly that its calories, nutrients, fluids  and electrolytes (salts) are not absorbed into the body.

Only half of the nutrients will be absorbed,  so generally a patient needs to eat 50 per cent more food to make it up. If the  bowel is very short, as Justin’s is, they must eat more.

What’s more, going against all received  wisdom about nutrition and health, patients must avoid high-fibre foods, which  pass through the gut quickly, and stick to carbohydrates, fat and sugar.

‘We recommend eating a high-calorie, but  low-volume diet,’ says Dr Gabe.

‘Fatty, high salt, refined carbohydrate foods  such as white bread and cakes are best because they are calorie dense and low in  fibre.

‘Patients can eat as much as they can manage,  and they certainly won’t develop a weight problem.

‘If they can’t consume enough calories, they  will lose dramatic amounts of weight and waste away, so they are also given  daily intravenous nutrition into a vein through a central line in their chest to  ensure that they are getting adequate calories.

‘The liquid food passes directly into their  bloodstream. Patients are taught to administer this and most do it overnight for  eight hours, sometimes every night.’

Going against all received wisdom about nutrition and health, patients must avoid high-fibre foods, which pass through the gut quicklyGoing against all received wisdom about nutrition and  health, patients must avoid high-fibre foods, which pass through the gut  quickly

Every year 4,000 people in Britain are put on  this diet as a result of a short bowel.

As well as Crohn’s, intestinal failure can be  caused by mesenteric infarction, where a blood clot blocks the gut and the colon  has to be removed by surgery.

Another cause is intestinal dismotility,  where the gut loses the ability to propel food and becomes blocked, sometimes as  a result of a stomach virus, or a complication of diabetes or stomach surgery.

Justin’s symptoms started in October 2001.

Over the following months he developed  swollen joints, mouth ulcers and infected nail beds.

‘I’d always been fit and healthy, but  suddenly it felt as if my body was packing up on me — I was struggling to walk a  short distance,’ he says.

‘At first, the symptoms were so random, no  one could work out why — I visited my GP umpteen times.

‘It wasn’t until 2003, when I had diarrhoea  and was vomiting, that anyone took it seriously.’

Justin’s sister Lou, a nurse, sent him to  A&E. An X-ray of his bowel showed his colon was in danger of  rupturing.

Further investigations revealed Justin had  Crohn’s disease.

He had an emergency operation to remove part  of his large intestine, and then an ileostomy to remove his bowel before being  fitted with a colostomy bag.

‘That was hard enough to deal with, but then  a week after surgery complications developed,’ says Justin.

‘My bowel became ulcerated — I was  desperately ill and spent nine months in hospital. I didn’t eat for five months — my bowel was falling apart.

‘At one stage my weight dropped from 11½st to  6st (I’m 5ft 11in). A few times I closed my eyes and hoped I’d never wake up.’

Doctors stabilised Justin’s condition and  after five months he began to eat and drink again.

It was then he was told about the diet he’d  have to follow for the rest of his life, with doctors advising he needed 4,000  to 5,000 calories a day.

‘It was funny that I had packets of crisps on  prescription,’ he says. ‘But at first I struggled to eat even one  bag.

‘Gradually, though, I began to eat more. I  always had one eye on the calorific content — I remember being so desperate to  top up my calories I’d mix milk with powdered milkshake and ice  cream.

‘Ironically, I don’t like junk food or  chocolate much. The foods I craved were things such as apples and salads, which  are bad for me.’

A typical breakfast would be cereal with  sugar, white toast with butter and jam and a full English of sausage, bacon,  eggs and hash browns.

Recommended snacks for mid-morning include  sugary doughnuts, crisps or a cream cake.

Lunch can be sausage rolls, pasties or a  sandwich with butter and/or mayonnaise.

In the evening, patients are encouraged to  eat meat, fish or chicken with potatoes, rice or pasta, lots of salt, few  vegetables and a creamy rice pudding, treacle pudding or tapioca with jam and  cream.

Patients are also given supplements to ensure  they get all the vitamins and minerals they need.

However, Justin struggled to maintain the  calorie intake and after more complications and surgery had a permanent  intravenous nutrition line fitted.

He is studying for an MSc in occupational  therapy and says his health has stabilised.

Alison Culkin, a specialist dietitian at St  Mark’s Hospital who advises Justin, says: ‘These patients can find it very  difficult to consume so many calories because they often have bowel problems,  feel nauseous, have a fluctuating appetite or a colostomy bag.’

Researchers at St Mark’s are developing a  grow-your-own bowel technique, which will potentially cure patients like Justin.

Scientists aim to be able to take tissue from  a patient’s bowel and use stem cells to grow new bowel tissue in laboratories — avoiding the problem of rejection.

Justin and a team of friends recently  completed a kayak trip from Manchester to London to raise money for  the hospital.

‘I want to highlight the problems intestinal  failure patients face and give hope to newly diagnosed patients that you can  lead a normal life.

‘I’m living proof you can do extraordinary  things. I just wish my GP had diagnosed Crohn’s disease earlier.

‘Maybe I might never have had to go through  this

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