Snacks are an indispensable part of each of us holding priority as equally as our meals. Health specialists suggest snacking and recommend eating snacks in between meals to feel full and avoid hunger otherwise there are a great many chances that you end up overeating during the next meal. This doesn’t mean that they are promoting the consumption of fried foods and sweet treats but only inducing individuals to eat natural and healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain toasts, cereal-based foods and pulses. Its tough to choose your snack as people live with the mindset that its only bread pakoras, fried chips or cheesy sandwiches that make a snack. Of late, health has regained priority and more individuals are inclined towards choosing healthier snacks and beverages to maintain an ideal body weight, stay healthy and be fit. As easy as it might sound, in practical life its quite tough to stay away from your routine junk foods and choose healthier ones. Still, rising obesity rates and list of diseases prompt us to focus on eating fruit-based and vegetable-based snacks that add nutrients and wellness to the body.
Fruit snacks, once popular in the Western countries have made their way into Indian markets too sitting too comfortable on high-end supermarkets attracting the attention of kids owing to their colorful and alluring presence. The invention patented here relates to a fruit-based snack that’s been manufactured using only natural ingredients without the presence of sugars or corn syrup that affect health.
The name might contain something that’s nutritious but the end product is nothing but a sugary processed food that’s similar to the gummy candies. Though they are advertised to be healthier versions of gummy candies almost more than 50% of these fruit snacks contain sugar (more than gummy candies) and less of proteins than their gummy counterparts. The promotions and marketing are just an eyewash for the parents to buy these tasty treats for their kids. Parents too surrender to it as these are convenient to buy, loved by kids and keep their mind at peace despite the fact that it’s only a marketing gimmick.
Confectionary items such as jellybeans, sugar jellies and licorice are made using sugar, water and food starches which give them their desirable eating quality. All these confections are made using a starch mold casting process called as the Mogul system. All these ingredients are heated to a temperature above the boiling point of the liquid until a moisture level above that of the completed product is reached and the starch (this is generally an acid-thinned commercial corn starch or a high-amylose starch or a combination of both) too is gelatinized. The final confection product is dried for 2-3 days so that the moisture content is almost 14-20 weight percent. These fruit snacks contain certain levels of fruit juices/purees and hence have become famous among users for their health quotient. Its possible to replace some portion of the starch in the snack with gelatin. We avoid replacing 100% of it with gelatin as it results in a tough and hard fruit snack that doesn’t feel tasty and desirable. If there is concerns over sugar quantity and attempts are made to reduce the sugar and corn syrup content of the formulation the end product becomes way too sticky making it difficult to package it finally. So, the desire to manufacture a healthy fruit snack using fruit purees and juices without using starch or gelatin has been an impossible task. The invention presented in the patent beautifully fulfills this requirement of making a fruit snack with a great soft chewy texture and taste without the use of sugars and corn syrups. This makes it an extremely useful invention as a healthy fruit snack has been unimaginable until now!
We have landed upon something which was thought to be impractical until now - producing an acceptable fruit drink using only natural ingredients. Though modified starches could be used we classify them to be chemically modified and hence, cannot be termed as natural. Gelatin alone is not a great choice as it leads to an extremely tough structure that makes it difficult to consume but minimizing its quantity in the formulation too is not feasible as the product setting is hindered. When other texturing agents were researched, they also posed some problem or the other in the setting process and seemed to be covered by starch.
The invention here uses fruit juice concentrate having a 15-20% moisture content. Commercially available fruit juice concentrates contain around 30% moisture but we can use them after removing the excess moisture by heating to about 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for a short duration and vacuuming off the excess moisture to keep the moisture content between 15 and 20%. This concentrate is mixed with fruit purees and gelling agents comprising of a combination of gelatin and pectin to bind the structure together. The cooked product now comprising of juice concentrate, fruit purees, gelatin and pectin is placed on a Mogul machine to get the final end product. The flavoring and coloring agents are added to bring in the desired end result. The fruit snack thus prepared is completely natural, has a chewy texture, devoid of sugar/corn syrup and is soft. The patent was published on October 21st, 2010 and for detailed reading of the patent please visit:
United States Patent & Trademark Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=%22natural+fruit+snack%22&s2=dwivedi&OS=
European Patent Office: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?DB=EPODOC&II=0&ND=3&adjacent=true&locale=en_EP&FT=D&date=20101021&CC=WO&NR=2010120884A1&KC=A1
World Intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2010120884&tab=PCTBIBLIO&_cid=P11-JXWZO5-52305-1
Every woman loves to be in her best of health during pregnancy and childbirth to avoid complications and give birth to a healthy baby. Ensuring proper nutritional care during pregnancy is required for fetal growth and development and also has a greater impact on the future health of the child. Folic acid is an essential supplement that’s been prescribed to every woman in childbearing age to prevent the attack of neural tube defects during conception. While it is advisable to start on folic acid supplements well before conception it is indispensable to take it at least as soon as pregnancy is detected. The supplement seems to be extremely crucial for the good health of pregnant mothers but now we have contradictory studies showing that consuming these supplements increase the chances of asthma in infants.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that has topped the prevalence rates having more than 334 million patients worldwide. The bronchial tubes (airways) allow air to come in and go out of the lungs playing a critical role in respiration. Asthma affects this air passage as the airways become inflamed and swollen making it extremely difficult for movement of air thereby triggering symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing. Asthma in children affects the lives of millions of small kids who mostly develop this condition before the age of five. Childhood asthma stands as one of the top 10 chronic diseases for disability-adjusted life in these kids. There are different causes for this disease and most important of them include immune cells in the immune system that cause asthma, genes and environmental factors. Nutrition too seems to play a pivotal role in the development of asthma.
Folic Acid Supplements During Pregnancy
Folic acid is an essential B vitamin involved in the synthesis of nucleic acids, methylation of DNA and cell growth regulation. It is critical to uterine growth and development and just because the fetus grows in the utero there are high chances of suffering from insufficient folate levels that exist as the main cause for neural tube defects, retarded growth, cardiac defects and oral clefts. Intake of folic acid supplements during pregnancy is recommended and WHO recommends taking 400 mcg/d from the time of planning for pregnancy up to 12 weeks after conception. Some countries such as the United States have mandated folic acid fortification in foods. Despite such needs for including folate in your meals there have been concerns regarding its consequences in newborns and kids with respect to respiratory illness.
We already have several research showing that high intake of methyl donors during pregnancy influences an offspring’s phenotype and this led to a critical research in which ties between prenatal folic acid supplements and risk of childhood respiratory diseases was analyzed through effects on the developing fetal immune system. There are some studies that show a direct link between increased risk of childhood asthma due to folate supplements and there are some others that have found an inverse association with folate levels during pregnancy while rest show no link between folic acid supplementation during early pregnancy and childhood asthma. Let’s look at different studies to understand how exactly the mechanism works.
Tennessee Medicaid (TennCare)
A cohort study of 104428 mother-child dyads enrolled in the TennCare was conducted where the mothers were between 15 and 44 years of age. These mothers were analyzed for folic acid supplementation exposure with the help of folic acid-containing prescriptions during pregnancy. 17% of women were categorized as unexposed as they did not fill a prenatal supplement, 10% were exposed to a supplement during the first trimester only while 28% and 45% were exposed only after the first trimester or in the first trimester and beyond that. Almost 99% women were given prescriptions recommending 1000 mcg/d of folic acid. Finally, 15% children were classified as having asthma during 4.5-6 years of age. 13% children born to women who did not fill a folic acid prescription suffered from asthma, 17% of kids whose mothers filled a prescription suffered from asthma, 17% children of mothers who filled a prescription in the first trimester were diagnosed with asthma, 13% children whose mothers filled prescriptions after the first trimester were diagnosed with asthma and 17% of those born to women who filled a prescription during the first trimester and beyond.
Almost 20% increased chances of asthma were detected in kids born to women exposed to folic acid during the first trimester only or after the first trimester compared to those children born to women with no folic acid prescription.
MOOSE Guidelines in Analyzing the Effect of Folic Acid Supplementations on Asthma Risk in Infants
The meta-analysis followed the guidelines of the Meta-analysis of the Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE). Those studies that were a cohort study, peer-reviewed original research and those that provided risk estimates of asthma associated with maternal folate intake or concentration during pregnancy were considered. Odds ratio (OR), prevalence rates (PRs) or relative risks (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) were included for meta-analysis. When the supplement was consumed at multiple intervals the research team considered the first trimester as this is the most critical part of DNA methylation during pregnancy.
10 studies were included in the analysis which consisted of 201,248 participants. Of the ten, five were related to total folic acid intake from diet and supplements and the other five was related to supplemental folate intake. There was a significant increase in folic acid intake in Europe and North America. Folate intake from supplements increased the risk of asthma.
There were several studies performed linking folate intake and asthma in kids but most of them could not come to significant conclusions. Certain other studies did show a true link between folate intake and asthma risk. While meta-analysis does show that maternal folate intake during pregnancy increased the risk of infant asthma dose-response analysis showed a link between maternal folic acid intake and risk of infant asthma.
Mother & Child Cohort Study (MoBa)
This study tried to understand the relationship between maternal total folate intake during pregnancy and asthma in MoBa children who have reached 7 years of age, an age at which diagnosis for asthma is more reliable than at preschool age. The study was conducted on 95,248 mothers and 114,761 children. Total folate intake included food folate and folic acid from supplements and maternal plasma folate concentrations were measured around 18 weeks of gestation. Almost 4.8% children aged around 7 years suffered from asthma and children born to women in the highest versus lowest quintile of total folate intake during pregnancy had more frequent asthma. Children born to mothers in the highest versus lowest quintile had a 20% increased risk of asthma. Hence, risk of asthma was only found in the highest quintile of intake in which women consumed a folate-rich diet.
Effects of Consuming Folic Acid During Late Pregnancy
Restricting growth in the womb resulted in lower birth weight and this had protective effect against childhood allergies.
Australian researchers studied lambs born to three groups of sheep: 1. Mothers had a smaller-than-normal placenta (restricted) 2. Mothers with a smaller placenta who were given high doses of supplements that included folic acid in the last month of gestation (restricted supplement) 3. Mothers with normal placenta and normal diet (control)
The researchers tested the lambs for inflammation and skin reactions. The restricted group had higher levels of inflammation but no difference in skin reaction than the restricted supplement and control groups when exposed to dust mites. On exposure to egg white protein the restricted supplement and control group showed higher rates of allergic reactions than the restricted group. Such differences in response show that folate supplements reduced protection that was earlier linked to pregnancies with restricted growth. Patients should also be made aware of the consequences of increased allergic reactions that might follow continuing the folic acid supplementation.
Maternal folic acid supplementation during pregnancy and early childhood asthma: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4900760/
Association of maternal folate intake during pregnancy with infant asthma risk: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44794-z#Tab1
Maternal folate intake during pregnancy and childhood asthma in a population-based cohort: https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1164/rccm.201604-0788OC
Taking folic acid in late pregnancy might increase childhood allergy risk: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/12/171221123158.htm
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is vital for maintaining homeostasis-an ability of the organism to maintain internal environment of the body within specific limits that promote its survival. Various homeostasis functions such as regulation of blood pressure, gastrointestinal responses to food, urinary bladder contraction and thermoregulation are carried out by the ANS. ANS is also called as the involuntary nervous system and functions without conscious or voluntary control and is responsible for regulating involuntary organs. Included in ANS are the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system manages ‘fight-or-flight’ responses and equips the body to combat any strenuous physical activity. The parasympathetic nervous system regulates ‘rest and digest’ functions such as working on our body functions when we are reading a book or sitting quietly by the garden.
All vertebrates including mammals maintain internal homeostasis during infection or injury by balancing activities of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory pathways. But this is not possible all the time and in case of some diseases the balance is disturbed. A classic example is that of endotoxin produced by Gram-negative bacteria that activates macrophages to release cytokines (small secreted proteins released by cells that have a strong effect on the communication between cells). Cytokines generally act on the cells that secrete them, on nearby cells or rarely on distant cells. There are possibilities that several cells secrete the same cytokine or a single cytokine can act on several different cell types. Pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin (IL)-1. alpha., IL-1. beta., IL-6, IL-8, platelet-activating factor (PAF), macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) and likewise are produced by these macrophages and are predominantly involved in leading the way to inflammatory and other conditions. There is a dire need to suppress the activation of these pro-inflammatory cytokines to restrict the occurrence of diseases.
The invention patented here finds itself to be immensely useful in suppressing the activation of these cytokines by providing methods for preventing, reducing or reversing acute/chronic autonomic damage. The methods used maybe any of these-providing the subject with antibiotics, polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids or oleic acid, VNS (vagal nerve stimulation) or putting him/her on an intermittent fasting regimen. The cluster of these methods have been given a specific name-Nemechek Protocol and this protocol gives its best possible to fight against diseases and conditions that occur as a result of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The protocol works with the principle of minimizing pro-inflammatory cytokines within the CNS which thereby helps to activate natural repair mechanisms and enable recovery of the ANS functions. There are vitamins, supplements, minerals, chemical compounds, pharmaceutical agents and dietary restrictions used in the protocol to bring in the desired effect on the subject.
The beauty in using this invention lies in its invasive and safe yet effective procedure for saving the ANS functions from neuroinflammatory conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, concussion, brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic depression, autism, epilepsy, autism and more. All of these conditions have debilitating side effects affecting the quality of life of individuals and also that of the people caring for these patients. Sometimes, autonomic damage is reversed by suppressing the action of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) using any of the methods defined above (such as dietary restriction, providing with oleic acid, etc.).
Before inventing the protocol all the subjects were measured of their autonomic nervous system health via spectral analysis. Once the Nemechek Protocol is established on the subject and cytokines are reduced in number neuronal progenitor stem cells increase in number and functionality and the microglial populations shift toward M2-phenotype which help in repairing neuronal damage and start producing anti-inflammatory cytokines. There is a reversal in the patient’s symptoms-dizziness, urinary incontinence, fainting, early satiety, dysfunction of erection or ejaculation, loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, heartburn, constipation, exercise intolerance and poor vision at night.
There are cases where some patients fail to regulate the amount of blood and oxygen supply to the brain. An individual suffering from concussion experiences dizziness, anxiety, neck tightness, headaches and decreased cognitive function due to cerebral hypoperfusion. These patients yearn for more water and food with the hope that such increased intake of salt and sugar improves cerebral hypoperfusion levels. In such individuals, when intermittent fasting is introduced as a standard policy of the protocol it worsens the symptoms and usually intermittent fasting is avoided for at least a few months after introducing other methods such as antibiotics, oleic acid and polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid until positive changes of cerebral hypoperfusion is attained. Sometimes curcumin (available in the spice turmeric and lauded for its anti-inflammatory property) is added in the treatment protocol following inadequate improvements even after 2 months of treatment using the initial methods. Those individuals suffering more from pro-inflammatory cytokines recover slowly from autonomic function. Bringing in the concept of intermittent fasting after the initial 4-6 month of following the protocol improves the recovery process and also suppresses the storage of excess adipose tissue in patients eating high quantities of foods and beverages due to the presence of cerebral hypoperfusion. The patent was published on May 3td, 2018 and if you want to know more details about the protocol and the vast list of conditions covered under this protocol feel free to visit any of the sites given below:
United States Patent & Trademark Office: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=%22autonomic+nervous+system+damage%22&OS=%22autonomic+nervous+system+damage%22&RS=%22autonomic+nervous+system+damage%22
European Patent Office: https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/originalDocument?FT=D&date=20190702&DB=EPODOC&locale=en_EP&CC=US&NR=10335396B2&KC=B2&ND=4
World Intellectual Property Organization: https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US215306173&_cid=P11-JXWV2C-04573-1
We are what we eat. The food that goes into our body determines our well-being, health and fitness. A diet that lacks nutrients is a great disaster on the individual’s body as it paves way for non-communicable diseases which impairs quality of life and causes death. Focus is given to different foods and their nutrition content but in reality, we take these foods together as meals or snacks. So, getting to know more about the nutritional composition of meals, different meal combinations and how their variations affect diet quality brings on a clearer picture on the relationship between diet and diseases. Most of the dietary advises revolve around the type and quantity of food individuals should consume instead of focusing on the eating pattern. Eating pattern indicates how people eat during eating occasion (EO) which includes indicators such as frequency, timing of meals, frequency, timing of snacks and skipped meals.
Every meal is integral for nutrient addition to our body. Skipping breakfast increases the risk of obesity, cardiovascular risk and decreased micronutrients intake. But there are not many studies associating macronutrients and eating patterns such as meals and snacks and their overall diet quality. Diet quality is measured by the quality of foods that individual eats using diet scores that have been established. Most studies that measure diet quality and meal/snack frequencies use questionnaires to assess eating patterns and the studies are even more limited when it comes to examining meal and snack frequencies. When we have a better understanding of the effects of meals and snacks on diet quality it is possible to motivate people to follow dietary guidelines and achieve the recommended levels of nutrients through foods.
Assessing Meal & Snack Impact on Diet Quality
9338 volunteers participated in the study and two dietary recalls were taken on consecutive days. 65% (6053) participants completed both dietary recalls which included questions on the type and time of EO whose response options included choices among breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, supper, snack, morning tea, afternoon tea, drink or beverage, extended consumption and others. Generally, there is no hard and fast rule on what defines an EO as participants are mostly required to identify their own EO while some use time of day to identify an EO. In this study, an EO was defined as any occasion during which a food or beverage was consumed that contained a minimum energy content of 50 kcal and there was at least a time gap of 15 minute between two successive EOs. The EOs were split into meals and snacks depending on the volunteers’ reporting of breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner or supper and snacks, morning tea, afternoon tea and beverages/breaks respectively.
All the nutrients required by the body for well-being and preventing diseases such as cardiovascular disease, iodine deficiency, iron deficiency and hypertension was noted and mean total dietary intake of these nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, sugars, dietary fiber, folate, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, iodine, MUFAs, PUFAs and SFAs was calculated.
Diet quality was assessed using dietary guidelines index (DGI) of 2013. DGI-2013 contains 13 components each of which was scored on a range of 1 to 10 where the highest score indicated that the individual was maximum compliant of the dietary guideline. Of the 13 components 7 (fruits, vegetables, cereals, dairy, food variety, lean meat and fluid intake) of them assess the adequacy of the diet while the other 6 (discretionary foods, saturated foods, salt, added sugar, alcohol and moderate intake of unsaturated fat) assess the moderation of the dietary intake. Each of the participant’s smoking attributes, alcohol consumption status, physical activity levels and sedentary behavior was noted. After excluding participants based on certain criteria there were finally 2053 men and 2270 women available for the study. The results were as follows:
Association between Meal Pattern Nutrient Intake & Overall Diet Quality
Some 10 studies were analyzed for the contribution of meals and snacks to energy and nutrient intakes. It was found that lunch and evening meals contributed to the greatest proportion of total daily energy, protein, fat and carbohydrate intake. We define primary meals as those that provide us with the largest volume of food. An analysis of meals and snacks proved that snacks contributed towards lower total energy from fat and protein in comparison to meals. Two studies showed that consumption of protein was highest in the evening especially among older adults, two studies showed that snacks contributed towards more consumption of total sugars but not total carbohydrates than meals and one study showed that snacks consumed after lunchtime contained less protein and fiber than morning snacks.
One study on Finnish meal patterns found that meals contributed more fiber and carotenoids but less sugar, vitamin C and alcohol than snacks. Another Dutch study found that dinner meals were major contributors to intake of iron, zinc, vitamin B1, B6, B12, C, D and E. But there are also studies that show that snacks too contribute significantly to addition of nutrients such as Ca, Fe, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.
18 studies focused on eating frequencies and identified that higher the eating frequency greater was the nutrient intake-when individuals ate for six or more times daily their intake of carbohydrates and fiber was increased but they had lower intake of fat and protein in comparison to those who ate less than three times daily. Yet another study found that men with a dominant snacking frequency had lower fiber and micronutrient intake.
It is clearly proven that meals play a prominent role in determining the nutrition intake. This might be because you get to eat a variety of foods, pick from a diverse range of foods that include plenty of fruits and vegetables and eat them at definite timings. Whereas, snacks are taken in between to avoid hunger pangs during meals and to keep you comfortable through the day. Though choosing a snack depends on your choice, we mostly choose from crisps, fried items and junks which decrease total nutrient intake greatly. Hence, the frequency of your meal consumption greatly plays a role in determining overall diet quality.
Meal Frequency and not snack frequency is associated with micronutrients intake and overall diet quality: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/146/10/2027/4584875?searchresult=1
Understanding meal patterns: Definitions, methodology and impact on nutrient intake and diet quality: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4501369/
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