If we were to tell you that you could lower your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease – by eating bread, would you be up for it?
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But maybe it isn’t. We’re trying to make it possible using gene technology and plant breeding techniques to develop new superior wheat varieties.
Why is cholesterol such an issue? Cholesterol is an essential type of fat that is carried in the blood. It’s vital to healthy cell function and hormone regulation, among other things, but too much of it in our bloodstream can be a bad thing – damaging our arteries and leading to heart disease. In fact, the World Health Organisation has estimated that raised cholesterol is estimated to cause 2.6 million deaths annually.
It’s no wonder our scientists have been researching foods to help lower the prevalence of cholesterol related illnesses in the community. And it looks like we’re on to something.
We know that barley and oat grains contain high levels of a soluble fibre called betaglucan (1-3 ,1-4 betaglucan), which can reduce cholesterol reabsorption in the gut. This leads to healthier blood cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, wheat (which is one of the most commonly consumed grains in the world) has low levels of betaglucan and it has a slightly different structure to the oat and barley betaglucan, which makes it insoluble.
So at the moment, it’s not possible to get cholesterol-lowering benefits from breads unless they have added barley or oat flour. This affects the taste and texture of the bread, which is why people generally prefer bread that’s made wholly from wheat flour. What we want is a bread that maximises the health benefits without sacrificing the flavour and texture that consumers want.
We now know why betaglucan in barley and oats is soluble but in wheat it’s not – and it’s to do with tiny differences between the enzymes that work in barley and oats compared with the one working in wheat to create the betaglucan. In ground breaking research just published, we’ve discovered that just one amino acid (the building blocks of enzymes) difference in the enzyme that forms betaglucan can change the structure and make it more soluble. By changing that one amino acid in the wheat enzyme we should be able to make wheat with more soluble betaglucan and cholesterol lowering properties.
In a proof of principle experiment, we used gene technology to take the gene that makes betaglucan in oats and expressed it in wheat grain. This showed we can simultaneously increase the amount of betaglucan and change its structure making it as soluble as barley betaglucan. We did this in trials using genetically modified plants, a great tool to gain knowledge. We’re using them as a small-scale means to test what’s possible and understand exactly what we need to look for when we get to the next stage which doesn’t involve genetic modification.
The trial wheat plants were grown in a controlled field trial (approved by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator) to get enough grain to evaluate the suitability for bread-making and potential health benefits such as lowering the level of cholesterol reabsorption. If this is successful, we plan to use conventional breeding techniques to develop a wheat for public consumption. This is more difficult and will take a while longer but we think it’s possible.
This blog was originally published on the Total Wellbeing Diet website.
Fans of intermittent fasting programs – think the 5:2 diet – often find they have success with weight loss, so today we are taking a look at the pros and cons of this kind of diet.
While fasting technically refers to not consuming any food or liquid at all, intermittent ‘fasting’ diets, like the 5:2 diet, do involve very minimal calorific intake on the fasting days – we’re talking around 2000 kilojoules all day, compared to the daily recommended intake of around 10,000 for men and 8,700 for women. These diets run on the premise that you fast for 2 days of the week and consume as many kilojoules as you like on the non-fasting days.
While 5:2 is the most popular configuration, others find they have more success following a 4:3 or 6:1 ratio of non-fasting to fasting days.
The surprising news is, studies are suggesting these diets are successful in achieving weight loss. Even more surprising, Dr Manny Noakes, Research Director of our Food and Nutrition Flagship, says research is revealing people don’t eat more than they usually would on the non-fasting days – which was what many experts expected to see.
The research is still limited, but Dr Noakes says animal studies have been optimistic. Some of these animal studies have shown intermittent fasting can fend off illnesses including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders and may improve insulin sensitivity.
Dr Noakes says she herself would not discourage someone following such a diet that was seeing success, though she cautions there is still a lot to learn before it gets the seal of approval.
“If people who are overweight have struggled to lose weight following other diets, and they find this works for them, then that is great. Weight loss, particularly belly fat, has many health benefits – visceral fat is involved in disrupting blood-sugar regulation and is associated with high cholesterol levels. It’s also a risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”
On the flipside, Dr Noakes says what we don’t yet know about intermittent fasting is what these diets mean for long term health.
If the person is simply losing weight because they are effectively cutting a lot of kilojoules from their weekly intake, but they are still eating poorly, then I’d have to argue they still need to address their eating habits for longer term health gain.
She says while restricting your kilojoule intake is a guaranteed way to lose weight, cutting back indiscriminately can lead to an unbalanced, unhealthy diet, and recommends a more balanced approach. “It’s important not to cut key food groups including dairy, grains and cereals – you’ll be missing out on some important nutrients essential for good health.”
To summarise the pros and cons:
ON THE PRO SIDE:
- Loss of body fat/ weight for overweight people is of health benefit in general.
- Early research shows contrary to what scientists expected to see, people do not consume more kilojoules on the non-fasting days.
- Intermittent fasting diets seem to be as effective as calorie restricted diets for weight loss.
- There is early research to suggest it is effective in curbing cravings.
- It provides an easier weight loss plan than standard kilojoule restricting diets – there is no weighing or ‘forbidden’ foods to worry about – on the fasting day, the limited calories will be accounted for very quickly and there are no restrictions on non-fasting days.
ON THE CON SIDE:
- Fasting diets don’t change the way you eat – there is no evidence at this stage that suggests people eat healthier food than they did prior to starting the diet. While maintaining a healthy body weight is important for good health; a nutritious diet offers important vitamin and minerals.
- There is limited research on the long term effectiveness – or any long term health issues related to intermittent fasting.
- This lack of research means we don’t know who the diet works for and who it might not – for example, what medications or illnesses it may interact badly with.
- Unlike diets that make healthy lifestyle changes – like the Total Wellbeing Diet – fasting diets do not provide advice on how to eat for optimal health, in a way that is sustainable in the long run.
Australian company Admedus has been making headlines recently for its innovative medical material, CardioCel. The tiny, flexible patch, made using part of a cow’s heart, is being used to treat potentially devastating birth defects like congenital heart disease – and it’s taking the international medical community by storm.
What’s more, we’re proud as punch to say that we were integrally involved in its success.
Our researchers worked with Admedus to assess the suitability of CardioCel for use in stem cell therapy in heart failure patients by comparing it with another commonly-used product. We found that CardioCel was well suited to cardiovascular cell therapy, and that it could have potentially groundbreaking applications in other areas of stem cell delivery too.
It’s since been implanted in more than 1200 patients across Australia, Europe, North America and Asia.
This is just one of many medical success stories we’ve been a part of. So, just because we like the number five, here’s five more:
When a Victorian man was facing amputation of his leg due to bone cancer in his heel bone, his doctor turned to us for help. Professor Peter Choong, from Melbourne’s St Vincent Hospital, knew about our work in titanium 3D printing and wondered if we could print a workable heel bone transplant, thus removing the need for amputation. We helped turn his vision – a metallic implant which could support a human body’s weight – into a world first-reality.
We’re working with Universal Biosensors to trial on-the-spot testing and results for a range of crucial blood tests. The immediacy of results means that patients avoid the dreadful stress that comes with waiting, as well as receiving treatment faster. By broadening the application of point-of-care testing, we will see time and cost savings for already-stretched healthcare providers. Not bad for a little prick.
Using the same technology that drives state-of-the-art video games, we created a ‘virtual heart’ simulation that the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute are using to better diagnose and treat heart rhythm disease. Who said nothing good ever came from gaming?
Winning the waiting game in our hospitals
Our Demand Prediction Analysis Tool can predict bed demand in hospital emergency rooms by the hour, day and week, greatly easing the pressure on their emergency wards. A similar technology has already been rolled out in more than 30 hospitals in Queensland (hello, Schoolies!) and is currently being trialled in Victoria.
Know your enemy
Collectively, Alzheimer’s and Type 2 diabetes impact the lives of millions of Australians. Their symptoms on the surface are known only too well – but how they affect us on the cellular level is a mystery to many. We brought the science behind the illnesses to life, using animations that explain very complex biological processes related to each disease with scientific accuracy. This is a truly unique way of zooming in on what happens inside our body, but can’t be seen with the naked eye.
For more information on our medical research, check out the health hub on our new website.
The average Aussie risks gaining several kilos over the holiday period. That might sound like a small number, but few of us lose it when the festive season is over. We asked Professor Manny Noakes, research director of our Food and Nutrition Flagship and co-author of the famous Total Wellbeing Diet, for five tips on how to survive the silly season without gaining extra baggage.
1. Don’t just count kilojoules
Restricting your kilojoule intake is a surefire way to lose weight, but cutting back indiscriminately can lead to an unbalanced, unhealthy diet. Noakes recommends a focus on food groups rather than kilojoules counting. Ensuring you include food from each of the essential food groups each day, is a better way to get healthy.
“It is a much easier approach because you get optimal nutrients without having to learn the kilojoules of hundreds of different foods,” Noakes says. The essential food groups include protein foods such as meat, fish, chicken and eggs; dairy foods; low GI grains and cereals; fruits and vegetables, and healthy oils such as spreads and nuts.
2. Limit indulgences
Thirty-five per cent of the average Australian’s diet comes from “discretionary” foods with little nutritional value, such as alcohol, chips, lollies and cakes. That adds up to a whopping 2500-3500 kilojoules a day. “If you want to lose weight, limiting indulgences can have a dramatic impact over a period of time,” says Noakes. Try limiting yourself to one small indulgence per day (see blow), or seven in a week, to give yourself a small reward for eating well.
1 small indulgence equals:
- 100ml Wine
- 4 squares of chocolate
- 1 fun size packet of potato chips
- 1 scoop of ice cream
- 1 chocolate biscuit
3. Stand every hour
It’s important to increase your everyday activity to help prevent weight gain and a good place to start is limiting the amount of time you sit per day.
Noakes recommends looking for opportunities to get off the couch or office chair and move wherever possible. For example taking the stairs, having short stand-up meetings at work, standing up when you take a phone call, or standing at parties rather than sitting. “Simply making an effort to spend less time sitting down and stand every hour can improve your health,” says Noakes.
4. Manage your appetite
During the festive season it’s hard to say no to holiday nibbles and cocktails or that extra snag at the weekend BBQ. Proactively managing your appetite with a higher protein, low GI diet can help prevent poor choices. “Protein controls appetite and low GI carbohydrates sustain energy, so having a light meal of 100g of lean protein food with a slice of grainy bread one hour before a party can help keep hunger in check,” says Noakes.
5. Sign up for a formal healthy eating plan
There is evidence showing that people who seek support in their weight loss efforts do better than those who go it alone. “We know that people who take part in weight loss programs find it easier to reach their goals,” says Noakes. “The support that people receive and the regular weight checks contribute to some of that success. The type of eating plan can also make a difference and a higher protein low GI plan has the best evidence for sustained weight loss success.
“The type of eating plan can also make a difference and a higher protein low GI plan has the best evidence for sustained weight loss success. That’s why we are releasing this new version of the Total Wellbeing Diet available as an online program in a new trial.”
Registrations for the online trial of our Total Wellbeing Diet are open until 10 November 2014. The cost for the 12-week program is $99 which is fully refundable if you complete the trial.
This article was originally published on Body & Soul.
We’re looking for 5,000 Australians (from ages 18 to 74) to participate in a trial of a new online diet program based on our award-winning and bestselling Total Wellbeing Diet.
It’s easy as – by following a simple, customised eating plan and weighing in on the website once a week over a 12 week period, you can improve your diet and wellbeing. And to top it off, we will refund the $99 registration fee when you finish – but only if you’re quick enough to sign up first!
The good news is, we already know that the diet works – over half a million Aussies have already lost an average of 6.1kgs on the diet – so the online program is just making it easier for everyone out there with a smart phone, tablet or computer. We’re running this trial now to fine-tune the system before a wider public release next year.
So what’s the deal?
Our new Total Wellbeing Diet online diary is easy to follow and can be customised to suit your tastes, dietary preferences and lifestyle. Food journals are essential for successful weight management, but most journals only count calories. This diary instantly tallies your food groups and shows you where you’re going right and wrong with your eating plan.
The program will also include practical, realistic exercise programs to help maximise weight loss and wellness benefits. And best of all, you can do it all from your own smart phone.
The findings from this three month trial will be used to develop more engaging online dietary programs that can reach many more people, and will also help us assess how we can inspire healthy eating and provide more support to those that need to lose weight – a major goal of the Total Wellbeing Diet project.
We want to make this program as best as it can be… but we need your help.
If you want to get involved, registration starts from 19 October, and the trial starts on 3 November. Remember, you will need to check in each week with your weight to have the $99 fee refunded.
To register for the trial visit: www.totalwellbeingdiet.com
CSIRO has licensed Total Wellbeing Diet to SP Health for the development and management of an online next generation Total Wellbeing Diet program, in collaboration with the Glycemic Index Foundation.
** UPDATE: The registration period for the trial has ended, you can pre-register for the January 5 launch of the program here: www.totalwellbeingdiet.com**
Grilled with garlic, oven baked, or lightly pan fried with a hint of lemon: Blue-eye Trevalla is one of Australia’s premium seafoods, and an iconic fish species for commercial fishers and seafood lovers alike.
Despite having been fished commercially for over 40 years in deep waters off southern Australia, the Blue-eye’s early life-history and movement is still shrouded in mystery.
Our research into these aspects of the Blue-eye’s biology aims to give certainty to government regulators and hopefully lead to increases in the catch quota for the fishing industry, which, in recent years, has dropped by 50 per cent due to apparent decreases in the fish’s abundance.
Ear bone’s connected to the catch quota
Using chemical signatures in the make-up of the Blue-eye’s ear bones, we aim to determine the fish’s population structure, early life-history and movement in the fishery area – which extends roughly from Brisbane to Adelaide, and includes several offshore seamounts.
Once the ear bone is daintily plucked from inside a fish’s head, we use laser-based sampling techniques to identify its chemical signature. From this we can infer each individual fish’s geographical origin.
With sufficiently large numbers of sampled fish in specific age groups, and when combined with models of ocean currents, the origins of Blue-eye populations in different fishery areas can be estimated.
These insights enable our analysis of the commercial catch to become location-specific or ‘regionalised’ and reduce many of the uncertainties in the assessment of total stock size.
A greater confidence in the stock assessment will ensure a sustainable catch for Australia’s fishing industry and the continued availability of Blue-eye for consumers’ plates.
Find out more about the project in this video:
The project is funded by the Australian Government through the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship, DPI Victoria, and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. Footage and images were taken in Hobart, thanks to the Captain, Russell Potter, and crew of the fishing vessel Diana, and Will Mure and head chef from the Mures Restaurant.
Media contact: Kirsten.firstname.lastname@example.org t 02 4960 6245 m 0457 563 684
By James Davidson and Pamela Tyers
How do you eat your Easter chocolate? Do you suck it or chew it? Does your tongue smear the inside of your mouth as the chocolate melts, or does it get chomped by your back teeth then sent down your throat?
It’s true, some of us suck and some of us chew. Whichever process we use to break down food in our mouth, it affects the taste sensation.
Flavour is released through the movement and time taken for taste components to hit our taste buds. Those taste components include salt, sugar and fat. If we know how to place those tasty bits into foods so that they achieve maximum delicious flavour before we digest the food, we then know how to use less of the unhealthy ingredients because our inefficient chewing means that we don’t taste much of them anyway.
For example, bread would taste unappetising if too much salt was removed out of it, but science can help us understand how to remove some of the less healthy components out of foods while retaining their familiar, delicious taste.
Enter our new 3D dynamic virtual mouth – the world’s first – which is helping our researchers understand how foods break down in the mouth, as well as how the food components are transported around the mouth, and how we perceive flavours. Using a nifty technique called smooth particle hydrodynamics, we can model the chewing process on specific foods and gather valuable data about how components such as salt, sugar and fat are distributed and interact with our mouths at the microscopic level.
We’re using it to make food products with less salt, sugar and fat and incorporate more wholegrains, fibre and nutrients without affecting the taste.
It’s part of research that will help us understand how we can modify and develop particular food products with more efficient release of the flavour, aroma and taste of our everyday foods.
And it’s good news for all of us. Eighty percent of our daily diet is processed foods – think breakfast cereals, sliced meats, pasta, sauces, bread and more. So, creating healthier processed foods will help tackle widespread issues such as obesity and chronic lifestyle diseases.
In fact, our scientific and nutritional advice to government and industry has so far helped remove 2,200 tons of salt from the Australian food supply, and reduced our population’s salt consumption by 4 per cent.
Oh…and we’ve also used the virtual mouth to model just how we break down our Easter chocolate.
As the teeth crush the egg, the chocolate fractures and releases the caramel. The chocolate coating collapses further and the tongue moves to reposition the food between the teeth for the next chewing cycle. The caramel then pours out of the chocolate into the mouth cavity.
With this virtual mouth, variations to thickness of chocolate, chocolate texture, caramel viscosity, and sugar, salt and fat concentrations and locations can all be modified simply and quickly to test the effects on how the flavours are released.
Now that’s something to chew on. Happy Easter!
Media contact: James Davidson, 03 9545 2185, email@example.com
Media Release: Chocolate bytes with virtual mouth.