Editor's Spotlight: Nutra News Review

LISTEN NOW: Veganuary nutrition, AI nutrition partnerships ... and designer fatty acids? - The Nutra News Review

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

It's not easy to keep up with the fast pace of the news, but the weekly Nutra News Review is your best shot. Our editors run down their weekly news highlights - giving you the inside track on the top news and analysis from the last seven days.

Listen to Nikki Cutler, Will Chu, and Nathan Gray rundown their highlights of the week's news...

Veganuary gets a health check

Veganism is very much in vogue this month as a record 300,000 people have signed up to Veganuary but what are the health impacts of shunning all things animal? Registered nutritionist Laura Clark gives her advice. Whilst many may be cutting their carnivorous ways in an aim to eat healthier, Clark points out that a vegan diet can often lack omega 3, vitamin B12 and iodine.

A lot of people tend to assume that a vegan diet is going to result in reduced protein intake, but Clark says plant-based proteins are pretty easy to find. The issue comes from the omission of iron, zinc and B12 in these plant substitutes as meat is a good source of all these nutrients and omega 3, of which fish is an unrivalled source.

Clark also points out that a lesser-known benefit of cow’s milk is its iodine content – something lacking in plant milk. Read more. 

Sports nutrition space invaders

Jack Weekes, new product development (NPD) supervisor for sports nutrition brand Bulk Powders, has given his insight into the biggest opportunities and hurdles for the sports nutrition industry and revealed some of the brand’s trend-setting plans for 2019. 

Weekes says the top consumer trends on Bulk’s agenda are veganism, environmental sustainability, gut health, brand transparency, more adventurous flavours in snacking and the emerging interest in cognitive health. Read more.

The rise of the machines

Nuritas’ deal with US firm Pharmavite is the latest in a series of agreements that harness the power of Nuritas’ Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to offer a faster way to accurately predict, unlock, and validate bioactive peptide ingredients.

In December 2018, BASF introduced PeptAIde, the world's first bioactive ingredient discovered and delivered through artificial intelligence via a partnership between BASF and Nuritas formed back in January 2017.

At the start of 2018, Nestlé and Nuritas announced a collaboration that focused on artificial intelligence based discovery of food-derived bioactive peptides.

The technology reveals the dormant peptides located in plant-based food sources extracting them from the source protein further developing the peptide’s activity profile to confirm its activity.

This data is then fed back into its AI technology, developing its learning capabilities, and refining its search capabilities for future peptide discovery projects.

In speaking about the challenges ahead Neil Foster, Nuritas’ head of partnerships said the complexity of biology-based data as well as knowledge gaps currently restrict the full potential of personalising approaches to health.

“Nuritas is aiming to build, apart from the AI and deep learning, real-world and in-vitro validation,”​ he said. “Combining those things would bring forward meaningful solutions from a very complex data environment.

“There will be many others that follow, possibly in the personalised, healthy ageing and infant nutrition areas.Read more.

Small sized concerns

The Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) point to nanotechnology and nanomaterials as potentially offering additional benefits to food supplements that include better bioavailability, stability and targeted delivery.

However, the Institute does highlight potential concerns particularly the mode of uptake, distribution and possible particle accumulation and toxicity.

The idea that size can alter toxicity is not a new one in the food industry with research suggesting certain nanoparticles have triggered tissue inflammation and oxidative stress.

The European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) have defined engineered nanomaterials as a novel food with the agency currently trying to provide a definitive definition.

The difficulty here is that based on size, differencing between ‘low risk nanomaterials’ that are fully digested and ‘potentially high risk persistent nanomaterials’ is proving difficult.

IFST said that it might be necessary to consider exemptions for ‘low risk’ products, possibly following a tiered assessment, based on past use and digestibility of the components of the application. Read more.

'Designer' triglycerides?

A joint effort between researchers in China and Italy recently outlined the discovery of two new enzymes in a family of enzymes known as known as diacylglyceryl transferaseses.

The team used microalgae that contain the newly discovered enzymes to produce new forms of triglycerides – and in the newly published paper looked to combine LA and EPA into a single triglyceride.

The authors said the method and the discovery of the enzymes could herald a revolution in 'designer triglycerides that come with tailored health benefits.

While it’s very early days, the study definitely lays the foundation work for producing designer triglycerides on a large scale, and may also tap into the trend for personalisation by offering the possibility of customisable fatty acid combinations, said the team behind the study. Read more.

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