Nutrition :: Researchers look to solve mystery behind egcg and probiotics
When talking about nutrition, EGCG and probiotics are two words that we’ve been hearing a lot about these days. But most consumers don’t know what they are, where they are found and what they do. Some of that mystery was cleared up this week at the 47th Annual Symposia of the American College of Nutrition (ACN) where leading nutrition experts revealed new research about the health benefits of these two ingredients.
EGCG is the acronym for epigallocatechin gallate, a component found in green tea. Scientific research has associated EGCG with a reduced risk for age-related and chronic diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Because of its ability to enhance the body’s use of calories to generate heat and energy, a process called thermogenesis, EGCG has also been associated with improvements in weight maintenance.
According to Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, of the Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University, who led a session on EGCG at the meeting, tea provides more than 60 percent of the flavonoids available in the U.S. diet. Flavonoids are plant compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. They also modulate the destruction of cancer cells and support a healthy vascular system.
“Recommendations from current research for beverage consumption acknowledge tea as a high-value beverage for its low calorie content, high phytonutrient content and recognized health benefits,” Blumberg reported.
Michael Boschmann, PhD, a scientist from Universitary Medicine, Charite in Berlin, Germany, reported results from a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study that found that 300 mg EGCG can increase the process known as fat oxidation or the burning of body fat by as much as eight percent. Effects were greatest following a high-fat meal.
Swen Wolfram, PhD, a scientist with DSM Nutritional Products Ltd, Basel, Switzerland suggested that EGCG may also be effective for the prevention and treatment of metabolic disorders like diabetes. In a pre-clinical animal study conducted in Switzerland, EGCG supplementation reduced body fat caused by a high-fat diet in a dose-dependent manner. Wolfram reported several significant findings from this study. First, EGCG supplementation caused a significant weight loss within one month in the animals with diet-induced obesity, (i.e., weight gain was caused by consumption of a high fat diet). EGCG supplementation also decreased the percentage of body fat in a dose-dependent fashion in one group said to have genetic obesity and improved the response to glucose in another group genetically prone to diabetes, again with greater improvements with increasing levels of supplementation. In addition, a study conducted by Peter Howe, director of the Nutritional Physiology Research Center at the University of South Australia, showed that EGCG lowered blood glucose by 7.6% in a sub-group of overweight post-menopausal women with elevated glucose levels.
Joe Vita, MD, a professor of medicine at Boston University, investigated the potential cardiovascular benefits of EGCG in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover study of 42 patients supplemented with 300 mg of EGCG. Used as a marker of cardiovascular health, endothelial function measures the elasticity in the inner lining of the heart’s major blood vessels. When these vessels are more pliable, it indicates that blood flow is sufficient and there is a reduced risk of blockage or cardiac events. In this study, EGCG supplementation significantly improved endothelial function by 21% and thereby the risk of cardiovascular events, at levels comparable to the effect of drinking tea or other flavonoid-rich foods or beverages.
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria found among the intestinal microbiota, the living microorganisms in the intestinal tract necessary for proper digestive health. They are responsible for protective effects including healthy turnover of cells in the intestinal tract, production of essential nutrients such as short-chain fatty acids and amino acids, stimulation of intestinal immunity and prevention of overgrowth of harmful organisms. Probiotics can also be found in fermented food products such as yogurt and in supplements.
“We have only begun to scratch the surface about the health benefits of probiotics,” said Kelly Tappenden, PhD, associate professor of nutrition and gastrointestinal physiology of the University of Illinois, who led a session on the subject at the ACN meeting. She added, “A host of influences including genetics, environment, diet and disease can dramatically offset this balance of microbiota in the GI tract and affect our health.”
Simin Meydan, DVM, PhD, also of the HNRCA at Tufts, reviewed the research on probiotics and suggested that probiotics consumption may positively enhance the immune response and allow for improved resistance to infectious diseases.
Yet, researchers are still unclear on the method of action behind probiotics’ benefits. Robert Clancy, PhD, of The University of New Castle, Australia, suggested that there will be “Immunobiotic Evolution,” stemming from the growing body of research demonstrating that probiotics have immune system benefits. In reviewing the research on the method of action, he said, “Research on probiotics is moving rapidly to identify the mechanism by which probiotics can stimulate the intestinal lining, how that function can lend benefit for protective immunity, diminish allergic hypersensitivity in the digestive trace and reduce cancer risk.”
Eamonn Quigley, MD, of University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, reviewed the literature and shared his analysis that there may be a strong indication for use of probiotics in the treatment of many gastrointestinal diseases, given the offset balance of microbiota in individuals with conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Quigley offered several proposed methods of action including probiotics’ anti-inflammatory properties, as well as displacing harmful bacteria and replenish the balance of healthy flora along the digestive tract.
Adding EGCG and Probiotics to the Diet
Although EGCG is found naturally in tea, it is also available as a single-entity dietary supplement or as part of some multivitamin formulations. Snapple(TM) Green Tea, supplemented with Teavigo(TM) EGCG from DSM Nutritional Products, is now available nationwide with 55 mg per 17.5 ounce bottle.
Probiotics are now being added to dairy products and are also available in dietary supplement form. LAFTI(R) probiotics from DSM can not only be applied to dairy products such as yogurts, milk drinks and cheese, but also to non-dairy products such as spreads, desserts, and cereals.
About the American College of Nutrition
The American College of Nutrition was established in 1959 to provide an organization, which encompasses the needs of professionals from all disciplines with a common interest in nutrition. The organization aims to enhance knowledge of nutrition and metabolism and the application of such knowledge to the maintenance of health and the treatment of disease. American College of Nutrition’s Annual Meeting provides hundreds of physicians, nutritionists, dietitians, health care team members and investigators opportunities to increase their understanding of basic science underlying clinical nutrition, and the practice of clinical nutrition.
About DSM Nutritional Products, Inc.
DSM Nutritional Products, Inc. is the world’s leading supplier of vitamins, carotenoids and other fine chemicals to the feed, food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. DSM works to monitor and disseminate vitamin research, sponsor professional symposia on current vitamin and nutraceutical topics and generate materials to educate professionals about the roles of vitamins and nutraceuticals in health. DSM is proud to be a sponsor for two sessions at the 47th Annual Meeting of the American College of Nutrition and to help further the education of nutrition-related professionals.
DSM produces EGCG in purified form under the brand name Teavigo(TM), and produces a variety of probiotics strains under the brand name LAFTI(R).
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