263 female subjects in New Zealand were recruited to investigate the possibility that low fat diets (recommended in the treatment of high blood fats and obesity) were often deficient in calcium. It was seen that the intake of calcium was similar in both the control group and the ‘dieters’, however the mean calcium intake (754mg daily) was below that recommended by the New Zealand Department of Health (800mg daily for women under 55 years old and 1000mg daily for women over 55 years old).
The conclusion of this study supported that of several other studies indicating that most women need to increase their calcium intake whether they are dieting or not.
The UK NRV for calcium in women between 19-50+ years is 700mg and for post-menopausal women it is 1000mg and although this study indicated that the UK NRV was, on average, exceeded, its findings supported those of several other studies suggesting that most women should increase their calcium intake whether they are dieting or not.
Peak bone mass in women is not reached until the mid to late 30’s. In light of the increased incidence of osteoporosis in our society, it would be reasonable to encourage maximising peak bone mass by a regime of calcium supplementation and regular load bearing exercise, which in combination have been seen to increase skeletal mineralisation or to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Interestingly, a high saturated fat diet appears to reduce calcium absorption due to the formation of insoluble calcium ‘soaps’.
If you are planning a holiday abroad this year, then you’d do well to pack some fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) in your suitcase! For it’s estimated that between 25-50% of those journeying abroad for business or pleasure succumb to traveller’s diarrhoea (TD), usually caused by toxin-producing strains of E.coli bacterium.
Orthodox treatments are limited to antibiotics which are not without unpleasant side effects.
The alternative preventative option is to provide a suitable environment within which the beneficial bacteria (ie lactobacilli and bifidobacteria) in the gut can flourish. These beneficial bacteria help to prevent infection by invading ‘foreign’ bacteria by making the gut environment unsuitable for the invaders to survive in.
Fructo-oligosaccharides are a type of soluble fibre found in some vegetables. The average diet only provides around 2-3 grams of fructo-oligosaccharides a day, from foods such as chicory, onions, asparagus and artichoke but it is estimated that the optimum intake should be 5-10 grams. This level will significantly stimulate the growth of our own beneficial bacteria and research has shown that very quickly the beneficial bacteria become the dominant species in the gut.
The effectiveness of these few grams of a natural material appears to be much greater than can be achieved by taking acidophilus products. In fact several research groups are excited by the prospect that FOS offers a cheap way to ward off digestive infections.