Science Catch-up. Souping = The New Juicing?

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by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

Welcome to our Thursday’s Science Catch-up: curated links by The Health Sciences Academy. Get our email updates every other Thursday here (it’s free).

Let’s catch you up with studies and news that recently made the headlines!

Click on your favourite topics to read our summary:

1. Souping = the new juicing?

2. Flavonoid foods prevent weight gain?

3. Honey’s potential to save lives by destroying harmful fungus

4. What’s BX in rye and wholegrains?

5. Barley helps improve blood sugar and reduce appetite

6. High-fat diet in pregnancy alters child genes?

7. Sustained aerobic training increases neurogenesis in brain

8. Organic growth set to double – but it won’t feed the planet alone


Souping = the new juicing?

News link

Although I’m not sure they accurately grasp the scientific meaning of “detoxification”, souping start-ups seem to be on the rise! The chunkier that veggie soup, the better: keeping the fibre in is crucial to hunger control and satiety.


Flavonoid foods prevent weight gain?

Study link

This study found that those who ate more flavonoids gained less weight than those consuming less over a 24-year period. These flavonoids included:

  • anthocyanins (from blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, red grapes, red cabbage, red onions, black beans, aubergines, and all things purple and dark-red),
  • flavonoid polymers (from tea, apples, cinnamon, and raw cocoa), and
  • flavonols (from tea, garlic, and onions).

Every extra 10mg of anthocyanins, 138mg of flavonoid polymers, and 7mg of flavanols per day, was linked to up to 100g less weight gained over 4-year intervals. While this may not seem a lot, it adds up over a number of years!


Honey’s potential to save lives by destroying harmful fungus

News link

Here’s a reminder of the antibacterial and antifungal properties of honey. While honey has its health benefits, remember that it still qualifies as a “free sugar”. UK carbohydrate guidelines advise that you limit your intake of “free sugars” to no more than 5% of your total caloric intake for the day (more here).


What’s BX in rye and wholegrains?

News link

Ever heard of “cereal phytochemicals”? Well, rye and wholegrains are rich in a group of phytochemicals (bioactive compounds) called “benzoxazinoids”, or BX, which have health-protective qualities. Danish scientists have documented the uptake of BX compounds from wholegrains in humans, and their possible beneficial effects on your immune system – as well as the prevention of certain cancers.


Barley helps improve blood sugar and reduce appetite

News link

I often use boiled barley kernels in my soups or salads. I like them because they add consistency, they taste delicious, and they are known for the low-glycaemic, high-fibre content. In fact, barley kernels have half the glycaemic value of brown rice: GI 25 for barley vs GI 50 for brown rice!

This week, Swedish scientists revealed that barley can help prevent blood-sugar and insulin spikes, and increase insulin sensitivity in your body’s cells, all of which are known to reduce your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.

Moreover, it seems that the special mixture of fibres found in barley kernels might also decrease appetite and help with hunger control.

And if that wasn’t enough, when these fibres reach your gut, they stimulate the increase of good bacteria and the release of important hormones that reduce chronic low-grade inflammation.

Well, unless you have a gluten sensitivity, I’d say to give barley a go!


High-fat diet in pregnancy alters child genes?

News link

A mum’s high-fat diet during pregnancy can adversely alter her child’s genes (via epigenetic mechanisms) and cause weight gain and insulin resistance, according to new findings. Although this was a mice study, the same effects cannot be ruled out in us (humans)!


Sustained aerobic training increases neurogenesis in brain

News link

This is good news if you’re a marathon runner! Finnish scientists tell us that it might be possible to increase the neuron reserve of your hippocampus (and improve preconditions for learning and memory) by promoting neurogenesis (the birth of new brain cells) though sustained aerobic exercise, such as running. Nice side effect if you’re a fan of endurance training :-)


Organic growth set to double – but it won’t feed the planet alone

News link

Sales of organic food and drinks are expected to double by 2018, but this is not enough to feed the world. We need to produce enough food to feed our planet’s population of 7 billion. It breaks my heart that 805 million people go to bed hungry each night. And an additional 2 billion have a micro-nutrient deficiency. By 2050, there will be 9 billion of us on Earth… so the big question is: how will we fill 9 billion bowls by then?



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What has inspired you this week? What are your thoughts on some of these topics? Leave a comment and let us know!

Alex Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for students. She is a Harvard-trained scientific researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups every other Thursday.
Connect with Alex via email.

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  • Malc Campbell-Scott

    Reply Reply February 13, 2016

    I am thoroughly enjoying these studies. They are so professionally scientific, and not based on theory, as much science is.

    I have only just started with the FREE introductory course, but I believe in the future I will be taking my studies much further.

    Thank you so much,


    • Alex

      Reply Reply March 10, 2016

      Malc – I love to hear you’re enjoying the science! Whether you join us or not, I’ll be here every other Thursday with more science, free of charge :-)

  • Malc Campbell-Scott

    Reply Reply March 18, 2016

    Thank you so much; I am thoroughly enjoying the wonderful science based health/nutrition information you have sent me.

    I really want to join you, but am not sure what course to choose.

    My goal is to teach people with mental health problems. I should imagine you know the effects of antipsychotic drugs. One major problem is the weight gain caused by these drugs. They also cause a problematic “craving” for carbohydrates.

    There is an opening in the NHS to deal with this subject.

    Could you advise me on which course would be suitable for this project.

    Kind regards,


  • Cathy Johnson Campbell

    Reply Reply May 16, 2016

    Hi there,
    Interesting as always.
    Have you read the full research report related to your headline: High-fat diet in pregnancy alters child genes?
    I’m curious as to what type of fat the mice were fed in the study you refer to. And what else was in each of the food sources provided.
    Do you have that info?
    Thanks :)

    • Hi Cathy, always so nice to hear from you :-) Yes, the high-fat diet had 60% of calories from fat as soybean oil and lard (the split between the two isn’t mentioned), 20% of calories from protein, and 20% of calories from carbohydrate. You can find the full study text and details here. Enjoy! Maria (THSA team)

      • Cathy Johnson Campbell

        Reply Reply May 17, 2016

        Thanks for your response Maria, and really appreciate the link to the full study text.

        Studies like this frustrate me because they use the blanket term ‘high fat’, when they don’t specify what the source and processing of the soybean oil and lard was.

        As is now known, the ‘quality’ of fats can be a determinant in how the fat affects the body.
        If the soybean oil was GMO, highly processed and high in Omega 6 (inflammatory), and the lard from grain fed cattle subject to all vaccines, growth hormones, etc, then these results would not surprise me at all. (My guess is this is what was used because these are what the general population are mass consuming. Otherwise the researchers probably would have made the distinction about the quality of fat used in the study.)

        However, if both fats were organic and low processed then perhaps the results may be quite different. Or if they had used fats high in Omega 3’s for example. The diet would still be ‘high fat’ yet perhaps show a very different outcome.

        My concern is this type of study may yet again scare people away from including healthy fats (organic sourced, low/no processing, high Omega 3) in their diet, which we know are vital to our physical and mental health.

        What do you think?

        • Cathy – you’re welcome! Well, that’s how scientific investigation works. It’s important to first establish the “generic” assumption (high-fat diet) and after that, depending on the findings, do new studies that go into the specifics and test different fats. Although there already are several studies on different fats/epigenetics, which we teach in our advanced courses :-) Regarding GMOs, it’s not as straight forward, we looked at all GMO/biological studies and dive into the nitty-gritty here: (this is must-have knowledge to have a smart discussion on GMOs with anyone). On a different topic, most people get confused about Omega 6, claiming that it is “inflammatory” or that it “causes” inflammation. But that’s incorrect. It’s one of the first things we teach our students. Omega 6 fatty acids can be “pro-inflammatory”. Pro-inflammatory means that something “promotes” inflammation (not that it “causes” it). There are loads of types of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids that your own body produces (from GLA) as part of the inflammatory response. Also remember that your body uses the inflammation cascade a) to grow tissue, and b) as a defence mechanism to survive. Also, inflammation is key to cell and DNA repair. So it’s not always a bad thing.

          • Cathy Johnson Campbell

            Reply Reply May 19, 2016

            Thanks Maria,
            Yes, lots of variables with dietary fat as you know.

            Helping people recover from binge eating and bulimia I commonly see people ‘afraid’ to eat dietary fat because they equate it with creating fat stores on their body.

            Many such people commonly have no differentiation between healthy and unhealthy fats.

            For the benefit of this large segment of the population I like to see the differences in various fats and their effects spelled out… hence my frustration with the study using the generic term ‘high-fat’.

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