Science Catch-up. Probiotic Apple Snacks: Filling Fruit With “Good” Bacteria?

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Welcome to our Thursday 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. Probiotic apple snacks: filling fruit with “good” bacteria?

2. Headline vs headline: High-fat breakfast for faster fat burning?

3. Muesli bread to reduce appetite?


Probiotic apple snacks: filling fruit with “good” bacteria?

Study link

The evidence on the benefits of gut health just keeps piling up! You’ve probably heard about probiotics a lot, it’s exploding as a field right now…

And I’ve just heard that scientists in Brazil and Spain have, for the first time, found a way to combine two healthy things in one: they made probiotic apple snacks!

(I think it’s great news for vegans and those with lactose intolerance).

If you’re not caught up on probiotics, the idea is simple…

It’s just eating bacteria!

But not just any bacteria of course, it has to be the right kind of bacteria and in the right amount.

You might not know this, but your gut has trillions of microbes in it right now. Seriously, there really are that many tiny microorganisms living happily in your intestines…

And here’s the thing: a strong and diverse bacterial garden in your gut has immense health benefits, helping you with digestion and even having positive effects on the production of your “happiness” hormone (serotonin).

In truth, we’re just now starting to realise how this gut ‘microbiome’ helps regulate our mood and other aspects of our neurobiology!

However, in a lot of us, the bacterial communities are not at all happy. When there gets to be too many of the “bad” bacteria, your gut enters a state of dysbiosis, which is associated with a range of gastrointestinal issues including IBS.

That’s where probiotics come in…

They top you up with the “good” bacteria, and if they manage to survive your stomach and get into your intestines, they displace the “bad” bacteria and get your gut back on track.

Probiotic bacteria occur naturally in many dairy products such as yogurt, and other fermented foods such as miso and sourdough bread. Even daily multivitamin supplements tend to have a few strains.

But if you want to make sure you get a proper dose, there might soon be dried apple cubes instead!

Ultrasound-assisted drying helped ensure there were enough live bacteria still in the apple to get a benefit from eating it (Rodrigues et al., 2018).

This new development is quite exciting, because gastrointestinal problems seem to be on the rise, and any new way to introduce probiotics into the diet is good, especially when it comes with a fruit that most of us love…

The scientists showed that their dried apple cubes had the same number of one particular type of bacteria, Lactobacillus casei (strain NRRL B-442), as you might find in commercial probiotic dairy foods. They accomplished this with a special ultrasound drying technique that made sure enough bacteria survived.

That’s all very promising, but it should be noted that there are a huge number of different bacterial strains, and each one will work to a different degree in each different individual…

While this is a good start, it also takes more than just probiotics to make sure your gut stays healthy.

For more information on how to do that, and to learn how to safely and effectively use probiotic-rich foods, check out this short training where we go through the third of 4 proven steps to alleviate gut-related problems.



Headline vs headline: High-fat breakfast for faster fat burning?

Study link

Here’s the latest in the headlines: “eating a high-fat breakfast means you’ll burn more fat during the day…”

Do you feel like you’ve also seen headlines that say the exact opposite? I know I have!

This latest study seems to be contradicting the results of others: there’s a never-ending stream of opposing evidence. Or so it would seem…

And worse, this type of headline just fuels more arguments about whether fat is good or bad, which we’ve talked about before herehere, and here, and here, here, here, here, and here. It’s exhausting, right?

Clearly something must be wrong, and the only way to find out what… is to get to the bottom of the science. My favourite thing!

This study is a great example…

The scientists divided people up into two groups, gave one of them a high-fat breakfast, and monitored a range of metabolic markers throughout each day. Their lunch and dinner were designed to be “neutral”.

Twenty-nine people participated in the study (Bush et al., 2018).

They found that the people who were given a high-fat breakfast had significantly greater fat oxidation (burning) throughout the 24-hour day.

So what’s the problem?

My first question is: greater fat oxidation compared to whom?

The answer: compared to people given a high-carb breakfast. Meaning this doesn’t tell us how a high-fat breakfast compares to a high-protein breakfast, a high-fibre breakfast, a balanced breakfast, or NO breakfast at all!

And that’s not the end of it…

The study lasted just 4 weeks, had only 29 participants, all healthy, mostly sedentary, aged 55 and 75 from Alabama. So we cannot extrapolate these findings to active individuals, for instance.

In fact, if I were trying to decide on the best kind of breakfast for fat loss, I wouldn’t pay any attention to this study at all. Why?

There are an immense number of things which can affect your fat-burning potential, and they might be a little different for everybody!

When you’re thinking about the best diet for you, it should take into account everything about you: whether you want to lose fat or put on muscle, any nutrient potential deficiencies, how much sleep you get, your physical activity levels, your inherited genes… and much more.

Everybody is different and has different needs. When it comes to what and when we eat: if it’s not personalised, it’s not effective!

Seeing headlines like this can be confusing, if you don’t have the time or the skills to get to the bottom of it…

That’s why we do it for you in our brand-new THSA Lab! It’s packed with short courses and standalone modules, each dealing with a different controversial question and digging deep into the science to bring you the facts of the matter.

And for more on fat consumption, see this short training on whether a high-fat diet increases (or suppresses!) appetite.


Muesli bread to reduce appetite?

Study link

Staying fuller for longer is a key area of research to help people achieve their weight loss goals, and now a new kind of bread might be the silencer of our stomach rumbling…

How much we want to eat isn’t just about calories. A lot of different things seem to affect how long it takes us to get hungry again.

Now it seems that researchers from Spain have found a way to make our morning toast, or lunchtime sandwich, fend off our caloric cravings for longer…

How have they done that?

Unlike the ordinary kind, this fancy bread has been enriched with a wide variety of helpful macronutrients to give it unique properties. It’s made with a blend of cereal flours including wheat, oat, and spelt, and is nearly one quarter dried fruit!

22% of this loaf is in fact made from figs, apricots, raisins, and prunes. On top of that, the scientists have added extra fibre and protein for a very diverse bake.

So what’s all that supposed to do?

The scientists tested this bread in comparison to a slice of commercially available white bread, which was spread with margarine and jam to make sure the two breakfasts had equal fat, sugar, and caloric content.

Reduced ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and a lower glycaemic response after eating the muesli bread compared to white (Mesa et al., 2015).

They found that the enriched bread kept the participants satisfied for longer, both according to how they felt and their hunger-hormone profile.

Fibre and protein are known to increase satiety, so this result makes a lot of sense, right?

But let’s not get too excited – despite having less hunger, there was no change in the amount of food that the participants ate later in the day…

There are so many factors that influence our appetite and our food intake, that this result isn’t completely surprising.

It may be that this kind of food enrichment could play a useful role in weight loss efforts, and more and bigger studies of it in different contexts might tell us whether we should turn away from a white-bread world…

And if you want to learn why a full stomach doesn’t always stop us from continuing eating, take a look at this short course on appetite neurochemistry and weight loss science.



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The-Health-Sciences-Academy-Alejandra-Ruani-small1-right Alex Ruani, Doctoral Researcher, is the Chief Science Educator at The Health Sciences Academy, where her team of accomplished scientists and PhDs are training a new breed of over 100,000 highly-specialised nutrition professionals who are leveraging the latest personalisation strategies to help their clients. She is a Harvard-trained scientist and UCL Doctoral Researcher who is fanatical about equipping health professionals with the latest science-based tools so they can succeed in their practices – from identifying the unique nutrient needs to building highly personalised nutrition programs. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition biochemistry, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free email updates.

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