Science shorts: Bite-sized findings from Danone and studies featuring TCM and fish oil

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The first two to three years of life are when the gut microbiota of infants grows in diversity and richness. ©iStock
The first two to three years of life are when the gut microbiota of infants grows in diversity and richness. ©iStock
Danone’s research on the gut-brain axis in infants, BASF’s latest grant awards, and new studies on TCM and fish oil feature in our latest science round-up.

Danone study outlines possible mechanisms behind gut-brain axis in infants

The mechanisms behind the gut-brain axis in infants should be further explored and better understood, so possible nutritional interventions can support healthy brain development​, according to a Danone-led study.

The first two to three years of life are when the gut microbiota of infants grows in diversity and richness. It is understood that disruptions in the evolving gut microbiota during such a critical period can affect cognitive development, which can in turn lead to complications that last well into adulthood.

Based on this, the researchers reviewed the known associations between gut microbiota and brain development and function in early life, assessed the potential mechanisms involved, and reported on how nutritional intervention could further modulate the microbiota and, by extension, cognitive function and development.


CLA, probiotics and plant-sterol studies benefit from BASF's Newtrition Asia Research Grant

BASF has handed out €200,000 to five researchers from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to support studies that will help meet the most pressing health concerns of Asian consumers.

Two of the researchers will study the effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) from BASF on 200 overweight and obese adults, while other studies will assess probiotics, plant-sterols and carotenoids.

With the grant amount of €40,000 each, the researchers will focus on the scientific research of three main topics most relevant for Asian-Pacific demographics: cardiovascular health, metabolic health, and physical function and mobility.


'Reverse metabolomics': How Kiwi programme on infant gut health could benefit baby food industry

Researchers involved in the High Value Nutrition National Science Challenge New Zealand are hoping their findings on the infant gut microbiome will have significant commercial use.

The mission, which covers four areas of human health — namely, metabolic, immune, digestive and infant health — is currently working on testing the impact of kumara​ (or sweet potato) on infants' gut microbiota, which undergoes a transformation upon introduction to solid food.

The researchers, who are from the University of Auckland, AgResearch, Riddet Institute and Malaghan Institute, considered 13,000 scientific publications and identified over 1,600 papers on the infant gut microbiome and immune health.


Low-dose DHA-rich fish oil may lower triglycerides in pre-menopausal women

Researchers in Australia found that pre-menopausal women supplemented with 1 g of DHA-rich tuna oil had significantly lowered triglyceride levels​ compared to those who took the placebo.

The majority of studies on DHA’s effect on triglycerides, an important marker for heart health, have been conducted on men and post-menopausal women, the researchers argued in their report, published in the journal Nutrients.

Results from this latest study suggested a benefit for pre-menopausal women “of a similar degree to that observed in men and post-menopausal women,” ​the researchers reported, where participants who took the high DHA oil had approximately 20% lower plasma triglyceride levels from baseline.


TCM supplements may speed up running times: Human data

The traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) combination of Astragalus membranaceus and Angelica sinensis called Danggui Buxue Tang may shorten running times and boost iron levels​ during recovery, suggests a new study.

Data from 36 recreationally active males indicated that Danggui Buxue Tang (DBT) supplementation prior to a 13 km run shortened the finish times by an impressive 12 minutes – or 14% - compared to placebo.

Scientists from Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan also reported that DBT was associated with repressed exercise-induced hepcidin levels. Hepcidin is the main hormone responsible for controlling iron levels in the body. Exercise can elevate hepcidin levels, which decreases iron transport and lowers iron levels.


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