Science Shorts: Agthia's scientific approach to water, depression and poorly understood food-linked allergy FPIES feature in our science round-up

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Australian academics have drawn attention to a 'poorly understood' food allergy — Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES), which is often misdiagnosed in infants as sepsis or gastroenteritis. ©Getty Images
Australian academics have drawn attention to a 'poorly understood' food allergy — Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES), which is often misdiagnosed in infants as sepsis or gastroenteritis. ©Getty Images

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Agthia's scientific approach to water, depression studies and poorly understood food-linked allergy FPIES feature in this edition of Science Shorts.

Poorly understood allergy: Academics highlight FPIES triggers, including rice and milk

Australian academics have drawn attention to a 'poorly understood' food allergy — Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES)​, which is often misdiagnosed in infants as sepsis or gastroenteritis.

The most common food triggers for FPIES are rice, cow’s milk, egg, oats and chicken.

FPIES typically presents between one and four hours after ingestion of the trigger food, with symptoms including profuse vomiting, pallor and lethargy. Other features can include hypotension, hypothermia, diarrhoea, neutrophilia and thrombocytosis.

Co-authors of a new narrative review, Dr Sam Mehr, a paediatric immunologist and allergist at Royal Melbourne Hospital, and Professor Dianne Campbell, Chair of Paediatric Allergy and Clinical Immunology at the University of Sydney, and Children’s Hospital, Westmead, noted:

“Diagnosis is often hampered by the lack of awareness of FPIES, absence of reliable biomarkers, the non-specific nature of the presenting symptoms, and the delay between allergen exposure and symptoms."

 

Food and mood: Study showcases how losing weight could ease symptoms of depression

Dieting can reduce depression, an analysis of Australian data has found​, strengthening the emerging link between despondence and obesity.

The study, which took data from almost 46,000 Australians, found that nutrient-boosting and fat-reduction diets had a “small but​ significant​” effect on women. There were no benefits of dietary interventions for depression or anxiety in men, however.

Moreover, when dieting was combined with exercise, a greater improvement in depressive symptoms was experienced.

Our analysis of the overall evidence shows that adopting a healthier diet can boost peoples’ mood. However, it has no clear effects on anxiety​,” said Joseph Firth, a health researcher at Western Sydney University, who led the study in Australia as part of an international team.

'Bringing science to water': Agthia expands functional product range with eye on APAC market

Middle Eastern mineral water giant Agthia Group is focusing on functional benefits​ with its latest product launches, with intentions to expand further into the APAC market.

Speaking to FoodNavigator-Asia​ at the Gulfood 2019 event, group CEO Tariq Ahmed Al Wahedi said: “We are the only company to bring science to water. Nobody else is doing that.”

“Agthia as a company was based on elements such as innovation, food security and our corporate social responsibility initiatives are all also based on these two points.”

Innovation is definitely a key focus of the company, with a focus on health benefits especially with bringing this to mineral water.

From zero to hero: How Singapore became SEA's leading food and nutrition hub in 20 short years

Singapore is rightly proud of its status as South East Asia's leading food and nutrition hub​, but the city state is refusing to rest on its laurels, and is now striving to develop a thriving start-up scene and tackle challenges around food safety, security, and advances in manufacturing.

It is all a far cry from just 20 years ago, when the National University of Singapore’s Food Science and Technology programme was launched, along with the first degree courses in the subject.

According to associate professor Ralph Graichen, director of Food and Nutrition and Consumer Care at the government Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), it wasn’t really until 2009 that Singapore’s potential as a regional food hub began to develop.

“Singapore was always linked more with engineering, computing then pharma-bio, but then food started to get interesting too,”​ he said.

Health overtaking flavour: Food companies ride on rising salt reduction and clean label trends in China

Health concerns are overtaking flavour preferences in China​ — where dishes are traditionally prepared with substantial amounts of seasonings and spices — and food companies are increasingly using this trend to their advantage.

According to market intelligence agency Mintel, over the last six months 94% of urban Chinese consumers have opted to reduce their salt intake, a significant departure from traditional Chinese cooking styles that have a strong emphasis on flavour and taste, usually derived from high salt and seasoning content.

This was observed in efforts such as 55% of consumers reducing the amount of salt used in cooking, 37% reducing monosodium glutamate (MSG) use, 36% reducing soy sauce use, and 38% reducing their consumption of processed foods.

“Driven by increasing health concerns, Chinese consumers are taking care over their diets and trying to avoid ‘bad’ elements like salt and MSG,”​ said Crystal A, Food and Drink Research Analyst, Mintel China Reports.

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