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Diet change works swiftly in reducing risk

NZ Avocado contributed to the study detailed below through the provision of avocados to the participants throughout the trial.

A study by Lynnette Ferguson, Professor of Nutrition at The University of Auckland, has shown that a change in diet can be effective in reducing inflammation over a period of just six weeks in healthy New Zealanders.

The research has also shown that short-term studies with relatively small numbers of participants are capable of yielding robust research results, which has major implications for the cost of human clinical trials.

"Inflammation, says Professor Ferguson, "can be the catalyst for chronic human diseases, including Alzheimer's, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers, as well as various autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's Disease and type 2 diabetes.

"It has been established in many studies that this inflammation can be reduced through a diet which is high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, fruit and vegetables, nuts and whole grains, and is low in refined grains, saturated fats and sugars.

"Many of these dietary components characterise the Mediterranean diet', which has been shown to protect against chronic disease.

What Professor Ferguson set out to investigate was whether there was evidence of inflammation in apparently healthy New Zealanders and whether changing their diet for just six weeks would reduce this evidence.

To do this she looked at bio-markers including the C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a standard marker for inflammation and can be measured through blood tests.

Thirty healthy volunteers, selected for their initially "poor diets, were encouraged to cut out refined and processed foods and to follow a Mediterranean-type diet over the six weeks of the study, with increased amounts of fish, vegetables, unrefined cereals and "good fats such as olive oil and avocado. They were given some foods, including salmon (for one meal a week), and were provided with recipes for healthy eating. The biggest difference from a standard Mediterranean-style diet was the use of gluten-free foods.

Participants, randomly assigned to high and lower-intervention groups, provided blood and urine samples at the beginning and end of the study, completed a four-day diary in the final days, and completed questionnaires about their diet and lifestyle, as well as attending workshops led by expert dieticians.

"This was a small study, intended to be a pilot for a much larger study of patients with Inflammatory Bowel Diseases such as Crohn's Disease, but the results turned out to be highly statistically significant, says Professor Ferguson. "Overall average daily fat intake was considerably reduced, and much lower percentages of saturated fat were consumed.

The self-reporting of volunteers was corroborated by the blood tests, which showed a corresponding reduction in the bio-markers for inflammation. It demonstrated that the high-intervention diet had altered gene expression within six weeks.

"This is a remarkable result, says Professor Ferguson, "since it shows that average people, many of them young and with no health conditions, can, through an improvement in diet, significantly modify the biomarkers that indicate the risk that they could develop a chronic disease later.

The larger research project for which this was a pilot or "proof of principle study is one which is examining the effect of a change to a Mediterranean-type diet (similar, though not identical, to that in the pilot study) on people suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

It has been established that there are several different genotypes characteristic of people suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and that each of those genotypes responds differently to particular types of diet or dietary items. The current research project is concentrating on those who have the most common genotype for the disease, though the ultimate aim is to formulate different diets tailored to the needs of the whole range of genotypes.

Results are being analysed now and look "highly encouraging , says Professor Ferguson. The findings will be available in March.

Read More 31 Oct '17 Biosecurity Week 2017 kicks off Photo

Biosecurity Week 2017 kicks off

Pests and diseases from offshore can cause serious harm to New Zealand's unique environment and primary industries; and the Port of Tauranga is one of many potential gateways.Biosecurity Week activities highlight the importance of biosecurity and the role that everyone in the Bay of Plenty can play in managing unwanted biosecurity risks says Kiwifruit Vine Health Chief Executive Barry O’Neil.“We’re looking forward to talking to people who work on and around the Port about biosecurity – it’s such an important issue and one that really does affect everyone.”“People who own and work at local businesses remember what Psa has done to the kiwifruit industry. There are bugs and pests that we don’t want here in New Zealand because of the devastating effect they will have not only on kiwifruit, but on the whole of our horticulture industry and environment.”“A good example is a particular type of bug we’re concerned about – it’s one of our most unwanted and called the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. It’s a major nuisance that attacks fruit when it feeds and ruins it. It infests homes and in the USA we’ve seen it stop people from being able to sit outside their homes and have a simple BBQ”.Port staff, transitional facilities, associated industries (such as transporters and other logistical operators), and biosecurity experts will be meeting at several events over the next six days to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of managing biosecurity risk.Special guest Ruud 'The Bug Man' Kleinpaste will also be attending several industry and community school group presentations during the week to discuss the vital role of everyone who works and lives in and around the Port and local community in keeping unwanted pests and diseases out of New Zealand.Throughout the week there will also be discussions with post-harvest facilities and transitional facilities to learn more about the frontline biosecurity systems they have in place. Biosecurity Week is part of the biosecurity excellence partnership between Port of Tauranga, the Ministry for Primary Industries, Kiwifruit Vine Health, NZ Avocado, Dairy NZ, Forestry Owners Association, NZ Customs and Bay of Plenty Regional Council.The award-winning partnership aims to build a port community committed to biosecurity excellence, with an ambitious goal of no biosecurity incursions coming through the Port of Tauranga. It is a successful regional example of the Ministry for Primary Industries, local industries and regional government, partnering to build a biosecurity team of 4.7 million New Zealanders.It also benefits from strong engagement with the science community, including a formal partnership with the New Zealand’s Biological Heritage national science challenge and the B3 (Better Border Biosecurity) science collaboration. This has been boosted by a $1.95 million co-funded research project with B3 to trial new tools and technologies in the port environment, monitor biosecurity awareness amongst the local community, and measure the impacts of changes on biosecurity risk.Port of Tauranga Chief Executive Mark Cairns said the week provides a good opportunity to strengthen the significance of biosecurity within the Port community. “Effective biosecurity awareness is critical to us running a successful business and being able to continue to service the Bay of Plenty region. The various events we’re holding for our staff, contractors and local businesses who regularly interact with us and our facilities will give us the chance to show people what they should be looking out for and what to do if they find anything.”“It’s an opportunity to demonstrate the good work that happens here at the Port, day in day out, to keep an eye out.”“Our people are at the frontline – they’re the ones most likely to first notice an unwanted pest on cargo, vehicles or equipment moving off the port. By knowing what to look for and reporting unfamiliar insects or suspicious looking pests they help protect everyone’s livelihood and the future of the kiwifruit, avocado and forestry sectors.”

Read More 06 Sep '17 Nic Gill - avocado grower Photo

Nic Gill - avocado grower

Dr Nic Gill tells us about why he chose to grow avocados and why he loves them. Watch here: Nic Gill - Avocado grower

Read More 06 Sep '17 Nic Gill - avocado as the Ferrari of fruit Photo

Nic Gill - avocado as the Ferrari of fruit

Dr Nic Gill shares about why avocados are the "Ferrari of fruit" and talks about avocados as a part of a high performance athletes diet. Nic also shares his favourite avocado smoothie recipe. Watch here: Nic Gill - avocado as the "Ferrari of fruit"

Read More 17 Aug '17 Kiwis Assured All Fresh Avocados Eaten in New Zealand are Grown Here Photo

Kiwis Assured All Fresh Avocados Eaten in New Zealand are Grown Here

“All fresh avocados eaten in New Zealand are grown here,” says New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular, mitigating concerns that we import the fruit from Mexico. Criticism of Mexican growing practices was raised by an article published this week by the New Zealand Herald in the Lifestyle Section article headlined “Why you should stop eating avocados.”* Scoular says the article has caused confusion and New Zealand Avocado had fielded some concerned calls from the public for clarification about the origins of the fruit in New Zealand. New Zealand Avocado says the facts are: New Zealand does not import any fresh avocados. All our fruit is grown here, and consumed by Kiwis as well as exported, and our industry business model is environmentally sustainable. All of the fresh avocados that are sold in New Zealand supermarkets must comply with food safety protocols that ensure they are free of unsafe chemical residues and are safe for consumption. Furthermore, New Zealand researchers have discovered that New Zealand-grown avocados have unique nutritional qualities, with double the amount of Vitamin B6 and 20 percent more folate than those grown in other countries. “The article is misleading because it doesn’t mention New Zealand’s positive role in the international avocado industry. We don’t want Kiwis to be put off purchasing avocados based on incorrect information and a lack of knowledge and understanding about our successful and sustainable industry,” she says. Scoular says she is confident that Kiwis’ love affair with avocados will continue, and New Zealand Avocado encourages discussion around origin and sustainability. “It’s great the public are asking these questions, we want to ensure they are properly informed.” The New Zealand avocado season officially launched last week, it runs from August to April, but fresh avocados can be supplied year around in New Zealand. “Avocados are simply one of the best everyday simple, healthy, delicious foods. And it is wonderful the new research has uncovered that New Zealand avocados are especially healthy.” * http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=11904488