Research at UAF - Tackling metabolic syndrome by developing functional foods
Name of Principal Investigator: Dr. Muhammad Issa Khan
Assistant Professor
Tel: +92-333-662748, Fax: +92-41-9201439
Name of Co-Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Faqir Muhammad Anjum
Tel: +92-41-9201105, Fax: +92-41-9201439
Duration of the Project: 2Years
Cost of the Project: 4.434 Million
Funding Agency HEC

Progress Reports

Metabolic syndrome is a collection of heart disease risk factors that increase chance of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The condition is also known by other names including Syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome and dysmetabolic syndrome. According to a US national health survey, more than one in five Americans has metabolic syndrome. The number of people with metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting more than 40 percent of people in their 60s and 70s. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend that the metabolic syndrome be identified as the presence of three or more of these components: elevated waist circumference i.e. 35 inches (women) to 40 inches (men), triglycerides greater than 150 mg/dL, HDL less than 40mg/dL in men and 50mg/dL in women, blood pressure equal to or greater than 130/85 mm Hg and fasting glucose equal to or greater than 100 mg/dL. For managing both long- and short-term risk, lifestyle therapies are the first-line interventions to reduce the metabolic risk factors. These lifestyle interventions include: weight loss to achieve a desirable weight (BMI less than 25 kg/m2), increased physical activity, with a goal of at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week and healthy eating habits that include reduced intake of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Plant foods contain biologically active ingredients which have helpful in tackling metabolic syndrome: soy play preventive and therapeutic roles in cardiovascular disease (CVD), flaxseed oil contains the most (57%) of the omega-3 fatty acid, a-linolenic acid and helpful in lowering LDL and blood glucose, oat and barley have beta glucan which is used to lower total and LDL cholesterol and blood glucose. The aim  of the study is to use indigenous plant materials rich in functional ingredients to combat the metabolic syndrome
Problem statement:
The concept of functional foods (‘physiologically functional foods’) was born in Japan in the 1980’s, where the term was used by industry to describe foods fortified with specific ingredients imparting certain health benefits. The government nurtured the concept because it was concerned about the ageing of the country’s population and the resultant cost of health-care (Japanese people have the longest life-expectancy in the world) (Heasman, 1997). Dietary fibre was the first of the functional ingredients to be a commercial success and the sudden rise in demand for drinks containing high levels of fibre in the late 1980’s is considered the start of the functional foods market in Japan and the rest of the world (Heasman, 1997). The product credited with being the first Japanese functional food is a dietary fiber containing soft-drink called Fibre-Mini (Otsuka Pharmaceutical) launched in 1988, which uses water-soluble polydextrose as its functional ingredient and is marketed for ‘gut regulation’.
The subsequent boom in functional foods and beverages led to a demand for regulation from consumer groups and from leading companies in the sector (Heasman, 1997). In response, the state initiated a voluntary approval system in which the term ‘functional foods’ was actually dropped and replaced by the term ‘foods for specific health use (FOSHU)’. FOSHU foods were defined by the Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare as ‘processed foods containing ingredients that aid specific bodily functions as well as being nutritious’. Upon provision of sufficient research data, FOSHU approval includes permission to make certain specified claims in food labelling relating to the benefits to health which consuming the product can be expected to produce (Ichikawa, 1994). Twelve categories of health-enhancing ingredients were recognised: dietary fibre, oligosaccharides, sugar alcohols, peptides and proteins, glucosides, alcohols, isoprenoids and vitamins, cholines, lactic acid bacteria, minerals, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and others. At the same time, many more new foods and beverages containing functional ingredients are being introduced without seeking approval to make claims as FOSHU products. These rely on the presence of specific ingredients to sell the product.
Japanese products have mainly been aimed at promoting general gut health and maintenance of healthy bones. However, interest in the West has focused more on the prevention of heart disease and cancer, although recent developments indicate that Europe is also becoming interested in the role of gut health in disease prevention (Young, 1997). In the US, the emphasis in the 1980’s on low fat-, and low cholesterol-containing foods paved the way for foods containing fat substitutes and enhanced levels of dietary fibre. There has also been substantial interest in foods containing n-3 fatty acids, the antioxidant vitamins E, C and vitamin A/-carotene, and phytochemicals. In Europe, the main focus has been on dietary fibres, oligosaccharides, n-3 fatty acids, garlic, and -carotene (Gardner, 1994), but interest in other types of functional and designed ingredients, such as those seen in the US, has not developed.
Soy has not only a high quality protein but it also play preventive and therapeutic roles in cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, osteoporosis, and the alleviation of menopausal symptoms. The cholesterol-lowering effect of soy is the well-documented physiological effect. Soy protein resulted in significant reductions in total cholesterol (9.3%), LDL cholesterol (12.9%), and triglycerides (10.5%), with a small but insignificant increase (2.4%) in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (Anderson et al., 1995). Linear regression analysis indicated that the threshold level of soy intake at which the effects on blood lipids became significant was 25 g. regarding the specific component responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effect of soy, recent attention has focused on the isoflavones (Potter, 1998). Isoflavones, however, were not effective in lowering cholesterol in two recent studies (Hodgson et al., 1998; Nestle et al., 1997). The exact mechanism by which soy exerts its hypocholesterolemic effect has not been fully elucidated. Soy may also benefit bone health (Anderson and Garner, 1997).
Among the major seed oils, flaxseed oil contains the most (57%) of the omega-3 fatty acid, a-linolenic acid. It also contain significant level of fiber-associated compounds known as lignans. The two primary mammalian lignans, enterodiol and its oxidation product, enterolactone, are formed in the intestinal tract by bacterial action on plant lignan precursors (Setchell et al., 1981). Flaxseed is the richest source of mammalian lignan precursors (Thompson et al., 1991). Phipps et al. (1993) demonstrated that the ingestion of 10 g of flaxseed per day elicited several hormonal changes associated with reduced breast cancer risk. Consumption of flaxseed has also been shown to reduce total and LDL cholesterol (Bierenbaum et al., 1993; Cunnane et al., 1993), as well as platelet aggregation (Allman et al., 1995).
Oat products are a widely studied dietary source of the cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber b-glucan. There is now significant scientific agreement that consumption of this particular plant food can reduce total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). For this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) awarded the first food-specific health claim in January 1997 in response to a petition submitted by the Quaker Oats Company (Chicago, Ill.). Quaker Oats determined that 3 g of b-glucan would be required to achieve a 5% reduction in serum cholesterol, an amount equivalent to approximately 60 g of oatmeal or 40 g of oat bran (dry weight). Thus, a food bearing the health claim must contain 13 g of oat bran or 20 g oatmeal, and provide, without fortification, at least 1.0 g of b-glucan per serving.
The hypocholesterolemic effect of fermented milk was discovered more than 30 years ago during studies con-ducted in Maasai tribesmen in Africa (Mann et al., 1964). The Maasai have low levels of serum cholesterol and clinical coronary heart disease despite a high meat diet. However, they consume daily 4 to 5 L of fermented whole milk. Although a number of human clinical studies have assessed the cholesterol-lowering effects of fermented milk products (Sanders, 1994). More evidence supports the role of probiotics in cancer risk reduction, particularly colon cancer (Mital and Garg, 1995). This observation may be due to the fact that lactic acid cultures can alter the activity of fecal enzymes (e.g., b-glucuronidase, azoreductase, nitroreductase) that are thought to play a role in the development of colon cancer.
The present study is designed with the aim to evaluate the functional foods for their biological active ingredients and and to be used in daily diet for the improvement of common man health by combating the factors contributing toward the onset of metabolic syndrome. In this way the current study will help to and improve the nutritive value of the daily diet and controlling the metabolic syndrome.
1. To optimize condition for the extraction of phtochemicals and their utilization for the development of functional food
2. To asses health benefit and physiological effect of the developed functional foods in tackling metabolic syndrome.
Indigenous foods like flaxseed, barley, garlic, soybean and oat etc will be analyzed for their biological active ingredients i.e. isoflavone, lignin, β-glucan etc by their respective methods described by different researchers.
Soy isoflavone (daidzein and genistein) will be extracted from dry foodstuff powder by following the same method as followed by Vranova, 2005 in which sample will be sonicated for 15 min  in 20 ml of 80% ethanol. After centrifugation the ethanolic solution will be transferred into disposable tubes and ethanol will be evaporated. The isoflavones extracted will be finally dissolved in 2 ml of ethanol. Both daidzein and genistein extracted from products will be analyzed by HPLC and identified by comparing retention times and UV absorption spectra with the standards. β-glucan will be extracted from barley flour by following the Irakli et al., 1994 method of extraction. Lignin concentration will be determined by a two-stage sulfuric acid hydrolysis following the recommended method as described in  AACC,2000.
These isolated and purified active ingredients (isoflavone, lignin, β-glucan and probiotics) will be utilized in foods of daily diets keeping in view their compatibility with foods and recommended daily intake of compounds. Furthermore new functional foods will be developed by using these biological active ingredients for the target populations such as hypercholesterimic, diabetic and post menopausal women etc.
Each biologically active ingredient will be tested for its physiological activities through rat bioassay. Food developed by fortification of active compounds will be fed to a group of 8 rats for a period of 6-7 weeks. Specific rats group will be made hyper cholesterol and diabetic before the feeding of the functional food prepared for the specific purpose. After decapitation the serum will tested for the cholesterol profile, triglycerides and glucose concentration. Similarly hormone level (estrogen) will be checked in the female rats fed on functional foods as these foods are supposed to alter the post menopausal symptoms. Antioxidant potential of these active ingredients will also be assessed by following the method of as the antioxidants play a role in reducing the coronary heart disease. Second years of the project bioassay will carry out on human subject by selecting group of volunteers suffering from diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and high blood pressure as these diseases are supposed to be main risk for metabolic syndrome.
Results and Discussion: As project approval date is 14/01/2010 so it is at the initial phase and up till now we can’t draw any results
Conclusion & Recommendation: These can be drawn based on results which are still waiting.