Sedentary lifestyles and fast food diets are fuelling a disturbing rise in obesity in many western countries. Metabolic Syndrome affects one in five overweight people, and occurs when they have several metabolic disorders at the same time, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and a high cholesterol level. It is assuming epidemic proportions in the west, with an estimated prevalence of 10-15% in France and as much as 25-35% in other countries.
The syndrome's principal clinical manifestations are abdominal obesity and high levels of a type of blood fat called triglycerides which are a strong predictor for a person's risk for stroke. The potential complications are serious: hardening of the arteries, an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and stroke.
Many of the syndrome's components could be reduced or even eliminated simply by making positive lifestyle changes. Otherwise the current treatment is to treat each component individually with medication, which is expensive and has potentially dangerous side effects associated with the combined use of the different drug therapies.
Our patented thermo-extrusion technology makes it possible to transfer Omega-3 right along the food chain, creating a bridge between animal and human nutrition.
Omega-3 fats are a type of poly-unsaturated fat thought to play an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and other serious diseases. Humans are unable to synthesise Omega-3 for themselves and obtain it from meat, fish and dairy products.
French company Valorex, the lead partner in EUREKA Project E! 3407 EUROAGRI+ OMS, specialises in the development and manufacture of animal feeds that improve the health and fertility of cattle and the quality of their products. It has developed an innovative way of thermo-extruding the seeds from linseed, a plant rich in Omega-3, which makes it highly suitable as an additive for cattle feed.
Previous studies conducted by Valorex indicated that animal feeds enriched with extruded linseed improve the health and fertility of animals and the nutritional quality of their meat and dairy products by lowering the level of fat and saturated fats and increasing the level of Omega-3. When the company conducted a further study to determine the effect of a diet enriched by thermo-extruded linseed on obese diabetics, the volunteers showed a partial loss of abdominal obesity and a reduction in their triglycerides levels.
"Our thermo-extrusion technology makes it possible to transfer the Omega-3 right along the food chain, creating a bridge between animal and human nutrition," says Pierre Weill, Valorex's CEO. "We set up Project EUROAGRI+ OMS with our Israeli partners, the Alonim Linseed Importing and Marketing Company, to test our hypothesis that eating a diet enriched with thermo-extruded linseed could alleviate the clinical manifestations of Metabolic Syndrome. This knowledge, in turn, would help us to develop a new, healthy diet concept for people with Metabolic Syndrome that provided a better balance of fats and the recommended levels of Omega-3."
Like all great ideas, the OMS diet concept is beautifully simple. Its key is the nutrient-rich animal feed at the very beginning of the food chain. This also makes the implementation costs minimal, as the properties of extruded linseed are well understood so there is no need for clinical trials.
The results of the project's clinical trials were impressive. Obese volunteers eating a diet comprising meat and dairy products derived from linseed-fed animals lost 3 kg in three months and had sustained the weight loss five months later. Control volunteers who followed alternative types of diet also lost 3 kg, but had regained 1.7 kg five months later.
Sustained weight loss isn't the only advantage of the OMS diet concept, because unlike so many others, it isn't a faddy diet that eventually proves too challenging or restrictive to continue. Products come from cattle raised on Valorex OMS feeds are the kind of natural, everyday foods that people normally enjoy eating and much easier to make a long-term part of their diet. By opting to buy products produced from OMS-fed animals every consumer can benefit from its health and preventative properties.
The results of the trial have been published in the scientific press and Valorex has received official endorsement from the French Government. Valorex OMS meat and dairy products are already being marketed by France's Bleu-Blanc-Coeur Association, a non-profit initiative set up by Valorex and other like-minded animal feed and food manufacturers to promote environmentally responsible farming. Danone, Carrefour and a number of major food manufacturers and retailers are paying premium prices to farmers who use Valorex OMS animal feeds, says Weill.
It's not only obese people who stand to benefit from our diet concept. By opting to buy meat and dairy products from OMS-fed animals, all consumers could profit health-wise from an innovative and environmentally responsible approach to animal nutrition that benefits every part of the food chain.
"EUREKA's support was invaluable in helping us to set up the trials and provide the solid and strong data we needed to convince the French government and retailers. We anticipate that 10% of animal products in France and 2% in Europe as a whole could be derived from OMS-fed animals in the next four years. We are also licensing our patented thermo-extrusion technology, and already have agreements with factories in Germany, Portugal and Switzerland."
Valorex's potential global market for the product is huge. Quite apart from revolutionising the diets of the estimated 300 million overweight people in the world, of whom 75 million people are at risk of developing Metabolic Syndrome, all consumers could profit health-wise from an innovative and environmentally responsible approach to animal nutrition that benefits every part of the food chain.