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Natural vs Synthetic Vitamins – Which Is Better?

There’s no debate when it comes to the health benefits of taking a quality vitamin and mineral supplement. But with so much choice and variation in price, choosing a supplement can quickly become confusing. What’s the difference between all of these multivitamins? And why would you pay more for one than the other? Read on for answers!   Do I Need to Take a Supplement Anyway? Being in the business of nutrition we are used to some common misconceptions surrounding vitamin and mineral supplements. From “supplements don’t do anything anyway” to “I can get those for half the price in any supermarket”, we’ve even heard “those things do you more harm than good!” In a nutshell, there’s undeniable evidence that nutritional supplementation provides your body with a whole spectrum of healthful benefits. On the flip side, studies claiming that they’re bad for you have repeatedly been quashed! Whilst it is possible to meet your daily requirements with diet alone, chances are achieving this on a daily basis is unlikely. So, taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement is a must – but not just any old multivit!   Synthetic vs. Natural: What’s the Difference? Multivitamin and mineral supplements provide a whole spectrum of healthful nutrients in one or two daily capsules. Most claim to provide 100% of your daily nutrient requirements within this handy dose. The main difference between bargain and premium supplements is where they come from. Nutrients can be derived from natural, whole food sources or – more commonly – manmade in a lab or factory. Where vitamins are sourced drastically effects how they are absorbed and utilised in the body – and so how they impact on our health. Let’s take a look at the key differences between synthetic and natural vitamins and minerals – and why they matter.  
  • Where They Come From
Synthetic nutrients are usually made artificially, in an industrial process. Otherwise known as isolated nutrients, they are made to mimic the chemical structure of real nutrients – in the hope that the body will recognise and use them in the same way. Natural Nutrients come from whole food sources such as fruit, vegetables and animal products. They are dried, concentrated and their nutrients are extracted to form the basis of a nutritional supplement. That way, the beneficial compounds remain in their natural form – just as you’d find them in the diet.
  • How They Are Absorbed
Manufacturers hoping to create supplements that are cost effective strive to create synthetic nutrients that are as similar to their natural counterparts as possible. However, the production process of synthetic nutrients is very different to the way plants and animals create them. So, despite having a similar structure, your body may react differently to synthetic compounds. This means that when they enter the gut and go on to the bloodstream, they may not be recognised as beneficial and so are harder to absorb. Worryingly, this can be so much so that your body excretes them as waste – money quite literally down the drain! Studies have also shown that natural nutrients have a higher bioavailability than synthetic alternatives. This can be so much so that they absorbed twice as efficiently – giving double the benefit. So despite claiming to provide ‘100% RDA for Vitamins and Minerals’ – the amount you actually absorb can be as little as half. Furthermoe, the absorption of synthetic nutrients is extremely variable depending on which vitamin or mineral is in question. So, if we are talking multivits, it’s no good being able to absorb some nutrients and not others.  
  • How Much they Cost
Like any product in the world, there’ll always be a cheaper alternative that is lower in both price and quality. Syntehtic mutivits made en masse in a lab will always be cheaper to produce than natural nutrients. But multivits that utilise cheaper, synthetic ingredients mean parting with your hard-earned cash at the cost of your health. A wise man (or woman!) once said “you get what you pay for” – and that’s certainly the case when it comes to nutritional supplements. Synthetic supplements may cost less than their natural counterparts, but if they provide little to no healthful benefits then your money is wasted anyway! When it comes to a premium multivitamin and mineral supplement – spending a fraction more is certainly justified by the incomparable quality and benefits of the ingredients. Plus, what better thing to invest in than your health?   What Should I Look for When Buying a Multivit? Browse the health aisle in your local supermarket or enter the word ‘multivitamin’ into an online search engine and you’ll be bombarded with choice. From the bargain to the premium and everything in-between, choosing the multivit for you can be an overwhelming task! Here are some key terms we think will be found on any supplement worth taking!
  • 100% Natural
  • Certified Organic
  • Whole Food
  • No Artificial Ingredients
  • 100% Plant / Animal-Based
You won’t be surprised to know that our Organic Wholefood Multivit ticks all of these boxes. Like all Natural Nutrient’s products, the clue is in the name! In every capsule you’ll also find the nutrient cofactors and enzymes that are present in their wholefood source – further increasing absorption and utilisation. When it comes to choosing a multivitamin and mineral supplement – the choice is clear!   References
  • Gaziano, J., Sesso, H., Christen, W., Bubes, V., Smith, J., MacFadyen, J., Schvartz, M., Manson, J., Glynn, R. and Buring, J. (2012). Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men. JAMA, 308(18), p.1871.
  • Burton, G., Traber, M., Acuff, R., Walters, D., Kayden, H., Hughes, L. and Ingold, K. (1998). Human plasma and tissue alpha-tocopherol concentrations in response to supplementation with deuterated natural and synthetic vitamin E. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 67(4), pp.669-684.
  • Yetley, E. (2007). Multivitamin and multimineral dietary supplements: definitions, characterization, bioavailability, and drug interactions. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85(1), pp.269S-276S.
  • Liu, R. (2003). Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78(3), pp.517S-520S.
  • https://www.nhs.uk/news/medical-practice/most-multivitamins-and-supplements-are-waste-money/

Struggling to hit your protein?

One of the common questions we get asked is "How do I hit my protein!?!" So you've started a nutrition plan, set your macros and you start tracking like crazy! Only to find that that one macronutrient keeps being a toughie to hit... Protein!  So what is it? Well, protein is an important component of every cell in the body. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues (think after those tough workouts). You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood, so you can see why its so important to hit the targets... What it also does is increase satiety (helping you feel fuller for longer and less likely to binge). So ideally, you can hit your goals through real food.. however, there is a great (and delicious) product that you can use to help you hit your protein target if you fall short.. protein powder. You will be able to find all of Natural Nutrients products, including our range of Natural Whey Isolates.

So what is it and how can I use it?

Well, without boring you too much, Whey is a by-product from the cheese making process. The liquid that's left over goes through a drying and filtration process to make it into lovely fluffy powder. That powder is not only convenient to take, but is also contains all 9 essential amino acids – making it the perfect protein provision for your body to utilise for muscle metabolism and muscle protein synthesis (growth).

Why Natural Nutrients?

"So, why Natural Nutrients?".. Natural Nutrients only use 100% Whey Isolate (the highest quality whey protein that has been filtered further to reduce fat and carbs and only leave high quality protein). Most other companies use a blend of different sources of protein including whey concentrate, simple milk protein or even soy protein. All of these are poorer quality sources of protein which contain less protein, more carbs, more fat and more calories per gram than whey isolate. Natural Nutrients also don't use any artificial ingredients in their products. Where most of the other companies use artificial flavourings, sweeteners, and can even bulk their products out with other ingredients to make the overall product cheaper, Natural Nutrients are all about minimal, natural ingredients. Generally, the more ingredients in a protein powder, the poorer quality it will be overall. So if your struggling to hit your protein goal and want a high quality, cheap (gram for gram) and convenient source of protein, then check out the Natural Whey Isolate in our store. Sample sachets are also available.  

The TRUTH About Diet Whey Protein’s

The popularity of whey protein powder as a sports performance supplement has grown exponentially in recent years. What was once perceived as a body-building aid used mostly by the male population, is now an integral asset to anyone working out – amateur or pro, male or female. The evidence supporting the use of whey for both enhanced performance and elevated recovery is undisputable - but with so many brands and varieties out there, purchasing protein powder can quickly become bewildering. Add in misleading marketing, questionable claims and ingredients lists as long as your arm, and you’ll quickly become confused. One of the best-selling whey protein powders are so-called ‘Diet Whey’ protein powders - but the question is - do they REALLY help you lose weight? Read on to find out... What is Whey? First things first, lets be clear on one thing – whey is a natural protein found in milk and it isn’t something created or invented by the fitness industry, but rather a substance derived from cow's milk. Cow’s milk is made up of two proteins: casein and whey. Whey is typically formed as a by-product of the cheese-making process before being processed to remove waste products and produce a powder which is not only convenient to take, but is also contains all 9 essential amino acids – making it the perfect protein provision for your body to utilise for muscle metabolism and muscle protein synthesis (growth). Diet Protein: Weight loss or Whey less? Diet versions of whey protein powder are ever increasing in popularity and are often seen as the product of choice for those aiming to lose fat whilst maintaining muscle mass. But what exactly is the difference between regular and diet whey? Let’s start by taking a closer look at diet whey proteins, and what manufacturers are changing in order to call it ‘diet whey'. Thinking of diet foods and drinks, you would probably expect such products to be lower in fat, sugar, carbohydrate and calories - ultimately contributing less energy to your diet and so aiding weight loss. With diet whey however - the same logic isn’t always used. All good quality protein powders should be naturally high in protein, whilst lower in carbohydrate and fat as a standard - it's one of the most appealing aspect of them but by adding so-called fat burning ingredients or bulking agents - which fill-out the powder and make it cheaper to manufacture- you'll often get an increase in carbohydrates and fat along the way. So in order to produce a protein powder which is cheap to make and allegedly ‘diet’ focused, ingredients are very often added. Things such as L-Carnitine, L-Glutamine and Green Tea Extract are added to the protein powder, and as if by some miracle – you suddenly have a fat burning, metabolism boosting protein powder. Or do you? Curious Claims and Embarrassing Evidence: Why you shouldn’t always believe what you read. In order to get past the fact that good quality whey is already ‘diet friendly' anyway - in the sense that it’s high in protein and low in fat and carbs – manufacturers are adding other stuff to justify a ‘diet’ label. They argue that it’s worth the extra calories, fat and carbs in order to reap the benefits of the fat-burning ingredients as those ingredients are "proven" to burn fat. Three of the most common ingredients often used in Diet Whey's are L-Carnitine which helps the body use fatty acids for energy, L-Glutamine which helps to preserve muscle mass and Green Tea Extract which has been proven to boost metabolism. These are all true statements, supported by scientific studies and research so it must be worth taking on the extra calories, carb and sugar for these super ingredients - but the ONE thing that is CRUCIAL to these ingredients working is DOSAGE, otherwise they'll not have the desired effect they're marketed to. In the same way taking 1g of protein powder would never have an effect on the body’s muscle metabolism, unless you're downing a tub of diet whey per day (which if you are please stop!) -  the amount of "fat burning" ingredients in a serving of diet whey is not worth having, as a serving size would not provide anywhere near the minimum effective dose to have an effect. Adding the ingredients to the powder is merely a marketing ploy to justify the ‘diet’ label and is sadly misleading to customers who do not know any better. Our advice? Do your research – if your whey claims to be ‘fat-burning’ or ‘metabolism-boosting’ take a look at the ingredients, it won't take long to find out their minimum recommended dose for effectiveness – and you can bet in almost ALL diet whey proteins this will not be reached. To further expand on these claims made by diet whey manufacturers, we've focused on two ingredients commonly added to justify its fat-burning status: green tea extract and L-Carnitine. The market-leading diet whey product – PhD Diet Whey – contains both of these, and claims that they contribute to the fat-metabolising properties of their protein powder. But what about the dose? Is there enough of these ingredients to have an effect at all?
  • Green Tea Extract – catechins – natural phenols and antioxidants found in green tea have been shown to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans who drink green tea. This has can have a positive effect on weight loss. Evidence has shown the most effective dose of green tea extract for the body to utilise active catechins is between 400-500mg per day. Per serving, the market-leading diet whey contains just 100mg green tea extract. So not only would you need 5 servings of diet whey per day to get the effects of the catechins, but you could also get the same effect from a regular brew!
  • L-Carnitine – a relative of the B-vitamins, L-Carnitine is thought of as an ‘amino acid-like’ compound. A popular sports performance supplement, studies have shown that it functions within the cells to promote utilisation of fat over muscle mass for energy. This gives the compound it’s fat-burning, muscle-building reputation. Evidence shows L-Carnitine can be effective at a dose of 1g, but for maximum fat-burning effect it should be supplemented at a dose of 2-3g. The market leading Diet Whey contains only 125mg L-Carnitine per serving which of course – s far less than the minimal effective dose and worlds away from the optimum dose to burn fat. In fact, you’d need 16 servings of diet whey to reach the lower end of the optimum dose which is a whopping 1,456 calories!
If you're on a diet and looking to lose weight, I'm sure this would be a huge disappointment - especially if you've been using a diet whey before. Whilst the fat burning ingredients may have a benefit towards dieting and weight loss, be aware that most manufacturers are adding them simply to draw you in – and not to give you the benefits or desired effect you'd expect from them.   Whey Protein Isolate for Weight Loss: Is This The Whey Forward? We’ve covered ingredients, and how likely – or unlikely – they are to help you reach your weight loss goals, but what may be more surprising  is that four of the market-leading diet whey powders contain more carbohydrate, fat, sugar and calories than our whey protein isolate powder which makes ZERO claims about diet! AND, to make things worse – they also contain less protein (The nutrient with the most benefit to weight loss). We’ve compared our Whey Protein Isolate with four of the most popular diet whey powders available and res serving - we've broken down the nutritional content of each below, and the results are certainly interesting. Here’s what we found…
  1. Diet Whey contains MORE calories than Natural Nutrients Whey Protein Isolate
3 out of 4 of the diet varieties we compared with our own whey contain more calories. One of the products contained fewer calories per serving than ours – but at a price of having far less protein per gram, and less than half the protein per serving! See below.  
  1. Our Least Favourite Diet Whey contains more Carbohydrate, Fat and Sugar but less Protein than Natural Nutrients Whey Protein Isolate
Out of the four diet whey powders we compared with our own whey protein powder, we felt Matrix Diet Whey was the worst product. Take a look below to see how we compare. With significantly higher protein, and vastly lower amounts of carbs, sugar and fat, it’s easy to see that our whey would be the product of choice for weight loss.  
  1. Even our Favourite Diet Whey was the Best of a Bad Bunch: Lower in carbs, fat and sugar but also – crucially – lower in Protein!
We found PhD Diet Whey to be the best of a bad bunch. Per serving it contains far less carbohydrate, sugars, fat and calories than its rival diet whey powders. BUT, this comes hand-in-hand with the fact that the protein content of PhD Diet Whey comes in at 0.7g per gram, compared with 0.9g per gram you’d get with Natural Nutrients Whey Isolate. The less protein per gram, the more added ingredients used to bulk-out the product – which is why over 90% of our powder is pure whey protein. We hope to have given you an insight into the world of so-called ‘Diet Whey’ and its potential downfalls. When choosing a protein powder to supplement your diet and enhance your performance, we’d recommend being cautious about added ingredients and claims such as ‘fat-burning’ and ‘weight-loss formula.’ Our ethos is to use the best ingredients and create products which are natural, reliable, effective and evidence-based. We use Natural Whey Protein Isolate which is non-denatured, giving you maximum protein content per serving. And because we don’t add any unnecessary ingredients or bulking agents, our product is naturally low in fat, carbohydrate and sugars. Lower, it seems, than it’s ‘diet’ rivals! So you can have faith that our Whey Protein Isolate is as clean as possible, as well as tasting great and ultimately helping you to achieve your health and fitness goals!   Stephanie Masterman Nutritionist   References
  • Larhammar, D., Larsson, I., Gilardini, L., Invitti, C. and Di Pierro, F. (2016). Green-tea extract and piperine: do they really maintain weight loss, and if so, weight loss of what?. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 21(3-4), pp.164-165.
  • Westerterp-Plantenga, M., Lejeune, M. and Kovacs, E. (2005). Body Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance in Relation to Habitual Caffeine Intake and Green Tea Supplementation. Obesity Research, 13(7), pp.1195-1204.
  • Henning, S., Niu, Y., Lee, N., Thames, G., Minutti, R., Wang, H., Go, V. and Heber, D. (2004). Bioavailability and antioxidant activity of tea flavanols after consumption of green tea, black tea, or a green tea extract supplement. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 80(6), pp.1558-1564.
  • Astrup, A. (2011). The relevance of increased fat oxidation for body-weight management: metabolic inflexibility in the predisposition to weight gain. Obesity Reviews, 12(10), pp.859-865.
  • Mohammadi-Sartang, M., Mazloom, Z., Raeisi-Dehkordi, H., Barati-Boldaji, R., Bellissimo, N. and Totosy de Zepetnek, J. (2017). The effect of flaxseed supplementation on body weight and body composition: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 45 randomized placebo-controlled trials. Obesity Reviews, 18(9), pp.1096-1107.
  • Lorenzen, P. and Schrader, K. (2006). A comparative study of the gelation properties of whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate. Le Lait, 86(4), pp.259-271.
  • Coker, R., Miller, S., Schutzler, S., Deutz, N. and Wolfe, R. (2012). Whey protein and essential amino acids promote the reduction of adipose tissue and increased muscle protein synthesis during caloric restriction-induced weight loss in elderly, obese individuals. Nutrition Journal, 11(1).

Nutella Energy Bites

food-1518445_1920   Hey there Natural Nutrient Ninja’s!   Are you always running straight from work to the gym? Arriving for your workout tired and lacking energy?   No need to resort to the vending machine! Whip up a batch of these tasty energy bites. They can be stored in a Tupperware at eaten at your desk, or even in the car on the way to the gym.   They have enough carbs and protein to give you a little energy boost before your workout, or even stave off hunger post workout until you get home.   They’re also vegan friendly.   Have a go at the recipe and post your efforts on social media – don’t forget to use the tag #IamaFoodNinja  

Nutella Energy Bites

Ingredients (makes 12 bites): 125g hazelnut butter 2 tablespoons cacao powder 75ml maple syrup 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 100g oats 60g Natural Nutrients Faba Bean protein powder 50g chopped hazelnuts  
  • Add the hazelnut butter, cacao, maple syrup and vanilla extract to a food processor, with chopping blades, and process until well mixed. Healthy ‘Nutella!’
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and process for a further 2-3 minutes.
  • The mixture should be sticky and hold together well.
  • Scoop a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball shape. Continue until all the mixture is used up.
  • You can dust with cocoa powder or desiccated coconut if you like.
  • Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before eating
  Nutritional Info (per serving): Carbs 13g, Fat 10g, Protein 7g, Cals 178 Hayley Food Ninja

Salt Reduction – Is It REALLY Worth It?

Many people worry (unnecessarily) about how much salt they consume. In attempts to improve their health, and more specifically lower their blood pressure and/or reduce their risk for heart disease, many people engage in efforts to reduce their salt intake. They either avoid salting their meal, or avoid salting food as part of meal preparation. Some people elect different varieties of salt, typically those with ‘supposed’ health benefits. But are their efforts really worthy of the investment? Does a reduction in salt intake actually have a significant, meaningful impact on lowering someone’s risk of heart disease? A recent meta-analysis would suggest not… Well, sort of. A recent study HERE found that in people WITH hypertension (high blood pressure), both a very high AND a very low consumption of salt was associated with an increased risk for heart disease and related mortality. However, in people WITHOUT diagnosed high blood pressure, only a very low salt intake was associated with heart disease; a high consumption of salt was not. I know, crazy right?! So a moderate consumption of salt was associated with the lowest risk of heart disease and related death. This suggests an intake of between 4 - 5g per day is best. This appeared to hold true for people with and without hypertension. But, as the paragraph above suggests, only a low intake of salt was bad for both people with and without high blood pressure. A high intake of salt was not associated with heart disease in people without hypertension! What to do? Well, practically speaking, it would be difficult to accurately assess salt intake for most people on a daily basis. Perhaps a better idea would simply be: Reduce your consumption of pre-packaged, refined or processed food, snack and fast food, and ‘food-like-products’ that you consume The reason being: this is typically where ‘salt’ has already been added. Conversely, where you eat a diet consisting mainly of whole foods, vegetables, fruit, meat & fish, as well as dairy, nuts & grains, it would be very difficult to ‘salt your food’ to dangerously high levels before the taste of the food was severely impacted. Instead, adding salt ‘to taste’ within the context of a healthy & varied diet appears optimal. This would avoid a very low or high salt intake. In addition to consuming a moderate level of salt, or alternatively not worrying excessively about your salt intake if you don’t have high blood pressure, ensure you take exercise regularly, manage your stress in a healthy manner, ensure you get sunlight and plenty of sleep. We know that these behaviours positively contribute to health & longevity. [section_title]References:[/section_title]
  1. Mente et al. 2016. Association of urinary sodium excretion with cardiovascular events in people with and without hypertension. 
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Protein…much more than just a fitness supplement

Protein is essential to life. Protein should be seen as a key component of your diet, and a mainstay of most, if not all meals. In this article, I’ll discuss why. Protein  “Dietary protein is essential to human health and it is the primary source of amino acids, the structural components of all body proteins” (Pasiakos, 2015) Amino acids (which make up what we know as ‘protein’) provide the building blocks to a whole variety of structures within the body. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is placed at 0.8g/kg of bodyweight. This would equate to 56g of protein for a 70 kg individual. However, a host of studies have found benefits to diets that contain more protein, much more than the RDA in fact. In addition to the above, animal proteins are considered high quality protein in that they contain high levels of ‘essential amino acids’, and in particular the branched-chain amino acid leucine (an independent regulator of muscle protein synthesis) (Pasiakos, 2015). Put another way, animal sources of protein, like meat & fish, and dairy e.g. whey, are considered high quality sources of protein as, among other things, they are a potent source a building block responsible for building muscle - leucine. How much? A wide variety of studies have found a plethora of benefits to higher protein diets. Sometimes these diets are twice the RDA; some are even three times the RDA! What this suggests, however, is that there are many health benefits to be had by increasing one’s intake of protein. In other words, it appears that for most people, the RDA for protein is not sufficient to promote optimal health, and that significant health benefits can be gained to adopting a diet that contains protein in much higher amounts than is currently recommended. What are the benefits?  Higher protein diets are beneficial for a number of reasons. For example, protein is consistently found to be the most satiating of all macronutrients (Crovetti, 1997; Weigle, 2005). In other words, higher protein diets tend to do a better job of making someone feel full after eating a meal. This in turn would likely decrease the likelihood of subsequent (caloric) overconsumption, which would aid weight loss or weight maintenance attempts. Therefore, if you’re attempting to lose weight, or maintain your bodyweight at a reduced figure, consider keeping your protein intake high. In addition to increasing the sensation of feeling ‘full’, and dampening appetite, increasing one’s intake of protein appears to enhance the retention of lean muscle tissue (Phillips et al. 2016). This is especially the case when someone is dieting, and in a calorie deficit. So, when someone is consuming fewer calories, than they are expending, in an effort to lose weight, it helps for them to increase their protein intake such that they retain muscle (and lose fat). On the other hand, when someone is simply eating to their hunger and aiming to maintain weight, then keeping protein high would be suggested for the same reason. Lastly, it also appears as if higher protein diets work (along with an adequate calcium intake) in order to increase someone’s bone mineral density (Rizzoli 2014). Put another way, someone on a higher protein diet will likely have stronger, denser bones that are less susceptible to fracture (and the detrimental effects of Osteoporosis). This is especially important as one ages, given both the decline in appetite and one’s reduced sensitivity to protein. It is therefore critical that an adequate intake of protein is maintained throughout life, especially into old age, in order to preserve skeletal health. Summary Consuming protein regularly has a number of benefits to the body. Increasing one’s protein intake appears to aid weight loss or weight maintenance, helps to increase bone strength, and work well at decreasing appetite. Should your intake of protein be low, consider increasing it. Aim to consume protein at most meals, and choose snacks high in protein also. Optimal sources of protein include: chicken, cod, greek yoghurt, milk, salmon, tuna, turkey, whey protein. [section_title]References:[/section_title]
  1. Crovetti et al, (1997). The influence of thermic effect of food on satiety. 
  2. Pasiakos (2015). Metabolic advantages of higher protein diets and benefits of dairy foods on weight management... 
  3. Phillips et al. (2016). Protein requirements beyond the RDA: implications for optimising health 
  4. Rizzoli (2014). Dairy products, yoghurts, and bone health 
  5. Weigle et al. (2005). A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite... 
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