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Leaf Extracts: A new resource for human feeding

ASSOCIATION POUR LA PROMOTION DES EXTRAITS FOLIAIRES EN NUTRITION (A. P. E. F.)
Siege Social : 8, Rue d'Ath6nes 75009 PARIS, FRANCE
Presentation January 1999

In the late seventies, some representatives of the cooperative agricultural group FRANCE LUZERNE, specialists in dried fodder production, noticed that one of their products, a lucerne leaf concentrate, would be convenient for human feeding, if the extraction process were to be a little modified.

In 1993, they created the "Association pour la Promotion des Extraits foliaires en Nutrition" (APEF), a non governmental association, the purpose of which was to study, perfect, evaluate, then develop this innovation.

This consists in the use of the nutritionally valuable content (protein, vitamin and micronutrient) of the leaves of Lucerne (or some green vegetables) as a complement in the diets of malnourished people.

Several consumption trials of Lucerne Leaf Extracts were successfully realized in Romania, China and Nicaragua.

Leaf Extracts were used as food supplements in the diets of malnourished people : children from 6 months to 6 years old, pregnant and nursing mothers, old people.

These trials showed that Leaf Extracts, used at a small rate (6 g to 10 g/day) in the diets, are effective against nutritional deficiencies, improve people's health and children's development, protecting them from deficiency diseases associated with malnutrition, like anaernia, diarrhoea, respiratory diseases and nutritional blindness.

Thanks to their high content of valuable nutriments, dried Leaf Extracts, supplementing basic diets, represent an alternative to the products usually provided by animal resources that are missing in the diets of population those with meagre financial incomes.

 

POVERTY MALNUTRITION THE VICIOUS CIRCLE

A well balanced human diet come generally from two sources:

* plants : grains (cereals and pulses), roots, fruits and green vegetables,

* animals : meat, milk, eggs and sometimes fish.

Animal products are expensive because animals use more vegetable proteins than they provide as protein to be consumed by man (yielding from 5% to 35% at best).To the cost of such foods, we must add the costs and work necessary for breeding animals and the costs and benefits taken by middlemen.

Poor families and populations cannot afford these products due to their high prices. So they are obliged to consume basic vegetables, which are less expensive and rarely diversified, like grains, roots, excluding green vegetables and fruits that are also too expensive.

This type of diet often shows specific deficiencies and does not ensure the minimum nutritional balance which is essential for health and normal development of people, and above all of children.

A WEALTH TO BE EXPLOITED: GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES

The green leafy vegetables of the world are a huge mass of leaves of incomparable richness. Green leaves contain more nutrients than grains and roots, excluding energy. Their protein value comes up to the value of most animal products and is even higher in terms of vitamins and micronutrients.

The cheapest way would be to consume these leaves directly but the digestive system of human beings is not adapted for that purpose. We cannot consume and digest the bulk of leaves needed to balance our nutritional requirements.

To get round the problem of the bulk of leaves to be consumed, APEF proposes to extract from Lucerne the more nutritive components : protein, vitamin and micronutrients, after the removal of the nondigestible fibrous part of the plant and the removal of a great part of the minerals of the entire plant and then provide those components, in the form of dried concentrate extracts, which are readily digestible, to supplement the basic diets of malnourished people.

The process is simple: as soon as they are harvested, the leaves are crushed then pressed and the green juice obtained is heated up to 900 C. Under that effect, proteins coagulate, carrying with most of the insoluble or liposoluble material, including vitamins and micronutrients. The coagulum (leaf extract) is filtered, dried and bagged for further use as it stands or mixed with other foods (to dilute it and attenuate its natural taste).

The fibrous residue is not wasted; it remains valuable for animal feeding. Recovery of its value through this is indispensable for the economical and financial balance required to carry on the process.

Leaf Extracts already exist. For twenty years they have been brought into animal feeding for very specific uses. France is the only country in the world that produces Leaf Extracts in the form of dried concentrate (12 000 metric tons/year).

On the other hand, a British charity association Find Your Feet (called Leaf for Life in the USA) is managing in several countries of ASIA and Central America, artisanal centres which are extracting proteins under a simplified form. The supplementation of this concentrate, despite its rusticity, has already shown very satisfying results reported in several medical publications.

PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE

The French technology to process dried Leaf Extracts permits their conservation for over a year and guarantees their homogenous and almost constant nutritive values.

The first results achieved, principally in Romania, Nicaragua and China, confirmed the nutritional value of the Leaf Extracts.

All observations agreed : decrease or disappearance of anaernia, improvement of health status, reduction in the number of days of disease, improvement in blood analysis (haemoglobin, retinol), absence of any side effects.

The dosage advised by Professor JeanClaude Dillon consists of 10 g/day for a child weighing 10 kg. Such a supplement provides this child with :

30% of his Vitamin A requirements (in the form of beta carotene, (provitamin A),

100% of his iron requirements,

40% of his Vitamin E requirements,

30% of his calcium requirements,

20% of his protein requirements.

These values explain the results already obtained.

CONCLUSIONS

The new concept of nutritional supplementation seems more and more to be an innovation which can provide an effective and continuous solution to the imbalance of diets in families and populations that are in trouble.

Thanks to their high content of lysine, tryptophan, iron, calcium and vitamins, Leaf Extracts help to balance diets based on grains. They improve growth and resistance to disease. In very young children, they help the normal development of the brain. Thereby, children save their ability to assimilate education and all their chances to live a better life.

Leaf Extracts constitute an alternative to foods coming from animal sources, and also to fruit and vegetables, because:

* They are easy to produce, to transport, to store and to use,

* They can be conserved during long periods,

* They are very cheap to produce : 30 FF per child and per year (French price) or 6 US$,

* They have a significant nutritional value,

* They are easy to distribute and can be produced almost everywhere in the world, moreover they come from unfailing huge leafy resources.

ACTIVITIES PROGRAMME AND DEVELOPMENT

After the credibility of the project was ensured, thanks to the help provided by some scientists

* Professor Dillon,

* Professor Henri Lestradet, deceased in 1997 (former President of the Societe Francaise de
Nutrition , former member of the Academie de Medecine),

* Professor Julien Coleou (member of the Academie d'Agriculture),

* Professor Etienne Professor Kochman Professor Leutenegger Professor Choisy of the Faculte de Medecine )) and of the CHU de REIMS

The first efforts of APEF dealt with the confirmation of the efficiency of the dried Leaf Extracts compared with the results obtained by Leaf For Life with its moist extracts.

The results observed by APEF confirmed those achieved by Leaf for Life and even went beyond the prospects we expected.

About ten trials of Leaf Extract supplementation were realized in three countries


1) Romania

With Romanian doctors, in orphanages and hospitals, thanks to the help of the Ordre de Malte , after scheme evaluation by Professor Atanasiu, immunologist and WHO expert, and with authorization given by the Romanian Health Ministry.


2) Nicaragua

 

With SOYNICA Association of Managua where 200 people (babies on weaning, children less than 6 years old, pregnant or nursing mothers) have been medically followed for four months successfully (anaemia is now practically removed) and where 5 500 peoples (1 500 mothers and 4 000 children) consumed regularly Leaf Extracts (the number of consumer should reach 10 000 peoples in 1999).


3) China

 

With the researchers from the Agricultural University of Beijing who think that this process represents ( one means to meet feeding requirements for the 1,6 billion of Chinese people expected in 2030 ).

All in all, about 50 000 kg of Leaf Extracts, that is to say more than 5 million of daily rations, have been already consumed.

On the other hand, in France, 60 to 80 adults volunteers consume regularly Leaf Extracts to verify the absence of any side effect and to prevent the reproach sometimes made that the Northern part of the World is using the Southern part to act as a guinea pig for experimentation with its new products.

Considering the results obtained, we think, and so do the doctors of the CHU de REIMS who collaborate in the project, that the phase of confirmation of efficacy is consistent enough in the information it provides to be regarded as concluded.

PROGRAMME

The following phase will be the scientific evaluation of Leaf Extracts. It will begin soon with the study of the bioavailability in healthy men of three significant elements of the Leaf Extracts : protein, iron and calcium.

But APEF does not neglect other projects that could be of interest. APEF does not act directly on site but always gets the help of Associations or Non Governmental Organizations which can ensure good local connections for logistic, nutritional and medical monitoring, and development of the project till its conclusion.

In this way, two projects are starting now :

* In Mali : on the Health Minister's personal initiative, and with the support of the Ordre de Malte

* In Mexico : with the Asociacion Franco Mexicana y Suiza y Belga de Beneficiencia of Mexico City.

The programme is, in all cases, the same:

An organization is interested in Leaf Extracts and wishes to study its effect upon malnourished people with the aim, in the medium term, of locally developing this process.

* APEF offers this organization a partnership plan, provides free of charge (excluding transport costs) the Leaf Extracts required and information about the product and the way to use it.

* The organization manages, under its own responsibility with its nutritionists and its doctors, a supplementation trial of four or six months or more on an experimental group: babies, children, mothers, old peoples.

The testing is easy to do : general health balance for each subject, haernoglobin measure (anaemia) at the beginning and at the end of the trial, disease observance during the trial period : type, frequency, duration (principally diarrhoea, respiratory diseases or nutritional blindness).

* Normally, at the end of the experiment, improvements observed should lead to the agreement of the representatives for a complementary programme leading to local production from green vegetables adapted to the agricultural and climatic conditions of the country.

DEVELOPMENT

The final objective of APEF is to achieve self sufficiency of the people in supplementing their own diets, thanks to a local production of Leaf Extracts :

* Either by using the artisanal process established by Leaf For Life to produce Leaf Extracts in a village or a group of villages,

* Or by investing in the industrial process under the French model to develop it on a regional level, on a fertile irrigated soil. The product will be consumed by people in towns or in dried regions.

As regard to the Leaf Extracts produced in France, their use is important first for the starting of trial programmes in the interested countries and then through the adaptation period before the starting of local production.

They can also play a significant part in the international programmes of feeding support, either by direct use, or mixed with calorific foods to provide better balanced rations compared to the grains and flour usually distributed.

So, Leaf Extracts can be produced according to agricultural or climatic opportunities on the level of the village or of the region, but they can be consumed wherever the need for supplementation exists.

Leaf Extracts constitute a new resource for human feeding.

This new concept of nutritional supplementation seems more and more to be an innovation that can provide an effective and continuous solution to the imbalance of diet in families and population that are in trouble.

Address for correspondance :
APEF NOZET 51230 CONNANTRE
National :
Tel. 03 26 8175 05
Fax. 03 26 8175 06
International:
Tel. 33 3 26 8175 05
Fax. 33 3 26 8175 06

 

 

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