Cambrooke Foods Aims to Help Nourish Patients with Metabolic Disorders

Xconomy Boston — 

Ayer, MA-based Cambrooke Foods might be a bit deceiving on the surface. It is not a maker of packaged foods the average shopper would pick up at the grocery store. And its founders have no background in the food, health, or nutrition industries.

Cambrooke’s founders, David and Lynn Paolella, come from architecture and jeweler backgrounds, respectively. They are the parents of two children with phenylketonuria (PKU), an inherited metabolic disorder that renders the body unable to process the amino acid phenylalnine, found in many foods. If gone untreated, the amino acid can hit toxic levels in the body and cause brain damage.

Patients can go on to live healthy, relatively symptom-free lives if they keep low protein diets, which rule out most store-bought foods. See, even items you wouldn’t necessarily put in the protein category on the food pyramid—like Wonder Bread—are still too high in the nutrient for PKU patients to eat, as they are limited to around 5 grams of protein per day.

Cambrooke first got into business developing low-protein foods with the hope of alleviating parents of PKU patients from having to cook everything from scratch. Their online catalogue of food products now contains items from bagels to veggie “meatballs” to “cheese ravioli,” and are targeted at other types diet-treated metabolic disorders as well.

“We make bread without flour, cheese without milk, and meat analogues without any protein,” says David Paolella.

Treatment for PKU patients (and those with similar disorders) needs to go beyond a low-protein diet, though. Their bodies still need protein, but without the toxic amino acids. Cambrooke has been working since its inception with scientists at the University of Wisconsin and in 2010 started selling a protein called glytactin that is safe for PKU patients to eat.

Glytactin is a natural protein more complex peptide, and it stays in the patient’s system longer than free amino acids, which traditional metabolic formulas for PKU patients have been made up of, says Paolella. He likened the difference in the two types of nutrients to complex carbohydrates and simple sugars, respectively. Thus, glytactin is said to keep patients fuller for longer and is better processed by the body than the free amino acids that previously dominated PKU metabolic supplements. Cambrooke sells glytactin in a powder form called Camino PRO BetterMilk that can be mixed into drinks, and RESTORE—a sports drink lookalike.

Cambrooke’s foods and metabolic formulas are more complex than what grocery stores … Next Page »

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