Canada okays enhanced health claims for Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, with a long-standing tradition of use in Ayurvedic medicine, has finally got some recognition for some of its many health benefits.  Health Canada has taken an unprecedented step and granted approval for enhanced, authorised, product-specific health claims.  The claims relate specifically to stress reduction, for sports nutrition benefits and to support healthy testosterone levels. Whilst this is a positive signal from a national authority about non-medicinal health claims for ashwagandha, it doesn’t help other ashwagandha-containing food supplements as these are not the more limited generic claims agreed in Health Canada's monograph system. These also only apply to 2-6 g of the dried root and not the whole plant that is often used in traditional systems such as Ayurveda. 

Salt linked to obesity 

A study published in Pediatrics titled “Dietary Sodium, Adiposity, and Inflammation in Healthy Adolescents” concluded that not only was the average consumption of salt by adolescents aged between 14 and 18 years of age more than twice the recommended daily intake, but that a high sodium intake is positively associated with adiposity (gaining fat).  The level of obesity and inflammation seen in those with a high salt intake happened regardless of how many calories were being consumed.  However, discussing calorie intake without detailing food sources or quality suggests that important confounding factors may have been ignored. Study co-author, Dr. Gregory Harshfield, hopes that “…these findings will reinforce for parents and pediatricians alike that daily decisions about how much salt children consume can set the stage for fatness, chronic inflammation and a host of associated diseases like hypertension and diabetes.”

German government to abstain from GM maize vote

An EU vote is taking place this week regarding the cultivation of a variety of genetically modifed (GM) insect-resistant and herbicide-resistant maize.  A spokesperson for the German government, Steffen Seibert, has announced that they will abstain from the vote because there are differing opinions within the government on the issue.  If the other EU member states fail to reach a decision about DuPonts GM maize, the approval will go back to the European Commission for a default decision.

Weston Price conference

Last weekend, ANH-Intl took a stand at the Weston Price Foundation annual ‘Wise Traditions’ Conference in Esher, Surrey, UK.  The conference united a fascinating combination of interests across traditional and artisan food, traditional and organic farming, smallholding information, traditional healing arts and much more. As well as the array of exhibitors and workshops, presentations included an impressive line up of inspirational speakers, including Dr Michael Antoniou & Sir Julian Rose, and Stephanie Seneff PhD speaking against GMOs.  Read our blog covering the weekend event.

Sugar industry denies responsibility for obesity crisis

As food crusaders ramp up their anti-sugar campaign hoping to save the UK NHS £50bn a year by slashing intakes, the sugar industry has taken a bit of a beating recently. However, like the mammoth that it is, it's not taking the challenge lying down by pleading that it’s unfair to be singled out as the dominant offender in the obesity crisis.  A key argument used by AB Sugar, one of the main industry advocates, is that sugar consumption has decreased over the past decade (in the UK), but obesity rates have continued to rise.  Its head of science, Julian Cooper, is on record saying that the company wouldn’t recommend “…a high sugar diet with soft drink and chocolate bars etc.”

New Zealand Government backs junk food ads

Researchers at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand are keen for junk food adverts targeted at children to be banned completely, but the New Zealand government is showing no such inclination.  Marketing departments the world over employ myriad tactics to help promote junk food to kids, from use of promotional toys and familiar popular characters to ambiguous nutrition and health claims. But these promotions and the subsequent advertising are believed to be major contributors to the rapidly increasing rates of childhood obesity.  Junk food advertising seems to be on a worrying upwards trend in New Zealand, with particular focus on the sport industry powered by lucrative sponsorship deals from Big Food.

EU Agriculture Committee rejects ‘half-baked’ seed regulation

On Tuesday 11th February 2014 the European Parliament’s Agricultural Committee rejected the proposed and controversial seed regulation. The vote won with a landslide 37 votes to two following concerns that the regulation would give the Commission excessively wide powers and leave member states no room to adapt the rules to their needs.  Agriculture spokesperson for the Greens, Martin Häusling, contextualised general feeling at the outcome saying, “In voting to reject this half-baked proposal from the Commission, MEPs have voted to put the interests of farmers, long term food security and agro-biodiversity first. We hope today's vote will be confirmed when Parliament votes as a whole and that the Commission will be sent back to the drawing board.”

New tests reveal nearly 70% of British food is fake

A groundbreaking new batch of tests on hundreds of food samples, taken in West Yorkshire, UK, has revealed that the British public is being deceived. As much as a third of processed food products on sale in Yorkshire supermarkets are being sold as something that they are not!  The random checks have bought to light mozzarella that is less than half real cheese, ham on pizzas that is either poultry or "meat emulsion", and frozen prawns that are 50% water.  Testers are concerned that this is the tip of the iceberg and not an isolated county problem, but representative of the picture nationally.  Maria Eagle, the shadow environment secretary, describes the mislabelling and deception as unacceptable and believes that “Consumers deserve to know what they are buying and eating and cracking down on the mislabelling of food must become a greater priority for the government.”  Or consumers could just restrict their purchases to whole, unprocessed, natural food!

Statin ‘scattergun’ approach to target UK adults

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is suggesting that more adults be put on statins to protect them against heart attacks and strokes. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading killer in the UK. Until now, the NICE guideline has meant that adults with a 20% or more risk of suffering heart disease within 10 years were routinely placed on statins.  But NICE has proposed changes in its revised draft guidline, saying that people with just a 10% or more risk should be prescribed the drugs. One Aberdeen GP has reacted in horror — and humour — in a blog post in Pulse - you might need to subscribe to read it though.  This isn’t the first time statins have been pushed onto an unsuspecting public under the guise of ‘public health', despite irrefutable evidence that statins are not the effective wonder-drugs that they purported to be. There's also a significant risk of harm that may result from indiscriminately reducing cholesterol levels given the vital role the substance plays, for example, in vitamin D and steroid hormone metabolism.


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