GMOs and world hunger, Sugar and type 2 diabetes, Our essential microbiome, UK allergy hospital admissions, Natural health regulation by stealth, NHS prescription review lowers costs
GMO’s are not the answer to ending world hunger
A new report ‘Feeding the World’ from the US Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been published this week. The United Nations has forecast that world food productions will need to double to feed 9 billion people by 2050. In America farmers are being told they will need to double the production of meat and grains to help do this, whilst agribusiness push chemical and GMO solutions. The report looked at where US food exports go and what products are being exported to see who is being fed. The report found that 86% of US agricultural exports went to 20 of the world’s wealthiest and developed areas. Only 1% of exports went to areas that have very high or high undernourishment. The EWG report says that poverty is the main cause of hunger and that GMO’s will not bring smallholder farmers in undernourished nations out of poverty. The report suggests a number of alternative solutions such as providing tools and training to communities to grow their own food sustainably, increasing international development aid for infrastructure projects, improving nutrition and health education and ending wars and conflicts.
Does eating too much sugar cause Type 2 Diabetes?
A new paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation in September looks at a metabolic process that could change our understanding of how we become resistant to insulin and eventually develop diabetes. The study was conducted in mice and confirmed on human liver tissue samples. Given the ongoing debate around whether or not sugar consumption is a major contributor to the development of type 2 diabetes, this study looked at carbohydrate-responsive element-binding protein (ChREBP), which is triggered in the liver by excess sugar. The ChREBP protein is activated after eating fructose (found naturally in fruit and vegetables, but added to many processed foods and fizzy drinks) and initiates a process that causes the liver to keep making glucose thereby raising blood glucose levels even as insulin tries to control glucose production. Researchers found that no matter how much insulin the pancreas makes, it is unable to override this process. Whilst more research is needed to fully understand the mechanism, scientists at least now have a better understanding of how this key mechanism plays a role in the development of insulin resistance.
Our microbiome within our microbiome
We are only just scratching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the importance and role of our gut microbiome (gut bacteria). Researchers have recently found that some gut bacteria is ‘infected’ with viruses called bacteriophages. The team found 23 bacteriophages that seemed to be associated with a healthy gut. These bacteriophages were more common in healthy people than in people suffering from Crohn’s disease. The team can only speculate whether the the bacteriophages are present as a result of a healthy gut or if they are contributing to a healthy gut environment. Our gut microbes number in their trillions and include a huge diversity of bacteria, viruses and even fungi. It is an area that science is only just beginning to start to map and we still have an incredibly long way to go before we can truly understand the role of these beneficial (and sometimes pathogenic) microorganisms in our bodies.
Hospital admissions due to allergies increased by 33% in five years
A BBC report this month has reported on NHS digital figures showing that there has been a 33% increase in hospital admissions due to allergic reactions in the last 5 years. These data are not an indication of the number of people suffering from an allergy, but the number of times hospitals have had to deal with people suffering from allergic reactions. Doctors are attributing the rise to increasing levels of cleanliness and sterilisation, which lowers the natural immune resistance to bacteria and other common substances such as pollen and pet dander that can trigger allergic reactions. Allergy UK figures suggest up to 50% of children in the UK, are now living with an allergic condition. It does not appear though that consideration has been given to other factors such as lowered immunity through over use of antibiotics or poor gut health due to deficient diets.
Threat to Natural Health from stealth regulation
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has published a report giving an overview of existing international regulatory initiatives for human medicines. The information was presented at a summit of heads of medicines regulators at the annual International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA) meeting in Switzerland recently. The mapping was carried out by the EMA on behalf of the ICMRA. ICMRA is currently mapping out (and is suspected to be rolling out) a harmonised framework for the regulation of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices for its member countries. ICMRA meets twice a year in various locations around the world, and has established an ad hoc committee on CAM practices. This committee operates on an ongoing basis through an electronic discussion group. There is no doubt that the recent enthusiasm of regulators to facilitate the pharmaceutical take-over of natural health is being influenced by this supra-national body behind closed doors. The report lists all international harmonisation projects for human medicine regulation and provides international regulatory agencies with comprehensive details on the number and scope of global initiatives that can support decision-making regarding future engagement, prioritisation and coordination between regulators. The stated aim of the mapping exercise was to raise awareness of ongoing international regulatory activities, and to help avoid duplication of efforts, identify possible gaps and to realise a convergent framework.
Review of prescriptions reduces costs to UK NHS
Interface Clinical Services recently carried out a review for NHS Croydon, Surrey, in a GP Practice to look at the problem of over-prescribing of medications, particularly in the over 75’s. Through the analysis of patient data, a study group was identified of people aged over 75 who were being prescribed ten or more medicines. These patients then underwent a medication review. There were 640 counts of medications being stopped following the review and 49 hospital admissions were avoided. Drugs most commonly stopped as a result of the reviews included Alendronic acid (osteoporosis), aspirin (blood thinning), omeprazole (acid reflux), cetirizine (anti-histamine), Calcium/Vit D, polyethylene glycol (constipation), warfarin (anticoagulant) and clopidogrel (reduces risk of blood clots). Drugs where the dosage was most commonly reduced were omeprazole (acid reflux), simvastatin (cholesterol lowering) and rivaroxaban (anticoagulant). Savings related to this review and subsequent interventions amounted to just under £126,000. These figures relate to just one of some 38,000 GP practices in the UK. Not only does it represent the potential of significant cost savings to the NHS, but also, more importantly, a reduction in the number of drugs taken by individual patients.