Research shows strong interest in herbal medicine

Research from Ayurvedic tea and supplement manufacturer, Pukka Herbs, has shown that 43% of 2000 survey respondents have used alternative medicine/herbal remedies for problems such as joint pain, sleep problems and energy levels. The survey also found that 70% of respondents would like to be able to access natural medicines through their GP and 64% felt they didn't have enough information about the potential benefits of herbal medicines. Sebastian Pole, co-founder of Pukka Herbs said, “It’s wonderful to see that people are taking an interest in herbal medicine and looking to use these incredible traditional remedies to manage their health concerns in a more holistic and natural way.

UK Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan criticised by Health Select Committee

In a report on childhood obesity, the House of Commons Health Select Committee has criticised the UK’s Childhood Obesity Plan, published in August 2016. Although the Committee welcomed the measures included in the plan, it was extremely disappointed that key areas for action were not included. The Committee has urged the manufacturers of sugary drinks to pass on the price differential cost between products with high and low or no sugar as a result of the sugar tax, to nudge consumers towards ‘low’ sugar options. The Committee also called for further action including extending the sugar tax to milk based drinks with added sugar, calling on the government to tackle portion size, and more disclosure on how the income from the levy is being spent to reduce childhood obesity. It called on the Government to reduce deep discounting and price promotions on sales of unhealthy food and drink and give powers to local authorities to limit the proliferation of unhealthy food outlets since the out-of-home sector (restaurants, take-aways) accounts for an increasingly large proportion of the food we eat.

Unsaturated fats and Alzheimer’s

Researchers have suggested that the metabolism of unsaturated fatty acids is significantly dysregulated in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The study published in the journal PLoS Medicine looked at 43 individuals ranging in age from 57 to 95 years old. Six fatty acids (linoleic, linolenic, docosahexaenoic, eicosapentaenoic, oleic and arachidonic acids) were found to be strongly associated with AD. However, the study didn't consider diet, the sources of the oils or how they had been processed prior to consumption. ANH-Intl has previously highlighted that fact that the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) content of oils in our diet is skewed heavily towards a high ratio of n-6 (Omega 6) to n-3 (Omega 3) oils, which is one of the key drivers increasing inflammation which underpins all chronic diseases.

One shot vaccines for newborns

A newborn’s immune system functions very differently to that of an older infant, child or adult to avoid it being rejected by the mother and to ‘teach’ the immature system recognition of self from non-self and to allow for the colonisation of the gastrointestinal tract with beneficial micro-organisms. Drug-funded research (supported by VentiRx Pharmaceuticals, 3M Drug Delivery Systems, MedImmune, Crucell (Johnson & Johnson) and Shire) being carried out at Boston Children's Hospital is looking for a vaccine to be given to newborns to protect them against infections. A new report in JCL Insight indicates that the research team has achieved a strong vaccine response in newborn animals by adding an adjuvant (3M-052) to boost the immune response. The adjuvant has been designed to prevent it from entering the bloodstream, where it can cause inflammation and flu like symptoms. Instead, researchers claim, it remains in the muscle. Newborns are currently vaccinated with hepatitis B, but research shows an abnormal response compared with that of an adult because of their immature and naïve immune systems. There is increasing evidence from animal and human studies suggesting specific risks for adjuvants in vaccines and it is too early to tell whether non-circulating adjuvants present lower risks. How this may be magnified for newborn babies at such a vital time for gut, immune system and brain development is completely unknown. But what is known is that vaccines are a potentially unlimited ‘cash cow’ for the pharmaceutical industry that are much less costly to bring to market than patented drugs.

Children, sugar and rotten teeth

The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons has reported a shocking 24% increase over the last decade in the number of teeth removed from children aged 0-4 years. The report points the finger of blame, for this exponential rise, squarely at sugary diets. Figures show that 9,206 extractions were carried out between April 2015 and March 2016 on children younger than four, compared to 7,400 extractions a decade ago. The report also shows the increase of extractions (more than 34,000) in 0-9 year olds in each of the last two years. Despite NHS dental treatment being free for under-18s, 42 % of children did not see a dentist in 2015/16. Unfortunately, this is not new news and is something that ANH-Intl has been tracking since 2014. As always, the solution lies in reducing reliance on sugars, simple carbohydrates and processed foods as shown in the ANH-Intl Food4Kids guidelines and of course, regular tooth brushing.

Eating cheese doesn't raise cholesterol

A new study published in Nutrition & Diabetes concludes that eating cheese is not associated with increased levels of cholesterol or weight gain. Instead researchers found that people who regularly consumed low-fat milk and yoghurt tended to have higher intakes of carbohydrates and increased LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Given that lactase (the enzyme that digests lactose) production dramatically reduces after weaning and around 10-90% of the world’s population, depending on ethnicity, are lactase-deficient, the ANH-Intl Food4Health guidelines do not include dairy. Whilst dairy may not raise your level of cholesterol, there are other health concerns to take into account. However, if you don’t experience an adverse reaction to dairy products, the choice to add it back in remains yours.

Big Food says 20% sugar reduction not possible

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has said that it will be neither technically possible nor acceptable to consumers to cut sugar in processed foods by the 20% target set by the UK government before 2020. Tim Rycroft, Corporate Affairs Director at FDF said, "Responsible companies will work with Public Health England to lower sugars in recipes and, where that isn't technically possible or acceptable to consumers, to lower portion sizes and encourage switching to lower-sugars alternatives". For information on a diet low in sugars and processed food visit our Food4Health guidelines on the ANH-Intl website.

EFSA to advise on daily sugar intake

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has previously stated there was insufficient evidence to set an upper limit for daily intake of total or added sugars. Following a request from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden it now says that with new scientific evidence and the growing public interest in the impact of sugar on health, that it is going to establish a "science-based cut-off" value for added sugars from all sources by early 2020. Two public consultations are scheduled for 2018 and 2019.

USDA drops plans to test for glyphosate in food

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided not to start testing food for residues of the ‘probable carcinogen’ weedkiller, glyphosate. Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act showed the plans to be moving forward last year, however a USDA spokesman said this week that no glyphosate residue testing would take place in 2017 despite routine testing for other pesticides residues being carried out. By contrast, testing for glyphosate in food is carried out both in Canada and the EU.

Vitamin C for sepsis

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Chest has found the use of intravenous vitamin C together with corticosteroids and thiamine (vitamin B1) to be effective in treating sepsis in a small group of patients. The treatment was first used in January 2016 by Dr Paul Marik in the US, after being inspired by a study from the Virginia Commonwealth University. Sepsis, a serious but rare medical complication can lead to shock and multiple organ failure. The UK Sepsis Trust has said that the study was on a small number of patients and it is unclear if it’s the vitamin C or the steroids that are responsible for the patients’ recovery. The US National Institutes for Health (NIH) has pledged a $3.2 million grant to run a carefully controlled study of vitamin C for the treatment of sepsis.