Ireland postpones VAT on food supplements

A concerted campaign by the Irish health trade, into which we provided information, has forced the Irish government to postpone imposition of a 23% VAT tax on food supplements. The tax was due to be imposed on 1st March. Given Ireland’s sub-5-million population, the Irish natural health trade is one of the most dynamic in the EU. It’s supported by probably the highest level of health store education in any European country, and benefits from the GP service fee which is between €50 and €60 if you’re over 6 and under 65. The 0% VAT rate applied to food supplements has been in place for around 40 years. With the increasing simplification of diets, food processing, depletion of soils, reduced quality of agricultural produce, as well as gastrointestinal distress that affects nutrient absorption, supplementation is becoming a necessity for good health, not a luxury. Additionally, humans (and non-human primates) have always ingested concentrated nutrients – it’s just the delivery systems that have changed a little. The Irish government will attempt to impose the VAT charge on 1 November 2019 – but it should expect even more intense resistance from the public and health trade alike.

Could Brexit trigger radical sugar reduction policies?

Sugar supply in the UK is currently governed by EU regulation, which has led to increased supplies of cheap sugar that in turn has contributed to the current obesity crisis. As Brexit looms large in the UK a new report calls on the government to take the opportunity to change legislation to further reduce sugar consumption and protect consumer health. The report recommends - limiting the supply of sugar to the UK market; a minimum price for refined sugar and/or sugar beet raising the cost to industry; an excise tax on sugar or a levy on manufacturers using sugar in their products; a reform in farm subsidies to shift production away from sugar beet and towards currently under-consumed foods and setting maximum sugar content limits in certain foods. Such a policy is unlikely to be provide the health benefits touted though as it would not address the issue of ultra-processed foods, is likely to increase the number of artificially sweetened products and create a premium market for sugar-sweetened foods. Rather than attempting to restrict foods perceived as unhealthy this would be a perfect opportunity to educate citizens on the benefits of diets based on nutrient dense, minimally processed foods as recommended in the ANH-Intl Food4Health guidelines to crowd out processed foods.

Triclosan promoting rise of antibiotic resistance

Do you use personal care products that contain triclosan? If so, you could be contributing to the rise of antibiotic resistance. Commonly added to a wide range of products, triclosan confers in a product its ‘antibacterial’ claim. A new study in mice points the finger at the role of this widely used chemical in the development of more resilient bacteria that are more able to resist and survive antibiotic treatment. This is additional to concerns over its role as an endocrine disrupting chemical, even at low doses. Added to increasing levels of antibiotics in water supplies the risks of harm from ever stronger bacterial infections is now a reality not just for humans, but animals and plants as well. No longer an 'if', we now face the reality of a return to a world where even simple infections could, once again, become killers. In other research triclosan has also been found to promote colonic inflammation and associated colon cancer prompting the authors to call for an immediate reassessment of its regulation for human use due its endemic nature. Our advice: remove triclosan-containing personal care products from your shopping list, bathroom or bedroom with immediate effect. 

Yoga benefits for rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can be a debilitating condition. In good news for sufferers, researchers have found yoga helpful in reducing levels of depression and re-establishing immunological toleranceby aiding remission at molecular and cellular level”. Yoga is known for its many health benefits from stress reduction to improving sleep, managing symptoms of menopause and much more. At the recent Yoga in Healthcare conference, Prince Charles spoke out in favour of encouraging people to take up yoga suggesting not only that it could improve their health, it could also contribute to reducing demand on the already overstretched resources of the NHS. Is that theme sounding familiar?

Big Pharma closes in on cannabis market

The battle for control of cannabis-based health products and medicines is hotting up as Big Pharma seeks to further its reach into the market. UK-based Alzheimer’s Research has announced a new trial designed to investigate the suitability of existing cannabis-based medicine, Sativex ® for the treatment of agitation in dementia patients as part of the ‘Sativex® for the Treatment of AgitatioN in Dementia (STAND trial)’. In the US an new cannabis product from MMJ International Holdings, for the treatment of Huntington’s disease has been granted orphan drug status, fast tracking its development, review and marketing approval. With its high stakes and potential profits, it seems Big Pharma is positioning itself to monopolise the market, pushing out established, non-Big Pharma players. Once again the losers will be the very people who already depend on cannabis-based products to help manage long-term chronic conditions.

Another nail in the glyphosate coffin?

A new meta-analysis assessing the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate-based herbicides has found those with high exposures have a 41% increased risk of developing Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (cancer of the lymphatic system). The findings fly in the face of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) continued assurances of the safety of the notorious weedkiller. This is bad news for Monsanto and parent company Bayer which have dismissed the study, as they face 9000 lawsuits from people suffering from NHL due to exposure to glyphosate-based products. This new study further supports the International Agency on Cancer’s (IARC) conclusion that glyphosate is a ‘probable’ human carcinogen. Meanwhile, a long-term rat feeding study adds to the ever-increasing stack of evidence of the harm of food crops sprayed with glyphosate-based herbicides. Researchers found male rats fed Monsanto’s GM Roundup-tolerant maize NK603 were significantly more likely to die before the end of the two-year experiment than those fed non-GM maize. However, the researchers have been accused of minimising risk by not including this information in their abstract. Surely in the light of such damning new information it's time for authorities worldwide to revisit their assessments of these chemicals for the sake of citizens health?

Eating organic reduces pesticide exposure

Reduced pesticide exposure is one of many reasons people choose organic over conventional produce. Now a new study using a small study group in various locations across the US has concluded "an organic diet was associated with significant reductions in urinary excretion of several pesticide metabolites and parent compounds" adding to a growing body of evidence that choosing an organic diet can reduce pesticide exposure. ANH-Intl has long recommended eating organic or pesticide-free produce where possible to reduce toxic load.