ASA attacks natural health products – again!

A rash of recent rulings by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have once again attacked natural health products. In the most recent ruling the ASA labelled claims by the makers of the CBD Miracle Pain Patch as medicinal and thus not allowed under current legislation. In another ruling Motion Nutrition were found to have made claims implying one of their nutritional supplements could be used to “prevent, treat or cure human disease”. In a separate ruling Green People had a ruling upheld against them for using misleading wording in an ad for sun cream, despite the company being able to provide support for the wording used. The ASA is a private limited company, yet behaves like a regulator with a penchant for bully-boy tactics and it’s no fan of the natural sector. Tasked with policing the EU Nutritional and Health Claims Regulation by the UK Food Standards Agency, the ASA repeatedly interprets them in such a way as to make it more difficult for consumers to identify products related to their specific needs and limit commercial freedom of expression. In many instances, credible scientific evidence has been cast aside in favour of more limited evidence that the ASA favours with little right of redress. The impact of Brexit on already difficult to navigate regulations remains to be seen, but we will be monitoring and providing updates on the situation as the leaving process rolls on.

Plant-based eating not always healthy

Plant-based diets including animal products containing high levels of ultra-processed foods are harmful to heart health. In a new study to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session researchers from Harokopio University of Athens tracked the diets of more than 2,000 Greek adults over a 10-year period to look at the relationship between diet and the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Those participants classified as eating an unhealthful plant-based diet were found to have a higher risk of developing CVD than those eating a diet including plenty of nutrient dense whole foods. Based on the results of the study, simply following a plant-based diet is not enough to reduce disease risk. The quality of the food being consumed is paramount to helping you live a longer and more healthful life.

Lifestyle factors shorten life expectancy

The higher your stress levels, the shorter your life. This is just one of a multitude of factors impacting life expectancy according to a new study from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. Using data from the Finnish National FINRISK Study 1987-2007 researchers found high stress levels reduce life expectancy for a 30-year old man by 2.4 years, diabetes by 6.5 years and smoking by 6.6 years. Lack of exercise knocks 2.4 years off. Women were only marginally better off with stress accounting for a 2.3-year reduction, diabetes 5.3 years and smoking 5.5 years. Conversely eating a plant rich diet improved life expectancy by 1.4 years. The good news is that all of these risk factors can improved by making better lifestyle choices as shown in our Health Hack video series.

Online support groups damage the health of type 2 diabetics

Online support groups play a huge role in supporting patients diagnosed with a multitude of chronic diseases. In a small study conducted by researchers from the Department of Communication at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona used an online study to assess the way sufferers managed their diabetes along with any related complications. They found a strong relationship between participation in such support groups and reduced ability of those suffering from type 2 diabetes to manage their condition. The same did not apply to type 1 diabetics. Contrary to the message given by many healthcare professionals type 2 diabetes is both preventable and reversible (if caught early enough) using changes to diet and lifestyle.

Early-onset puberty increases risk for type 2 diabetes

Boys who experience early-onset puberty are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes as adults. The impact of early-onset puberty in girls is already well-documented. Now a new Swedish observational study has revealed that boys who go through puberty between age 9.3 and 13.4 years, regardless of their weight, were twice as likely to develop insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes in later life. Boys who went through puberty at a later age (14.8 – 17.9) had a reduced risk of developing the disease. Previous studies have found that boys who are overweight during childhood are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes as adults. The results once again underline the importance of protecting our children’s health with healthy diet and lifestyle choices to maintain good metabolic health to reduce their future risk of developing serious chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Restoring soil health good for the climate

Improving soil’s ability to capture carbon has the potential to significantly enhance efforts to combat climate change. Publishing in Nature Sustainability, researchers suggest that healthy soil can provide up to 25% of the potential natural solutions to reduce carbon dioxide levels contributing to climate change. Boosting soils’ capacity to capture and hold carbon and protecting existing soil could remove up to 5.5 billion tonnes of CO2 a year. Up to 40% of this could achieved by leaving existing soil alone, with the remaining 60% coming from the regeneration of depleted soil. Improving soil would not only improve its ability to store carbon, but increase water regulation and quality, bring more resilience to a wide range of systems as well as increasing biodiversity, crop yield and plant health. In related news the importance of farms growing a diverse range of crops has been highlighted as a way of shielding wildlife against the impact of climate change. Using nearly 20 years of field data, the study focused on the impact of intensive agriculture on birds concluding that more diverse agricultural systems can reduce the long-term loss of biodiversity and protect the health of the environment.