Why one size fits all diets don’t work

Born out of the TwinsUK Study, the Predict study (the result of which were exclusively revealed this week by Jerome Burne in the Mail Online) potentially provides another nail in the coffin for traditional weight-loss programmes as it shows how individual our metabolic responses are to different foods. Researchers tracked the changes in levels of blood glucose, insulin and triglycerides (fats) after eating different nutrients in 1,100 individuals. Key to this study was the use of identical twins who, despite sharing the same genetic profile and largely similar environments, have been found to metabolise foods differently. The study collected data on a wide range of factors that can impact the way we metabolise macro nutrients — fat, carbohydrates, proteins, plus the diversity of our gut microbiota, levels of exercise, stress profile and sleep quality. The team’s findings won't be new to integrated/functional medicine or nutrition professionals. The findings reinforce the power that our diet, lifestyle and environment exerts over our metabolism and ultimately our health and resilience. In short, intermittent fasting is beneficial, the body processes nutrients better with sufficient sleep, diversity of our gut microbiome is essential and one-size doesn't fit all when it comes to nutrition. The results also show why the calorie in/out theory is no longer relevant for weight management or health and why existing government guidelines are contributing to the rapid spiralling of obesity and related chronic disease. A word of caution though – even if it were found that sugar laden chocolate brownies didn't spike your blood sugar when tested, it doesn't mean that you should indulge regularly. Sugar is still sugar! Unsurprisingly the research is finding it's way into a new app due for release that apparently will be able to 'predict' how your body will respond to almost every food you eat. We await its arrival with interest.

Feeding your gut bugs could future-proof your brain health

A new mouse study published in Nature suggests that having an unhealthy gut microbiome with a lack of diversity as we age may contribute to cognitive decline in later years. Researchers using a mouse model enriched the animal’s diets with the prebiotic fibre inulin. As expected, increases in Bifidobacterium were found, but even in middle-aged mice, levels of Akkermansia bacteria (one of the most important bacterial species found in our gut) were found to be similar to younger mice. The changes in microbiota composition accompanied improved cognitive tests and reductions in anxiety-like behaviours. The results add to existing studies on the benefits of plant-based diets to contribute to healthy ageing not just in mice, but humans also. Although there is no precise definition of what a plant-based diet is, at ANH-Intl we use the term to describe a diet that includes at least 50% by weight of whole, unprocessed vegetables with minimal fruit. Here are some of our top tips for incorporating more plant foods into your diet to help you live a longer, healthier life.

Opioid crisis triggers lawsuits

Opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma is being sued by 48 US States who’re accusing the company of understating the risks of addiction to their opioid drug OxyContin. The State of Oklahoma is also suing Johnson & Johnson for damages over their marketing of opioids. Unsurprisingly, given the scale of the problem the crisis was a central theme at the recent Institute for Functional Medicine’s Annual Conference in San Antonio. A current report from the OECD shows a 20% increase in opioid-related deaths for 2011-2016 across 25 countries with the biggest rises seen in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and England and Wales. It’s clear that drugs don’t fix the problem. In fact, more often, they compound and contribute to even bigger problems. More now than ever there is a need to find non-drug solutions to reduce the use and abuse of such powerful drugs, which are over prescribed, often for longer duration than warranted for the condition which leads to addiction. The ANH-Intl health sustainability blueprint sets out an alternative way to manage our health promoting the creation of vital health as opposed to the management of disease by balancing our Ecological Terrain and its 12 domains of health.

Italian court rules cannabis derivatives illegal

Following attacks on CBD products around the EU along with the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) addition of plant-based cannabinoids to the novel foods register, the Supreme Court of Italy has deemed all cannabis derivatives to be illegal. This further adds to the confusion around the legality of cannabis derivatives such as oils, buds, flowers, leaves and resins . The Judges said selling such products will be a criminal act and that they, “...cannot be sold under any circumstances”, which flies in the face of a 2016 draft regulation stating that products containing less that 0.2% of THC (the psychoactive substance in cannabis) are legal. Manufacturers and suppliers of related products await further clarification of the ruling and the Court’s reference to “doping” to fully understand how this will affect the future of cannabis products in Italy and its impact on those citizens who use them to avoid using drugs such as opioids.

Golden rice failure

Indian scientists have dealt yet another blow to the developers of GM golden rice after they found its beta-carotene content rapidly degrades when stored following harvest. The scientists concluded the only way to ‘preserve’ the beta-carotene content is to vacuum pack it immediately (no doubt in plastic!) putting it beyond the reach of the very countries it’s designed to help. The reality is that the millions of dollars and years of research spent on developing golden rice could have been put to far better use ensuring people have access to a varied and nourishing diet.