US think tank prepares the way for lab-grown meat

A new report ‘Rethinking Food & Agriculture 2020-2030 from think tank RethinkX prophesises we’re on the cusp of the “deepest, fastest, most consequential disruption in food and agricultural production”. They predict the changes could have as profound an effect on humans as the start of animal and plant domestication more than 10,000 years ago. With a focus on protein production, the authors predict courtesy of lab-grown meats and fermentation systems that ‘modern foods’ will cost half that of animal derived foods as well as being more nutritious, healthier, better tasting and more convenient, with “unimaginable variety”. The report expects traditional farming systems to collapse along with the industries that support them by 2035. It also proposes a ‘New Language of Food’ to describe new food production systems and products. The long-term health effects of such foods are yet to be determined, whilst such production systems run counter to many consumers’ desires to return to more traditional and sustainable methods of food production. We are presently analysing the report and will publish a feature article in next week’s Heartbeat newsletter.

US food recalled 10 times more often than supplements

Of 800 product recalls by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) less than 2% were dietary supplements according to a new report from the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). During the reporting period between 1 January and 26 June 2019, a tiny 1.7% of recalls were related to supplements. Drugs accounted for 18% of the recalls, medical devices 29%, biologic products 28% and conventional foods 20%. The safety, lack of serious adverse events and effectiveness of dietary supplements is underpinned by a new study, published in World Psychiatry, detailing the use of supplements in the treatment of mental illness. At ANH-Intl, we first and foremost recommend focusing on eating a diverse, nutrient-dense diet, and suggest using concentrated sources of nutrients as herbs, spices, teas, or supplements, to ensure a diverse and appropriate balance of nutrients to promote optimal health, where required.

UK lags behind in worldwide cancer survival rates

Cancer patients in the UK continue to face lower survival rates than comparable high-income countries. Looking at one- and five-year survival rates for 7 types of cancer, a new study published in Lancet Oncology by an international team of academics and doctors as part of the International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP), found the UK ranked bottom for survival rates in 5 types of cancer between 2010-14. Common cancers such as breast and prostate cancer were not included. Increasing pressures on the UK’s NHS have been blamed for the UK’s slow progress in this area. The new report highlights the need for radical reform of crumbling healthcare systems to focus on preventing the development of cancer and promoting health.

Apple health data to inform health studies

Apple has announced the launch of three new studies that will make use of health data collected via their apps and devices. The women’s health study will focus on women’s conditions based on its menstrual tracker. The hearing health study will rely on use of the Apple Watch’s hearing monitor to assess how long-term hearing is impacted by everyday sounds. The mobility study will use fitness data to investigate connections between hospitalisations, falls, cardiovascular health and quality of life. Users will have to give permission for their data to be used as part of the research projects. Unlike many apps and other online systems Apple’s health data is citizen-owned. The beta-test of the ANH-Intl-led Hawthorn Health Tracker, which also gives citizens ownership of their data, will be launched in the coming weeks. The tracker is designed to collect data so individuals can see what is and isn’t working effectively in their health journey. Users will be able to give permission for their data to be used as part of big-data research to show the effectiveness of self-care and non-conventional modalities in promoting health, thus reducing the burden on collapsing health care systems.

Forget sugar, here come snack taxes!

Levels of obesity and related chronic disease continue to spiral despite more countries introducing sugar taxes. Now a new study published in the BMJ suggests that taxing high sugar snacks may be more effective at reducing obesity levels. At the same time, an analysis by a team of researchers from the universities of New York, Pennsylvania, California and Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health is suggesting that a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks could result in dramatic health benefits along with savings of US$1.8 billion primarily from reductions in health care costs. Rather than tackling the root cause of the obesity epidemic, such taxes are likely to drive further product reformulation relying on the use of artificial sweeteners and other cheap bulking ingredients. This type of product only fuels consumer addiction to cheap, ultra-processed foods and does nothing to address the underlying metabolic disturbance, nor the associated health impacts of consuming such products.

UK smart meter rollout delayed

The UK government has delayed the deadline for smart meter installation by four years to 2024. There is no requirement for customers to have a smart meter fitted, but energy firms have to demonstrate that all households have been offered one by the end of the new deadline. If like us, you’re concerned about the health impacts of such devices just keep saying no to their installation. If you live in apartments or conjoined houses, it’s also worthwhile getting your neighbours to do the same, as electro-magnetic radiation doesn’t respect boundaries created by walls.