Death of the cholesterol theory

Cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease. This is perhaps one of the best kept medical secrets in history. Dr Malcolm Kendrick’s interest in the cholesterol theory of heart disease was piqued in medical school after a throwaway comment by a lecturer. He has spent the last 40 years chasing down the real cause of heart disease and it isn’t cholesterol! In his latest article, author and health journalist Jerome Burne, explores and summarises Kendrick’s life work turning a decades old theory on its head. At the heart of the problem (pun intended!) is damage to arteries. Damage which is repaired through a clotting process that naturally contains cholesterol. In reality, cholesterol is the hero of this piece not the villain that the mainstream would have you believe. 

Irish resist moves to tax food supplements

The robust pushback against the proposed tax on food supplements in Ireland continues. Following a massive public outcry against the tax, its introduction was delayed until 1st November. Professor John Nolan has now waded into the argument to support the use of supplements to promote health. Leading the campaign, Health Stores Ireland (HSI), has also raised the spectre of customs tariffs on imported supplements in the event of a no deal Brexit, which could potentially put the cost of food supplements out of the reach of those who most need them. The Irish have a long history of self-care which has created some of the most knowledgeable health store staff and informed citizens in Europe. The use of diet and lifestyle modification, including food supplements is central to the Irish self-care model, which does much to take the pressure off the health system. The proposed health tax may well broker the end of freedom of healthcare choice in Ireland, but also damage a vibrant sector of SMEs.

Cooking food changes the gut microbiome

Cooked food fundamentally alters the gut microbiome in both mice and humans. Researchers from the University of California found little difference in the make-up of the gut microbiome in relation to raw vs cooked meat, but there was a significant difference between raw and cooked starchy vegetables. The effects are thought to be due to changes in the way gut microbes metabolise carbohydrates and the impact of potent plant chemicals on microbes in the gut. Eating a diverse and varied plant-based diet brings with it a wider range of nutrients helping the body to better withstand disease and promote wellness.

Microbial teamwork better for gut health

A diversity of microbes working as teams in our gut are more important for our health than a single species working on their own. That’s the finding from a new study undertaken by an international team of scientists using data from the TwinsUK project. Despite variations in microbial species between participants, it was found that different species of microbes can perform very similar functions in the gut. The team also found extensive conversations taking place between the gut environment and our blood, strengthening the evidence linking the health of our gut and our overall health.

Omega 3 supplementation reduces risk of CVD disease

Experts have long failed to agree whether omega 3 supplements can reduce the risk of harm from cardiovascular (CVD) disease. A new meta-analysis from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, including more than 120,000 adults across 13 randomised trials worldwide, has concluded that high dose daily omega 3 supplementation can provide significant protection. Their analysis also included 3 recent, large randomised controlled trials increasing the sample size by 64%. Compared with placebo those taking omega-3 fish oil daily lowered the risk for most CVD events including heart attack, but there was no benefit gained for stroke. The researchers also recommended the use of dietary and lifestyle changes including eating more oily fish on a regular basis.

Hugging makes us happy

Hugging improves our mood according to a new study published in PLOS One. Regardless of gender, age, race and marital status participants were found to be happier if they had been hugged during the day. Hugging is a powerful way to convey care and attention, as long as the recipient is receptive. The magic of hugs is they create feel good hormones (particularly oxytocin and serotonin) for both the hugger and huggee!

Pesticide safety

Traditionally only ‘active’ ingredients, such as glyphosate, in pesticide formulations have required safety testing. The European Court of Justice has ruled that all pesticide formulations must now undergo long-term toxicity and carcinogenicity tests. The move raises the bar for manufacturers to prove safety of their products, which in turn should improve protection of public health. The intense debate over glyphosate has taken a dramatic new turn as Bayer told there will be no “magic” alternative to glyphosate available in the next five years. Rather than allowing themselves to be held to ransom by Big Ag, regulators now have a perfect opportunity to promote sustainable and regenerative methods of farming to protect the health of both humans and the environment from such toxic chemicals. But will they?