Our news snippets this week consider the powerful effect dietary and lifestyle changes can have on our health and wellbeing – both are key themes in our Blueprint for health system sustainability in the UK. We also look at the fast-growing interest from pharmaceutical companies in our microbiota and its focus on developing drug based therapies rather than using natural interventions to ‘cure’ disease.

Diet delays menopause

Whether naturally-occurring or medically induced, all women will experience menopause as they biologically transition from being able to bear children. Typically, women are expected to undergo menopause between the ages of 45-55, with an average age being around 51. Despite previously being taken for granted as a given process, a new study has detailed the role that diet can play in the age at which menopause begins. This study suggests that by eating more legumes and oily fish – plus foods high in vitamin B6 and zinc – menopause can be delayed by up to 3.3 years, whilst diets high in pasta, rice and savoury snacks were conversely found to advance the age women experience menopause by 1.5 years. ANH-Intl’s Food4health guidelines can help you adopt dietary changes that may aid a smoother transition during this natural event in every woman’s life.

Fasting, stem cells and regeneration

ANH-Intl have been proponents of intermittent fasting for over 7 years due to its myriad health benefits, including increased longevity. A new mouse study only serves to further confirm support for this dietary choice, demonstrating how fasting for 24 hours can dramatically improve gut stem cells’ ability to regenerate in both young and old mice. Researchers confirmed fasting induces a metabolic switch from using carbohydrates to burning fat, which significantly enhanced stem cell function in the rodent subjects. Such is the effectiveness of this natural process, researchers are looking at manipulating and including its biological benefits alongside drug treatments. Fasting is not just part of our evolutionary norm, but something that can so easily be incorporated into everyone’s daily living simply by reducing the amount we eat. You can read more information on how to become a more efficient fat-burner.

You can’t outrun a bad diet!

It may be the last thing you’d ever expect to hear in your local gym, but exercise isn’t the ‘get out of jail card’ for losing weight. There is no doubt it plays an essential role in a healthy lifestyle, however, without a healthy diet, all the exercise in the world may fall short of preventing you from gaining weight. Whilst the mainstream continue to beat the low calorie/ exercise more drum, three international experts have set out to bust the myth in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) about the exact impact of exercise on weight loss, particularly targeting government guidelines and the sales of sugar-laden snacks in gyms. Until the message from health authorities changes to take account of the impact of ultra-processed foods, rates of obesity will continue to spiral out of control, placing yet more pressure on health systems already struggling to cope. The following articles can help you to find out more about how you can take back control of your health:

Are governments deliberately on the wrong anti-obesity track?
The Obesity Fix Part 1
The Obesity Fix Part 2
How to spot a sat fat dinosaur?

The gut microbiome – in Pharma’s sights

It’s now widely acknowledged that the health of our gut microbiome has a big influence on human health and the onset of disease. Facing expiring patents on blockbuster drugs, Big Pharma is once again looking to natural health to steal inspiration. Natural health practitioners already use food to rebalance the gut microbiome naturally, however more and more research is now looking to develop drug therapies to manipulate our natural microbiota on the premise of preventing and treating chronic disease. This can be evidenced by the development of supplements to combat obesity and diabetes; using data collected from over 250,000 samples of the human microbiome to create ‘microbiome aware’ products; seeking new approaches to the treatment (rather than prevention) of atherosclerosis; inhibition of the growth of specific gut microbes associated with disease using chemical compounds;
using probiotics to prevent antibiotic associated diarrhoea in hospital setting. Despite best efforts to prop up their ailing profits, it’s important to remember that food is medicine and Nature generally knows best when it comes to our very complex microbiome – an entire ecosystem unto itself. You can support your microbial friends naturally by eating a rainbow every day and influence and shape the health of your gut to reduce your risk of developing chronic disease – without pharma’s interference.

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