Our weekly dose of everything that you need to know happening in the health and wellbeing world this week. One of the main reasons we stated The Holist was being fed-up of contradictory and confusing health advice and not knowing who to trust. We have an exciting upcoming project for you all in this respect and are excited to get under the skin of exactly where the science is at on various health issues over the coming months. In the meantime here's a round-up of some of the more controversial and interesting scientific nutrition and health news of late.
1. RED WINE + CHOCOLATE ANTIOXIDANTS "A MYTH"?
But red wine is good for you right? Blueberries are definitely a super food right? Well according to new research from John Hopkins University this might not actually be the case. Their study which looked specifically at the antioxidant "resveratol" and contained in dark chocolate, berries and red wine, found no correlation between the antioxidant and improved life span or lower rates of heart disease or cancer. However, the study did note that this doesn't mean the touted health benefits of these foods are non-existent, rather that they are not from resveratol as previously believed. The health benefits may be conferred by other plant compounds in the items in question, but further research is required to identify any such compounds. If you want to read more the NHS has a surprisingly good commentary.
2. GLUTEN SENSITIVITY STIRRING UP CONTROVERSY AGAIN
If you're a non-cealiac but subscribe to a gluten-free lifestyle, you'll likely have been subjected to a lot of flack from friends and family about how gluten has absolutely no affect on non-cealiacs despite your protestations that you feel a hundred times better once you're avoiding it. When we saw this week's gluten headlines such as "Scientists Prove What You Secretly Think About Your Gluten-Free Friends" (Policy Mic) our hearts sunk as we waited for the inevitable "I told you so" messages to roll in. But gluten-free friends, this is the perfect example of one of the most important messages The Holist has been trying to get across ... don't believe everything you read without digging a little deeper. In short, this study has not conclusively found that gluten has no-effect on all non-cealiacs, it is rather more complicated than that. In some places the same study has also been reported as proving a link between gluten and depression which is a totally different perspective. The great gluten free blog, Gluten Free Girl and The Chef has a pretty good explanation of why we should be sceptical of relying on any one study in isolation here. We are not trying to challenge the legitimacy of this study, but rather would argue that its specific findings (which relate to a small and very specific control group) be seen as another valuable piece in the puzzle of understanding the effects gluten has on our bodies.
3. SHOCKING STATE OF UK HEALTH REVEALED BY SURVEY
Public Health England recently published the latest edition of the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which found that between 2008 and 2012 the majority of Brits failed to meet any of the national guidelines on a healthy diet. Sarah Boseley from the Guardian sums up its depressing findings here. With statistics like these and growing recognition of the risk that the obesity epidemic proposes to global health, it's no surprise that Consumers International and the World Obesity Federation are calling on Governments to regulate food to be in the same way as tobaccocheck out the story here).
In other news, you may have seen that Tesco recently made the decision to remove sweets from the checkout of some of its smaller stores (they are already banned at larger stores). Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke acknowledged: "We all know how easy it is to be tempted by sugary snacks at the checkout, and we want to help our customers lead healthier lives". Check out the full story at the BBC here. But over at The Guardian, Owen Jones doesn't think it's enough and puts forward a compelling lament, very close to our hearts as to why public health and media advice needs to be better presented and clarified.
4. UPDATED 'DIRTY DOZEN' + 'CLEAN FIFTEEN' RELEASED
The Environmental Working Group ("EWG") an American NGO specialising in food and agriculture advocacy, have released the 2014 version of their 'Dirty Dozen' and 'Clean Fifteen' rankings of the best and worst fruits and veggies for contamination by pesticide and other nasties. We understand that not everyone can afford to buy organic all the time, but this list helps you prioritise which items you really should try and buy organic, and those you can skip if budget is an issue. Still stuck? Check out our "Guide to Buying Organic". Read the EWG's full report and lists here. If you still aren't sold on the way in which the toxins in our everyday environment can harm our health then check out this article from The Atlantic on the most dangerous nasties hiding in our homes.
5. IS WHOLE FOODS TOO EXPENSIVE?
We love WF as much as the next healthy foodie but there's no doubt about it, it is pricey! Are we right to hope that prices may be coming down? Harvard Business Review seems to think so, according to this blog article.
6. IS OIL "THE SECRET" TO THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET?
We've been preaching the benefits of good fats for a while now so we were interested to see the recent publication of research which found that combo of leafy greens or veggies and olive oil produces valuable nitro fatty acids which lower blood pressure. Read the full story over at the BBC here. That said, as this week's edition of Weekly Wellness has hopefully proven, science in these areas is constantly changing and it's dangerous to buy into anyone study wholesale without looking at the bigger picture. We thought Joanna Blythman's commentary on this study over at The Guardian was pretty spot on in many ways!