Happy New Year from the team here at Nutrilicious!
We thought that with the new year comes a great opportunity to take stock and consider what’s lined up for food, nutrition and public health in 2019.
Brexit: Politics and our plates
By far and away, the biggest thing in our diaries for 2019 will be Brexit and what will inevitably mark a fundamental change to the British food system as we’ve come to know it. Come 29 March, the deal will be done (or not!) and what that will look like is anybody’s guess right now.
The UK does not feed itself. We rely heavily on other countries for our food supply, with only 49 per cent of the food consumed in the UK produced here and 30 per cent coming from the EU; the equivalent to 10,000 shipping containers each day. For some commodities such as fruits and vegetables, our dependence on imports is much higher, in this case, we import 90 per cent of the fruits and vegetables we consume.
And so, because our food system is complexly intertwined with the EU, once we leave, it will significantly change our trading relationships, both with the EU, as well as those countries out of the EU that have trading agreements with it.
Consequently, people’s diets will be most likely be affected, with a working paper from the Oxford Martin School on the Future of Food warning that food prices are likely to increase, particularly for fruit and vegetables. According to this modelling, a Hard Brexit (trading on World Trade Organisation terms which imposes tariffs on imports) could lead to 5,600 additional deaths per year, associated with reduced consumption of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. This will not only affect individuals but the wider costs to society are pegged at increased healthcare expenditure at around 600 million GBP. On a positive note, there may be small benefits on obesity rates and reduced red meat consumption (see Figure 1)!
Figure 1. Changes in mortality in the UK by risk factor and cause of deaths under a Hard Brexit
The current deal on the table, due to be voted on in mid-January aims to provide a continuous tariff-free and quota-free access to EU markets, but even if voted through, the road ahead is likely to be tumultuous. Initially, the EU Withdrawal Act writes EU law over into UK law – triggering some necessary changes in relation to country of origin labelling and address information. Further changes to our food and nutrition labelling and food regulations may be unavoidable if international trade deals require them.
We should all be watching closely to how Brexit translates to the food on our table, dietary choices and ultimately public health.
For further information on how Brexit may affect the food system, we recommend reading the FRC’s Brexit briefing papers: https://foodresearch.org.uk/food-brexit-briefings/
EAT-Lancet Commission report
We’re expecting that the EAT-Lancet Commission report on Food, Planet, Health, due to launch on 17 January, is going to make waves. Never has the connection between food, planetary and human health been more apparent, with the need to address issues and impacts ever more pressing.
Housed at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the EAT-Lancet Commission partnership brings together leading global researchers into five working groups, investigating:
- What is a healthy diet?
- What is a sustainable food system?
- What are the trends shaping diets today?
- Can we achieve healthy diets from sustainable food systems? How?
- What are the solutions and policies we can apply?
The report will include the latest research on each of these workstreams and will be publishing targets that deliver for both people and the planet.
For further information and to sign-up for updates, go to the Food, Planet, Health website: https://foodplanethealth.org
If you want to understand more about sustainable diets and how these new targets apply to your business, or would like a scientific review completed on another hot topic, please get in touch on 020 8455 2126.
Coming down the line from government
It looks like the team at Public Health England have been busy. While the rest of us were enjoying our mince pies, they have been working hard behind the sciences and they have kicked off the new year with the launch of new Change4Life messaging, raising awareness of the fact that on average, children are consuming their childhood sugar requirements by 10-years old.
But what else is on the agenda for the year ahead? With the updated Childhood Obesity Strategy published mid-2018 came promises of consultations on bans on pricing and positional promotions in retailers and a 9pm watershed for advertising of unhealthy food and drinks. Though we did see consultations conducted on the ban of sale of energy drinks to children and mandating calorie labelling in the out-of-home sector, some of the other consultations have not materialised yet, but they will be coming this year.
North of the border, the Scottish government also just completed their consultation on restricting junk food promotions, so it will be interesting to see what emerges there.
In 2018, SACN also consulted on their draft review of saturated fats, which recommended a continuation of previous COMA recommendations of 10% total calories. The final report is due at some point 2019 and is on the agenda for discussion at the next SACN meeting in March.
With saturated fat such a hot topic and matter of debate, keep your eyes peeled for this one, as it will provide some much-needed clarity and authoritative recommendations.
In addition, according to SACN meeting notes, the following items should also be expected in 2019:
- Whole Systems Obesity Programme: a joint initiative of PHE, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health are due to publish their guide and tools in the spring
- Product ranges targeted at babies and young children: scope and ambition for this programme is due mid-2019, following initial scoping and consultation that has already been conducted with industry and other stakeholders
- School Food Standards: technical update to commence in 2019
- National Diet and Nutrition Survey Year 1-9 Report: due imminently
So, that’s a brief flavour of some of the key things coming up on 2019. As ever, there’s lots of things to keep us busy!
Here at Nutrilicious we can help with your nutrition and health strategy, nutritional assessments of product portfolios, insights – views from the outside world of nutrition influencers and what they think of your offering – overall helping to put you on the front foot of your competition and upcoming government reformulation targets or standards. Or, perhaps you have key messages that you’d like to share with stakeholders through engaging new media such as interactive webinars and podcasts. To discuss your policy and communication requirements, you can reach us on 020 8455 2126.
Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2019.
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It’s that time of the year that many like to look back, take stock, share news from the past 12 months and look forward to what’s next.
We’re no exception.
We’ve done a lot of work that we’re extremely proud of in 2018. Today’s blog focuses on our NutriWebinars: launched less than a year ago and already a great success.
So what are they, why are we proud of them and how could you get involved (if you’re not already)?
What are NutriWebinars and how did they come about?
Well, as you’d expect, they’re webinars – or online seminars – to educate and train professionals about nutrition topics, aimed at the nutrition and food sectors.
They started because we’d experienced first-hand the many challenges in nutrition education and communications, including:
- The fast-paced environment;
- A requirement for Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
- Workers who are severely pressed for time, needing flexible opportunities to learn
- A desire from companies for convenient and cost-effective education and training solutions for their staff
In this digital age, webinars made simple sense to us.
They allow anyone to effectively engage with valuable information without having to be in the same physical place. Those who take part:
- Exchange opinions and experiences
- Get up-to-date content
- Interact with peers and colleagues online
- Receive online CPD certification
- Access slides and resources, delivered straight to their inbox
…all via a mobile platform, so you can access it wherever you are in the world.
‘Fabulous’ ‘Very informative’ ‘Highly recommend’
We tried them, refined them and they went down a storm: both with health professionals and, more recently, food sector professionals.
Topics have included calorie reduction, familial hypercholesterolaemia and sustainable diets.
Thousands of professionals who’ve joined us to learn and we’ve been overwhelmed with positive comments. ‘Highly recommend, with great CPD opportunities’, ‘fabulous’ and ‘very informative’ are just a few of the responses.
Our expert speakers love it too. As Professor Glenn Gibson summed his experience up, “I really enjoyed the NutriWebinar. The technology worked perfectly and this channel is such a fantastic way of communicating and avoiding all the crazy things we have to do these days to go and give talks, like travel for days for a one hour talk. Such a great team that held my hand to make it all run smoothly.”
We also worked with companies to deliver education and training to their staff using our full service platform. Our team includes experts in technology, healthcare, nutrition and digital marketing, so clients could choose their topic and leave us to do the work: facilitating registrations, devising and delivering content and all the administration.
With the technology easy to use and detailed reporting available, the webinars were hugely beneficial for organisations who value continuous analysis and improvement.
Where do we go from here?
It’s the end of the year and we’re celebrating our success, but of course we’re not resting on our laurels.
What’s next? Well, that in part comes down to you. We’ve got plenty of NutriWebinars planned but we’re also keen to hear from you about what topics you’d like us to cover.
Or, if you’re an organisation with training and education needs, we’d love to chat about how our platform can really deliver. Get in contact by email or via our online form
Follow us on Twitter: @NutriWebinar @Nutrilicious
Have a fantastic festive break and we look forward to seeing you in 2019!
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As Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said more than 2,000 years ago, ‘All disease begins in the gut’. And modern science is proving it as true today as it was then.
In this blog we outline the importance of gut microbiota and the use of diet to affect them to try to improve health and welfare.
For a detailed exploration of the topic, register for our free, CPD-accredited NutriWebinar. Led by experts Professor Glenn Gibson and Laura Tilt, it will give you both incredible insight into the science and practical tips on how to help balance gut microbiota for real health benefits.
The importance of the gut microbiome
We have more than 1,000 species of bacteria in our gut. And there’s been an increasing realisation among scientists that these can have a profound effect on our health – from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to infections, asthma and inflammatory disease right through to bone health and cognitive function.
This understanding has led researchers to investigate what we can do to affect the microbiota, to be applied to this wide range of health problems. A steady stream of scientific publications over the last 15 years address the topic, alongside research into probiotics and, more recently, prebiotics – which selectively fertilise the ‘good’ bacteria.
Our gut microbiome status changes throughout our lives. We acquire our gut bacteria mostly at birth. Moving through the milk years, there are differences in acquiring bacteria between breast-fed and infant formulae fed babies: human milk.
There is change again at the weaning stage, after which the gut microbiota remains fairly stable. As we get older there is then a decrease in the largely in beneficial bacteria like the bifidobacteria.
The gut microbiota can be susceptible to various challenges: stress, infection, antibiotics and poor diet all amongst the factor coming into play on a daily basis.
How does diet affect our gut microbiome and our health?
Carbohydrates, proteins, amino acids and lipids are all metabolised by microbiomes in different ways, with different outcomes for our health.
Carbohydrate metabolism – especially that of fibre – leads to organic acids, short chain fatty acids, that have shown to be beneficial in the gut. For example:
- Acetate is metabolised by the muscle, kidney, heart and brain
- Propionate, cleared by the liver, is an appetite regulator also said to be involved in cholesterol synthesis
- Butyrate is a fuel and regulates cell growth
Fibre itself can stimulate the growth of good bacteria. It’s been estimated that per 100g fibre fermented, 30g of bacteria is produced.
Metabolism of excess protein, on the other hand, leads to less positive end products:
- Ammonia induces quick cell turnover
- Phenols/indoles may act as co-carcinogens
- Amines are linked to migraine, cancer, schizophrenia
Balancing our gut microbiota
- Increased fibre intake
To help ensure balanced gut microbiota, our diet needs to include enough fibre. As discussed in our recent blog, government recommendations advise 30g per day for adults, representing a 60% increase in intake for most. Laura Tilt provides excellent advice on how this can be achieved in the NutriWebinar.
- Probiotic and prebiotics
Much work has been done into probiotic supplements: live ‘good’ bacteria that bring health benefits, especially lactobacilli and bifido bacteria.
More recently, scientists have found that prebiotics could have an even more profound effect on our health. They work by selectively proliferating beneficial bacteria, which in turn inhibit pathogens. They may also have a more general effect, including dampening inflammatory issues.
Prebiotics are found naturally in human breast milk and in fructans and inulins in vegetables including asparagus, onion, banana and leeks. They can also be taken as supplements, especially in GOS forms.
As our understanding of the link between gut microbiota and our health has grown, researchers have increasingly looked to see where we can have the most impact.
We’re in a position where health and nutrition professionals can advise clients on what they can do to improve their gut health and therefore overall wellbeing. We look forward to our research widening and deepening further to improve our understanding in this vital area.
Get involved in the discussion on social media: @Nutrilicious @NutriWebinar #lifelonglearning #feedingthegut
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We were delighted that a record number of people joined us for last weeks’ Sustainable Diets NutriWebinar. The effect our food choices are having on the environment – and what we can do about it – is clearly a topic that matters to you.
Today, many months of in-depth work on sustainable diets comes to fruition with the launch of the British Dietetic Association’s (BDA’s) One Blue Dot campaign, aiming to ensure that dietary guidance is synonymous with health and sustainable eating.
Putting together the One Blue Dot programme
Throughout 2018, we’ve been part of a working group collating and reviewing the latest evidence from around the world on environmentally sustainable and healthy eating patterns, drilling down to macronutrient level.
Supported by project partner Alpro, the ground-breaking results have been brought together into the new One Blue Dot reference guide and toolkit. It’s aimed at dietitians, health professionals and influencers – and really everyone involved in food provision in some way.
Indispensable reference guide and resources
Launching today at Food Matters Live in London, we hope One Blue Dot will become an essential read, guide and inspiration.
Polls show that where 50% of us are likely to consider dietary changes to reduce the impact on climate change, in reality there are significant barriers to changing behaviour for the majority of people.
One Blue Dot aims to tackle this problem. It provides both the latest evidence and a bank of practical resources, including menu swap suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner:
A nine-point plan includes:
- Reductions in red and processed meat to 70g per person per day (also recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund).
- Prioritising plant proteins such as beans, nuts, soya and tofu.
- Consuming fish from sustainable sources.
- Moderating dairy consumption and using fortified alternatives where needed.
- Focussing on wholegrain starchy foods.
- Opting for seasonal, locally sources vegetables/fruit. Avoiding air freighted, pre-packed and prepared vegetables/fruit.
- Reducing overconsumption of high fat, sugar, salt foods.
- Making tap water and unsweetened tea / coffee the choice for healthy hydration.
- Reducing food waste, especially of perishable fruit and veg by choosing tinned/frozen alongside seasonal fresh produce.
Each is covered in depth, from the point of view of both the effect on the planet and nutrition.
Dietitians can help lead the way
As dietitian and working group member Ursula Arens brilliantly sums it up, “Eating healthy is for you; environmentally sustainable eating is for your children and their children.”
And – as the guide itself says – dietitians are ‘perfectly placed’ to communicate national and international guidance to help the public understand what they need to do to improve their own health and that of the plant to help future generation. The toolkit will be a ‘live’ document, with regular updates and extra information as the science develops.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the topic and the guide!
Members can download the reference guide and tools at https://www.bda.uk.com/onebluedot
For press enquiries, call 0800 048 1714
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The facts are now mounting that our food choices not only impact our health but are also fast depleting the planet’s resources.
Taking into account every stage from production, distribution and delivery through to waste, we see the sizeable impact our food choices have on the environment. What we eat:
- Contributes 20-30% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Is the leading cause of deforestation, biodiversity loss and soil and water pollution
- Accounts for 70% of all human water use
- Is responsible for global inequality: current food production is adequate to meet the needs of the global population of 7 billion, however, 2 billion exceed their needs whilst 800 million suffer hunger
Additionally, 30–50% of all food produced is spoiled or wasted.
If we’re going to save our planet, we need to change the way we eat.
Choosing a sustainable diet
For the first time, the UK government’s most recent Eatwell Guide acknowledged the importance of eating to help sustain the planet, as well as for health.
It was modelled to ensure that all macro and micronutrient needs of people aged 5 and over are met, while the nation’s carbon footprint is reduced by almost one third.
- Supporting our planet
The Eatwell Guide recommends that 80% of food we consume should be of plant origin: the focus is on reducing meat – especially beef – and dairy, which have the most impact on the world’s resources.
– Livestock production is by far the most significant contributor to GHG emissions (methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide) contributing to 14.5% of all GHG emissions.
– Cattle consume 40% of all grains produced. Over one third of arable land is dedicated to growing grains solely for animal feed production.
– Livestock is the main cause for deforestation, biodiversity loss, degradation and water pollution.
- Improving our health
The benefits come not only to the planet but also our health. As we discussed in our blog on the popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets, it is well established that diets higher in plant foods and lower in meat products result in a lower intake of both energy (calories) and saturated fat, while increasing fibre intake.
Those with a plant-based diet suffer significantly less from diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
The barriers to change
With only 1% of the population adhering to the previous (and less plant-based) Eatwell plate, how can we now expect people to adopt a more environmentally-friendly diet?
The British Dietetic Association is committed to bringing sustainable diets to the top of the dietetic agenda. They’ve put together a new toolkit providing both scientific knowledge and the practical tools to empower dietitians and consumers to adopt a diet focussed on sustainability.
The advice follows extensive research into the science of sustainable eating and top barriers and motivators. These were identified as:
- Lack of practical knowledge and resources
- Perceptions that sustainable healthy eating requires more time, more money and taste has to be compromised.
- What’s on offer from retailers, restaurants, take-aways, etc. – with an imbalance toward unhealthy, plant-based foods versus health and affordable plant foods?
- Language needing to be tailored to the audience depending on culture, age group, socio-economic and education status
- Clarity over messaging, for example on fish and processed foods
- The misconception of sustainable only associated with vegetarian/vegan diets, and of them being nutritionally inadequate
Sound familiar? Have you been able to overcome the barriers and use successful motivators to increase your own sustainable eating, or that of a client?
Be first to benefit from the BDA’s Sustainable Diet toolkit
We are giving an exclusive preview of the toolkit along with an overview of the latest science on the upcoming FREE CPD NutriWebinar on Sustainable Diets, 14 November 8 to 9pm.
The toolkit will be formally launched at Food Matters Live on 20 November. Find out more and register now
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Over the past few years, the issue of mental health has been increasingly in the spotlight. An estimated one in six people in the UK suffer from mental health issues. With research showing that food affects your mood as much as it does your physical health, what can we do to help people appreciate the link?– especially in the workplace where employees spend an estimated 1/3 of their lives and may not be able to eat well.
Link between nutrition and mental health
As highlighted in an article in the Guardian, ‘Eating junk food raises risk of depression’, the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry recently published findings from researchers in Britain, Spain and Australia who analysed 41 studies linking diet and depression.
They found that foods that are high in sugar, fat and processed foods cause inflammation not just in the gut but also the whole body, known as ‘systemic inflammation’. This can directly increase the risk for depression.
The findings support the recommendations offered by Public Health England, The Association of UK Dietitians (BDA) and mental health charity MIND, who all offer excellent information and advice about the links between eating well and mental health.
Food for good mood
The BDA outlines the types of foods that can promote better mental health in their ‘Depression and Diet’ fact sheet. Their advice includes:
– Eat regular meals to give your brain a steady supply of glucose
– Get the right balance of fats to keep your brain well nourished
– Choose more wholegrains, fruit and vegetables: They are rich in vitamins and minerals; digest slowly so control glucose supply to your brain and are rich in B vitamins and zinc, which recent evidence show are important in managing depression
– Include some protein at every meal: Protein helps to keep you feel full and therefore can prevent overeating. Tryptophan is also one of the building blocks of protein, which research shows may help with depression.
– Include oily fish: Researchers believe that two to three portions per week can help fight depression
– Drink enough fluid: A healthy brain contains up to 78% water and evidence shows that even slight dehydration may affect your mood. It’s important to drink 6-8 glasses of non-caffeinated drinks per day
MIND’s information support and ‘How to manage your mood with food’ short video also reminds us to try to avoid foods which make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks and alcohol.
Positive action in the workplace
Despite the evidence, as Gillian Killiner RD points out in her blog The role of nutrition on mental health, “… diet still often remains a last resort when it comes to addressing ways to help improve or prevent the onset of mental health issues.”
The upcoming This Can Happen conference sets out to help companies who recognise that staff need support to deal with mental health issues affecting them, their colleagues or their families.
It was founded by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Leybourn, the two strangers featured in Channel 4’s ‘Strangers on the bridge’ and passionate mental health campaigners after Neil talked Jonny out of taking his own life.
We’re attending to speak to attendees about helping staff to improve their diet alongside other ways to improve mental health. We’re interested to find out what – if anything – they do already, and to encourage sharing of best practice.
Do companies have policies and guidelines for healthy eating?
Do they provide healthy food and drinks to their staff?
Does the company environment nudge their employees towards eating well, or do they in fact nudge them towards an unhealthy way of eating?
Is nutrition included in any mental health advice they may provide? How can we help to make sure it is?
As mental health becomes tackled in an evermore-thorough way, we’re keen to explore these questions and ensure that wherever possible eating and drinking well are considered key components when addressing the topic.
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