From Patrick Holford, Clinical Nutritionist.... Please disseminate this
email below to all individuals and networks....
Why EU Law Says Food Can't Effect Your Mind
IN THIS ISSUE
. EU to rule out making health claims about food
. Proof that food can beat nutrition
. Why antioxidants can help prevent cardiovascular disease
WHY EU LAW SAYS FOOD CAN'T AFFECT YOUR MIND
Saying things like 'fish is good for your brain' may soon become illegal, if
a draft EU Regulation on Health and Nutrition Claims get voted through in
Brussels. This further piece of legislation has the worthy goal of making
sure that health claims made about foods and food supplements are true.
However, instead of allowing claims that are backed up with good science,
the EU Regulation states that: "There are many factors, other than dietary
ones, that can influence psychological and behavioural functions. Therefore,
it is appropriate to prohibit the use of psychological and behavioural
This argument for the exclusion of psychological or behavioural claims is
spurious. There are many factors, other than dietary ones, that influence
physiological functions (exercise, smoking, pollution, infection and sun
exposure, to name a few). Food does effect both psychology and behaviour and
the possibility of such claims, if scientifically supported, should not be
excluded. Why, for example, should it be legal to say that 'omega 3 fats
help to support cardiovascular health' and not legal to say that 'omega 3
fats help support a healthy mood', when the science is there to support such
The effect of this clause will not only counter the proposed intent of the
EU regulation - which is to allow substantiated health claims to be made -
it will severely hamper attempts to improve the public's diet. Since most
foods, for example fish or fish oils, cannot be patented, there is no
possibility - by virtue of the costs involved and the lack of return on a
non-patented food - in obtaining a medicinal licence. Nor should there be
any need to 'licence' a nutrient and to describe its health supporting
effects. The very idea would have Hippocrates turning in his grave.
The net consequence of the inclusion of this clause would be to provide a
monopoly of psychological and behavioural health claims to licensed
medicines, such as anti-depressants. This will have the effect of pushing
the public towards prescription drugs and away from choosing
health-promoting foods and food supplements for supporting mental wellbeing.
If you disagree with this EU proposal, as I do, then now is the time to
write to your MEP, whose details you can find at www.europarl.org.uk or by
calling 020 7227 4300. Attached is an example letter, which I am sending to
mine. Please feel free to amend accordingly. MEP Letter
PROOF THAT FOOD CAN BEAT DEPRESSION
According to a recent survey of 2000 people, almost half of adults in the UK
eat to stifle feelings of loneliness, boredom and stress. Yet, ironically,
eating the right foods, plus appropriate supplementation, may be the very
answer to beating the blues.
America's CBS News recently reported on the breakthroughs being made in the
treatment of depression by us at the Brain Bio Centre in London. This short
film, which was shown on Sky News, follows the success story of a
21-year-old girl who experienced severe side-effects and withdrawal effects
on anti-depressants and has found incredible improvement through the Brain
Bio Centre's diet and supplement strategy.
You can download the film and see it for yourself at
AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION BACK IN THE DARK AGES ON ANTIOXIDANTS
Last month the American Heart Association (AHA) published a review of
clinical trials looking at antioxidant supplementation in Cardiovascular
Disease and suggested that scientific data does not justify antioxidant
supplementation to reduce risk. I strongly disagree. Why the difference of
Firstly, the majority of the subjects in the clinical trials reviewed by the
AHA already had cardiovascular disease (CVD) and so their extrapolation that
antioxidant supplements won't help prevent disease is highly questionable.
To date, the vast majority of prevention studies show exactly the opposite.
For example, modest amounts of vitamin E (135 to 270mg) alone has been shown
to reduce risk of CVD by 30 to 40%.(1, 2). Another report - titled
'Multivitamin Use and Mortality in a Large Prospective Study' - showed that
out of over one million participants, those adults who used vitamin E or
other antioxidant vitamins, in combination with a daily multivitamin, had a
15% lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke than those who did not
take vitamins.(3) A more recent study showed that even basic multivitamin
use has been shown to reduce risk by 20%.(4) It is highly likely that
'optimum nutrition' style supplementation will halve risk.
Secondly, contrary to the AHA's report, many trials do show that antioxidant
supplements are effective against CVD. For example, the Cambridge Heart
Antioxidant Study (CHAOS) found a 77% reduction in heart attacks over two
years by giving 270mg of vitamin E.(5) Those trials that have not been
successful are usually open to the same criticisms - too little too late and
bad study designs.
A classic example is the British Heart Foundation trial comparing the
effects of statins versus an antioxidant supplement regime providing 600mg
of vitamin E, 250mg of vitamin C and 20mg of beta-carotene.(6) I predicted
this trial would may be ineffective because the doses are too low for those
already suffering from CVD. Vitamin C is only in circulation for six hours
so I would give a person with cardiovascular disease no less than 1g every
six hours (three times a day). I would give vitamin E in the form of both
natural d-alpha tocopherol, tocotrienols and other tocopherols, not
synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol as used in this trial, probably at 800mg a
day. I would also give Co-Q, at least 100mg, and lipoic acid, at least
This trial, and most referred to by the AHA, make one fatal error. They fail
to measure an indicator of oxidative stress. In other words, they fail to
measure whether the supplements they were giving were effectively acting as
an antioxidant in the body. There is no question that reducing oxidation
reduces risk. Only by measuring if you have reduced oxidation can you say
whether the dose, or the form of the nutrient, was good enough to make a
difference to the people being studied. Some individuals are more responsive
to lowering homocysteine with B vitamins, while others respond best to
reducing oxidation with antioxidants. Without measuring whether the
treatment has reduced oxidation - which is the mechanism that damages
arteries and can be reversed with enough antioxidants - or reduced
homocysteine - another mechanism that leads to artery damage - you really
learn nothing. On top of this, these trials skirt around the fact that the
patients are usually on powerful medication. It is obviously wrong to assume
that vitamin E, which helps thin the blood, will have the same effect on
someone taking aspirin or warfarin, compared to someone who isn't. However,
that's exactly what almost all the trials referred to by the AHA have done.
In truth there are plenty of studies on vitamin E, C and beta-carotene -
such as the Physicians Health Study 2 (PHS2) which showed that beta-carotene
supplementation reduced subsequent cardiovascular events among 333 men with
prior angina or revascularisation (7) - plus other important antioxidants
such as tocotrienols, lipoic acid and Co-enzyme Q10, that show benefit.
Back in the 1930s, when Drs Evan and Wilfred Shute from Canada first showed
that vitamin E reduced risk of CVD, the medical profession managed to make
vitamin E illegal to important into the US, and persuaded the Postmaster
General to prohibit the sending of vitamin E from Canada to US citizens.
Today, at least, you still have the freedom to choose whether or not to
supplement antioxidants. The truth is we are still learning what the optimum
intake of antioxidants may be for those with CVD and there are many research
questions still to be answered.
The AHA imply you can get enough from your diet, by eating five or more
servings of fruits and vegetables each day. I recommend eight servings, not
five. However, the average person eats less than three portions of fruit and
vegetables a day. I believe, on the basis of the science to date, that
supplementing alongside a healthy diet can help boost antioxidant intake
towards optimum levels. I hope the AHA report does not put you off
supplementing antioxidant nutrients, as I do every day, and I hope it doesn'
t slow down the research into their optimal intake.
1. Rimm EB et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart
disease in men. NEJM 1993, May 20: 1450.
2. Stampfer MD et al. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart
disease in women. NEJM 1993, May 20: 1444.
3. Christen WG, Gaziano JM and Hennekens CH. Design of Physicians' Health
Study II - a randomized trial of beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, and
multivitamins, in prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease and eye
disease, and review of results of completed trials. Ann Epidemiol 2000, Feb;
4. Holmquist C, Larsson S, Wolf A and de Faire U. Multivitamin supplements
are inversely associated with risk of myocardial infarction in men and
women - Stockholm Heart Program (SHEEP). J Nutr 2003, Aug; 133(8): 2650-4.
5. Stephens NG et al. Randomised controlled trial of vitamin E in patients
with coronary disease: Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS). The Lancet
1996; 347: 781-786.
6. MRC/BHF Heart Protection Study of antioxidant vitamin supplementation
20,536 high-risk individuals: a randomised placebo-controlled trail. The
Lancet 2002; 360: 23-33.
7. As reference 3.
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