Editor's Spotlight: The Nutra News Review

LISTEN NOW: Dragons Den investment, Irish supplement tax, maternal microbiome ... and omega-3 for premature birth- The Nutra News Review

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

It's not easy to keep up with the fast pace of the news, but the weekly Nutra News Review is your best shot. Our editors run down their weekly news highlights - giving you the inside track on the top news and analysis from the last seven days.

Listen to Nathan Gray, Will Chu and Nikki Cutler rundown their highlights of the week's news...

On our agenda this week is:

1) Personalised nutrition for infants?

The baby’s microbiome was the subject of an article last week as sponsors of the event, Danone Nutricia, took the opportunity to chat about digital technology and machine learning’s role in tailoring nutrition in early life.

Danone discussed ideas that included an app to measure baby stool consistency and help parents gain insights on their baby’s gut function and development.

Danone also spoke of an artificial intelligence conversational tool that addresses parents’ uncertainties, gathering data around parental feelings to aid in the mother’s wellbeing, which is so often neglected.

This kind of innovation adds a new dimension to personalised nutrition, where breastfeeding has long been considered the ultimate form, tailored specifically to a growing infant’s nutritional needs. Read more here by clicking here.

2) Ireland plans to tax supplements

The Irish government have revealed plans to tax food supplements, slapping a VAT rate of up to 23% in time for January next year.

It is a repeat of 2014 plans in which authorities unsuccessfully proposed a 23% VAT levy on herbal teas and health supplements.

The news appears to be in conflict with comments made by the then Irish Minister for Health Leo Varadkar, who said, “We are shifting the focus of healthcare from hospitals to the community and from treating illness to maintaining good health“.

The Irish Government’s plans to tax the very things that promote good health could be seen as unusual with this levy looking to be in direct opposition to the sugar tax and support initiatives such as Healthy Ireland.

In addition, applying VAT to food supplements would be completely inconsistent with the way they are regulated and with current Government policy on health. Read more here by clicking here.

3) Omega-3 and premature birth

Earlier this week we covered news that a Cochrane review has published a seemingly definitive link between supplementation with omega-3 in pregnancy and a significantly lower risk of preterm birth and having a small baby.

By combining all the existing clinical research on the topic – that met certain criteria – the team behind the review pooled data from 70 clinical trials and almost 20,000 mothers to try and establish whether or not there is conclusive evidence to link the use of omega-3 supplements to the prevention of premature babies

The review had some very positive results, showing that omega-3 fatty acids – and in particular DHA and EPA from marine sources:

  • lower the risk of having a premature baby (less than 37 weeks) by 11%
  • lower the risk of having an early premature baby (less than 34 weeks) by 42%
  • and reduces the risk of having a small baby (less than 2,500g) by 10%

Those findings are hugely important for public health – since premature birth is the leading cause of death for children under 5 years old worldwide, accounting for close to one million deaths every year. Read more here by clicking here.

4) Dragons' Den start-up

Our start-up spotlight this week was Polish healthy bread company, Pure Grain Bread, which appeared on Dragons’ Den last weekend and won investment from Deborah Meaden. The products in the range contain no flour but plenty of whole grains and seeds making them a good source of omega-3, fibre and protein. The range also includes products appropriate for consumers following free from or Low GI diets.

One slice of the bread provides about one third of your recommended daily intake of fibre. On average, we only get about 18g of fibre per day when we should be getting 30g, so one slice of this bread a day would fix this deficiency. Read more here by clicking here.

5) On the hunt for youth-boosting food and drinks 

Mintel’s new research show the food, drink and supplement industry should take tips from the beauty industry as consumers want products that will help them fight the ageing process. We’ve seen people in their 20s buying anti-wrinkle creams for a while but now it's seeing that consumers starting to consider how the food and drink they consumer can influence how they age.

The research report states that food and drink innovators should take ingredient inspiration from new health research as well as traditional medicine practices, such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. For example, in Chinese medicine, turmeric is frequently used and this has recently become a widely accepted health ingredient. Read more here by clicking here.

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