Monday, February 12, 2007

stick it where the sun don't shine

The ever fabulous (& future Mr Clarrie) Ben Goldacre has written a magnificent article about Gillian McKeith and by extension a subject close to my heart, the pseudo-science of the whole woo wooo diet industry.
She talks endlessly about chlorophyll, for example: how it's "high in oxygen" and will "oxygenate your blood" - but chlorophyll will only make oxygen in the presence of light. It's dark in your intestines, and even if you stuck a searchlight up your bum to prove a point, you probably wouldn't absorb much oxygen in there, because you don't have gills in your gut. In fact, neither do fish. In fact, forgive me, but I don't think you really want oxygen up there, because methane fart gas mixed with oxygen is a potentially explosive combination.


These new nutritionists have a major commercial problem with evidence. There's nothing very professional or proprietary about "eat your greens", so they have had to push things further: but unfortunately for the nutritionists, the technical, confusing, overcomplicated, tinkering interventions that they promote are very frequently not supported by convincing evidence.

And that's not for lack of looking. This is not about the medical hegemony neglecting to address the holistic needs of the people. In many cases, the research has been done, and we know that the more specific claims of nutritionists are actively wrong.


the most significant "lifestyle" cause of death and disease is social class. ... This phenomenal disparity in life expectancy - the difference between a lengthy and rich retirement, and a very truncated one indeed - is not because the people in Hampstead are careful to eat a handful of Brazil nuts every day

I encourage you to read the whole article, and the rest of The Ben's columns on 'Dr' Gillian, and keep it in mind when the next nutrition guru pops up on your tv flogging miracle diets and super foods and vital supplements. One of the main reasons I don't go to WW meetings any more is the tendency of the leaders to spout whatever cr@p they've read in the Daily Mail in place of basic decent nutrition. And I was that mean ol' spoilsport who complained to WW when they ran an article on their website about astrology and dieting.

We know what we have to do - eat less cr@p, eat more fruit and veg, drink less booze, do more exercise. Sounds simple to those people who live like that already but for those of us who struggle it's a long hard road. But no amount of blue green algae1 or horny goatweed is going to make that road any shorter, just more expensive.

1. I know someone who's doing a PhD researching the toxins in algae

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