FOOD, FACTS and FADS

Exploring the sense and nonsense of food and health


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Homeopathic Pseudoscience?

 

Homeopathic medicines have the unique quality of claiming they are formulated by the “idea that “like cures like.” That is, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the person a very small amount of the same substance may cure the illness.”  (WebMD)

However, skeptics doubt that this “memory” occurs and there is little evidence that they have any therapeutic qualities and only rely on the power of the placebo effect. These products as well as dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and consumers pay billions of dollars every year for these “magical” products.

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The “Magic” of Pseudoscience

I have been a student of pseudoscience and nutrition quackery for a number of decades now. After attending a couple of meetings of the National Council Against Health Fraud back in the day of my inquiries into this “magical” world, nothing much has changed. The definition of pseudoscience is: “a collection of beliefs or practices mistakenly regarded as being based on scientific method.” Unfortunately, pseudoscience is still very much alive despite all those years of fighting the “sense” and “nonsense” of it all. The following is an excellent essay on its allure and tactics on how many people (sometimes even myself) have been taken in by its often false promises and claims.

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Homeopathy: Just More Snake Oil?

Homeopathy has been claimed to cure just about everything. But what exactly is it?  One definition: “Homeopathy is a therapy based on principles that from a scientific point of view are nonsensical.”  With suggestive support, they are perfectly “honed to maximize placebo responses” and for that reason may seem to provide relief at least initially. They have failed to perform as claimed when subjected to rigorous clinical trials. Source: “Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body”, Jo Marchant, 2016.

In my opinion, they support the power of the placebo, but nothing more.

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Detox Facts

Detox, detox – is it a new fad?  Not exactly.  Its origins began in the 19th century with the theory of auto-intoxication, a term coined by Charles Bouchard, a French physician. Other physicians further defined the theory by describing the phenomenon as caused by the putrefaction or decay of proteins in the intestine generating offending toxins. This theory dominated a major part of the 19th century and has survived to this day.During that time, people were told that constipation was at the root of most diseases and the term, auto-intoxication, became the mantra of the medical community. In 1852, a publication called The People’s Medical Lighthouse, a series of popular scientific essays on nature, uses and diseases of the lung, heart, liver, stomach, kidney, womb and blood had this to say about this common digestive problem: “daily evacuation of the bowels is of utmost importance to the maintenance of health”; without the daily movement, the entire system will become deranged and corrupted.” People’s Medicine Lighthouse, Lecture 71. Harmon Knox Root, A.M, M.D. 1852. This theory led to colon cleansing (which still is performed  today), which can be dangerous and is not recommended.  However, detox is now more commonly associated with juicing and cleanses primarily for the gastrointestinal system. 

Do we need juice fasts and cleanses?  No – our liver, kidneys, digestive and respiratory systems work together to detoxify the body.  Most juicing plans or other cleansing concoctions do not provide the calorie or nutrient requirements we need daily. Protein is a especially a problem.  Proteins provide the necessary amino acids we need for protein synthesis.  If these are not available for days the synthesis of needed proteins will be affected adversely.

 


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The Supplement Con?

The old snake oil salesmen are alive and well and now dwell in the diet supplement industry. There is just so little evidence that most of them offer any benefits with some exceptions when diet supplementation is necessary for medical reasons. Regulation appears to be almost impossible unless consumers demand it; however, that is also unlikely. Many people do not favor giving up their often useless supplements even when they know the facts. It shows the power of the placebo on which most of them (the supplements) operate.

See a previous post from 2012 HERE.

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Websites: How reliable are they?


 

The article provides good advice for any website, but especially medical or nutrition websites.  They often seem to promote misinformation that sometimes borders on the absurd or at the least,  unsubstantiated by sound research.

Who can you believe? The term “nutritionist” is not legally defined and is used by a wide variety of people from those who seek a PhD from a non-accredited school to health food store representatives with no formal training. Registered Dietitians (RD) are nutritional professionals who have completed a a four year college degree and additionally  have met established criteria to certify them to provide nutrition counseling. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Medical Association and the American Institute for Cancer Research are non -profit organizations that provide reliable sources of nutrition information.

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