Archive for July, 2008

Recipe of the Week Number I

July 31, 2008

Now you may think the fact you have a blog means you do not have to think about optimum nutrition. After all you’re thinking to yourself, “Well I’m doing the world a favour by offering a thoughtful critique of alternative medicine etc. I’ll just pop a lasagne in the microwave and munch through that later.

That’s NOT good enough. If you eat too much processed food you will get fat and, at some point in the future, you will die. Supporters of alternative medicine will see how fat you are and think that is where is a scientific world view leads you.

Don’t worry help is at hand with my nutritious recipes of the week!

For our first recipe you will need some broccoli, wholegrain rice and salmon fillets. (The broccoli and salmon are both available in the Sainsbury’s Basics range.) If you are in a hurry risotto or white rice will do though bear in mind the British Dietetic Association’s advice on wholegrains.

Firstly bring a pan of water to the boiling point. Then addd 75g of rice. Bring to boil again and simmer. Meanwhile turn on the grill. After 20 minutes place the salmon fillet under the grill. Grill for five minutes on the “skin” side before turning over and doing ten minutes on the other side. About five minutes before the salmon is finished put four broccoli florets in with the rice.

Empty the rice/broccoli mixture on to a plate. Put the salmon fillet on top. Finally drizzle with extra virgin Palestinian olive oil. (More about the olive oil next month.)

There you go! Idiot proof and much tastier than one of Gillian McKeith’s detox diets.


Getting to the Perfect Body

July 26, 2008

As I was trying to keep up with the conveyor belt at the gym this evening a flash of nutritional inspiration occurred to me. Now, I am not aware of anyone else noticing this so just remember you read it here first!

Patrick Holford, Gillian McKeith and that guy-whose-name-I-have-forgotten with the juicing book all promise that you can lose weight quickly but ONLY if you do what they say. Now I am wondering how many of you have ascended the scales only to discover you have put on 2kg over the last ten days? I would guess not many of you. For most of us we eat a little bit more sugar and fat than we should which leads to us increasing our weight over a period of several months. So why is it that so many of us expect to lose weight in, say, seven days?

If you have put on weight over the last six months why not take six months to get rid of it? That is what I am trying to do. I have lost about 3kg over the last two months and am hoping to get rid of another 3kg over the next three months. Gently does it. What is more there is scant evidence that detox or crash diets actually work.

Perhaps, dear readers, when I have finished I’ll post one of those do-you-want-a-body-like-mine pictures on to the blog?

Optimum Nutrition Down a Mine!

July 25, 2008

We have been off on holiday for a few days readers. Have you missed us? Possibly you have not noticed we have been gone?

We have been cycling up and down hills and alongside meandering rivers, meadows and streams. Can you guess where we have been? Yes, that’s right The Wye Valley. We did hope to stay in touch with you all, but alas the internet connection was down at Chepstow library and it was impossible to get a signal on our mobile ‘phone. “Still,” we thought to ourselves, “there may be no internet, but at least there are no nutrition therapists.” Unfortunately, this was not the case as we soon saw a sign advertising the services of Chepstow Natural Health Clinic which was apparently established in 1992: Little wonder I suppose given that the place is under the dominion of his Royal Quackness, the Prince of Wales.

Some of you may be screaming that you can’t afford a holiday and that is a credit crunch on. In these rather tough times you need to be a complementary therapist with fees of £70 an hour before you can afford to travel away to exotic locations. Well, we have to confess to being really poor ourselves so we bought ourselves a saver advanced rail fare from Basingstoke to Chepstow. We have also been re-discovering the joys of youth hostelling. Did you know you can use them without being young or having any children with you? So for the princely sum of £16 a night we were able to stay at an ancient royal hunting lodge:

It was great fun visiting Tintern Abbey – a medieval structure in ruins and without a roof. The place seemed like an apt metaphor for the philosophy of Patrick Holford and his chums:

The most exciting part of the trip was visiting Clearwell Mine, an iron ore mine in the heart of The Royal Forest of Dean. The mine had a tea room attached offering a fresh smoothie to help you reach your five-a-day. It seemed like too good an opportunity to miss as my only previous encounters with Smoothies have been via Sainsbury’s! It was a truly refreshing experience. I now know why miners were so full of energy and able to get through the day. They just popped in to the tea room and ordered themselves a smoothie.

Further down the mine things did not look so good on the nutritional front. Apparently, they would take a flask of cold tea down with them with lots of sugar in it. As we know from Optimum for the Mind sugar makes you crazy. Perhaps that is why the crazy old miner Aneurin Bevan decided to set up the NHS? The establishment of the NHS meant there was considerable less demand for quack remedies in working class communities. That might be why some therapists hate the NHS so much. The tea was without milk. You may think that would lead to a calcium deficiency. It most certainly did not as once the tea ran out the miners would drink water that had filtered through the rocks in the ceiling above. For extra nourishment there was a cottage loaf. I did wonder whether it was wholemeal or not … Probably as white bread is a recent invention by pharmaceutical companies to make us ill and dependent on their products.

So as you can see readers The Wye Valley and Forest of Dean is a haven of optimum nutrition. The probable reason for this state of affairs is the fact the region is protected by ancient forests, woods and rivers. Look on a map and you will see that no motorway passes through the area. How uncanny and mysterious?

Unfortunately, supermarkets selling white bread have started appearing in Chepstow, Monmouth and Coleford. You know what the area needs. Yes, that’s right a Dip ION!


July 19, 2008

Unfortunately, the supplement programme my nutrition therapist prescribed me did not work out too well. I kept forgetting to take them what with my busy hectic lifestyle. Finally I lost all my pills whilst on holiday here – . If an Icelander came across my fish oil supplements they would probably have been very puzzled. After all they live in a country surrounded by seas crowded with lots of different kinds of fish? Heyy, don’t we as well? Ummm … anyway I’m digressing a bit. The aim of nutrition therapy was to change me in to a dynamic sexy person who would have the interesting fun-filled life he truly deserved. I then had a brainwave why not do something to improve my presentation skills?

So one week end I popped in to Basingstoke public library. A kindly librarian suggested I join Basingstoke public speaking club so not being one to disagree with a librarian that’s what I did. Public speaking proved to be less intimidating that I thought. My speeches fell in to two categories, those where I would try to be a stand up comedian and those where after lots of research I would speak on some serious topic. There was a nice lady called Beryl who came along with her husband Brian. At the time I was not really sure what they did for a living, but was vaguely aware it was something “alternative.” Brian was very impressed with my funny speeches. He thought I was a very witty and charming young man. He was similary impressed my serious ones as well and wondered how I had come to be some knowledgable about so many different subjects. “Well, I try to keep myself informed about stuff,” forgetting to mention how internet access let me browse a resource called the Wikipedia. Wouldn’t want to give all my secrets away would I readers?

One week I had to do a speech on something I was an expert on. This posed a major problem in so far as I could not think of anything I knew anything about that would not bore everyone to death. Then I had another brainwave, I would do a speech on “Nutritional Quackery” exposing Gillian McKeith and Patrick Holford. So D-Day arrived and I turned up with some props – copies of The Optimum Nutrition Bible and Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, a Gillian McKeith vitamin C bar and a bottle of Gillian McKeith juice or whatever it is called. “Ohhh,” declared Brian, “my wife Beryl is a nutritionist. Are you studying nutrition? That Patrick Holford is such a nice man. We met him kayaking with some seals in Lapland a couple of years ago.” “Oh dear, ” I thought to myself, “don’t want to upset anyone.” Still there was no backing down now. The speech had to go on.

I described the qualifications of Patrick Holford Dip ION (honorary) and Dr (sic) Gillian McKeith or errr … rather lack thereof. I spoke about hair mineral analysis and pointed out that the American Medical Association had banned its practitioners from using it. Straying away from my usual reliance on the Wikipedia I shamelessly plagiarised some information given to me by a little black duck – I went on to point out that oranges were cheaper than Gillian McKeith’s vitamin C bars and that dear Mr Holford had benefited to the tune of £464,000 by the sale of his pill company to Biocare. I concluded by recommending to my audience that they ate plenty of fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and reducing their consumption of saturated fats, salt and sugar. Finally, I threw The Optimum Nutrition Bible and Optimum Nutriton for the Mind in the bin before triumphantly holding up my rather weather beaten copy of Nutrition for Dummies – the bible of basic nutrition for idiots like myself!

As time went on I realised that many of my audience were not really with me. Afterwards feedback was invited. Beryl looked me in the eye and informed me that she had actually studied nutrition. I got the impression that out of pity or because she was speechless with rage she was holding back from launcing the full frontal intellectual verbal assault that she thought I so richly deserved. It was left to Brian to approach me after the meeting in a kindly attempt to bring me back to reality and to bring my knowledge up to speed. “You have been reading Ben Goldacre haven’t you? he asked. “Well, the kind of things he says about dear Gillian and Patrick, you can always dig up things to say about people to make them appear in a not-too-positive light.” Hmm … don’t know about you readers, but I have never exaggerated my qualifications or promoted bad science. Not sure what Ben Goldacre could write about me a column, though I cannot speak for the rest of the you. He conveniently forgot that my speech did have other sources … “The science is quite clear on these matters if you look. As for Ben Goldacre Martin Walker has rather demolished him in a book called Dirty Medicine.”

Anyway, when I got home I googled Beryl and Brian. It turned they were the proprietors of The Basingstoke Homeopathy Cabin. Their website also offered various other therapies. No wonder they were friends of Patrick Holford. But what about this Martin Walker chap? Perhaps if I read his book I would be convinced of the salvation that came to them who believed in the Lord Patrick. So I googled Martin Walker and it turned out he was a chemistry lecturer at a top American university. Gosh, obviously some one to listen to then. Then the thought occurred to me that there might actually be more than one man in the world called “Martin Walker” so I refined my research by typing in “Martin Walker” + “Dirty Medicine.” For now dear readers let’s just say THIS Martin Walker did not have a PhD in chemistry. I am sure we’ll come back to him and his “book” another time ….

Patrick Holford vs The University of Cambridge

July 16, 2008

Patrick Holford often claims that the path of optimum nutrition “is likely to add years to your life and life to your years”.

In contrast, researchers at the University of Cambridge “discover” that non-smokers, moderate drinkers and those who eat plenty of fruit and vegetables live longer:

Now, as you all know my favourite book is Nutrition for Dummies. The beginning of the book has a very interesting section called “Research you can trust.” According to the authors ignorant members of the public – like me – need to ask: “Where was the study published?”, “Does this study include human beings?” and “Are there enough people in this study?”

The study on which the above BBC article was based was first published in PLoS Medicine a “peer-reviewed open-access journal published by the Public Library of Science.” Sounds good to me. I particularly like the section which states, “Statistical Advisors provide methodological input for certain types of submitted manuscripts and advise on whether statistical aspects of those manuscripts are performed to the technical standard required for publication” – I wonder how some of the surveys done by the ION or Food for the Brain would measure up?

There were 20,244 human participants in the study which sounds quite a lot.

You can read the full article here:

My question, and no one has ever (!) been to answer it is this: how much healthier will I be and how many years will I add to my life if I follow the Way of Optimum Nutrition compared with the approach offered by the British Dietetic Association?

ION Diplomates Do Not Know Enough Pharmacology!!

July 12, 2008

As you may be aware The Nutrition Therapy Council was set up to help regulate the nutrition therapy industry.  The ever-so-generous department of health awarded them £900,000 for the task: Still, according to question one on page three it is all voluntary at the current time as, “the cost of statutory regulation may be disproportionate to the rewards expected.”  I am not really sure what that means. Perhaps some one could enlighten me.

You may be wondering how nutrition therapists at The Institute for Optimum Nutrition measure up. You only need to look at their website to find out.  See the following two documents:

Now, I am only an Arts graduate so do not really understand long words such as “pharmacodynamics”, “pharmacokinetics” and “nutraceuticals”. However, my interpretation is that the document is saying that people who finished the ION course between 2001 and 2007 do not know enough about the effect of drugs on the body and the implications for human nutrition.  Possibly they are not that interested in pharmacology.  After all ION founder, Patrick Holford, did write a book called “Food is Better Medicine Than Drugs”: However, one would have thought that many people consulting nutrition therapists would be suffering from chronic long-term conditions.  Therefore, one would have thought it pretty essential for people claiming to be nutritionists to at least have some understanding of the relationship between food and medicine.

Help is at hand though as the lack of knowledge can be rectified by purchasing “Dr Cliff Whelan’s 2005 lecture: Therapeutic Module: Pharmacokineticys. This will help to rectify areas of this subject missing from the course.”  According to the above NTC memorandum they have until September rectify their lack of knowledge

So what exactly are the implications of this gap in their knowledge?  I asked expert and renowned Bad Science blogger Dr Aust to comment. Here is what he had to say:

I’m not a pharmacologist (physiologist strictly, although I do teach some pharmacology too) but one lecture on pharmacokinetics does strike me as a bit, er, laughably thin, given the propensity of some “nutritional” therapies to interact with other conventional drugs people may be taking. A famous example is St John’s Wort, which interacts with almost everything and in Germany is a prescription medication. David Colquhoun, who is a real “Pharmacology ninja”, would probably have other examples.

“Conventional” prescribers (doctors, of course, and now the nurses) get a fair bit of teaching about pharmacology. To be strictly accurate, the amount they are explicitly taught about pharmacokinetics specifically may be quite small (1-2 lectures on the principles, usually early in the course). However, this is reinforced by the fact that, for every drug they are told about, their attention will typically be drawn to its unwanted effects, possible actions in overdose and common and/or potentially serious interactions. They will also have it drummed into them ad nauseam that before prescribing something they always need to CHECK for interactions with other medications the person might be taking, and other contra-indications,  in the British National Formulary (BNF) –

From this POV, my opinion would be that one online lecture as a “retrospective bolt-on” is too little, too late.

The Manual of Dietetic Practice has a very informative table on the nutritional implications of certain medications. If such a book sounds too complicated the table has been adapted for inclusion in Nutrition for Dummies.   I wonder whether either book is actually held in the library of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition.  The strangest thing is that Patrick Holford thinks it is a myth that only dieticians and doctors are qualified to give diet advice and claims that the ION’s diploma, “provides considerably more qualification to advise an individual [his emphasis] about their nutritional needs than either a medical training or a dietetic training.”

For once words fail me. For the time being, Patrick, I’ll stick to my doctor.


July 12, 2008

Basingstoke previously had a reputation as a sleepy commuter town, but all that had changed with the mysterious death of the local MP. For some reason strange things were going on. Apparently now it was going to be the location for the launch of a new political movement ….

“We want nutrition? When do we want it? Now!!! What type of nutrition do we want? Optimum! Optimum! Optimum! What’s the opposite of Optimum Nutrition – sub-optimum nutrition? What happens to be people who indulge in sub-optimum nutrition? They DIE! … ummm eventually”

In every generation The Almighty raises up men and women of great stature to provide leadership and bring about change. Anne Nick-Dote [pause here and say her name slowly in order not to miss the joke] regarded herself as such as an individual. She was a privately trained nutrition therapist with a DipNut from the Northern College of Naturopathic Nutrition Therapy. Returning to her home town she founded Basingstoke Nutritionists – the town’s first nutrition therapy practice! In short she was an agent of change a bit like the Nettlay Corporation Co-Enzyme supplements she sold in her practice for £20 a jar. (Actually, if you are interested there is currently 10% until … umm … all the supplements are sold.)

Now she had founded a new political party The Party of Optimum Nutrition – a party dedicated to well-being and holistic wholeness. Holistic wholeness was a phrase she often used with her clients and in her weekly column for the Basingstoke Bugle. No one had actually asked her to explain the concept of holistic wholeness which was just as well really.

Captain Bellodi and Sgt Sexton stood watching in the crowd at the party’s first rally in Basingstoke Stadium. With the warm up over Anne Nick-Dote addressed the shock troops of this new political revolution: “I have been slogging away here in Basingstoke for five years. But now the time has come to take the message to Westminster. Doctors don’t care and politicians don’t care because they have all been bribed by big pharmaceutical companies! We need to take the fight to them and show we mean business. Let me tell you about a client of mine. She was overweight and ate processed food most days. I told her to eat less, exercise more and take lots of supplements. She is now a new creation! Vote Optimum Nutrition and transform the world!”

Captain Bellodi was not impressed. It reminded him of the stories his grandfather had told him about Mussolini in the 1920s. His grandfather had been not impressed which is why he joined the partisans. He wondered now whether the cult of nutritionalism posed as great a danger to civilisation as fascism had seventy-five years ago.  He was brought back to reality by the voice of Sgt Sexton:  “It is all a load of nonsense.  The real danger is that people will see healthy eating as some kind of expensive endurance course and just give up on the whole thing. Five portions of fruit and veg, a bit of dairy, plenty of wholegrains and you can’t go far wrong, ehhh?”  “Let’s go sergeant. Perhaps we can arrange an interview with Anne Nick-Dote.”

As they drove off Sgt Sexton turned the radio on to Sunlight FM.

“Hallo lovely listeners. Welcome to nutrition hour on Sunlight FM. Today we have Paddy Whole-Food widely regarded by his many admirers as the world’s greatest nutritionist. And we have got our first caller, Jim, on line one …”

“Paddy … um … not sure if you have ever been asked this before, but what supplements do you use?”

“Ha, ha, ha Jim. I have been asked that queston once or twice before. I use my own specially formulated multi-vitamin, fish oil and memory pills. They are available from my website for the special price of £50 for a month’s supply – 10% discount if you join my supporters club.”

“Okay our next caller is DVnutrix from … err … Holford Watch.”

“Yeah, I would like to know if there is any evidence your pills actually work. Is there any peer-reviewed science available?”

“Sorry we appear to have lost that call. Now Paddy tell us about your latest plans we understand you are planning to visit Basingstoke.”

“Yes, one of my top nutrition therapists is standing for election there. I am going to offer my support. In fact I would urge everyone who believes in optimum nutrition to go to Basingstoke and her campaign.”

“Umm … Paddy … you may be the world greatest nutritionist, but I am afraid you don’t know much about election law. Broadcasters are not allowed to show bias to one candidate during election campaigns.  I am afriad I am going to have to fire you as Sunlight FM’s nutritionist. Good-bye.”

Captain Bellodi and Sergeant Sexton were not too impressed. They were just about to turn over to listen to Ben Goldacre on Radio 4 when Captain Bellodi’s mobile rang.

“What’s that Prime Minister.  Do we think he’s a threat to national security?  No, more of a threat to national sanity so it won’t be easy to lock him up for 42 days.  Anyway, we’re not interested in the politics just whether his claims are nonsense or not.  Good-bye.”

A rather sombre voice then came on to the radio. “We interrupt Sunlight FM’s Nutrition Hour for a newsflash. The Rt Rev Dr Roger Williams, the Bishop of Basingstoke was shot this afternoon just after leading Choral Evensong. He was rushed to the local A&E department, but died soon afterward when homeopathic doctor on duty admitted there was nothing she could do him.”

“My goodness,” gasped Sgt Sexton, “that’s incredible.”  “Yes, ” replied Captin Bellodi “quite astonishing really, a homeopathic doctor admitting to being incompetent.”  “No, I mean who would want to kill the Rev. Rog. I mean he was such a sweet old gent.  There is something very strange happening here ….”

To be continued ….

Detox Diet Led to Brain Damage Following Advice from Nutrition Therapist

July 5, 2008

The following link comes relates to an article that was published in The Oxford Mail on Saturday 05 July 2008

Do read it and leave a comment on the site.