The Food for the Brain Foundation Needs YOU

Readers I have just been sent an email (see below) from The Food for the Brian Foundation (CEO: ex-professor Patrick Holford offering me the chance of a job. Lucky old me ehhhh? Unfortunately, it is not one for which I am remotely qualified so I don’t think I’ll be applying. They are looking for “a BANT registered nutritional therapist with clinical experience.” Now I don’t wish to boast here, but I think I must be one of the country’s leading experts on Dip ION qualified BANT nutritional therapists. Yes, yes I know the research has not yet been published but do give me time my dear readers. Some of them I have read their websites so many times they seem almost like family. Obviously, I need to organise a safe house to go to before I upset the alties. Is there anyone on a Pacific island reading this who might be interested in helping me out? Ummm, sorry now where was I?

The trouble is that very few of them are actually qualified to do an MSc project in nutrition and mental health. A Dip ION is actually a foundation degree in science from the University of Bedfordshire. Quite sneaky that ehhh – two qualifications for the price of one? Of course, no one would be dishonest enough to put the letters Dip ION/FdSc on their website to imply they had two separate qualifications would they? Umm … we shall return to that matter on another occasion. A foundation degree is actually equivalent to two years full-time study. So “Food for the Brain” is actually specifically targeting people for an MSc – nutritional therapists – who have skipped the final year of their degree. However, we must be fair here. It is possible to convert the Dip ION/FdSc in to a University of Bedfordshire honours degree. However, on looking at Dip ION websites it would not appear that not very many have done so. Also it has be said that many Dip IONs have first degrees in relevant things like nutrition, biological sciences or nursing. These qualifications were obtained before they went down the Dip ION route.

However, I would estimate that there are probably less than a few hundred people in the whole country who are both BANT registered nutritional therapists AND holders of a relevant first degree in nutrition/biologicial sciences or health care. Presumably there are thousands of bright young things out there with good degrees in psychology, medicine, life sciences or nutrition who might be qualified to do an MSc about nutrition and mental health, but Food for the Brain want a nutritional therapist and THAT is THAT. Possibly, if we were being a bit cynical we might think they already have some one in mind.

What of the research itself? It is all jolly vague. They are looking for some one to evaluate the clinical efficiency of ADHD (does that stand for Always Dependent on Holford’s Direction?), schizophrenia or depression. It is as if they are saying “come on now we don’t care what research you do as long as it is something that proves there is a reason for our existence.” Usually, you would expect a prospective employer to provide a job specification. In this case “Food for the Brain” are inviting research applicants to set the agenda. One would have expected their scientific advisory board to have a few meetings and make a decision: “Okay, the scientific world is skeptical that nutritional approaches can help schizophrenia. Let’s do some research to prove them wrong and win ourselves a Nobel prize in the process. We can then come back and cure depression and ADHD in 2010 and 2012.” The way they have behaved is not very well-organised or proactive is it? Perhaps I’ll send in application to research the training and continuing professional development of nutritional therapists. What they are trying to do is find some one to prove the concept of optimum nutrition more technically known as orthomolecular medicine. If you remember the religion of orthomolecular medicine was founded more than thirty years ago by Abram Hoffer,“the pioneer and perfector of the faith.” They want some one to review both mainstream and anecdotal evidence. Fortunately, Ernst and Singh have recently reviewed the mainstream scientific evidence in their book “Trick or Treatment?”. Here is what they had to say:

“Proponents of this approach believe that low levels of these substances cause chronic problems which go beyond straightforward mineral or vitamin deficiency. These problems include a tendency to suffer from infections such as the common cold, lack of energy or even cancer. [Readers of Optimum Nutrition for the Mind will know that ex-professor Holford believes other conditions such as autism, schizophrenia, ADHD and bipolar disorder can similarly be cured.] (…) The hallmarks of orthomolecular medicine are the extremely high doses that are usually suggested and the individualization of the prescription.”

He goes on to conclude:

“The concepts of orthomolecular medicine are not biologically plausible and supported by the results of rigorous clinical trials. These problems are compounded by the fact that orthomolecular medicine can cause harm and is often expensive.” (Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial, Ernst and Singh, p.320, Bantom Press 2008)

So there we have it conventional science is not yet very impressed by the claims of ex-professor Holford and his friends. However, the researcher is also going to be expected to investigate “anecdotal evidence of nutritional interventions”. I bet there are going to be one or two of those ehhh readers?!! Heyyy, let me tell you a joke: “What did the alternative therapist think was the plural of anecdote?” “Data!” Oh no, don’t tell me you have already heard that one before. I’ll get back to being serious then.

Earlier this year I read a little book in Oxford University Press’ Very Short Introduction series. Have you read any of them? Most of them are quite excellent and enable you to become an expert on a subject in a very short space of time. The one I was reading was by two people – Professor Chris Frith and Professor Eve Johnstone – who are very respected in the field of schizophrenia. Do you think they spent much time discussing nutritional interventions in schizophrenia? Unfortunately, for Food for the Brain in more than 150 pages there was not one mention of nutrition even to demolish the idea that it could help those with schizophrenia. You would think that if there was any merit in the idea Professor Johnstone would have come across it at some point in the last forty years. Oh dear.

Research Opportunity Researcher for a MSc project on nutrition and mental health We are seeking a BANT registered nutritional therapist with clinical experience, to undertake a MSc research project evaluating the clinical efficacy of a nutrition-based approach in the treatment of depression, ADHD or schizophrenia. The research will involve both a comprehensive literature review and analysis of client data treated at the Brain Bio Centre. The objective of this research is to review both mainstream and anecdotal evidence of nutritional interventions in depression, ADHD or schizophrenia, and to determine whether individualised nutritional interventions, as an add-on to existing treatment, improve psychometric scores in specific patients using an open label study design. Applicants need to have previous research experience. Please send your CV plus an example of any research, indicating which mental health condition you are interested in to entitled ‘MSc Research. Please submit your details by October 1st 2008.


3 Responses to “The Food for the Brain Foundation Needs YOU”

  1. dvnutrix Says:

    ADHD šŸ™‚

    Ironically, yes, this research would benefit from the involvement of variously well-qualified and experienced people but in any Venn Diagram, it is unlikely that there is much of an overlap between what this topic needs and the people who are most likely to be recruited.

    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t wish that there is a better treatment for schizophrenia. I’m saddened by the world view that there is a simple treatment modality that is callously over-looked for dubious reasons related to Big Pharma dominance etc.

  2. LeeT Says:

    It seems as though the advertisement was designed to stop well-qualified applicants putthing themselves forward.

    If my memorary serves me correct one Dip ION used to a dental hygienist and another was a BA flight attendant. “Food for the Brain” say they do want people with experience of doing research, but don’t really go in to detail what they mean by that.

  3. Post #350: “If you think I have been overly critical, I would invite you to notice that they win” « Holford Watch: Patrick Holford, nutritionism and bad science Says:

    […] has ‘approved’ University catering facilities (step forward Bath and Edinburgh) and is currently advertising for an MSc student. Despite a number of concerns about its research (we spent 10 posts outlining some of the problems […]

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