Category: Food for Thought

Nutrition in crisis: healing the harm from bad science

By Marika Sboros

Crisis, you say. What crisis? If you’re talking nutrition science, it’s not just one crisis. Take your pick from related crises around nutrition in the US, the UK and South Africa – and most of the rest of the globe.

That’s more good reason to read Nutrition in Crisis, Flawed Studies, Misleading Advice and the Real Science of Metabolism.

It’s not new – it was published in 2019. The author is US biochemistry professor Richard David Feinman of the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. He enjoys a reputation as a teacher with “a gift for making accessible the intricacies of the body’s biochemistry”.

The book’s content remains relevant today.  It is primarily about biochemistry and food metabolism. It is about why nutrition science is in such bad shape, scientifically and ethically – and a source of harm. It’s also about one crisis in particular. Google misinformation, disinformation, fraud, nutrition science and carbohydrates and you’ll come across all the evidence you could want to red-flag crisis.



Cancer: Fung sees the future, cracks the code

Picture: Arthur Ogleznev, Unsplash

By Marika Sboros

Are you or is anyone you love battling cancer? If so, you need Canadian nephrologist (kidney specialist) Dr Jason Fung on your side. Failing Fung’s physical presence, your next best weapon is his new book, The Cancer Code (Thorsons). He delivers on the subtitle’s promise: A Revolutionary New Understanding of a Medical Mystery.

His book is up there with two of my all-time bests on cancer. One is The Emperor Of All Maladies, A Biography of Cancer (Scribner 2011) by Dr Siddartha Mukherjee, a US physician, cancer researcher and an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University. The other is Tripping Over The Truth: How the Metabolic Theory of Cancer Is Overturning One of Medicine’s Most Entrenched Paradigms (Chelsea Green 2017) by US science writer Travis Christofferson.

The Cancer Code is the logical extension of Fung’s earlier, landmark best-sellers: The Obesity Code, Unlocking The Secrets of Weight Loss (Greystone 2016) and The Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally (Greystone 2018). It is a riveting read, as realistic as it is well-researched, well-referenced and revolutionary. Among its strengths are its panoramic scope and future vision of treatment.



COVID19: IS VITAMIN D A ‘CURE’ OR FREE ‘SNAKE OIL’?

Photo: Nick Bolton on Unsplash

By Marika Sboros

Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour of miracle “cures” for COVID19. Is there really such a thing as a cure for the latest coronavirus infection rampaging across the globe?

Of course not. And if there were, you can bet your bottom dollar that whoever dreamt one up would already be trumpeting it globally. And – hopefully – singing a resonating, scientific-research song in support.

But is anything coming even vaguely close to a COVID19 cure? Or at the very least, as close as modern medicine is able to come at this trying time? And could vitamin D possibly be “it”?

Scottish medical doctor, author, speaker and sceptic Malcolm Kendrick believes it could be. Which is why I heartily recommend his latest blog as it is up to his usual, irreverent, evidence-based standards.



ETHICS: ONLINE COURSE GUIDES DOCTORS TO ‘FIRST DO NO HARM’

Image: Gerd Altmann, Pixabay

By Marika Sboros

“First do no harm” is the golden rule of the Hippocratic oath. Medical doctors around the world have to swear it before their universities let them loose on trusting and unsuspecting patients. 

That oath lies at the heart of an innovative online ethics course that launches today.

It is the latest in the menu of online courses that the Nutrition Network (NN) offers. The NN is powered by the Cape Town-based Noakes FoundationContent is aimed primarily at doctors but has relevance for dietitians, nutritionists, nurses and health coaches, say organisers.



COVID-19: BIGGEST RISK IS ‘NOT THE VIRUS’!

By Marika Sboros

COVID-19 is another case of a pandemic spreading fear, fiction, panic and chaos faster than the virus itself. The numbers involved certainly are frightening – and breathtaking.

They’re not surprising for a new strain of the coronavirus family that targets lungs and airways.

At last count, and just four months since COVID-19 first appeared in China’s Hubei province, the virus has affected 144 countries. The global death toll has topped 11,000, according to Worldometer, with confirmed cases of infection over 270,000. (By the time I finished writing that last sentence and you finished reading it, those numbers were out of date.)



Hospital food: Malhotra’s war on ‘obscene, processed junk’!

Hospital snack that infuriated a cardiologist

By Marika Sboros

Hospitals are places of healing, dedicated to patients’ health, right? Wrong. They should be, of course, but they aren’t always.

Particularly when it comes to hospital food.

Critics say junk food is just another symptom of hospitals that practise the lucrative repeat business of sick-care, not health-care.

The latest medical expert to wade into hospital food is Dr Aseem Malhotra, an NHS (National Health Service) and Harley St consultant cardiologist at ROC Private Clinic in the UK. Malhotra took to Twitter and Facebook last week to blast an NHS hospital for the snack it served his father, Dr Kailash Chand, after major sinus surgery.



Nutritional psychiatry: the future of mental health treatment?

By Marika Sboros

Nutritional psychiatry is an idea whose time has come. That raises a question: What took the medical profession so long to embrace it?

Among global leaders of nutritional psychiatry is US psychiatrist Dr Georgia Ede. In a recent article in Psychology Today, Ede explores optimum nutrition for mental health. She looks at why we humans can’t thrive on plants alone and why our brains must have animal fats for optimum functioning.

Dietary fat is not just for insulation and energy storage, Ede writes. It’s also for “nutrient absorption, cell signalling, immune function, and many other critical processes”.



ACADEMIC MOBBING AT UCT: SHOCKING, NEVERENDING STORY?

By Marika Sboros

Academic bullying or mobbing as it has become known is an ugly phenomenon. It’s a scourge, endemic in even the best universities in countries across the globe.

South Africa is no exception, as the extent of academic mobbing at the University of Cape Town (UCT) reveals.

A series of articles in the Cape Doctor magazine covers two egregious examples of academic mobbing at UCT. (Scroll down for a link to the online version.)

In a scorching editorial, editor Dr John Steer hits out at UCT for what many see as an entrenched culture of mobbing.



Vaccines – Kendrick on benefit, risk and moral hazard

By Marika Sboros

Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick wades once more into the murky, stormy waters of vaccines. He targets the drug industry, medical profession and researchers that enthusiastically promote vaccines – without robust evidence on safety.

He opens with a quote from John Locke’s A letter concerning Toleration: “No man can be forced to be healthful, whether he will or not. In a free society, individuals must judge for themselves what information they choose to heed and what they ignore.” 

That sets the tone for a topic not liberally endowed with free-speech options.

This is Kendrick’s second blog on vaccination and he thought just as long and hard about the first as this one. He says that vaccination is the most brutal area for discussion that he has ever seen. He calls it a “reputation shredder”.



Vaccination: Kendrick dares to inject challenge to dogma

By Marika Sboros

Scottish GP Dr Malcolm Kendrick is a brave man. He dares not just to write about the great vaccination debate but to be even braver. Or foolhardy, depending on your point of view.

He dares to look at the official history of vaccination with a jaundiced eye. He questions the medical profession’s “unquestioned faith in vaccination”.

Before you read further, Kendrick, like many MDs who share his views, is no “anti-vaxxer”. (Neither am I – my most devoted, relentless MD Twitter troll notwithstanding – but that’s for another time.)

Vaccination remains one of the ugliest, most controversial and illogical of medico-scientific debate. Enter on the supposedly “wrong side” and you will get many (most?) MDs’ knickers in self-righteous knots.



PCRM: FLAGGING VEGANISM, JUNK SCIENCE, ANIMAL RIGHTS?

By Marika Sboros

They call themselves the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Critics say they should call themselves the Physicians Committee for Irresponsible Medicine (PCIM).

They say that the PCRM’s latest study with Czech scientists, published in the journal, Nutrients, is irresponsible. And misleading.

The authors conclude that plant-based, vegan meals may be a “more effective tool” to prevent type 2 diabetes (T2D) than meat-based meals. They say that they’ve used a “randomized crossover design”. And that they’ve compared effects of two different meals on gastrointestinal hormones, and satiety (feeling of fullness) on healthy, obese and diabetic men.

The meals: a processed-meat and cheese meal and a vegan meal with tofu.

US psychiatrist Dr Georgia Ede calls the study misleading. Whoever designed it “has some explaining to do”, she says. US physician Dr Tro Kalayjian is more forthright and calls it “biased bullshit”.



Exercise: you’re never too busy for its magic!

44th US President Barack Obama gets incidental exercise with his dog, Bo.

By Marika Sboros

I’m a big fan of exercise – as we all should be. It makes, or should make, intuitive sense that exercise is good for overall health. Exercise builds endurance and keeps you supple and strong as you age

It also makes, or should make, sense that exercise is not the best weight loss tool. Despite what many MDs and dietitians still say.

They want you to believe that obesity the result of gluttony and sloth. That all you have to do to lose weight is eat less and move more.  That’s just food and drug industry propaganda.

It is not possible to outrun or outexercise bad diet.

And like many of us, you might think you are too busy to exercise. You’ve got that wrong. It’s dead easy to fit regular, incidental exercise. Take a leaf out of 44th US president Barack Obama’s lifestyle book, for starters.



TRUMP: OFFICIALLY OBESE, SHORTER … AND MORE!

By Marika Sboros 

It’s official. US President Donald Trump is obese and shorter than he claims to be.

Trump physician Sean Conley has released his patient’s latest physical exam results. Despite (or perhaps because of) the results, Conley declared Trump to be in rude, good health.

He also predicted that Trump’s “good” health would continue throughout his presidency. And forever after.

Conley is the first psychic physician to serve the White House incumbent. His medical crystal ball, however, is faulty.



Dr Jason Fung’s single best weight loss tip!

 By Marika Sboros

Psst! If your MD or dietitian still subscribes to the CICO (calories-in, calories-out) obesity model, find another one. Quick!

According to the model, obesity is from gluttony and sloth. A calorie is a calorie. And all you have to do to lose weight and keep it off is “eat less and move more”.

The model is not just unscientific, it’s out the dark ages of nutrition science.

Yet many (if not most) MDs and dietitians still believe that CICO rules. Canadian nephrologist Dr Jason Fung is not one. As a kidney specialist, Fung sees many patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes. The two conditions are now so common that doctors refer to them as “diabesity”.

In the article below, Fung gives his top weight loss tip for those struggling with diabesity. Spoiler alert: it’s about as far from CICO as it’s possible to be.



Meat: ‘Giving it up won’t save the planet – or you’

By Marika Sboros

Animal rights activists (and vegans who front them) would have you believe that giving up meat will save the planet from climate change.

If only it were that simple.

They also say a meat-free diet is healthier for you. Some call for a tax on meat to reduce consumption.

Dr Frank Mitloehner is professor of Animal Science and a specialist in Air Quality Extension at the University of California, Davis. He looks at the key claim underlying the argument for eating less meat: that global meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector.

In the article below, Mitloehner explains why this claim is “demonstrably wrong”. It has become a “bell” that scientists are struggling to “unring”, he says. Its persistence has led to “false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change”. And your health.



Gøtzsche sacking: sign that Cochrane is a ‘sinking ship’?

By Marika Sboros

It was once revered as “the world’s most prestigious scientific organisation” devoted to independent, evidence-based medicine. Today, the Cochrane Collaboration is in “moral crisis”, say insiders. They are predicting the beginning of the organisation’s end.

Critics say that the Collaboration has “lost its way”. It has grown too close to the drug industry and too far from delivering “trusted evidence”.

That follows the expulsion of one of its most high-profile members, Dr Peter C Gøtzsche at its annual board meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland recently.

The Board has accused Gøtzsche of bringing the organisation into disrepute. That followed Gøtzsche’s harsh criticism of a Cochrane review of the evidence for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. He and his team called it “incomplete and biased”.

Gøtzsche is unrepentant and says that the Cochrane has “a moral governance crisis”. Four more board members have resigned in protest at Gøtzsche’s shock sacking.



DR DAVID KATZ: MORE WOES AS FORBES DROPS HIM

By Marika Sboros

Dr David L Katz, one of the most outspoken voices in nutrition science in the US, has been terminated as a columnist by Forbes.com following an editorial investigation.

Katz has been a regular online columnist for the publication since 2016. The relationship terminated in June when Forbes deleted his most recent and final column.

Forbes Vice President Corporate Communications Laura Brusca confirmed to me via email that Katz is no longer a contributor.



From hunger to wholeness: ‘road map’ to avoid overeating

By Marika Sboros

Hunger is one driver of overweight, obesity and associated health problems.  Another is the “weight” that many people with obesity carry.

That weight is as much emotional as physical, say the authors of a new book. From Hunger To Wholeness is a “road map” to guide readers back to a healthy weight.

The co-authors are UK-based psychoanalytic psychotherapists, Caroline Taylor-Thomas and Pam Kleinot. I came across it as both are former journalist colleagues of mine back home in South Africa.

The book’s subtitle gives their aim: Strategies To Free Yourself From Overeating. To deliver, they mix extensive investigative reporting skills and clinical experience of patients with eating disorders and other forms of substance abuse.



HARVARD PROF: COCONUT OIL ‘PURE POISON’! WHAT NEXT?

By Marika Sboros

First, they came for low-carb diets. Then they came for coconut oil. What will Harvard scientists come for next?

Harvard epidemiology professor Karen Michels has sent social media into overdrive with her claim that coconut oil is “pure poison”. She also called it “one of the worst foods you can eat”.

Cardiologists and other experts globally called those comments “unscientific” and ignorant. Others have rather rudely dismissed her comments as total ‘BS’. Michels is facing calls to apologise publicly and retract her claims.



UK HOSPITAL IN WORLD-FIRST CALL: DITCH SUGAR!

By Marika Sboros

You know the dietary times really are a-changin’ when a UK hospital calls on a community to stop eating sugar and processed foods.

And when mayors, MPs and celebrities support it. Tameside Hospital in Greater Manchester has issued a world-first 70-day challenge to the 250,000 people it serves to go sugar-free.

The DITCH SUGAR! call comes on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the NHS (National Health Service). It highlights soaring levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the UK as linked chronic health conditions – which doctors now call “diabesity”. Tameside is also holding a symposium on Wednesday, July 4. Those who register will receive a free guide to kickstart their sugar-free challenge by email. It is based on UK consultant cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra’s bestseller The Pioppi Diet and includes a freeview of his groundbreaking doccie, The Big Fat Fix, with filmmaker Donal O’Neill.