Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Eating to change your eye colour

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I recently came across a post by David Wolfe (yeah, that guy) about the ability of a raw food diet to change your eye colour.

Apparently this is a thing ever since some raw food guru nutritionista chick made the claim that after changing from an unhealthy diet she cleared-up her constipation and her brown eyes became hazel/green.

Naturally I was skeptical. Even David Wolfe was. Yet, he somehow came to the conclusion that it was possible based on this article. The thing is, the article doesn’t actually support the claim that a raw food diet can change a person’s eye colour. It says that eye colour can change as we age, but this is generally referring to children, not adults and is unrelated to diet. It then carries on to state that significant changes in eye colour may be the result of a disease and anyone experiencing such changes should see an eye doctor. No mention of diet.

I did a little googling and found some other articles. None of which were written by anyone with any medical knowledge of eyes. Wolfe and this Vice article both mention “iridologists” which is pretty ridiculous. Iridologists are to optometry what phrenologists are to neurology. Essentially a great source of perhaps entertaining information but otherwise quackery. To be fair, even these iridologists seemed to think the notion of changing ones eye colour via diet was farfetched. Everything I could find through the googles was anecdotal.

I feel the need to voice my disappointment in seeing a dietitian’s name continually come-up in connection with this raw food eye colour change business. As dietitians we are obligated to provide evidence-based dietary advice. Neither advising people to choose a diet to change their eye colour, nor advocating for raw food diets for all are ethical for a member of our profession.

Next I turned to google scholar. Again, nothing. There is absolutely no scientific evidence of a relationship between diet and eye colour. Of course, it’s possible that, that research just hasn’t been done. And I will be happy to revise this post if a study is ever published showing that eye colour can be changed by switching to a raw food diet.

Even if eye colour can be changed by diet, who cares?! I mean, seriously. Having brown eyes does not mean that you eat unhealthily and are constipated. Having blue eyes doesn’t mean that you’re healthy and having regular bowel movements. Are we now judging a person’s health and habits based on eye colour? Could we get anymore superficial? Why would we want to go on an extreme diet just for the purpose of changing the colour of our eyes? A raw diet is not necessarily the healthiest choice. There are many reasons that we cook our food: to kill toxins and microorganisms, to increase absorption of nutrients, to improve palatability. Personally, I would rather keep my grey/blue eyes and enjoy my food.


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Are food cravings the result of nutrient deficiencies?

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Image by John Hain on pixabay. Used under a Creative Commons Licence

One of the most pervasive myths in the nutrition realm is that food cravings are caused by nutrient deficiencies. I came across this article by self-proclaimed nutrition guru David Wolfe the other day. In it he lists a number of food cravings and then tells you what nutrient deficiency each may be linked to.

While there has actually been very little research done exploring the relationship between food cravings and nutrient deficiencies the evidence is mixed at best. Most of the research investigating cravings has been done with pregnant women and has looked at both food cravings and pica (cravings for non-food substances such as dirt, chalk, and soap). Some researchers have found that pica is linked to nutrient deficiencies. However, some studies have shown that pica is a result of a nutrient deficiency while others have shown the reverse; i.e. consuming non-food substances may cause nutrient deficiencies. To date there is no clear evidence to support the notion that specific food cravings can be linked to specific nutrient deficiencies.

Wolfe asserts that chocolate cravings are a result of magnesium deficiency. Therefore, instead of chocolate, you should snack on leafy greens, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, and molasses. Sugar cravings may be the result of a deficiency in any of five nutrients: chromium, sulfur, tryptophan,  or serotonin (by my count, that’s four so the fifth is anyone’s guess). His advice: “revitalize your diet”. Carb cravings may be a result of a nitrogen deficiency. To remedy this? Eat more fish. Cravings for oily and fatty foods are blamed on a calcium deficiency. Instead of some fries, try having some milk (but not just common pasteurized milk, no you should risk ingesting potentially deadly bacteria and drink raw milk) or turnip greens. And finally, salty food cravings are likely a result of your body wanting chloride or silicon. Instead of chips, grab yourself a plate of fish, nuts, and seeds (aka the new party mix).

Many of us could benefit from including more wholesome foods in our diets. However, if you’re craving chips, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be satisfied with a tin of sardines instead (power to you if you are). At least at this point, there is no evidence to support that specific food cravings equate to specific nutrient deficiencies. Rather than trying to satisfy your cravings with turnip greens, try to eat a balanced, varied, nutritious diet and let yourself have a little of what you’re craving when you’re craving it.


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Best infomercial!

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I’d like to thank my friend and fellow dietitian for sending me the link to this hilarious infomercial for the NutriBullet. I just sat in my office and watched the entire 26 minutes in between clients. You know the saying about laughter being the best medicine? Well, I’ve definitely gotten my dose for the day!

Perhaps you don’t have time or inclination to watch the video yourself. Don’t worry, I’ll give you the highlights. I just want to begin by saying that the notion of a “superfood nutrition extractor” is complete and utter nonsense. In fact, by “pulverizing food on a cellular level” you may actually be depriving yourself of the benefits of intact fibre.

What is the NutriBullet? It’s not a blender or a juicer. It has “exclusive cyclonic action” and uses “turbo extractor blades” to “unlock the nutrition so your body can actually absorb it and use it.” Umm… I’ve got news for the makers: our bodies have this amazing system that does the same thing. It’s called the digestive system. Yep, our bodies are amazing machines and do a pretty good job of breaking down foods and absorbing the nutrients. True, we can’t break down whole flax seeds but you can buy those milled or grind them up yourself.

The spokesperson for the NutriBullet is David Wolfe. You may remember him from such hokey productions as Food Matters. I looked him up as his title “longevity and nutrition expert” provided very little insight into his qualifications. Surprise, that’s because he has none. In the infomercial he tells us that “both my parents are medical doctors” as if that’s supposed to impart him with some credibility. Well, my dad’s a doctor of history and he can attest to the fact that I am not expert on historical matters.

According to the infomercial the NutriBullet will: “supercharge your metabolism” and “reverse aging” among other outlandish claims. There are testimonials from individuals with various medical afflictions. I think that my favourite was from the cancer survivor whose hair started regrowing after just two weeks of using the NutriBullet. Obviously this regrowth must have been a result of use of the NutriBullet, not the cessation of treatment.

I’m not saying there’s anything inherently wrong with this contraption. I do think that there’s something inherently wrong in making unsubstantiated claims regarding miraculous health benefits regarding the use of the NutriBullet.