Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Asparagus: Cancer cure?

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As much as I dislike facebook, I must admit, it sometimes comes in handy for blog fodder. For instance, the post about asparagus that someone in my timeline recently shared. Now, I don’t want to discourage anyone from eating asparagus. Asparagus is both amazingly delicious and extremely nutritious. However, I feel compelled to refute some of the erroneous information in the post.

The post begins:

Subject: Asparagus DO NOT FAIL TO READ THIS AND SEND TO YOUR FAMILY &FRIENDS When I was in the USN, I was stationed in Key West, FL. I worked at the clin…ic at Naval Air Station on Big Coppitt Key just a few miles north of Key West.

Ever notice how the ridiculous posts on FB claiming to provide miracle cures and medical information always include extraneous details about the poster? I mean, who cares if you were in the navy and where you were stationed? This somehow lends credibility to your claims to have knowledge about nutrition and science? Apparently some people must think so, as I can think of no other reason why people continue to share these posts. Anyway…

The author claimed that some old man (a retired biochemist) told him that the reason why asparagus makes your pee smell is because it “is detoxifying your body of harmful chemicals!!!”. Sure glad that biochemist is retired! The real reason that your pee smells is because your body is breaking down sulfurous amino acids in the asparagus and excreting them in your urine. No food has the power to rid your body of harmful chemicals. Sorry.

The post then goes on to provide “evidence”, via four “cases”, that asparagus can cure cancer. The reason why asparagus can do this is alleged to be the presence of “histones“. These are alkaline proteins. Some histones may, in fact, be promising in the development of a cure for cancer. Regardless, while asparagus does contain histones, so do other foods such as all cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds, wheat, egg yolks, milk, garlic, etc.

Asparagus is undoubtedly a healthy food choice. Consumption of it, and other vegetables, and other whole foods, may reduce your risk of developing cancer. However, it’s giving false hope to people to tell them that they can cure their existing cancer by drinking two tablespoons of asparagus puree daily. Eat lots of vegetables, eat a variety of them. Don’t look to anyone food to save your life.


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Do you know the killer(s) in your fridge?

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I made the mistake of scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day and then clicking “read more” when I came across this posting: A KILLER IN YOUR FRIDGE. To protect the innocent (or guilty, whatever) I’ve copied and pasted the text into a google document for you.

The gist of the post is that diet pop is the cause of most cases of lupus and many cases of what we erroneously believe to be MS. Oh, and tinnitus and fibromyalgia. Apparently aspartame becomes a neurotoxin, formic acid, when it’s heated to more than 86F.  Once people with these illnesses stop consuming diet pop many of their symptoms disappear and  number of them will make a complete recovery!

Shit like this makes me angry. Why give false hope to those suffering from what can be very debilitating illnesses just to further your crusade against artificial sweeteners? Does anyone know someone who suffers from MS and drinks copious amounts of diet pop? Maybe the people I know aren’t the norm but they tend to be extremely conscious of what they ingest and aren’t big consumers of diet pop. It seems to wrong to me to write propaganda such as this. 

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to figure out where the post originated. It definitely wasn’t written by the person who shared it and it certainly reads like the story about the very sick sister is bogus. It reminds me a lot of the green coffee bean extract advertisements that appear to be actual journalism to some. If you google “a killer in your fridge” you’ll come up with a lovely mix of links stating that it’s a hoax and links to pages and petitions decrying aspartame and diet pop. 

Googling the “Doctor” H. J. Roberts associated with the article I came across this post on snopes which thoroughly debunks the claims made in the Facebook post. While apparently true that aspartame will form formaldehyde in the body, the post neglects to mention that many other foods will as well, and to a greater extent. These foods include citrus fruits and tomatoes. Clearly there are many more deadly foods lurking in our refrigerators than just diet pop. 

While I would certainly never recommend that anyone consume copious quantities of diet pop. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to consume any pop, diet or otherwise. I do think that diet pops can be beneficial. For those who are chronic pop drinkers and who are trying to lose weight, switching to diet pop can greatly reduce caloric consumption without risk of developing MS, lupus, or fibromyalgia, etc.