Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Cancer diet

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Anybody else see this article about a journalist who gets cancer and starts praising nutribabble? The description really says it all: After beating cancer, Scott DeSimon rediscovered his appetite—and lost his skepticism for wellness and nutrition trends. Meet the superfoods that guided him back to health.”

The gist is that the author gets cancer, goes through conventional treatment, loses a bunch of weight, finishes the treatment and attempts to regain the weight. Eschewing what he sees as healthy eating (“I know what constitutes a healthy diet: lots of vegetables, meat mainly as a flavoring, no processed foods”) he goes for quantity over quality and calories over micronutrients in an effort to regain the weight he lost during radiation. Unsurprisingly, he makes himself sick by ingesting copious quantities of fast food and restaurant food. So, he turns to a professional. Sadly, not a dietitian nor any sort of cancer specialist. Instead, he goes to Dr Lipman who has devotees such as Gwyneth Paltrow, as if that’s a selling point. Dr Lipman is a big fan of superfoods, cleanses, supplements, and has a website with testimonials. All of which are red flags of quackery and basically amount to a red sail, or whatever you want to picture for an oversized red flag. There are testimonials from actors and fellow quacks like Mark Hyman and Christiane Northrup.

Once the author goes on the extremely restrictive diet prescribed by Lipman, he magically feels much better and he slowly starts to regain weight. While he claims to be skeptical about the regimen, it comes across as hollow to me. It’s like I rolled my eyes but threw away all of my food as started living off cashew milk and chia seeds. Of course he’s going to feel better, he’s finished radiation treatment, regained his tastebuds, and started eating again (1). I’m not saying that the diet Lipman put him on is bad, I’m just saying that there are some pretty significant confounders here and correlation does not imply causation. It’s quite likely that he would have started to feel better on a much more relaxed diet and that the strict diet is falsely being credited with his recovery.

I don’t think that anyone with cancer should feel like they have to give-up gluten or sugar or coffee. They also shouldn’t feel as if they have to subsist off expensive “superfoods” and supplements. Healthy eating, whether you have cancer or not, does not have to be a complicated or costly endeavour.

For more information on cancer nutrition visit:

Canadian Cancer Society

Cancer Dietitian

Jean Lamantia

 


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Dr Oz anti-allergy diet

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I’ve been feeling a little low on blogspiration lately so I decided to pay a visit to good old Dr. Oz’s website. He did not let me down. One of the posts on his home page was for an “anti-allergy” diet. This diet was devised by Dr. Mark Hyman. Starting to read the preamble about allergies I wondered about this doctor when he stated,

Foods with dairy can cause unhealthy bacteria to overgrow and produce toxins that cause systemic inflammation that swells the intestines and prevents normal digestion, causing weight gain, among other conditions such as irritable bowel. In fact, you can gain up to 30 pounds a year due to a dairy allergy.

Pretty sure there’s no legitimacy to these claims. Food allergies occur when your body believes a non-toxic substance to be a toxin and launches an attack on it. Symptoms can be immediate and severe, such as anaphylactic shock. They can also be more insidious, such as rashes. I have never heard of food allergies causing bacterial overgrowth and weight gain.

I did a little googling of Dr. Hyman and found this article bringing his credibility into question. Apparently he’s been known to peddle questionable cures upon which he garnered a profit.

His elimination diet is nothing new. It’s common to remove potential allergens to see if symptoms improve and then to gradually reintroduce, noting if symptoms recur. However, his recommendation to replace milk with almond milk, “which tastes good and has high quality protein and fat in it” is totally wack. Almond milk is pretty tasty but it’s very low in protein, one gram per cup. He also recommends seeing your doctor for a blood test to determine if you are allergic at the end of the three week diet. IgG Blood tests are not an accurate method of allergy testing. Other blood tests may be used if skin prick tests are precluded due to circumstances such as extreme eczema. Yes, go see your doctor, but ask for a referral to an allergist who will perform a skin-prick test.

This anti-allergy diet is also misleading in that it only addresses dairy allergies. There are a myriad of foods which may cause allergic reactions. An allergy to milk may not be the cause of any or all of you symptoms.