Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

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Follow Friday: The red flags of quackery v2.0


Yeah, I know, this is old but it’s still applicable (unfortunately). Check out the excellent guide to quackery by sci-ence to avoid falling prey to nutritional and scientific nonsense. You can also follow the creator on twitter at: @sciencecomicAnd have a great weekend!

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Dr Oz and banana leaf tea


Oh Dr Oz. Where do you come-up with these gems? I can’t find any research to support this statement. Even if it’s true that banana leaf tea has a metabolism-boosting effect, it’s more than likely that the effect is negligible.

Want to lose weight? Focus less on metabolism boosting gimmicks, and more on what and when you’re eating.

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The tooth-whitening power of raisins!

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I feel like this shouldn’t need any comment. When I saw this tweet my first thought was: @DrOz has been hacked! I mean, really? Raisins for white teeth? This is one of the most ludicrous suggestions I’ve ever heard. I’m fairly confident that any dentist would agree with me when I say that raisins will not whiten your teeth. Raisins, and other dried fruit, actually promote tooth decay as they’re sweet and sticky.

Besides all that, will antioxidants whiten teeth? Not that I’m aware of (that’s not to say they won’t). In fact, hydrogen peroxide (one of the most common whitening ingredients in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and home-whitening kits) is actually an oxidizer.

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Follow Friday: Julia vs Gwyneth


Lots of talk on the twitterverse about Gwyneth Paltrow’s new cookbook It’s All Good. While I haven’t seen it myself, and the recipes therein may be perfectly tasty and nutritious, she’s been slammed for including quackery in her forward. Julia Belluz has an article in MacLean’s detailing what aspects of Gwynnie’s advice are pseudoscience and why these statements are potentially damaging to readers. As I’ve mentioned before, I find it exceedingly frustrating that nearly everyone thinks they’re a nutrition expert and people readily latch on to ideas extolled by celebs. Just because you eat (and seemingly in Gwyneth’s case, this may be an overstatement) does not make you a dietitian.


Fruit: cause and cure for cancer?

A relative recently forwarded me a chain email that she had received several times, suggesting it might be useful blog fodder. The subject line read: Eating Fruit – In Perspective. The message was rather long so I’m not going to paste the whole thing in here. I’ll just give you a summary of the most salient points.

According to the email there is a Dr Stephen Mak who has been curing cancer patients using an unorthodox method. Apparently the trick is to always eat fruit on an empty stomach. “If you eat fruit like that, it will play a major role to detoxify your system, supplying you with a great deal of energy for weight loss and other life activities.” Not only that, “graying hair, balding, nervous outburst, and dark circles under the eyes – all these will NOT happen if you take fruits on an empty stomach.” The article then states that eating fruit on a full stomach causes it to “rot” and “ferment” in the stomach causing gas and bloating.

The top hits of a google search for “Dr Stephen Mak” are sites deeming the fruit email quackery. It also appears that there is no such person as this Dr Mak. There is no reason to believe that cancer can be cured simply by the timing of fruit consumption. It frustrates me to see misinformation such as this being shared with desperate people. Eating fruit after a meal is not going to give you cancer.

Eating fruit on an empty stomach is not going to cure cancer. If curing cancer were so simple no one would be dying from it anymore. Eating fruit on an empty stomach will not cure anything, except maybe, hunger (although, personally, I always find an apple on an empty stomach always makes me feel hungrier).

Finally, it’s a common myth that eating fruit on a full stomach will cause it to rot and ferment. Think about it though… Your stomach is always churning your food around during digestion. It doesn’t matter what order you consume it in. The fruit is not going to sit on top; it’s going to get all mixed together with everything else you’ve eaten at that meal and all of your gastric juices. There is no possibility that it will rot in your stomach.

The only positive aspect of this message is that we should eat fruit.