Let me tell you about my day. This morning, as soon as I turned on the car radio, I was treated to an ad for the “Legendary Pure Silver Angel Coin.” I learned that medieval kings and queens bestowed coins depicting angels for good luck on worthy subjects and that these “were even thought to have cured sickness and saved lives.” Napoleon carried an Angel C oin throughout his rise to power but on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, he arrogantly flung the coin into a river. We all know the outcome of that battle. Now, newly minted versions of these coins are available for purchase. Lucky us!
I suspect the coins are about as effective at curing illness as “Smoke Remedy,” a “100% natural quit smoking spray with proprietary homeopathic ingredients.” Coming on the heels of the Angel Coin ad, we are informed, “While herbs and vitamins work on a biochemical level to change or support the body chemistry, homeopathy works on a bio-energetic level to bring balance, therefore helping the body to heal naturally.” Right. The same company that markets “Smoke Remedy” also sells “D-Tox Remedy,” which eliminates the 4,000 toxic chemicals that have accumulated in the body through years of smoking. The ingredients are “homeopathic, natural, gentle and safe.” And, I might add, by the tenets of homeopathy, non-existent.
As soon as I get to the office, I check my emails. The first one asked for advice. “I put blueberries and milk on my cereal in the morning. Which one should I give up?” A reference was included to a study about the antioxidant activity of blueberries being impaired when consumed with milk, as well as one about milk consumption being linked to greater risk of bone fractures and to earlier mortality. While both these studies appeared in the peer-reviewed literature, their practical significance is questionable.
The milk study focused on people drinking more than three glasses of milk a day and could not rule out “reverse causation,” namely that some subjects were drinking more milk because they already had risk factors for osteoporosis. As far as earlier mortality goes, the authors suggest it may be linked to an inflammatory effect attributed to galactose, a breakdown product of lactose, the sugar found in milk. But this is pure conjecture. Milk may not be as important a dietary component as Canada’s Food Guide suggests, but there is no need to avoid it. Moderation is the key.
The blueberry study looked at 11 subjects who consumed 200 grams of blueberries either with 200 millilitres of whole milk or 200 millilitres of water. Analysis of the subjects’ plasma indicated a somewhat reduced antioxidant content when the blueberries were consumed with milk. This has little relevance to health. There is no compelling evidence that the antioxidant content of plasma is a deter – minant of health. In any case, the plasma’s antioxidant potential is determined by the overall content of the diet and will not be affected to any significant extent by a handful of blueberries, consumed with or without milk.
Another email then popped up inquiring about a video that purports to have discovered a hidden cure for cancer in the Bible’s Book of Matthew. Oncologists were stunned, the video claimed, to see the “Matthew 4 Protocol” eliminate even highly aggressive, late stage cancers in less than a month. So, what is this protocol that is secretly encoded in the Bible? According to the book you have to purchase to find out, it is a special low carbohydrate diet that eliminates bread, coupled with intermittent fasting. Total nonsense of course. Viewers of this video should note another passage in Matthew. “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
As I was typing away, the phone rang. A worried mom was on the line. Should she stop giving Kraft Macaroni & Cheese to her children? Why, I asked? Because she had heard that “no one should be popping MSG, GMOs and petroleum food dyes into the microwave oven.” Heard from whom? “The blogger Food Babe,” she said. Ayayay. All this pseudoscience and it wasn’t even 9 am yet.