BBC’s The truth about healthy eating

The truth about healthy eating on BBC1 last night was a programme with an agenda – rather boring and, in places, extremely misleading. What did you think?

It did highlight a few common myths. Gojis have always been over-hyped in my opinion. Strawberries have more vitamin C.

Which makes you feel fuller for longer with a steady supply of glucose – quinoa or barley? In the case of quinoa versus barley the actual result on the glycemic test showed that quinoa did have a lower GI, though both were good. I recommend both. Quinoa has more protein and is, of course, gluten-free which is relevant for those who are gluten intolerant.

How good are wholegrains? They compared large coarse oats, with finely milled. Bigger coarse oats take longer to digest. The bigger the particles, and the less processing the better. That’s also why pasta is less processed and cooked than most bread.

They also compared three breakfasts – cereal, yoghurt and fruit or bacon and eggs. There was little difference in total glucose delivered by three breakfasts, but bacon and eggs made the volunteers feel fullest for longest. The more protein the fuller you feel. If that’s the case just add protein, in the form of seeds or nuts, to your cereal or yoghurt.

Fried egg, they said, was better than scrambled due to it absorbing the butter. But you don’t have to add lots of butter. I use half a teaspoon of olive oil. Also, the key reason not to overcook eggs is to protect the phospholipids and prevent the formation of AGEs. Boiled is best in this regard.

They claimed no benefit from antioxidant smoothies because, although antioxidant levels increased in the blood, they then decreased below the original baseline. The weird thing here is that the benefit of antioxidants is to neutralise oxidants. This can be measured but wasn’t, so it was a bit meaningless. The lower level of antioxidants in the blood after 2 hours could simply have been due to them disarming oxidants. But you’ll never know if you don’t also measure ‘Reactive Oxygen Species’ (ROS). If there were measured and had gone down as well you’d know the antioxidants were reducing oxidant load in the blood. So, I think the conclusion that there’s no point consuming more antioxidants is misleading since studies show positive health impacts – eg blood pressure comes down with blueberries and cherries. Read more about antioxidants here.

Fiona Phillips then took multivitamins at the ‘maximum allowed dose’. But what does that mean? Since there is no such thing as the maximum allowed dose I suspect she just took an RDA multi. On blood tests her blood levels were OK before and OK after. The so-called expert said ‘multivitamin trials have not shown benefits’. I couldn’t agree more. But these are trials with RDA levels not optimum levels. Then he said multivitamins can increase risk of lung cancer!?! This is that old chestnut of a trial that found that smokers given beta-carotene seemed to have a higher risk of death from lung cancer compared to those not taking the beta-carotene. Read my blog on Are vitamins harmful to health? to get to the truth about this.

Last time I was filmed by the BBC team they asked me what the evidence showed for vitamin C and colds. I said ‘taking vitamin C means shorter colds, less severe symptoms, but not a smaller number of colds’. They asked me to just say the last part. We did six takes but every time I said it in a way that they couldn’t cut out the benefits. So, they didn’t use it. So much for fair and accurate reporting.

They did a piece on milk, showing that soya and almond milk were short on iodine. That may be so but if you eat fish, seaweed or supplement a little extra iodine, which I do in my multivitamin, there’s no need to drink milk to get iodine.

Popular detox diets didn’t get a good rap but nothing significant was measured. I’m not greatly surprised. In my opinion, most are a waste of time. But if you do my 9 Day Liver Detox diet and actually measure liver function you can see the difference. That is, assuming that you need to. Angie did because she had SLE (Systemic lupus erythematosus) “A blood test revealed poor liver function. I did your 9 day Liver Detox, lost 7lbs, and my re-test results are perfect! It’s, really good – I’d highly recommend it to anybody.” she says.

I’m afraid to say that the producers had obviously decided what they wanted to show and just made a programme to say it. Boring, misleading in places and remarkably uninformative. The same old ‘eat a balanced diet’ mantram. Come on BBC – we are losing faith.