It seems that thousands of people tuned in for the BBC Two – Horizon’s documentary: “Clean Eating – The Dirty Truth” last week.
Not Surprisingly as another similar documentary, on BBC also, by blogger Victory Grace, “Clean Eating’s Dirty Secrets”, had a massive following within hours of being released.
So of course, I watched both and have equally strong opinions on them. Not only because I found the two documentaries to be biased and inaccurate, but also because the last week’s documentary also lead to nutrition university students demonizing clean eating “ambassadors” (we will talk about those too) and anyone who promotes being a nutritionist without doing a science degree.
So let’s start from the easy part: the article in the evening standard where the students retaliated against modern day health gurus (aka fake nutritionists).
I am writing in the capacity of Holistic Health Coach. For those who don’t know what a health coach is: it is someone who looks at health at 360 degrees and combines both dietary habits and lifestyle. I guess the issue and confusion comes with “dietary” habits! “So are you a nutritionist?” People ask quite often and I always explain.
I am actually a qualified Nutritional Advisor and frankly if you combine all my nutrition courses I have done through Stanford Online or Vanderbilt University and many more, I have probably enough mileage to know about nutrition, but we live in a world of titles and so NO, I am not a nutritionist!
So I totally get where the three students fighting against the overflowing trends of self professed health and nutrition gurus come from, because I also feel that trends take away from the meaning and core of what matters the most and can be mistaken as something they are not!
But of course, in the article, the example is Deliciously Ella. Ella took advantage of her connections and platforms to create a huge brand and why not? she simply shared her journey and created something people wanted and were ready for.
In all honesty: she never said she is an expert or a nutritionist, even though she is studying at CNM to complete a holistic nutrition course.
So Ella didn’t profess anything wrong or false on her site or books but she also is very careful at not standing for any category. Probably smart as her brand has a huge impact.
After the backlash of last week’s documentary and the article in the evening standard, Ella allegedly removed all mentions of “Clean Eating” form her site too to avoid categorisation but the truth is her food is clean: it is a mix of simple ingredients that make up recipes. The are FOOD!
I am completely open minded about nutrition because it is the only science that can be proven correct or wrong at the same time depending on theories and studies which is what makes it so fascinating. But any dietary theory out there has a very close pattern: eat real food = clean foods (and mostly plant based. )
Clean eating has been manipulated into another trend where the word became associated to a money making machine that everyone is taking advantage of, it is infuriating, but the meaning of the word is quite simple and it is all about common sense: Eat food that comes from nature. You can see it, touch it, smell it and taste it as it is meant to. Can any nutritionist out there say that our health can be improved with processed foods? Probably not!
But with every trend we have those who take those too far, hindering the reputation of those who actually care about what they are doing for themselves, the planet and people around them.
In her documentary Grace Victory showed the huge amount of misleading information in the world of health and nutrition bloggers exposing some crazy trends like the “potato diet”. When I watched it I could not even believe that the girl promoting that nonsense had hundreds of followers or that people really did get into this craziness! Then Grace tried eating “healthy” but she was basically doing what anyone going on a diet would: create boring dishes to try and be on a restrictive regime… yes, sure that will work well! I personally feel she had no interest in creating a fair and balanced argument about clean eating. She made some good points but should have also set the records straight that anyone who wants to be healthy does not need to go to extremes and can do it in a conscious way. But would have BBC aired it if she had decided to make sense rather than being controversial and provocative?
And the same thing happened with the latest documentary, which titles this article, created by Dr. Giles Yeo, who is a Cambridge doctor focused on Metabolic Syndrome/Obesity.
His opening line was ”imagine if food could clean your body” already implying that he did not believe in it. In his research, he chose 3 (technically) 4 people as benchmarks of health trends. One being Deliciously Ella (the only person who actually took the time to meet and have an interview with him)
Then he had the Hemsley sisters (from Hemsley and Hemsely) and Natasha Corrett (from Honestly Healthy) who declined to attend the interview with Dr Yeo (I personally think it is a good thing as this would have made things worse)
But Dr. Yeo went on to link these bloggers to doctors or personalities who also launched their theories and which those new trends are based on. Dr Yeo did say one thing I agree with: one approach does NOT fit all- as we are Bio-individual and unique.
I will start from the Hemsley and Hemsleys connection to Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist and author of Wheat Belly. The Hemsleys promote a grains free diet.
Dr. Yeo went to visit Dr. William Davis in the US. First thing I thought when I saw them together: “ Ok, so both are doctors and both are overweight and don’t look particularly healthy’ – but who am I to judge?
So Dr. Davis was talking about wheat products and their link to heart disease. Dr. Yeo did challenge his findings and research and I get it, hey scientists want to see many cases and numbers for it to be true. But we forgot to mention one thing: how much money do we need to conduct studies? Who pays for them and which ones are shared with the wider audience? Dr. Davis is telling people not to eat wheat because through research he has managed to do, it is shown that it can cause some problems in the body: inflammation and digestive issues. Wheat and grains are some of the biggest commodities in the world with big agra spending billions in agriculture to feed cattle as well as making wheat products, so let’s be honest, how much money and how much research can be done against this very profitable product?
From the research I have done; reading different books about wheat , grains and their connection to health, there is a possible link in some instances (e.g. The way grains are grown now, the pesticides, their harvesting time (now vs. 100 years ago) their connection to blood glucose increase, especially if someone is particularly sensitive to carbohydrates etc.. ) I guess we can say: one approach does not fit all but we cannot debunk that modern grains have been tampered with by the industry and this is why to be healthier we try and rely on grains which are lighter to digest (rice, quinoa, buckwheat etc..)
The interview with Dr Davis felt very biased. Now let’s move on to Natasha Corrett who made the terrible mistake of going for an interview with blogger Grace Victory for her documentary about clean eating and her promotion of the Alkaline diet! She was Honestly Terrible and made things worse for herself in that program! She basically did not want to answer any question and has no idea what she stood for!
So her “empire” was based on the Alkaline diet by a fraudulent doctor (who bought his PHD online). Don’t get me wrong, of course the alkaline/acid balance is important and eating vegetables is the most amazing thing you can do for the body, but we really should only give the body what it needs to create homeostasis. I am a big advocate of natural healing vs. relying on chemo and radiations (maybe because those two give cancer?!?!) but I want to know that people are treated with respect and care! The problem i have with Dr Young is that he exploited his position, lied about his qualifications and overcharged people (Gerson is less than 30k)
It bothers me that Dr Yeo took that opportunity to demonize all alternative healing, especially about cancer, when he could have visited the Gerson Institute for example and gotten thousands of papers and case studies! The Gerson clinic has actual medical doctors working there! But you know why he did not go? Because the protocols are accurate; they don’t make false claims and also they would have exposed that they are not allowed to work in the US because Big Pharma doesn’t want them there – can you imagine the can of worms Dr Yeo would have opened, especially because he is sponsored by Cambridge; and who gives Cambridge money for research? Maybe the same people who do it with Harvard?!?! Food for thought, and it is not clean!
Last but not least, Dr Yeo went to see Dr Colin Campbell a Biochemist who wrote the China Study; which promotes plant based foods. The study was published in 2005. Dr Campbell is also the first to introduce us to what is now fully recognized as epigenetics, which is the ability to turn on or off genes expressions.
But Dr Yeo went on to say that the research that shows the affects of protein (animal protein) on disease was conducted on rats and it is not transferrable to humans! So here I really got angry! For one because I am vegan, but even before my vegan days I never understood why we need to use animals for research and I was told that rats in particular are the closest to us biologically so we can get great estimates. Now, because it is not convenient for Dr Yeo, we are saying that rats results are NOT transferrable and we are making mice and other animals’ lives a misery because we are just cruel assholes?! I guess so!
But anyway, the China study was based on humans in, as the title suggests, China! But the study needed a point to benchmark and used cholesterol as a proxy. Dr Yeo focused on that to discredit the accuracy of the study! The truth? Of course such a huge study might have flaws, considering again that the budget must have been limited because of what it tried to prove (eat less or no meat)!
But what if Dr Yeo went to see Dr Neal Barnard? His study and research on Seventh Day Adventists has been shown to be one of the most accurate and long standing studies ever and Dr. Barnard is also constantly sharing facts to try and diminish the monopoly of big pharma on true health and runs the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – a lot of research papers are available here!
Yet Dr. Giles Yeo decided not to follow up with real facts and used the flaws he cherrypicked in the people he chose to use as bait and demonize clean eating overall, also implying that diet no impact on our health.
This sounds like “Big Pharma” propaganda, not science and again, BBC is keen to share this message! I wonder if I wrote to them wanting to expose the lies about Chemo and Statin and the real dangerous effects they can have; that doctors do not tell people about, what they would say?! I am sure it would not even be considered and the proof is in the pudding! To watch anything that gives deeper knowledge aside from what the media and big corporation and pharma want as mainstream, we need to pay for channels that will show the many documentaries, based on research and facts that our BBC will never show! Let’s think about that for a second!
I am sure there is a lesson learned in this program: follow people who really care about what they are doing, challenge them in conversations; instead of becoming a trend-fuelling mignon! Maybe that will make our health better long term!