You can’t watch more than ten minutes of television these days without seeing at least one commercial for some kind of prescription pill that promises relief from any variety of conditions. The ads are cheerful, whimsical, annoying, seductive, and sometimes nauseatingly hokey. But they work.
The ads, that is. And they should, given the price tag. Results from a study released this week at York University showed that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends approximately “twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development.” (The industry denies the estimate.) Big Pharma clearly wants us to believe in the power of their products.
Now and then, we at MDA like to branch out from our usual shrinking violet positions and journey into the precarious territory of current controversy. Today we venture into the debate over a disputed additive/ingredient: MSG—flavor friend or fodder foe?
Let’s break it down.
Big Agra has gotten us into an interesting (and sickening) predicament. In light of a solid year of squeamish food poisoning issues, there are clearly some chinks in the armor of food safety. But is it really the government’s role to step in and regulate food safety further? Unfortunately, regulation tends to harm the good guys – raw almonds today, organic spinach yesterday, dairy for far too long now – and effectively underwrite large corporate agricultural interests. And yet. And yet. Currently, testing outfits that monitor food safety so our beef, lettuce, eggs and chicken are ostensibly edible are paid for by the very agricultural interests they test. In other words, it’s a recipe for corruption. While labs may be impartial, the results they gather when testing at-risk foods (such as meat and imported goods) are given over to the company and it’s on the company to report anything to the FDA. That is, the labs don’t have a way to send results directly to a presumably – and I realize the generosity of this idea – impartial guardian of public health. If one lab doesn’t “find” the “right” results, it’s fairly easy for the food company to find another, more affable laboratory. Still, I’m not sure that introducing increased FDA regulation or oversight is the solution here. But since I can’t even keep up with all the burgers that have been recalled since the summer, I feel compelled to ask you:
There are essential fatty acids. There are essential amino acids. There are not essential sugars. We’ve received so many questions about glyconutrients, I feel it’s necessary to respond here at the blog.
For the record, “glyconutrients” are worse than bogus – they are a scam. This term was invented by a multi-level marketing company called Mannatech. (While MLM’s aren’t all bad, they can certainly be a red flag.) In this case, the entire concept of supplementing with “glyconutrients” – minute amounts of plain old simple sugars – is not only unscientific; it’s just silly. There is simply no compelling evidence to support the glyconutrient claim that the human body is somehow deficient in certain forms of sugar due to our modern lifestyle. Among the many dubious and weasel-worthy “explanations”, the central claim is that scientific discoveries in recent decades have shown that there are 8 types of sugar and that your cells – gasp – use these sugars. I’ve had burps that are more mind-blowing than this “science”.
There’s always some new product anxious to help you part with your hard-earned cash. Some products are healthy or helpful, but some are downright dishonest scams. These three have become popular of late. Don’t fall for the hype!
Nonsensical and useless, the popularity of oil pulling persists. Through very particular “sieving” of an oil mixture in the mouth (think mouth rinse in slow motion), the oil supposedly draws toxins from the blood. If it were possible for oil to “pull” toxins out of the veins in the tongue, it would also be possible for oil to enter the bloodstream through your tongue. A molecule is a molecule. Toxins can’t “leak” out of your veins – if they could, you wouldn’t need to “pull” them out. Besides, even if toxins could “leak” from your veins, it would take far more than 15 or 20 minutes of “pulling” to cleanse your entire blood supply. Furthermore, fat-soluble toxins (the kind that would bind to oil) are not in the bloodstream. They are in your…fat cells! And on and on it goes. Read this terrific expose if you still think oil pulling is effective – it’s guaranteed to change your mind.
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