As any one with a passing interest in nutrition and an internet connection must know by now, a vast number of spurious claims are being made for a wide variety of ‘miracle foods’.
The açaí fruit, for example, can reverse diabetes (despite being 32% fat) and other chronic illnesses. It can also expand the size of your penis and increase your sexual virility (if you are male). In addition this fat-heavy fruit promotes weight loss (without gender bias)… among numerous other attributes. Wow!
Incredible claims like these makes the idea that certain foods have healing properties and can be used to treat disease highly controversial. Though most of us accept that the Western diet is unhealthy, there is deep scepticism about whether certain foods can be used for healing.
Nutrition as therapy
This scepticism may be well-founded. The evidence that nutrition can be effective in place of conventional medical therapies is patchy at best.
Of course the lack of evidence could be due to a lack of scientific enquiry. There is little money to be made by using food as medicine, so there is little incentive to carry out studies. Big Pharma naturally prefers to keep pushing pills.
However, you have probably noticed that medicinal claims made about particular foods are often couched in terms that do not make a definitive claim… food X is ‘thought to be’ helpful in treating a condition Y… a low intake of vitamin B ‘could be ‘ linked to depression.
Modern rules and regulations concerning food and medicines make this kind of language necessary. Nevertheless, it is obvious that these kinds of claims are not supported by the hard evidence you would expect from a clinical drug trial.
Indeed, eschewing conventional medical treatments in favour of nutritional and other alternative options can prove fatal. For example, when Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, he spent nine months exploring alternative therapies before submitting to conventional surgery by which time his cancer had metastasised with fatal results.