Patrick Holford‘s Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION) has a remarkable offer-for only £235 and through the marvels of:
Home Study…you will learn more than you ever thought possible and by the time you have completed the course, will know enough to keep you your family and friends in the best possible health.
The course is not modest in scope or ambition. ION’s Home Study Course promises:
You will discover a lot about ‘what makes you tick’, including how food is turned into energy, how to slow down the ageing process, strengthen your immune system, discover and deal with food allergies and addictions, improve your energy and concentration, prepare for a healthy pregnancy, safeguard your baby’s health, be well in old age – and a lot more besides!…
The course is ideal for the layperson who wishes to acquire sufficient knowledge to plan a personal nutrition program for over all [sic] health or for the Complementary Therapist wanting to enhance their practice with sound nutritional advice. [Emphasis added.]
I’m not sure how to reconcile that last part with the disclaimer:
The Home Study Certificate of Completion is recognition that you have understood and successfully completed the course to ION’s standards. It is not a recognised qualification and will not count as points towards a degree. The certificate will not be regarded by ION or any other body as a means to set up in practice as a nutritional therapist. The Home Study is a self-learning program and does not enter into nutritional therapy.
The course has modules about foods that harm or heal; it also offers information about the digestive, cardiovascular, immune and respiratory systems and their diseases. I would be interested to learn more about some of this content.
E.g., an entire module is dedicated to “foods that harm” and those listed include:
coffee; sugar; refined and convenience foods; fats – trans and hydrogenated; salt; red meat; wheat; dairy products; alcohol; chemicals and pollutants in food; GMO – genetically modified food.
It would be fascinating to learn if there is a consensus of the literature on whether or not these foods are intrinsically harmful, as for some of them, their perceived harm may be related to several factors such as the quantity that is consumed as part of the normal diet (e.g., there is plenty of support for the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption for some groups and similarly for the dangers of excess consumption). It may be entertaining to unequivocally demonise foods, but it would be good to know if there is a sound basis for it. E.g., is the claim that GM foods are harmful based on well-received research or discredited studies of scary potatoes?
I assume that somewhere in those modules, there is a guide to how many calories people need throughout the lifecycle. This might be particularly relevant if the modules that cover topics such as hyperactivity and ADD, sugar-free toddlers or discovering/preventing allergies and intolerance recommend the exclusion of particular foodstuffs or food groups. I would also hope that there is some guidance as to knowing the limits of your knowledge and competence and when it is essential that you should consult an appropriately qualified professional, such as a paediatric dietitian. I am a little apprehensive about the inclusion of some of these topics because they are potentially quite serious and may have a significant impact on somebody’s health and quality of life; it seems to me that this may be straying from the remit of keeping “you your family and friends in the best possible health”. In a basic course like this which is concerned with “sound nutritional advice” it may be rather too advanced to cover these topics in the sort of detail that they would demand.
It would be good to know if anyone has pursued this home study course and ‘learned more than they ever thought possible’. I would be particularly interested in learning more about the course materials and the practical tests. Has the course influenced anyone to change their way of eating in a significant manner?