Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford is Head of Science and Education at Biocare so, presumably, they believe that he enhances their reputation and scientific credibility despite his recent egregious claim that “conventional medicine doesn’t have a very good track record“. However, he and his crack team of IONistas have been making some remarkable errors lately that are undermining the public understanding of even basic nutrition. It is difficult to know what Biocare makes of the recent claim in Patrick Holford’s 100%health newsletter that chicken drumstick and thigh are leaner than chicken breast and that the latter has a lower glycaemic load (both claims are best characterised as nonsense on stilts). We thought that the misinformation about chicken presented a new low but we were mistaken. Patrick Holford and mega-dosing, fish-oil replete, antioxidant-abundant team of IONistas[a] want to sell you rice. Not just any rice, Maharani rice that can justify its £5.99 per kg price tag because it is gluten-free and has a glycaemic index (GI) of 52. Excellent. Except that rice is already gluten-free unless you have added something to it and basmati rice has a GI of 58 which is not dramatically different.
Totally Nourish is the new name of Holford’s enterprise formerly known as Health Products for Life. We’re used to Patrick Holford promoting very costly products with implausible claims of 23 portions of fruit and vegetables in a glass but, with his faux concerns that his readers should be able to “save money eating healthily” (100%health newsletter, Jan 2009, No. 49, pg. 2) recommending Maharani rice for the reasons stated on Totally Nourish is bordering on contempt for his readers and bewildered customers who might assume that someone with Holford’s pundit brand equity knows what he is talking about when it comes to basic nutrition.
This delicious gluten free white rice is perfect for those wanting all the health benefits of brown rice with the taste and cooking time of white rice. With a GI rating of just 52 it also reduces bloating and helps you feel fuller for longer.
White rice is already gluten-free (it bears repeating). The GI of Maharani rice is so similar to that of basmati rice that you could manipulate the glycaemic load (GL) of your meal by adapting the quantity of rice and its ratio to other parts of the meal. Plus, GI testing reveals that there are variations of GI with testing facilities, season, cooking method and (above all) individual response.
If you want to alter the GL of the rice then there are many ways of doing it, some of them would involve adding fat in the form of oil or nuts. If you didn’t wish to add oil, then you might add some steamed, finely minced, cauliflower (frozen is fine) to the rice: it looks similar and doesn’t detract from the fragrance of the aromatic rice. Cauliflower might cost more than most rice but it is substantially cheaper than £5.95 kg. It varies with the brand and quantity of rice that you are willing to purchase but decent brands of basmati rice are available for £1-2 per kg so Maharani rice is currently between 3-6 times more expensive.
There is no clinical evidence to support the implication that the glycaemic index of a foodstuff is related to the perception of bloating or even objective bloat. There are many factors that might influence the feeling of fullness.
What is the level of competence relating to nutrition that is acceptable to the founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition and his IONistas? How much more distortion of basic nutritional facts are these people going to pass off on the increasingly bewildered public who have been confused by the out-pourings of people who “feed on the detritus that comes out from the scientific community” and add their own special alchemy to it before passing it on to the public through their own expert mediation?[b] When is the pseudoscience and inaccuracy going to stop?
[a] Alessandro Ferretti is named alongside Holford as the other Totally Nourish expert. Ferretti is, of course, an IONista, yet another who can call the Institute for Optimum Nutrition his alma mater – like Fiona McDonald Joyce of the “glycaemic load of chicken breast” fame.
[b] Yet again, we refer interested readers to an overview of the Justin Kruger and David Dunning paper that discusses how difficulties in understanding one’s own incompetence can lead to inflated self-assessments.
What’s even more amazing is that when they then shared the performance of other participants with the people who performed poorly (hoping that they would then adjust their self-perception downward) people who scored poorly failed to adjust their self-perception of their performance. In other words, they are completely unaware of their own [in]competence, and can’t detect competence in others.
It really it a very helpful paper that explains many otherwise inexplicable actions. (Holford Myths offers an excellent discussion as to why pundit brand equity ensures that Holford still receives so much positive attention in the mainstream media.)
A Photon in the Darkness likewise offers a helpful discussion of this paper: The Arrogance of Ignorance.
We do, however, acknowledge that there are some examinations of the variance of ability as a function of ability. It may be true that we all misjudge our ability and task difficulty but some of us seem to be more rigorous in scrutinising the evidence to guard against this and are open to correcting any errors.
 Foster-Powell K, Holt SH, Brand-Miller JC. International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Jul;76(1):5-56.