Category Archives: Brain Bio Centre

Patrick Holford, Alzheimer’s Disease, Homocysteine Tests and Supplements

Professors Patrick Holford and David Smith chose the Daily Record to announce their remarkable findings that Alzheimer’s Disease is preventable with just a “few simple diet and lifestyle changes”.

I may be new to Holford Watch but I am familiar with the Holford Test-Em Dose-Em style of Jeopardy. If the answer is, “Dose them with B vitamins” the question must have been, “What do you do after testing someone’s homocysteine levels?”.  And, what do you know, I think it has slipped its way into this article, masquerading as a “simple blood test”. Continue reading


Filed under Alzheimer's, B12, Brain Bio Centre, Holford, home test, homocysteine, patrick holford, supplements, vitamin B12, vitamins

More novel autism advice from the Holford empire – Brain Bio Centre gets in on the game

I’m starting to get a bit annoyed here. In April, Food for the Brain agreed to modify their advice on autism: they had previously suggested eliminating several types of food, without mentioning the need to seek professional advice; they modified this advice to emphasise the need to find replacement foods under the supervision of a professional.

However, I looked at the Brain Bio Centre site today (where readers are greeted by a very fetching favicon picture of Patrick Holford). Guess what their advice for autism is? Among other things, one is advised to:

Remove Allergens – In addition to nutrient deficiencies, the most significant contributing factor in autism appears to be undesirable foods and chemicals that often reach the brain via the bloodstream because of faulty digestion and absorption. The foods which seem to adversely influence a large number of children include wheat and other gluten containing grains, milk and other dairy products including casein, citrus fruits, chocolate, artificial food colourings, paracetamol, salicylates (prunes, raisins, raspberries, almonds, apricots, canned cherries, blackcurrants, oranges, strawberries, grapes, tomato sauce, plums, cucumbers and granny smith apples), nightshade family foods (potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines). The strongest direct evidence of foods linked to autism involves wheat and dairy and the specific proteins they contain – namely gluten and casein. These are difficult to digest and can result in allergy especially if introduced too early in life.

Many people would struggle to eat a balanced diet after removing all these foods, and people on the autistic spectrum may find this harder than usual. Depressingly, though, the Brain Bio Centre site does not make clear the need to find suitable replacement foods, or to carry out such radical dietary changes under medical supervision.

I could go through the ‘science’ behind some of these claims in more detail, but it’s late and my brain cells are starting to revolt at all this Holfordesque ‘science’. What I’d emphasise for now is that the Brain Bio Centre page on autism is lacking in some very basic, and important, cautions. And that these are points I’ve previously made, and which have lead to modifications to Food for the Brain advice – but not, apparently, to the more radical advice on the Brain Bio Centre’s site.


Filed under allergies, autism, Brain Bio Centre, patrick holford

more dull analysis of the ION eduction/foundation science degree info brochure

Right, more analysis of the ION foundation science degree info brochure, as promised. In the first year, students “will study ION’s method of analysing a client’s health status via a comprehensive health questionnaire” (p. 7). One would really hope that the techniques they learn are better than those in this questionnaire. Maybe the ION’s teaching of questionnaires is along the lines of – do as we say, not as we do.

In year 2, students learn how “Tests, when used appropriately and interpreted correctly alongside other client information, are a valuable diagnostic tool for nutritional
therapists.” (p.7) Yes, (some) tests can be valuable, when correctly interpreted. However, organisations linked to ION have recommended that I get a somewhat peculiar range of tests based on an online questionnaire, and based on the Brain Bio Centre’s incorrect belief that dyspraxia is associated with low intelligence. Aside from recommending, um, unusual tests, Holford also supports the use of IgG tests to diagnose food intoleranceswhich they cannot do reliably.

Students therefore need to hope that – while some people and institutions linked to the ION do not always design questionnaires well and sometimes recommend unnecessary and/or ineffective tests – the ION will be able to educate them effectively on these subjects. Would you be confident that a Foundation Degree in science from the ION really does offer solid foundations?

Anyway, that’s still only got me to p.7 of a 25 page course brochure. It’s sunny outside, so that’s enough blogging for today. At this rate, I might get through the information brochure this month, if I’m lucky. Sorry if this is boring people – sure I’ll find other things to write about, too.


Filed under Brain Bio Centre, foundation degrees, IgG tests, institute for optimum nutrition

Oy! Who are you calling stupid?

Right – some disclosure of my interests first. I’m dyspraxic, and a couple of people I care about are dylexic. People often assume that dyslexia and dypraxia indicate a lack of intelligence. This annoys the hell out of me, and is wrong. Children with dyspraxia are “are healthy [and] of normal intelligence“; the same applies to adults with the condition. Dyslexia “can occur despite normal intellectual ability“.

Holford’s Brain Bio Centre, though, does not seem to know this. In their page on dyslexia/dyspraxia, they state that people with these condition should be tested for heavy metal toxicities because a “number of studies have proved the connection between high lead levels and low intelligence and in addition Copper is another toxic element that has been reported to be high in dyslexic children“.

Firstly, if you’re going to imply that I’m of subnormal intelligence, please try to do so in a well-constructed sentence – otherwise, my irony meter gets overloaded. Secondly, though, this claim is clearly both wrong and offensive: the Brain Bio Centre is assuming – without good reason, or any evidence – that two large groups of people are of subnormal intelligence. This is a remarkably stupid thing for them to assume: maybe Holford and his colleagues should consider testing themselves for heavy metal toxicity, especially if they take the copper-containing supplements sold by Holford’s Health Products For Life (see below)

One more thing to note is the claim that “Copper is another toxic element that has been reported to be high in dyslexic children”. There is some evidence for this correlation – although Pubmed fails to show up evidence that copper in any way causes or worsens dyslexia. However, it’s interesting to note that Holford’s Health Products For Life webshop sells three products containing the ‘toxic’ element copper. I think that my irony meter has just exploded.

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Filed under Brain Bio Centre, copper, dyslexia, dyspraxia, heavy metal toxicity, Holford, intelligence, patrick holford

Holford’s deficits: potential harm to children and the Brain Bio Centre’s bad ADHD advice

The Brain Bio Centre (which is director of) specialises “in the ‘optimum nutrition’ approach to mental health problems”. It also offers what is effectively health advice on its website – and its advice pages tend to lack the usual ‘speak to a proper doctor before trying this’ disclaimer. Analysing the Brain Bio Centre’s account of ADHD will be helpful to explain why I’m worried about the online advice it gives: this advice is seriously deficient. I’ve got a few problems with the ADHD advice but, most worryingly, some of the advice looks like it could be potentially harmful to children. This is what I’ll focus on here.

The Brain Bio Centre advises that parents of kids with ADHD should “Eliminate Chemical Food Additives & Check Other Potential Allergens Such as Wheat, Dairy, Chocolate, Oranges & Eggs”. Firstly, this is rather strange advice given that “[a] chemical substance is any material with a definite chemical composition.” If you stop your kid from eating any chemicals, this mean depriving them of all food and water. Certainly, after a relatively short period of time, ADHD will cease to be a problem; death will be more of an issue, but certainly not hyperactivity.

I’m assuming, though, that the Brain Bio Centre is using ‘chemical’ in a less technical sense – it’s not quite clear what they mean, but I’d guess that they’re telling parents to avoid giving their kids processed foods. That’s reasonable enough advice – these foods often have too much salt, fat, sugar etc. in them. The problem is that the Brain Bio Centre’s advice also goes far beyond this.

The Centre states that “Foods most likely to cause allergic reactions include food colourings, flavourings, synthetic additives, wheat, dairy products, corn, yeast, soya, citrus, chocolate, peanuts, eggs and foods containing salicylates…To test if food allergy is contributing to your child’s symptoms, eliminate any suspect foods for two weeks and then observe carefully as you introduce foods one by one.” I’m a healthy adult (as I’m sure readers will be pleased to know) and eat a very varied diet – I’d struggle to maintain a healthy bodyweight and fulfil my nutritional requirements after excluding all those foods. To try to get a kid to eat a nutritious diet – and avoid excessive weight loss – after excluding all those foods would often be much harder: as any parent will know, kids may not eat everything they’re told to; they also have different nutritional requirements from adults. If a child stopped eating all the foods listed as likely allergens – and these foods were reintroduced only one food every fortnight – they could be eating a very restricted diet for quite a while.

Unfortunately, the Brain Bio Centre page on ADHD contains no warning to seek medical advice/supervision before adopting such a restrictive diet. The Centre appears to be telling parents to adopt very radical, potentially dangerous changes to diet based on reading a single webpage*. And doing this to children – to vulnerable children with learning difficulties. This is not a good thing.

This isn’t just a hypothetical concern: there has already been a report of Holford’s advice re. elimination diets causing problems. The registered dietician Catherine Collins reports that Holford advised that a child should eliminate cow’s milk and soya milk from their diet. That “child suffered sleep problems and her weight dropped as a result of the advice [Mr Holford] gave. It’s extremely worrying when it involves children with special educational needs“. This was a much less extreme elimination diet than the Brain Bio Centre website recommends, but still caused serious problems.

I’m certainly not saying that diagnosing food sensitivity through this kind of elimination diet is a bad idea – such diets can be effective, and much more effective than the unreliable technique that the Brain Bio Centre refer to as “a proper allergy test using the IgG ELISA method“. However, there are obvious risks involved in eliminating so many foods from a child’s diet all at once. This is why medical supervision is generally recommended before a radical change in diet, especially with childen. Kids are precious, and you need to be sure that they aren’t wasting away, are eating enough of the right nutrients, etc.

So, I’m sure you already know about the need to be cautious about taking online medical advice. I’m not a doctor (and nor is Holford) – so certainly don’t trust me for online medical advice. See a doctor or a dietician before trying out radical diets like this on kids – ADHD can be quite managable, but make sure you access good quality advice and support.

*although their ADHD page does list other resources (of variable quality) at the end of the page.


Filed under ADHD, allergy, Brain Bio Centre, children, elimination diets, food sensitivity, Holford, IgG tests, patrick holford