A number of our threads have discussion that is off-topic to the post: this is inconvenient to anyone who is interested in researching an issue. So, we shall move off-topic comments to here but, NB, comments may be off-topic for particular posts but should still be on-topic for the blog or related to an item posted in the mini-blog.

Most commenters know this by default but for the handful who don’t, we will moderate comments that contain abuse or obscenities. We have a comment policy.

We may move towards moderating comments that ask questions that have been asked and answered on previous occasions.

If you don’t think that logic is a good method for determining what to believe, make an attempt to convince me of that without using logic. No one has even bothered to try yet. [Brett Lemoine]

Similarly, when you have been given appropriate information or links to read and you do not read them but continue to make your original statements in the hope that the broken record technique will wear down everyone’s critical faculties, this may lead to moderation if disemvowelling hasn’t worked.

For the majority of our commenters who are lively, well-mannered and whose comments regularly add to the general knowledge store, thank you.

Go, write it in a martial hand; be curst and brief. It is no matter how witty, so it be eloquent and full of invention.

Updated Feb 24, 2009.

20 responses to “Off-Topic

  1. nodrande

    I have been reading lots of interesting material on vit D and its connection with the immune system, inflammation and cancer. If there is one supplement that might be worth taking in the winter months it appears to be Vit D.
    What are your thoughts on the subject? Can you lead me to any studies suggesting otherwise.

    Admin edit: there are some specific groups who are well-advised to take vitamin D supplements – pregnant women, young children in some countries, some elderly people, those who eat a restricted diet etc. There are all sorts of reasons why it is not practical or possible for some people to have sufficient sun exposure to ensure that they have adequate vitamin D or have restricted diets for ethical, religious or preference so they are best off talking to an appropriate person who can discuss their lifestyle and give them appropriate guidance.

    Agreed – a lot of the vitamin D studies are very interesting and it will be good to follow what else comes up.

  2. It's Business Time

    Admin edit: The following is reposted for the commenter – it is off-topic both for the post where he placed it and for the blog. However, it is a classic of its type and a remarkable flowering of the comments so seemed useful to highlight as a teaching aid. I know that some of you have bingo cards for this sort of thing…


    Let’s test the water. here. I’m assuming I still have no right of reply. The delusion among your contributors is incredible. Anyhow allopaths have you seen the latest vaccine scandal. I know it’s one to warm the cockles of your heart but one unlikely to make it into national circulation in the U.K. The Baxter Bird flu scandal. Why is a vaccine company contaminating vaccines with ‘LIVE’ H5N1 strain of bird flu. Apparently it has a 60% kill rate and was only discovered when some competent lab technicians decided to test it on ferrets and they all died. It certainly wasn’t the vaccine company who originally stonewalled and claimed ignorance.

    Nothing to see here though naturally and I don’t excpect my post to make it onto your site. Just the knowledge you know I know is more than enough. Let’s see if you have the [Admin: watch your language] though. I’m calling your bluff.

    You quacks aren’t trying to cause a pandemic are you. Baxter have signed a deal with the U.K government to provide vaccines in case of just such a pandemic. In fact a £300 million deal.

    Even the most lobotomised allopath (I know a favourite old torture of yours) must confess this is more than a little odd.

  3. sue cullinan

    What do you think about ‘bio-identical’ hormones, as made famous by Oprah and dispensed by ‘holistic’ medical practitioners?

    Many of us in our 50s do not want to go the HRT route but are in bad need of an uplift such as that promised by these ‘natural’ products – soy, yam etc.
    Any comments?

  4. Will

    Hello all,

    I could not find the appropriate area to post this comment, so I decided to do it off topic. Can anyone recommend a book on the benefits of good nutrition that is NOT quackery?

    I have had the displeasure of working for a so-called nutritionist who is a television personality. It became obvious over the course of my job (I was merely event-managing) that this woman not only has very little grounding in science to substantiate her ‘career’, but also is very dangerous because she thinks that she does.

    Whilst I know there is a lot of bunk out there, I feel that the field is still valid for study. It is simple logic really: what we eat becomes us – quite literally. I am not at all learned but I understand the basics of digestion: mastication breaks down foods which are transported to the stomach, further broken down and the digestion process continues through the intestines (a vast simplification, I know). But the point is, that our body breaks these foods down to their chemical components and the extracts these chemicals. We only excrete that which we don’t need. Hence my statement: what we eat turns into us (I could not BARE to use the phrase “you are what you eat,” since it has been tainted by McKeith).

    So…are there any good books out there, sold by people who are properly educated and who are not just selling themselves/their products via their writing?

    Thanks : )

    • We’re going to ask Catherine Collins if she can recommend something for you. Several RDs have books that are practical and evidence-based but if you have a particular interest, she might be able to narrow down the selection for you.

  5. Catherine Collins RD

    Hi Will.
    Its a bit tricky finding books to recommend – they’re either written for the general public but topic specific, or more specialised which probably go beyond the need of those with a general interest in nutrition.

    An excellent choice for general interest is the UK version of ‘Nutrition for Dummies‘ by Sue Baic and Nigel Denby which is a great overview of nutrition and diet.

    For specific subjects then Kyle Cathie ( have many dietitian-lead books in their ‘Healthy Eating’ side, including info/cookbooks on allergy, diabetes, heart disease, IBS and (cough) cholesterol lowering.

    Getting a bit professional are the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Nutrition, edited by Webster-Gandy, Madden and Holdsworth, or the reference textbook ‘Manual of Dietetic Practice‘, 4th edition, edited by Thomas and Bishop. Serious ninja stuff.

    Admin ETA: book links and to recommend what modesty forbade Cath Collins to link – her own book on cholesterol lowering. If only some MPs showed similar notions of propriety.

    • A book on cholesterol lowering?! Surely bad science per se? Even the man who started the whole heart/cholesterol/fat nonsense, Ancel Keys, had to admit (albeit in 1997, after the world had had 40 years of consequences following what he set out to ‘prove’): “There’s no connection whatsoever between cholesterol in food and cholesterol in the blood. And we’ve known that all along.”
      No doubt Ms Collins thinks saturated fat and mono unsaturated fat have something to do with cholesterol and/or heart disease? And this has absolutely NOT been proven. The best anyone will be able to come up with is an association (and I will be able to demonstrate all possible associations exist – high fat/high heart disease, low fat/low heart disease, high fat/low heart disease, low fat/high heart disease) and still absolutely no causation.

      This is the same Ms Collins I met at a Welsh obesity forum who thinks that there is nothing wrong with the 400 empty sugar calories we eat per day! I don’t know where to start with that one.

      Did you know olive oil has 6x the saturated fat of pork? (and that’s a chop with the fat still on). Did you know that the primary fat in lard is monounsaturated? We are being fed (excuse the pun) so much nonsense about fat it is verging on criminal and the real cuplrits – sugar/transfats/processed carbohydrates and manufactured ‘foods’ are laughing all the way to the bank.

      I’ve only just stumbled across this site – so it is one for bad science yes?!
      Zoe Harcombe

      • Zoe,

        A book on cholesterol lowering doesn’t mean it is bad science…. although I prefer the term cholesterol normalisation for the want of being ‘different’… although the rest of your post I completely agree with… and due to your comment re: Ms Collins and her ill guided beliefs about sugar… this book is probably terrible! My current profile picture is quite fitting for this…

  6. Joan Webster-Gandy, mentioned above, also wrote “Understanding Food & Nutrition” in the Family Doctor Books series.

    It is a lot shorter and less technical than “Nutrition for Dummies.”

    • Thanks for that, Lee. I thought that you would have a good recommendation as I know you’ve referred to ‘Dummies’ before – I’ll take a look out for that one.

  7. shereen

    hi, my daughter of 8yrs suffers from excema & wheezes occasionally. she is not on any meds. grapes and bananas cause her to get a tight chest. she is allergic to mould. is there a particular something that i can use to help her naturally?
    I don’t use any steroids on her. please help

    • We don’t give medical advice on this blog, but you need to speak to your GP/paediatrician re your daughter and appropriate treatment. Especially with breathing difficulties, it’s important that you get appropriate advice.

  8. Mia Wood

    Dear Mr. Holford,

    I think what you wrote about in your”Lodi” article was irresponsible, ill informed and clearly points to the fact that you have no idea what you are talking about. I am a two time cancer survivor and I survived using exactly the methods that you poo pahed. It is unfortunate that people who really need help might run across your article and believe that you actually have the depth of understanding and true knowledge to take such a cavalier attitude toward things you clearly do not understand. By the way, my son survived a grade 3 brain tumor using those methods and is fine. I have a laundry list of cancer survivors who used those living foods, juicing wheatgrass, colonics, and IV vitamin C therapy to survive. I don’t know if you are a cancer survivor but I seriously doubt it. No one who has gone through that kind of experience could ever behave so irreverently and irresponsibly toward treatments that they haven’t experienced for themselves. Cancer is not a joke it is a grave and devastating illness. I would appreciate it if you would bear that in mind the next time you decide to offhandedly write a review.

  9. duncan

    Hi, I was wondering what you thought these two studies regarding homeopethy

    (1)”Cytotoxic effects of ultra-diluted remedies on breast cancer cells”; Frenkel et al, Int.J.Oncology, (36: 395-403,()2010)
    (2)”Paclitaxel-induced apoptosis in MCF-7 breast-cancer cells”; Saunders et al, Int.J.Cancer(70, 214–220(1997)

    Im not a fan of the I what I consider a placebo therapy but was interested in your opinons of how these studies were conducted and if they are credible

  10. duncan

    anybody out there???????

  11. duncan


  12. Jane Marx

    Hi, I am coeliac and thus interested in nutrition, so I got Holfords book on the subject, read 2 pages and realised this man is selling pills and nonsense. There is no way you can cure anything with vit C, turmeric, olive oil etc. Went to have a chat with my doc and he roared with laughter and said read “Bad Science” which I duly did. My dad was a doctor (proper medical) and I know what he said about homeopaths and quacks so it all jelled nicely and then I found Holford watch, what a marvellous blog. thoroughly enjoy reading it, more power to your keyboard.

  13. Martin

    What an funny site to find! There is a TV program on tonight 15/02/2011 called The Big Fat Truth about Low Fat Foods and the ‘nutritional consultant’ on the show has links to the ION that Holford founded, in searching her I found this site and another great site that has a ‘Quackometer’.. great fun! I have an ongoing annoyance at present with an individual who’s only relevant qualification is the ION Dip but has somehow worked his/her way up to a position that should be, and apparently IS, science and research based!? I leave it there for the sake of professionalism.

    Anyway, I wondered if you might respond to my reply. I’ve read a lot on this site and lots of good stuff. Especially liked that you are not ‘anti supplements’ with your ‘interest’ in Vitamin D and agreeable response that this is certainly something to pay attention to.

    My one tiny issue is, and I hope it is taken in the right way, that you often recommend people to visit their GP for advice when GPs are not qualified to give nutritional advice… something that they often step out of line with. Similarly, my opinion is that there are dietitians in this world who similarly give dietetics a bad name as Holford does to nutritionists. With many of my colleagues having BScs in Food Science, Physiology and alike, MScs in Nutrition, Physiology, Biochemistry and PhDs in nutritionally related areas I come across lots of science/research based information that goes against what a lot of dietitians seems to roll of the tongue… I even encountered this first hand recently with both a GP and a Dietitian recommending a low fat diet to a family member with rock bottom HDL levels because this is the healthy way to eat!? I also had a confused student mention that her pre-diebetic Aunty had been put on a low fat, high carbohydrate diet by an RD… So you can see why, despite my applauding of your myth debunking, I have an issue with putting GPs and Dietitians especially (as they should know better based on CPD) on a pedestal just because they have a mainstream qualification.

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