Health science?

I was watching a show today on Discovery Science about how to improve your diet. I didn’t catch it from the beginning, but I’ll explain the absurdity that I’ve seen. Three stories (not in the right order that they appeared on the show):

1) How much gas do people produce and do men produce more gas than women? To try to prove something, they’ve strapped some gas collector on a cowboy and a cowgirl and after 24 hours they saw that the man had about 10% more gas volume-wise than the woman. What kind of scientific method was that? The amount of gas varies by the amount and quality of food you eat and the biology and chemistry of your intestines. They didn’t compare that. It was only two people in one day.

Sure, I do believe that men usually eat more than women so they produce more gas. The result is not surprising. The surprising part is that they advertise it as proof of something.

2) Does eating 4 cloves of garlic a day solve erectile dysfunction problems? They started the program saying that they found 7 people with problems, but only two wanted to appear on the TV. So they went through the whole “experience” that those people had eating that much of raw garlic (it had to be raw to work) a day and how much they smelled. After 3 months, one had improvements and the other didn’t. They blamed the lack of change to his pressure pills.

What they didn’t discuss is that out of the two people, one had just started having problems a few months before and he is the one that got better. The other had problems for years and didn’t get better. Another thing they didn’t show is what happened with the other 5 people that just didn’t want to appear on TV. Can’t they tell the results at least? It would be a little bit more believable if more than one person had improvements.

3) Does eating the caveman diet for 12 days improve your health? They got 10 people or so and put them in the middle of a Zoo and gave them only fruits, nuts and raw vegetables to eat for 12 days. Surprise: their cholesterol numbers dropped, sodium dropped (well, they had to sodium sources and it is water soluble), blood pressure dropped. And all “because of the food”.

What they forgot to mention is that all these people lived in London and for 12 days they were not working, sleeping more (after it gets dark pretty much they didn’t have anything else to do), not going through traffic, having to worry about what to eat, what to do, where to go. their stress levels were orders of magnitude (and, yes, that’s not a scientific number, just an expression) lower than their normal lives. Doesn’t this have any impact on their health? It’s ridiculous to say it doesn’t and that just by changing your diet you can get healthier.

Conclusion: I never thought of Discovery Health as a great source of information, but I thought it wouldn’t be a great source of disinformation. People should just avoid TV altogether.

And why was I watching TV? Because I had a Tetanus shot yesterday and I’m not feeling so great today. Didn’t sleep very much last night, and the day was just hard. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll feel better.

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