Monday, April 06, 2009

Bad science

In our office canteen, there are leaflets from the Raw Food School, explaining the many reasons to adopt a raw food diet (or rather, “a Raw Food diet”). As well as a range of general health benefits (“No matter who you are, you can experience all these changes on a Raw Food diet”), it lists 25 “illnesses, conditions and symptoms” that “Raw Food is known to have healed or helped”, ranging from mood swings to cancer.

Then, joy of joys, we get the science bit:

When we are born, we are given a limited reserve of Enzymes that are necessary to keep our body system in working order throughout the entire duration of our lifetime. The only additional source of Enzymes we can get comes from the food that we eat. Problems arise when food is cooked above 44˚C (112 degrees Fahrenheit) when Enzymes are completely destroyed by heat during the cooking process.
When eating cooked food, the body needs to draw essential Enzymes from the limited natural pool supplied at birth in order to digest the food. Imagine drawing money out of a bank account that is never topped up. Eventually, it will run out. Its exactly the same with Enzymes.
If we continue to eat cooked foods and do not replace Enzymes by eating Raw Food, we eventually begin to use up our bodies’ Enzymes reserves. Without these Enzymes, cooked food is stored in our bodies as toxins, which can than lead to all kinds of diseases and illness.
Ageing is really nothing more than the body running out of Enzymes. Stop withdrawing Enzymes and instead start depositing Enzymes to build, cleanse and heal your body.

At this point I should mention that the place I work is a medical research charity. We employ a lot of people who, to put it bluntly, know stuff. But you don’t need PhD-level expertise to be able to suspect that this wittering about Enzymes (or, as those of us without £290 ‘Raw Foods Transformation’ courses to sell call them, enzymes) is in fact bollocks.

Yes, high temperatures do destroy enzymes. But so do our stomach acids. We do not take over the use of the enzymes in the food we eat; different species have their own enzymes for different purposes. And our bodies create new enzymes all the time, using as (so to speak) raw material the food we eat – whether cooked or not. Ageing is not “running out of enzymes”, and if you eat only raw food you will still age and die.

I don’t suggest that there aren’t any health benefits to eating more raw and less cooked food, but this bullshit about enzymes is painfully bad pseudo-science.

5 comments:

jams o donnell said...

Bad Science? These idiots need some basic biochemistry beaten into them (preferably with a large sledge hammer).

Dr Krystal said...

*rolls her eyes*

That is appalling, and while I shouldn't give a lecture on protein biochemistry, this is just such total rubbish. Your stomach cannot absorb enzymes, only their constituent parts, which your body then using as building blocks to make it's own. And cooking some foods make them EASIER to absorb.

Interesting story here: http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13139619

And frankly, the worst bit is that if someone who is a less discrening reader picks up this pamphlet in your office canteen, they may think that your well-respected highly scientifically repuatable medical charity employer actually endorses this information. *shudder*

If I was you I'd pin a leaflet to a communal noticeboard with a big "This is not true" arrow pointing at it.

Tom Freeman said...

Jams - is it possible to beat biochemistry into idiots by means of sledgehammering? Not heard that one before but I think we should definitely conduct clinical trials to find out.

And hello Dr Krystal! Always an honour to have a distinguished enzymologist drop by...

Latest news is that we have complained and the pseudoscience crap has been removed. Huzzah!

Must dash now, I have an appointment with my homeopath - I recently had both my legs broken when a speeding car smashed into me, and so the doc's going to treat me by gently lobbing bits of rubber wheel from Lego cars at my leg.

Richard T said...

I have a simpe rule. If capital letters are applied unnnecessarily in an article or leaflet then there is a good chance of its being written by a loon.

khym-chanur said...

At least they aren't quite as stupid as this bozo, who claims that "The enzymes of the body are the exhaust or the acidic waste products of energy consumption."