Whole Food and the Proliferation of Dietary Pseudoscience

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by AustinIllini, May 9, 2015.

  1. AustinIllini macrumors demi-god

    AustinIllini

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    #1
    I love the quality (despite the premium) of Whole Foods, which, as an Austin-based company, is a way of life around these parts. However, up until today I couldn't put my finger on the one thing about Whole Foods that bothers me. The Daily Beast (I know, right?) does a great job of pointing out what's wrong with a lot of Whole Foods' (and the whole organic movement) mistakes.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/23/whole-foods-america-s-temple-of-pseudoscience.html

    There are some interesting points here. It is apparent to me the current state of American dietary structure is at an all time low.

    While I tend to lean towards less government intervention, I believe the supplement section of Whole Foods is evidence enough we need stronger regulation of both vitamins and food claims.
     
  2. SHNXX macrumors 68000

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    #2
    Well those items that Whole Foods sells are unlikely to be more damaging than all the other high fructose high animal fat foods people consume elsewhere so I think it's no harm no foul.
    Asking the government to regulate more things sounds like a good idea but always has some unintended consequences. The drug development in US and the Eroom's law are a good cautionary tale.
     
  3. mudslag macrumors regular

    mudslag

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    #3
  4. AustinIllini thread starter macrumors demi-god

    AustinIllini

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  5. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #5
    One of my professors in pharmacy school made the class made the class repeat this phrase 3 times aloud.

    "Just because something is 'natural' does not mean it is safer or more effective"

    That does not mean all "natural" medicines are worthless or ineffective, it all depends on the condition, the severity, and the needs of the patient.

    For the conspiracy theorists who say pharmacists want to push prescription pills, we'd actually make a lot more money off selling over the counter (OTC) herbal/homeopathic remedies, especial considering the ever decreasing reimbursement rates of the insurance companies (most generic meds are a couple bucks, minus the pharmacy expenses- bottles, labels, bag, printing of medication guide, etc). Many drugs we have and use are derived from natural sources, just modified to work better, have enhanced selectivity, fewer side effects, and better control the dosing and/or pharmacokinetics.

    -NSAIDs (acetaminophen/paracetamol, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc) - Willow Bark
    - Natural & Semi-synthetic Opiate Pain Killers (Codine, Morphine, Hydocodone/Vicoden, Oxycodone/Percocet/OxyContin) - Poppy
    - Digoxin (an amazing cardiac drug) - A poisonous African plant extract
    - Lithium (very effective bipolar treatment) - A natural element, used for thousands of years medicinally from plants with high lithium content
    - Cocaine - Cocoa Plant, father of lidocaine, procaine, bupvicane, etc (anesthetics and anti-arrythmics). Cocaine itself still actually has some medicinal purposes due to its excellent vasoconstrictive properties.
    - Hycosamine - Comes from a plant, used to treat IBS, diverticulitis, pancreatitis, etc due to its anticholinergic effects
    - Pilocarpine - Comes from a North American shrub, used to treat glaucoma and dry mouth

    I could go on and on. Many of these drugs are still used today. Many have been modified for to create a better overall drug. Ironically there are the people that push the herbal drugs because they're natural, and then protest the animal sourced drugs (Armor-thyroid, gelatin based capsules, etc).

    Whole Foods is ridiculously expensive. I believe in eating balanced and healthy meals and avoiding processed garbage, but going overboard and spending $80 for 3 days worth of food is ridiculous. Whole Foods in the end I believe is a marketing game and status symbol. I will buy produce from them or a similar store (usually the cheaper trader joe's) because it tastes better. When I'm at my parents in CT we can buy from local farms in season. I can go to a local butcher and buy good quality meat for 1/3 of the price. If you want to eat healthy, spending 10x as much for a potato, stick of butter, or cookie won't make a difference.

    The All Natural" and "Natural" labeling is is poorly undefined and doesn't necessarily mean anything. I believe Whole Foods was caught up in some lawsuit about that a while back.

    One time I was at a Whole Foods in Boston and the butcher had professionally designed and printer flyers advertising the beef came from a specific farm in a specific CT town. I happen to know where exactly where that farm is. It's quite small and I have only seen a few cows there ever. I wonder if WF made and distributed these brochures just buying a few cows from this picturesque farm. God knows where the rest of the "all natural" cows came from.
     
  6. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #6
    It depends on the situation. In some cases if the natural remedy is not working or not to the appropriate level, the end effect could be worse. For example, someone attempts to use a "natural antibiotic" on a severe infection, therefore prolonging access to medical care, and the result is much worse than had they just either visited the doctor or used the pre-prescribed medication.

    Working in a hospital, we run into a lot of interaction problems where someone is precscribed one medication and starts taking an herbal (or via versa) and chaos occurs because they thought the "natural medicine" was automatically safe. Along similar lines, someone may have a condition that to the patient is unknowingly worsened by taking an natural product for something else.

    Natural products are not FDA regulates either, so you never really know what you're getting. A lot of this stuff is made or sourced in India, China, etc where the resources and manufacturing is cheap and there is little oversight.
     
  7. mudslag macrumors regular

    mudslag

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    #7

    Seems like that's what they want to target, their customers.
     
  8. chown33 macrumors 604

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    #8
    My grandmother used to grow this plant for its decorative flowers. When I was a kid, the first few times we visited and the garden was blooming, she reminded us not to touch or eat it. This was in Washington state.

    Coca plant, not cocoa.

    Personally, I find their in-season produce to be pretty reasonably priced. Other items, not so much. But if I need a specific thing that no other store carries, it's worthwhile to try Whole Foods.
     
  9. AustinIllini thread starter macrumors demi-god

    AustinIllini

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    #9
    Apple fans should know well the effects of pseudoscience in place of real treatment. Steve Jobs used it to his peril towards the end of his life. It cost him his liver.
     
  10. A.Goldberg macrumors 68000

    A.Goldberg

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    #10
    Excuse my spelling mistake I'm on the iPhone :p you wouldn't birvd how many people ask me "what's pharmaceutical grade cocaine like"

    Yes digoxin is pretty dangerous. Its a cool plant though, Wikipedia says Foxglove is the common name.

    I'm willing to spend a few extra bucks on fresher produce from somewhere WF or Trader Joe's. Chain grocery store produce is usually bad, but independents can have good stuff. The meat isn't anything special if you have a good meat market. The seafood I have found to be the same as the most other supermarkets with a fresh seafood counter. The boxed and canned food is ridiculous. They do sell some things you won't necessarily find at major supermarkets, or to the variety level.
     
  11. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #11
    From the article:

    I think its the difference between pseudoscience and anti-science.

    The Whole-Foods/Organic/probiotic thing is based on a scientifically plausible premise: That a great deal of the modern diet is made up of highly-processed foods, to which artificial preservatives, coloring agents, and the like have been added. And that a diet consisting solely of such highly-processed foods is not in the long-term best interests of a healthy body or lifestyle.

    The fact that Whole Foods and its customers take this to absurd, and scientifically ludicrous, extremes should surprise no one. The fact that Whole Foods charges a premium for the experience is more a commentary on the gullibility (and affluence) of a certain type of American consumer than anything else.

    Anti-science, as exemplified by the Creation Museum - and, to a lesser extent by the Anti-Vax crowd, is another thing entirely. Its actively dangerous not just for the participants, but for society in general.

    If Lillith and Thom want to waste their time and money dosing themselves with probiotics and organic bread - they are at worst hurting themselves. It Tammy and Ken refuse to vaccinate the kids, and send them to a school that teaches them the universe was created by a bearded guy six thousand years ago - they are putting everyone else in their community at risk.
     
  12. senseless macrumors 68000

    senseless

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    #12
    It's annoying. I had friends that went on a 7 day fast with some kind of detox "cleanse" drink. It was some formula from a 1920s quack doctor that was rediscovered by the Internet. They claimed it helped to clear out the large intestine of impacted waste. I suggested they get a colonoscopy instead. At least that has a purpose.
     
  13. steve knight macrumors 68020

    steve knight

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    #13
    Part of it is in the US no one has much training or understanding of herbs and such. they think something does everything and have no real understanding. When you look at the thousands of years traditional Chinese medicine has been refined it is a huge difference. a traditional chins doctor has been trained usually longer then an american one and knows what it can and can't do.
    The bad part is these people will risk your life on this advice with no qualms.
    here is a slice of crazy
    [​IMG]
     
  14. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #14
    Have these chin doctors proved their remedies through double-blind studies?

    I suspect the placebo effect is as strong in China as it is in the U.S.
     
  15. APlotdevice macrumors 68040

    APlotdevice

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    #15
    Its never been proven that something which hijacks your cells, causing it to produce more of itself until the cell membrane bursts, can be harmful?

    Oy Gevalt.
     
  16. steve knight macrumors 68020

    steve knight

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    actually they have. but most of the treatments are for age old diseases. and chins herbs are used right along with western medicine. like I said they have thousands of years of research into health far before most people did. But Chinese medicine is extremely complex it is not something that is picked up with reading a book or a weekend class. but I can't see it happening in the US getting quality herbs and the knowledge ir requires plus they usually takes horrible http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23460810
     
  17. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #17
    If the medicines have proven themselves to be effective through scientifically sound, repeatable, double-blind studies, then I couldn't care whether they come from herbs or man-made chemicals.
     
  18. steve knight macrumors 68020

    steve knight

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    #18

    True but in the US is would not be profitable enough. Pluses who would pay for these studies. Plus as people change disease changes but the herbs don't and the trial and error is unacceptable these days
     
  19. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #19
    I'm sorry, but I don't believe this. Even herbs can be profitable.
     
  20. steve knight macrumors 68020

    steve knight

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    In the US yes but we are all about profit. I Chinese doctor would only get paid if he kept his patient well. Who would pay for the studies? Western medicine does not want them at all. Americans want a cure all. Plus they taste terrible and I mean really terrible.
     
  21. vrDrew macrumors 65816

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    #22
    With all due respect to China, and its traditional healing herbs, potions, and techniques, but if I have a medical condition - I'm going to a good old Doctor of Medicine.

    The cure for acute appendicitis is surgical removal and a course of powerful antibiotics. The cure for erectile dysfunction is better physical condition, less alcohol, and possibly a dose of PDE5 inhibitors.
     
  22. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #23
    Uote

    Why would there be any less pressure on a "Chinese doctor" to turn a profit?

    They do want them. They either want them with proven efficacy in which case they are called conventional medicine. If not then they are marketed by pharmaceutical companies as "complementary medicines". Marketing them as the latter means big profits - the market for alternative medicines is larger than that for conventional medicines and the regulation is far less.

    In all seriousness you probably aren't tasting active ingredient. The majority of the pill will likely be filler. And in many cases the pills with "herbal medicines" contain none of the claimed ingredients at all. Recent studies have been pretty damning.


     
  23. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #24
    With traditional Chinese medicine you get the added bonus of fuelling the poaching of endangered species for some irrelevant part of their anatomy.
     
  24. aaronvan Suspended

    aaronvan

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    #25
    The Chinese support the wholesale slaughter of endangered species for the anatomical appendages they consider highly relevant.

    Elephants, rhinos, and many other species are going extinct because millions of superstitious Chinese can't get it up.
     

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