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Eating more fruit and veg is good for you. More specifically, it reduces the risk of degenerative disease and premature death. This simple fact is supported by so many lines of evidence that it is beyond argument, although pockets of resistance remain among the more Neanderthal doctors. The Palaeolithic diet explored by influential scientists such as Professors Boyd Eaton and Loren Cordain, the Mediterranen diet analysed and tested by leading researchers such as Professors Kim Knoops and Katherine Esposito, and most recently the Victorian diet (as revealed by myself and Dr Judith Rowbotham), are all associated with robust good health; and based on large intakes of fruit and vegetables.

Conversely, it is equally clear that our historically low intake of fruit and veg, currently averaging 2.5 portions per day (Health of Britain ‘08), is one of the main reasons why rates of heart disease and cancer have increased ten-fold since 1880 (Clayton & Rowbotham ’08).

I should point out here that the UK government’s figure of an average 3.7 portions a day is just another example of spin (Family Food ’05). Their figure was based on amounts of fruit and veg purchased, all of which was supposedly eaten; although in reality, it is well known that as much as 30% of food is wasted (Hunter ’98), including £820 million worth of wasted fruit and veg (Ventour ‘08).

It is blindingly obvious that we should all be consuming more fruit and vegetables, and that this would enable all of us to live healthier lives. The latest response from the medical / pharmaceutical side is to say ever more loudly that this is potentially dangerous, and that people taking drugs (in most cases made necessary by disease caused or exacerbated by poor diet), should not consume fruit and fruit juices (Bailey et al ’08). Bailey’s report, issued at the 236th meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia, singled out grapefruit juice as a particular problem, but the good professor is not taking any chances; he apparently tells his patients that they should not combine drugs with any fruits or fruit juices at all. And as his research shows that the effects of fruit juice last up to 24 hours (Bailey & Dresser ‘04), this amounts to a ban on fruit.

Professor Bailey is not a stupid man. His and others’ research (ie Bailey et al ’91, Reif et al ’02, Akinleye et al ’07) makes it clear that some fruits and fruit juices contain compounds which can interfere with the absorption and metabolism of certain drugs; and that this interference could render the drugs less effective, or in some cases, even more toxic than they already are.

To make matters more complicated there is not just one compound in fruit juice that causes the problem, but many compounds (Guo et al 2000, Paine et al ‘07), and more than one mode of action (ie Odou et al ‘05). Naringin has been identified as one key compound in grapefruit juice (Bailey ’08), but the active ingredients in orange and apple juice are as yet unconfirmed.

Bailey appears, however, to be an ignorant man. He seems to be blissfully unaware that the natural compounds he cites are extremely important for our health, and offer the prospect of more fundamental healing than anything his drugs can achieve. Alternatively, if he is aware of this, he has knowingly and cynically given the drugs industry another stick to beat nutrition with, by presenting such a one-sided report. A more careful scientist would have striven for balance, making the point that while fruits and vegetables are essential to health, people should be careful about combining them with drugs. The fact that Bailey missed out the first part is myopic, but unsurprising given that he has already published at least 15 papers on this topic.

I prefer to think that he is, like so many clinical scientists, so immersed in pharmaceutical thinking that he has simply missed the point.

  • Akinleye MO, Coker HA, Chukwuani CM, Adeoye AW. Effect of Five Alive fruit juice on the dissolution and absorption profiles of ciprofloxacin. Nig Q J Hosp Med. 2007 Jan-Mar;17(1):53-7.

  • Bailey D. (2008).

  • Bailey DG, Dresser GK. Interactions between grapefruit juice and cardiovascular drugs. Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2004;4(5):281-97. Review

  • Bailey DG, Spence JD, Munoz C, Arnold JM. Interaction of citrus juices with felodipine and nifedipine. Lancet. 1991 Feb 2;337(8736):268-9.

  • Clayton P, Rowbotham J. An unsuitable and degraded diet? Part three: Victorian consumption patterns and their health benefits. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 2008: 101:454–462

  • Family Food - Report on the Expenditure & Food Survey 2004-2005. Department of Health.

  • Guo LQ, Fukuda K, Ohta T, Yamazoe Y. Role of furanocoumarin derivatives on grapefruit juice-mediated inhibition of human CYP3A activity. Drug Metab Dispos. 2000 Jul;28(7):766-71.

  • Health of Britain --Perspective on Nutrition 2008. TNS WorldPanel, September 2008

  • Hunter BT. Minimising Food Waste. (statistics on food waste by American consumers and industry and reports on attempts to curb waste). Consumers Research magazine, April 1998

  • Odou P, Ferrari N, Barthélémy C, Brique S, Lhermitte M, Vincent A, Libersa C, Robert H. Grapefruit juice-nifedipine interaction: possible involvement of several mechanisms. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2005 Apr;30(2):153-8.

  • Paine MF, Widmer WW, Pusek SN, Beavers KL, Criss AB, Snyder J, Watkins PB. Further characterization of a furanocoumarin-free grapefruit juice on drug disposition: studies with cyclosporine. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):863-71

  • Reif S, Nicolson MC, Bisset D, Reid M, Kloft C, Jaehde U, McLeod HL. Effect of grapefruit juice intake on etoposide bioavailability. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Oct;58(7):491-4.

  • Ventour L. The Food We`Waste. Waste & Resources Action Programme Report, April 2008.



A new report has just been published which claims that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages like fruit-flavoured drinks may increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as a third, in African-American women (Palmer et al ‘08). The same study found that drinking fruit juices did not appear to increase the risk, and the authors went on to suggest that the High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) used in sweetened drinks was somehow responsible for causing the diabetes.

There is a great deal of nonsense about HFCS lurking in the darker and more paranoid corners of the web. It is variously claimed to be the cause of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, impotence, cancer and, for all I know, global warming and the current recession. This is all, allegedly, due to its high content of fructose. We should never let the facts get in the way of a good story - and the HFCS story is indeed a good one, often used by the scientifically illiterate to scare their clients. We’re getting fatter, sicker and more stupid, and HFCS is the villain! Cut HFCS out of your life and all will be well.

If only life were that simple… Let’s start with the facts. Would you mind? Well, HFCS55 – the form used to sweeten drinks – consists of 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Old-fashioned sucrose or table sugar is 50% fructose and 50% glucose, so the difference between HFCS and table sugar is slight indeed. Could the 5% extra fructose in HFCS really be enough to cause all that trouble? If so, then ‘healthy’ honey, which is almost identical to HFCS55, must be equally dangerous; and ‘healthy’ fruits and fruit juices such as apple and pear juice, which contain 66% fructose and 33% glucose, should be re-classified as biological weapons.

There is a genuinely high-fructose corn syrup called HFCS90, used almost exclusively in the production of HFCS55, which is approximately 90% fructose and 10% glucose. But where the food technologists went wrong is that back in 1970 they called all the new syrups ‘high fructose’. This is what got all the web-activists foaming at the mouth, but they are sadly misinformed; the HFCS55 used in food is not high fructose at all. If it had been called ‘Nu-honey’ or something like that, the current anti-HFCS hysteria would not exist.

The Palmer paper is, I’m afraid, another example of scientists making very basic mistakes. The reality is that the women who drank fruit juice had healthier lifestyles, including higher levels of physical activity, than those who consumed sweetened juice drinks. And as physical inactivity is known to be the most important cause of Type 2 diabetes (ie Sullivan et al ’05, Fosgerau et al ’06, Muoio & Koves ’07), it is totally unsurprising that the more sedentary juice drink consumers were more likely to develop the disease.

I can see how tempting it must be to scapegoat HFCS, but the uncomfortable truth is that we should all be taking more exercise. That’s $100 please, leave it in the honey jar on your way out.

  • Palmer J, Boggs D, Krishnan S, Hu FB. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in African American Women. Archives of Internal Medicine Vol 168, Issue 14, July 2008

  • Fosgerau K, Fledelius C, Pedersen KE, Kristensen JB, Daugaard JR, Iglesias MA, Kraegen EW, Furler SM.Oral administration of glucose promotes intracellular partitioning of fatty acid toward storage in white but not in red muscle. J Endocrinol. 2006 Sep;190(3):651-8.

  • Muoio DM, Koves TR. Lipid-induced metabolic dysfunction in skeletal muscle. Novartis Found Symp. 2007;286:24-38; discussion 38-46, 162-3, 196-203.

  • Sullivan PW, Morrato EH, Ghushchyan V, Wyatt HR, Hill JO. Obesity, inactivity, and the prevalence of diabetes and diabetes-related cardiovascular comorbidities in the U.S., 2000-2002. Diabetes Care. 2005 Jul;28(7):1599-603.



Micro- and phyto-nutrients are essential for the normal functioning of every organ and system in the body, and, given the complexity of the central nervous system, we would expect malnutrition to produce negative psychological and behavioural effects. The appalling increase in antisocial behaviour we have witnessed over the last decade or so may well have something to do with our appalling government’s insistence on prioritising the rights of criminals over those of victims, and is certainly related to their idiotic changes to the licensing laws; but it is becoming clear that our declining nutritional standards (ie Olshanski et al ’05) have also played an important role.

A generation fed on burgers, shakes and fries is a malnourished generation, and a malnourished generation is, by the above logic, an anti-social generation. If this hypothesis is true, improving the nutritional status of anti-social individuals should result in improved behaviour – and that is exactly what the evidence shows. 20 controlled clinical trials carried out in juvenile and adult penal institutions have confirmed that improved diet reduces the incidence of antisocial behaviour by up to 60%.

One of the best of these studies was carried out in the UK, at a maximum security prison in Aylesbury (Gesch et al ’02) In this trial the scientists randomly selected half of the prisoners to receive vitamin supplements for nine months, while the other half received a placebo. Over those nine months researchers saw instances of antisocial behaviour plummet in the group receiving vitamins, while the placebo group's behaviour remained virtually the same. Minor offences fell by 33% among the vitamin group, and serious offences, including violence, fell 37%.

The Home Office’s response has been characteristically inept. They have done precisely nothing. The more enlightened Dutch authorities, meanwhile, have replicated Bernard Gesch’s study, have produced almost identical results which will be published early next year, and show every sign of integrating this new approach into their penal system (Gesch ’08).

The tragic-comic aspect of our Home Office’s opacity is that none of this new. In the mid-Victorian period prison governors placed great emphasis on feeding their prisoners nourishing food, because they had learned by experience that this contributed to more manageable gaols. The more lurid tales of prison life which inform many people’s ideas of Victorian prison life have dramatic validity but are not based on fact!

A much larger three-prison trial is now getting underway, funded by the Wellcome Foundation and involving the Institute of Psychiatry at Imperial College, University of London, the University of Surrey, the University of Liverpool and the Medical Research Council. If this trial comes up with the same result as Gesch’s earlier study, surely even the desk jockeys at the Home Office will understand that they should do something about it.

  • Gesch CB, Hammond SM, Hampson SE, Eves A, Crowder MJ. Influence of supplementary vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids on the antisocial behaviour of young adult prisoners. Randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2002 Jul;181:22-8.

  • Gesch CB. 2008 Personal communication.

  • Olshansky SJ, Passaro DJ, Hershow RC, Layden J, Carnes BA, Brody J, Hayflick L, Butler RN, Allison DB, Ludwig DS. A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century. N Engl J Med 2005.352:1138-1145



Largely because of the lobbying efforts of one particular major multinational which sells an uniquely unhealthy combination of salty snacks and sugary drinks, we consume far more salt than is good for us (Karppanen & Mervaala ’06, Karppanen et al ‘05). As a result, around 50% of all adult Americans now have hypertension or pre-clinical hypertension, with the Brits are not far behind; and as a result of that, the drug industry makes enormous amounts of money selling us anti-hypertensive drugs. What an infernal merry-go-round.

Far better to prevent hypertension, as the Finns have done, by reducing salt in the national diet; a strategy which has seen the average systolic blood pressure fall by 15 mm Hg, and diastolic blood pressure by 12 mm Hg (Karppanen et al ’05). This is more than double the effect you would achieve if you were to put every man, woman and child on anti-hypertensive drugs, and of course it is far cheaper, and far safer. You can wait until hell freezes over before Westminster follows the Finnish example, because too many Anglo-American politicians see public health as a profit nexus rather than a public responsibility; but until then, what about milk?

There are a number of clinical trials which show that milk peptides are quite effective at lowering blood pressure in patients with hypertension (ie Seppo et al ’03, Mizushima et al ’04, Aihara et al ’05, Jauhiainen et al ‘05); and a large number of supporting animal studies. Recently, a couple of medical groups have published negative findings (Lee et al ’07, Engberink et al ‘08), but it looks very much as if they used either the wrong doses, or the wrong peptides, and one can only wonder at their reasons for doing this.

A recent meta-analysis appears to have resolved the question (Xu et al ’08). A team of researchers from Soochow and Peking Universities focused on the efficacy of two specific dairy peptides called IPP and VPP. They scanned all the major medical databases and identified 12 trials, almost all of them Finnish or Chinese, which matched their inclusion criteria. The trials included 623 participants with pre-hypertension and hypertension; and the pooled data showed significant decreases of 4.8 and 2.2 mmHg in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It may be that the Japanese and the Finns are somehow different from all the other people in the world, but it is more likely that dairy peptides will help to lower British blood pressure too.

You may remember a series of TV ads, a few years ago, for blood pressure lowering milk drinks and yoghurts made by the Finnish company Valio. Sadly, these ads were banned by the idiotic regulations that currently prevent the food and drink companies from telling us about the real health benefits of their products, and which appear to benefit only the drug industry.

Nb The dairy peptides are not nearly as effective as salt reduction, but they are at least a step away from the expensive and dangerous pharmaceutical model.

  • Aihara K, Kajimoto O, Hirata H, Takahashi R, Nakamura Y. Effect of powdered fermented milk with Lactobacillus helveticus on subjects with high-normal blood pressure or mild hypertension. J Am Coll Nutr. 2005 Aug;24(4):257-65.

  • Engberink MF, Schouten EG, Kok FJ, van Mierlo LA, Brouwer IA, Geleijnse JM. Lactotripeptides show no effect on human blood pressure: results from a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Hypertension. 2008 Feb;51(2):399-405

  • Jauhiainen T, Vapaatalo H, Poussa T, Kyrönpalo S, Rasmussen M, Korpela R. Lactobacillus helveticus fermented milk lowers blood pressure in hypertensive subjects in 24-h ambulatory blood pressure measurement. Am J Hypertens. 2005 Dec;18(12 Pt 1):1600-5.

  • Karppanen H, Mervaala E. Sodium intake and hypertension. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2006 Sep-Oct;49(2):59-75. Review.

  • Karppanen H, Karppanen P, Mervaala E. Why and how to implement sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium changes in food items and diets? J Hum Hypertens. 2005 Dec;19 Suppl 3:S10-9. Review

  • Lee YM, Skurk T, Hennig M, Hauner H. Effect of a milk drink supplemented with whey peptides on blood pressure in patients with mild hypertension. Eur J Nutr. 2007 Feb;46(1):21-7

  • Mizushima S, Ohshige K, Watanabe J, Kimura M, Kadowaki T, Nakamura Y, Tochikubo O, Ueshima H. Randomized controlled trial of sour milk on blood pressure in borderline hypertensive men. Am J Hypertens. 2004 Aug;17(8):701-6.

  • Seppo L, Jauhiainen T, Poussa T, Korpela R. A fermented milk high in bioactive peptides has a blood pressure-lowering effect in hypertensive subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;77(2):326-30.

  • Xu J-Y, Qin L-Q, Wang P-Y, Li W, Chang C. Effect of milk tripeptides on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition (Elsevier) 2008, 24:933–940


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