Sixty seconds on . . . doughnutsBMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1670 (Published 27 April 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1670
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This item seems to make fun of what is actually a very serious issue in the current Covid-19 crisis. It's becoming evident that being overweight, having type 2 diabetes or 'metabolic syndrome' is a huge risk factor in being seriously affected (even dying) and Dr Malhotra is right on point in drawing attention to supposed well-meaning donations of what is basically junk food.
Over the years, I've worked in hospitals and also in private medical practice and I know how tempting it is to resort to those kinds of foods for 'comfort' - in one GP practice we used to have "Doughnut Wednesday", whilst in another, in the hospital endocrinology department where I worked for a while, staff were regularly given boxes of chocolates, biscuits or whatever else in the form of refined and processed carbohydrates from well-meaning patients. Nobody ever complained, just devoured them enthusiastically. I used to wonder what sort of advice those consultants gave to their patients regarding diet. Maybe they were afraid of running out of patients?
In the paediatric diabetes department where I worked later, the staff were scratching their heads as to why increasingly more children were presenting with type 2 diabetes compared with the previous decades. At the time (about 10 years ago) many enlightened medical doctors around the world were starting to discover how to reverse type 2 diabetes through diet and trying to share the message, but the staff in that hospital couldn't see that their patients were actually suffering from 'carbohydrate intolerance'.
I was told in no uncertain terms by the (vastly overweight) dietitian that children "needed lots of carbs", despite the fact that epileptic children were put on ketogenic diets and appeared to thrive without "lots of carbs". The free booklets and information packs that we handed out were provided by the charity DiabetesUK, all very philanthropic until you realised that most of their funding came from pharmaceutical companies and highly-processed carbohydrate food manufacturers such as Kellogg's.
And then there was the hospital canteen. I usually took my own lunch because the offerings were, in my opinion, hardly nutritious. Vegetables were scarce, possibly just one overcooked offering, unless you chose a limp 'salad' of anaemic iceberg lettuce and dried up tomatoes.
I had started out in the NHS, decades previously, as a diagnostic radiographer. We had a new hospital and an amazing canteen with fresh, nutritious food which was also supplied to the patients. Sadly, the catering manager was 'headhunted' by a private company and left...at which point things started to go downhill, particularly as it was around the time that dietary advice from the government and public health changed to the recommendation of a 'low-fat' diet. Sadly, several decades later, we are now seeing the results of such poor advice and yet only a few medical professionals such as Dr Malhotra are daring to point out the blatantly obvious root causes of much of our current chronic disease load.
What we need now, as well as hand-washing and social distancing, is advice on how to improve our immune systems. Mostly this will be obvious: stop smoking (depletes vitamin C in the body as well as the known respiratory and cardiac effects and cancer risk), stop eating sugar (suppresses the immune system), eat real food (not processed), organic if possible, take certain good-quality bioavailable supplements that will help immunity (there's no question that the nutritional value of food has deteriorated over the years, so it's difficult to rely on getting enough from diet), get out into the sunshine to synthesise 'vitamin/hormone' D at the optimal times of day, sleep well, get adequate exercise and don't "stress"!
But who is giving this advice? Hardly any one, and if they try, the mainstream media ignores it and social media actively bans it! And while I'm ranting, why is it that information about the huge benefits of vitamin C administration that has been found during this crisis is being suppressed? Animals that make their own vitamin C make relatively huge amounts compared with our 'recommended' intake, and when they're fighting disease make even more! So it stands to reason that we do need a lot more than is generally realised. It is no coincidence that doctors are seeing symptoms resembling scurvy in Covid-19 patients.
Sugar and refined carbohydrates are addictive and detrimental to health, there's no doubt, and yet charities such as Macmillan promote coffee mornings full of home-made cakes and others sell bags of sugary sweets to raise money. It makes no logical sense! Endocrinologist Professor Robert Lustig has shown how the mechanisms of sugar addiction override will-power. The only way to get over it is to stop eating the stuff and go 'cold turkey'. And with the urgency of avoiding Covid-19, there is no time like the present!
Vitamin C Production in Goats vs Humans - https://blog.livonlabs.com/vitamins-and-nutrients/goat-vitamin-c-product...
Food Addiction - https://robertlustig.com/food-addiction/
What is Food Addiction? - https://robertlustig.com/food-addiction-ifland/
Covid-19 Risk Factors - https://robertlustig.com/blog/
Competing interests: No competing interests