Only Drugs Can Heal You!
...or at least that's what the FDA wants us to believe. Call me cynical - because I am! - but this news item with the FDA's assertion that green tea has absolutely no health benefits has I'm-in-bed-with-Big-Pharma written all over it.
I'm all for regulation of food, to ensure that all the world's people can have access to a basic survival necessity: clean, safe food. Those of us who've worked in the food industry know that food can easily be contaminated. But as more and more studies indicate that pesticide-free fresh foods are protective against modern diseases, the FDA's heavy dismissal hints at a more insidious story behind the story.
The only way to research food is finding serious funding to pay for clinical trials, long study periods and expert scientific analysis. Most foods items that are being studied ultimately come from farms, and few farmers have the money to pay to prove the benefits of their products. So companies with an interest in the outcomes of these studies are the only ones who can afford them, along with disease-research organizations. Very few studies get put forth and it's often companies (such as vitamin or sports nutrition manufacturers) competing with pharmaceutical giants who foot the bill to test the food components of their products. In this case, a large Japanese green tea company wanted to put some science behind what we've come to know as an obvious truth: drinking green tea daily helps Japanese people live longer healthier lives. But the FDA squashed their attempt, stating that after reading 105 articles on the matter, they could still find "no evidence to support claims of the beverage's health benefits."
I think the truth of the matter lies here in the article's final sentence: "A health claim, in the language of the FDA, characterizes the relationship between a substance and a reduction in the risk of contracting a particular disease." And what would happen, I ask you, if FOOD could be a factor in reducing risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer? Well, then people wouldn't spend so much money on drugs, they might spend it instead on food. And informed people wouldn't spend their money on processed food either because the real preventive and protective foods are foods our grandparents ate. Foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, legumes and grains that nobody but silly old farmers can profit from. What would happen to the economy if people stopped buying drugs, multivitamins, "enriched whole grain" Lucky Charms cereals and the like?! I'm sure Big Business is feeling faint just imagining such a scenario.
UPDATE: The FDA has just seen fit to approve a new drug for children to treat Crohn's disease, despite the fact that this same drug has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in some patients. Many people have been cured of Crohn's through dietary modification, such as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to name just one. Once again, there's much less profit in hawking fruits and veggies than the billions of dollars that over-the-counter medications bring in each year.
When the FDA is so utterly unwilling to acknowledge the benefits of food, and yet so willing to play a role in pushing potentially harmful drugs on children it makes me leery to say the least. The FDA may exist to protect me from food poisoning, but they do not really care about me reaching optimal health. Unless, of course, their stakeholders can benefit from it in some way. Shrug. The truth is, I don't need their help. I don't need a scientific study to show me that eating a fresh orange gives me vitality and makes me feel good. A Dairy Queen Blizzard, on the other hand, makes my tongue feel happy for a while, but makes me feel bloated and twitchy soon afterwards. So I'm going to continue to seek out the freshest, most wholesome food for my diet because I know it is beneficial to my health. And the FDA can go to Hell. I hear the road there is paved with good medications.