Why Your Doctor is So Skeptical of the Latest Supplements, Fad Diets and Claims

Well 4 months later it’s time for my promised feedback!

How did my experiment go?

The experiment involved cutting out sugar and grains for
three months to see if this would have any effect on the acne. I’ve been
seeking a complete non-drug solution for acne for 6- and- a- half years now!

First of all on a weekly basis I fell short of the zero sugar/ zero grain goal. Sometimes
I was ravenous and short of options. Occasionally I had a carbohydrate  craving and sometimes I was just being
appropriately sociable, especially when I was playing hostess!

Still I’d say I was at least 90% compliant  so I expected that if my theory was right I
should see some improvement.

At first not only was there no convincing improvement but I
found myself to be noticeably bloated.

This was bothersome, especially as my previous theory was
that the GLUTEN was the source of the bloating.

Fortunately I uncovered the culprit in a timely fashion!
Delicious salted plantain chips from Ecuador! I was eating about four packets
of these per week. They were my filling replacement for spelt sandwiches. Once
I switched to the unsalted ones the bloating disappeared.

Another discovery: millet when used by itself has a
particularly bitter flavour! I tried millet muffins -homemade of course. The
lack of gluten made them crumbly and they stuck to the muffin pans! I guess
that’s why most recipes that use millet use other flours as well.

At the end of the experiment I repeated some blood tests
including an HbA1c test. The HbA1c tells you how much of your red blood cells
got sugar molecules attached to them over the last 6-12 weeks. This is useful
because for diabetics and persons who have poor glucose tolerance (doctors categorize
poor glucose tolerance as pre-diabetes), the values are higher than normal.

The trouble is I do this test every year and recently I’ve
noticed my HbA1c is higher than I would like it to be, though not in the
diabetic range.

I expected my HbA1c to have fallen over the last three
months due to exercise, and the experimental diet.

Horror of horrors!  It
increased! Could using rice, plaintain chips and provisions instead of granola
and bread have that effect? Hmmm.

The HbA1c  varies with
your red blood cell count though. I had also stopped iron supplements over the
same period, in the hope that I no longer needed them. My red blood cell count
had fallen so that explained the increase in HbA1c. Phew!!!

Did the experiment do anything at all for the acne?

Well, toward the end of the experiment I saw a clear
improvement. Now midway through the experiment I had resumed regular drinking
of unsweetened green tea – since it beats black tea with no sugar.

And truth be told
I suspect it’s the green tea that’s been clearing up my face!

But suppose for a minute that the
possibility of the green tea had not occurred to me. Then I might be telling
everyone with acne to cut out grains and sugar! And then it might not have made
any difference to some of them but perhaps a significant difference to a few.
The link below suggests that this approach does indeed work for some!


Those who had success with this approach would then spread
the word!

And tonnes of people would go on an unproven diet.

Suppose my suspicion though, of what happened to my body
over the last few months is only partly right? Suppose I am gluten sensitive
and the effects of my diet just were not apparent over the first eight weeks or

The truth is I’ll never know based on my “90% compliant”
isolated case of self-study.

And this my friends,
is what doctors call “anecdotal stories” and why they want randomized
case-control studies of hundreds or thousands of participants before they are
willing to believe in many a supplement, fad diet or other amazing claim. In
these detailed studies, variables, such as the amount of exercise, sleep and
the other foods eaten by participants can be recorded and cases can be
disqualified if they could bias the results.

Doctors are concerned
that much of what is marketed as supplements and diets is based on shaky
evidence that has not been examined objectively. They don’t have the time to
study everything that passes by for sale so they desist from recommending
whatever has not come to them via their institutions.

Many of us believe
they overlook a lot of ‘good stuff’ that has been in use for centuries while
they wait for “the hard evidence” but do understand that they are seeking to
protect themselves and you from the unknown!

On the flip side, on a personal level, awareness is at the
base of your health pyramid. I believe we all have to pay attention to the
messages our body is giving us on a personal level. We have the privilege of
being able to monitor our own moods, feelings, aches and rhythms in a unique
way. On many an occasion you don’t need external evidence to tell you that you
need to change your diet, eliminate a certain food, or improve your relaxation

Just don’t go assuming that what you’ve observed for
yourself will be the same for others.

All by yourself, your observation is not only anecdotal but
highly  individualized.

I still don’t know if gluten affects my acne but the
anti-cancer benefits of green tea are enough to keep me sipping.

The scary HbA1c will keep me avoiding sugar and refined
wheat, exercising as regularly as possible and monitoring annually.

Stay well and thanks for reading!

Personal Experiments With Acne

2001 there have been specific phases in my life when the adult onset acne that
attacked me was well controlled:

  • 2001-2002 on acne drugs
  • 2002-2003 pregnancy #1
  • 2006 pregnancy #2
  • Briefly, in the early months of 2010, with a drastic
    reduction in wheat and sugar consumption.
  • Briefly in 2010 after a 90% vegetarian/raw diet that lasted a

a medical student I had been taught that diet was not a causative factor where
acne was concerned but once it hit my face, like many other acne sufferers, I
became intuitively skeptical of the dermatologist’s perspective that diet plays
no role.

2004 I really wanted to be off acne drugs completely and I couldn’t help but
notice that once the drugs stopped the facial lesions resurfaced.

blessed with no major illnesses, I’ve always seen the acne as a clue that
something was not quite right with my body. Could it just have been too much
caffeine and too little exercise and sleep?

stress of all kinds makes any medical condition worse so regrettably those
would be “non-specific” factors.

recent years a light bulb went off in my head after reading this article:


I be one of those people who don’t tolerate grains?

this year, despite a weekend of backpeddling, I’m going to reduce grains and
sugar, (even oats) drastically and I’ll let you know in three months how the
experiment treats me!

(first written in January 2011 and published via a facebook group, soon to be archived: Stay Well Fire Your Doctor! follow up report next!!!)