Tag Archives: water

Evil ASA 3: Quinton Water

This is the third of a short series on the examples highlighted in January 2015’s issue of WDDTY as “proof” that the ASA is fundamentally flawed, and as justification for replacing it by a body run by practitioners commercially vested in the claims under evaluation.

The relationship between elements in the body. Allegedly. Warning: may contain traces of nuts.

Quinton Water

Under the CAP code, a health claim is “any claim that states, suggests or implies that a relationship exists between a food category, a food or one of its constituents and health”.

That seems reasonable.

As Quinton Water offers a range of products based on a sea-water solution, they are considered foods, and any health claims for them are regulated by the EU. Even a self-evident statement such as ‘Water is good for you’ with no supporting evidence is inadmissible.

I doubt if it is, but somebody would have to complain first, and then the advertiser would have to fail to provide substantial evidence to support the claim. Water is good for you would be rather easy to substantiate. Perhaps that’s why, despite WDDTY’s harping on about this, there is no evidence anybody ever has actually complained about the claim that water is good for you.

What did they complain about? Read the adjudication here.

Claims for the product “Quinton Isotonic” included a range of health claims, including the product name, and that it: had anti-inflammatory and calming properties; could boost the immune system; maintained a healthy digestive tract, so encouraging “friendly” bacteria and helping repair the gut lining; improved the health of developing eggs and sperm, so increasing the chances of conception and the strength and health of babies; caused better sleep patterns and sleep quality; could detoxify and boost the body; and could help the body “regain optimum mineral balance to maintain health”. Further claims, that the product could reduce the risk factors of disease, included “Red Blood Cells become less sticky and stop forming into stacks called rouleaux. RBC rouleaux is one of the high risk factors for retinal degeneration in diabetics”. The website also included claims that the product could prevent, treat or cure disease, including that it could: reduce allergic reactions; reduce anxiety; support the respiratory system in people with conditions such as asthma and hayfever; alleviate the symptoms of stomach and bowel diseases such as IBS and ulcers; cause insomnia and chronic fatigue to disappear; eradicate blood-borne infections; and cause significant improvements in children with autism.

Claims for the product “Quinton Hypertonic” included a range of health claims, including the product name, and that it could: enhance mental focus and alertness; boost the immune system; counteract the dehydration and “mineral excretion” caused by alcohol consumption; help the body maintain maximum hydration and performance during exercise; and replace minerals lost from the body “during stress”. The website also included claims that the product could prevent, treat or cure disease, including that it could help people with depression and infections.

Claims relating to the use of both the Isotonic and Hypertonic products included: health claims that they helped regulate metabolism and stabilised and regulated blood sugar; and claims to prevent, treat or cure disease, including that they were beneficial for gingivitis, tonsillitis, mouth ulcers, dental caries, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

Claims for the efficacy of the product “Quinton Ocular Spray” included “Disturbances in mineral balance and loss of anti-oxidants allow degenerative changes and reduce resistance to ocular infections. Quinton Ocular replaces and balances minerals and anti-oxidants within the eye”, and that the product was beneficial for treating allergies, conjunctivitis, blepharitis, chalazion, scleritis, keratoconjunctivitis and sties.

Claims for the efficacy of ”Quinton Nasal Sprays” included that the products supported the local immune system, had anti-inflammatory properties, treated bacterial, fungal and viral infections within the nose and sinuses, prevented infection and allergies, reduced a risk factor in Asthma, and could help the conditions rhinopharyngitis, allergic rhinitis, obstructive sinusitis, ozena, colds and influenza.

Claims for the efficacy of ”Quinton Dermo Spray” included that the product helped treat sunburn, nappy rash, premature ageing, cuts, grazes, psoriasis, eczema, acne and seborrheic dermatitis.

That goes far, far beyond “water is good for you” and includes a number of very specific therapeutic claims. Specific enough that, well, you’d expect a vendor not to make them without good evidence. Especially when they could just say “water is good for you”.

Although Quinton says its products have helped millions of people, it has conducted many large clinical trials, and it has testimonials from doctors and patients, the ASA ruled that it was not permitted to make any health claims for its products.

Or, to put it in the ASA’s words:

The ASA understood that Quinton Isotonic and Quinton Hypertonic were foods. Ads for foods were subject to specific rules in the CAP Code, which reflected the requirements of EC Regulation 1924/2006 on Nutrition and Health Claims made on Foods (the Regulation).

That EU regulation? It’s a law. Regardless of what the ASA say you are not allowed to make that claim. It will be interesting to see if the QSA permits such claims (I am betting it won’t, given that there would be a highly costly test case to fight if they were ever challenged on it, and they claim to have legal advisors).

As the adjudication makes abundantly clear, this is a technical breach, in that the claims made are regulated claims under EC Regulation 1924/2006 on Nutrition and Health Claims – the CAP code says that claims covered by this regulation must be duly approved under the regulation, Quinton’s were not, end of.

Incidentally, the food labelling regulations are incredibly lax, much more so than those on medicines. So if you can’t even meet the low hurdle of food labelling regs, you might have a bigger problem than the ASA.

Was this a capricious act by the ASA taken to suppress natural “cures” for the profit of its corporate paymasters, or just an everyday case of unapproved food labelling claims? You decide.

100 ways to live to 100: Your healthy diet

Part of a series on WDDTY’s “free” advertorial report “100 ways to live to 100

Your healthy diet

1 Customize your diet to match your biochemistry

William Wolcott, the world’s leading authority on metabolic typing and author of The Metabolic Typing Diet (New York, NY: Doubleday, 2000), followed in the footsteps of his mentor, cancer pioneer Dr William Kelley, by exploring how the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the nervous system each regulate a different set of metabolic activities and so different organs and glands.

Most of us are influenced more strongly by one or the other neurological system, according to Kelley’s theory, depending on whether we are ‘sympathetic-dominant’ or ‘parasympathetic-dominant’—so one man’s meat may literally be another man’s poison. A high-protein diet has one effect on a ‘protein’ type, but a totally different effect on a ‘carb’ type. Wolcott discovered that by customizing a person’s diet according to metabolic type, many people with serious illnesses—including cancer—regained their health.

For a detailed test to determine your metabolic type, go to www.healthexcel.com.

William Wolcott is claimed to be the world authority on Metabolic Type® and The Metabolic Typing® Diet. Genuine physiological concepts do not have registered trademarks. Nobody is the world authority on Digestion®.

One of the more baffling things about WDDTY is its failure to appreciate that the same issues of commercial conflicts apply to the world of SCAM, as apply to “big pharma”. Merely liking the sound of what someone says does not change whether they have a vested financial interest in it.

The Kelley cranks are a weird lot. Bill Wolcott is an acolyte of Kelley, a former real estate salesman who married Kelley’s ex-wife Suzi and took up Kelley’s mantle; Kelley himself was an orthodontist who developed a version of cancer quackery that forms the basis of the Metabolic Type®  nonsense. He also used prayer and osteopathic manipulation.

Kelley’s most famous patient was Steve McQueenW. As usual in the world of quackery, McQueen’s rapid decline and death was no barrier to continued commercial success. Kelley became paranoid and depressive as a result of his failure to convince the medical community, was divorced by Suzi, lost his dental license, and his health deteriorated. He finally died of a heart attack in 2005.

Nicholas GonzalezW developed his quack cancer diet from Kelley’s. MSKCC describes both as lacking any credible evidence of efficacy: a clinical trial in 2009 found that patients on the regime died faster and experienced worse quality of life. Like McQueen’s death, this has done nothing to lessen the commercial success of the regime.

It is theoretically possible to accumulate more red flags for quackery, but it is quite challenging.

And this is no. 1, so presumably top of the list in terms of purported value.

2 Check your acid/alkaline balance—but in relation to your metabolic type

A food’s effect on the body depends upon the body’s many homeostatic controls, including the autonomic nervous system, the master controller of metabolism. According to Wolcott, vegetables alkalinize an autonomic-dominant person, but acidify an oxidative dominant type, those whose oxidative or aerobic system (responsible for the ‘long slow burn’ that keeps running in the background) is the controlling force. To maintain a slightly alkaline status, determine and eat for your metabolic type.

The human body has intricate homeostatic mechanisms that maintain bodily pH in the range 7.35-7.45. A blood pH below 7.35 is called acidosisW, and a blood pH over 7.45 is called alkalosisW.

Virtually everything said by nutritionists about pH is nonsense. This is no exception.

As noted above, Wolcott has absolutely no medical qualifications whatsoever. If you fancy trusting your health to a former estate agent who ran off with the wife of the many who taught him the quackery from which he now makes an evidence-free living, you are probably beyond help.

3 Eat organic whole foods and opt for locally grown, seasonal organic produce

Pesticides have been implicated in many illnesses, including infertility, cancer, birth defects, skin irritations and impotence. Organically reared stock fed on grass (what they’re meant to eat), not grains, and organic produce not only contains substantially more of the basic nutrients than intensively farmed varieties, but also up to 10,000 secondary nutrients essential for human health. As organic bacon and sausages may still include nitrates (carcinogens), purchase them from sources that guarantee nitrate-free products.

Over 50 years of nutritional assays have failed to establish that organic produce is nutritionally superior to non-organic. The evidence of pesticide effects is based on much higher exposures than the safe levels in produce, and as a recent WDDTY piece pointed out, these pesticides are much more serious in unregulated sources such as Chinese herbs.

Is whole food better for you? Maybe not.Whole grain products may be short of fibre.

If you are environmentally conscious it may make sense to buy from a local farmer’s market, but even that is open to question.

4 Cook from scratch

Avoid anything processed, canned, fried, preserved or laden with chemicals, processed, refined or in any way interfered with. Vary your diet as much as possible; most allergy specialists claim that allergies are more likely from tins and plastic bottles, which can leach bisphenol A, and avoid water in plastic bottles, which may contain oestrogen mimicking phthalates.

Terms like “laden with chemicals” are emotive but lack any substance. Everything is made of chemicalsW. That is rather the definition of chemicals. Canned and preserved food can be an important source of vitamins during the off-season (which is why canning was invented in the first place). Processed food is a pejorative without a formal definition. It covers everything from KFC to craft-produced ragout in jars at Waitrose.

The correct mix of foods and how they are prepared is strongly dependent on your household budget, not that WDDTY seem to understand or care about anything outside its core demographic of ABC1 women.

5 Eat a ‘power breakfast’

Those who consume a large proportion of their total calorie intake in the morning eat significantly less over the course of the day, which helps to treat or prevent obesity.2 Plus skipping breakfast increases your chances of a heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Reference 2: J Nutr. 2004 Jan;134(1):104-11. The time of day of food intake influences overall intake in humans. de Castro JM.

The results suggest that low energy density intake during any portion of the day can reduce overall intake, that intake in the morning is particularly satiating and can reduce the total amount ingested for the day, and that intake in the late night lacks satiating value and can result in greater overall daily intake.

Or to put it another way, people who snack in front of the TV at night, eat more.

This one study definitely does not prove a causal link, it is associative only – and as we know, most observational studies are wrong, though there is evidence that skipping meals causes people to overeat at the next meal. Skipping breakfast is probably a bad idea, but stuffing yourself full of carbs at breakfast time may well not make any difference over and above a normal healthy breakfast.

6 Don’t limit saturated fats and don’t ever opt for ‘low-fat’ or hydrogenated foods

The supposedly ‘good fats’—polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils (corn, soy, safflower and the like)—appear to predispose people to cancer, whereas animal fats may be protective, preventing heart disease, osteoporosis and even cancer. Two large studies show that regularly consuming more saturated fats leads to less disease progression than following a diet higher in polyunsaturated fats and carbs.3

But avoid trans fats—produced by hydrogenation, when hydrogen added to liquid vegetable oil to make it solid at room temperature—as they’re linked to greater risks of heart disease and stroke.4

Reference 3a: Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Nov;80(5):1175-84. Dietary fats, carbohydrate, and progression of coronary atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women. Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB, Herrington DM.

Reference 3b: J Intern Med. 2005 Aug;258(2):153-65. Dietary fat intake and early mortality patterns–data from The Malmö Diet and Cancer Study. Leosdottir M, Nilsson PM, Nilsson JA, Månsson H, Berglund G.

Reference 4: J Am Coll Nutr. 1996 Aug;15(4):325-39. Dietary trans-monounsaturated fatty acids negatively impact plasma lipids in humans: critical review of the evidence. Khosla P, Hayes KC.

A rather more sensible approach is to eat less fat. The three studies’ findings:

  1. In postmenopausal women with relatively low total fat intake, a greater saturated fat intake is associated with less progression of coronary atherosclerosis, whereas carbohydrate intake is associated with a greater progression.

  2. With the exception of cancer mortality for women, individuals receiving more than 30% of their total daily energy from fat and more than 10% from saturated fat, did not have increased mortality.

  3. Preliminary evidence suggests that at least part of [trans fats’] impact on lipoproteins reflects increased serum cholesteryl ester transfer protein activity, i.e., increased transfer of cholesteryl esters from HDL to LDL. Since the adverse effects of t-FA on human plasma lipids may be confined to specific isomers, future studies delineating their effects are warranted.

So a source which applies only to post-menopausal women is asserted to be general, a source that finds no increase in cancer except for women is portrayed as saying that saturated fats prevent cancer (pretty much the opposite of the actual finding, which finds an increase in women but not much of one), and a technical preliminary finding that is spun because WDDTY love the idea of the “good cholesterol vs. bad cholesterol” debate that they use as a stick with which to beat statins.

In other words, this is agenda-driven and often counterfactual spin. You should not eat unlimited saturated fat as they claim.

7 Don’t count calories

Keep your weight steady with index diet (or When compared diets, the GI diet was the best of all for losing weight.5 The diet ranks carbs according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Carbs with a low GI score produce only small fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels, whereas high-GI foods cause a sudden sugar rush. Avoid processed foods and ‘white stuff’—white bread, white sugar and white rice—as well as fried foods and potatoes in favour of low-GI meats, fish, pulses (beans) and most vegetables.

Reference 5: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007 Jul 18;(3):CD005105. Low glycaemic index or low glycaemic load diets for overweight and obesity. Thomas DE, Elliott EJ, Baur L.

This study does not claim that GI is the best diet, only that it was more effective than the other diets tested. It refers primarily to obese people undergoing treatment for obesity. It acknowledges that further work is required to establish whether there is a long term benefit.

However, the low-GI diet is rational and not in the least bit alternative. It was first proposed over 30 years ago in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and is a mainstay of the advice offered by dieticians. There is no doubt that nutritionists like those who write and advertise in WDDTY follow a range of fad diets of variable implausibility so if this represents the first steps in a move away from advertising fad diets and towards evidence-based advice, it’s good. Admittedly the blanket prohibition on “white stuff” is not a good start; dieticians tend to look at the overall diet not just howl “teh processed!” at things they find ideologically unacceptable.

8 Don’t drink the water

Our entire water supply contains some 350 toxic chemicals plus industrial waste, disease-carrying microorganisms, chlorine and fluoride, some 100 pharmaceutical Pregnant women usual heavily chlorinated water double their risk of giving birth to a child with serious defects.6 Consider installing a reverse osmosis water filter with an added carbon filter, which will remove everything. But as this includes minerals too, be sure to supplement.

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There is no credible evidence of a general requirement to filter domestic mains water in this way, and WDDTY’s advice to use bottled water is diametrically opposite to their advice re buying local produce – transporting bottled water is an incredibly wasteful business because whatever WDDTY claim, the water delivered to your tap by your water company is clean, safe and environmentally sustainable. It almost certainly contains no significant levels of the “toxic chemicals” WDDTY assert, though this is hard to verify because as always the appeal to “toxins” lacks any actual definition of what toxins and at what level.

Water itself is toxic, in excess. It’s also a chemical. So arguably, yes, your tap water contains dangerous levels of deadly dihydrogen monoxide.

9 Get your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio right

Avoid an imbalance between the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), as these fats regulate the major bodily functions, and deficiencies are behind many degenerative diseases. The optimal ratio is 1 to 1,7 but the modern Western diet’s usual ratio is around 1 to 20 in favour of omega-6 EFAs from vegetable oils (like safflower, sunflower and corn oils). As a general rule, increase your intake of omega-3s (like eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA) and reduce your omega-6s (like gamma-linolenic acid). Opt for fish oils and foodgrade flaxseed (or linseed) oil, which is 60 per cent omega-3.

This claim was covered in our discussion of the December 2013 issue’s nonsensical article on arthritis. It’s not well supported.

10 Eat fish with caution

Most are now tainted by industrial waste and high levels of mercury, including ‘farmed’ fish, which have been fed inappropriately with grains. Avoid swordfish, tuna and other deep-water fish, as these are likely to have more mercury than smaller varieties of fish from shallower waters. Rotating your protein sources will help to minimize your exposure to specific chemicals.

WDDTY is turning into an Eddie Izzard skit on the Daily Mail. Fish is good, but it gives you cancer. The reference to “specific chemicals” is amusingly ironic, since it’s unspecific and everything we eat is made of chemicals by definition.

How about: eat a balanced diet? Would that cover it? I’m sure doctors don’t tell you that, at least not unless you actually ask them.