It all de­pends on ex­actly what goes in

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

MORGAN Spur­lock be­came an overnight sen­sa­tion in 2004 with his movie Su­per Size Me, which tracked his at­tempt to find out what would hap­pen if he ate noth­ing but McDon­ald’s for a month. ( He puked in a car park, be­came very podgy and his liver turned into pate, none of which should have come as a great sur­prise.) In this crack­ing episode of what has al­ready been an eye- open­ing se­ries, we find out about some of the much viler di­ets doc­tors have adopted to test their pet the­o­ries about nu­tri­tion.

We be­gin with William Stark, who in 1769 went on the world’s first elim­i­na­tion diet, re­strict­ing him­self to bread and wa­ter for weeks on end, then adding other foods one by one to see what ef­fect they would have. This was ground­break­ing re­search, but un­for­tu­nately Stark was more in­ter­ested in what this did to the shape and colour of his stools, and paid lit­tle at­ten­tion to his bleed­ing gums. He died of scurvy the next year, aged 29.

Then we meet Joseph Gold­berger, who was con­vinced that pel­la­gra, a dis­fig­ur­ing dis­ease that struck the south­ern US in the early 20th cen­tury, was not con­ta­gious but caused by a di­etary de­fi­ciency. To prove his the­ory, Gold­berger held filth par­ties where he and his as­sis­tants gob­bled down pel­lets of pa­tients’ poo, scabs and urine. His wife, con­sid­ered too la­dy­like for such a feast, was in­stead in­jected with a pa­tient’s blood. None caught pel­la­gra, but Gold­berger re­mained in the wilder­ness un­til 1927, when he found eat­ing yeast — a rich source of niacin, or vi­ta­min B3 — cured pel­la­gra com­pletely.

Or there’s Vic­tor Her­bert, who in the 1960s ate noth­ing but frank­furters, marsh­mal­lows, jelly and boiled chicken for four months in or­der to give him­self mega­loblas­tic anaemia. And Hugh Sin­clair, who piled his plate with seal blub­ber and other fatty fish for three months to prove that it was the type, not the quan­tity, of fat that was send­ing West­ern heart dis­ease rates rock­et­ing.

All this is en­ter­tain­ingly told by host Michael Mosley, who in the end meets per­haps the weird­est ex­per­i­menter of all, a chap called Dave who is ap­par­ently one of about 50 peo­ple re­strict­ing their calo­rie in­take in the hope they will live to be 140. As Dave is now 49, we’ll have to wait an­other 91 years to find out if he’s right. So far he’s sur­vived 17 years with two- thirds of a nor­mal en­ergy in­take ( and, judg­ing from his ap­pear­ance, he may have been eas­ing off on the sham­poo, too). Al­most proudly, Dave tells us he doesn’t eat enough to al­low him to do much ex­er­cise. Mosley, who is the same age, looks far health­ier, which will be a huge re­lief to ev­ery­one ( ex­cept, pre­sum­ably, Dave).

Cook’s tour of cures: Michael Mosley on Med­i­cal Mav­er­icks

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.