Monday, 24 October 2011

Whey to go

Last month I wrote about a product that I saw advertised on a poster in the window of a health food shop. This is Udo's Oil, a blend of vegetable oils supposed to be beneficial for health. I've had a closer look at this poster and just next to it I've seen another poster, advertising Solgar 'Whey To Go' protein powder. It shows a picture of the product and a 'Whey Of Life' recipe book.

In Britain whey has always been regarded as a by product of the cheese making industry and was fed to pigs. In the Mediterranean world it was made into ricotta. I have noticed for many years that whey has been sold to body builders as a source of protein. Body builders (probably incorrectly) think that they need more protein so they can build bigger muscles.

The poster does not state that people would benefit from more protein. That would be untrue. What it does say is 'As recommended by OK! magazine and Health & Fitness magazine as a must-have product'. Why these two magazines would say that is beyond me. They are giving people the false impression that they could benefit from more protein.

At best they are causing people to waste their money. Most people in Britain get at least double the amount of protein they need. More protein means more calories and so can contribute to obesity, but also there may be other problems. Your kidneys will have to work harder to get rid of the waste products of protein metabolism and some say more protein can make the body more acidic.

So it's another case of a company taking something cheap, processing it, packaging it and marketing it for a big profit. Just like Udo's Oil. I've been looking more closely at the poster for Udo's Oil.

"Udo's Oil - my top tip for healthy, glowing skin!" at the top of the poster followed by "as recommended by renowned make-up artist Jemma Kid" and a picture of Jemma looking very pretty out of doors with the wind blowing through her hair.

At the bottom of the poster it says "Udo's Choice (and then the trademark symbol) Omega 3.6.9 and more!". Omega-9 isn't an Essential Fatty Acid so a teaspoon or two of that isn't going to do much for you. We already get too much omega-6 so more can only harm you. The omega-3 is in the form of short-chain plant derived omega-3 which is of little use to the body. Many of these omega-3 containing products often don't have much omega-3 in them. All of them have calories that can contribute towards obesity.

The poster shows the box that the oil comes in. On the box it says that it is a blend of flax, sesame and sunflower seed oils, as well as a few other oils. It says it is a 2:1:1 ratio of omega 3.6.9 and "the ideal balance for today's low fat and Omega 3 deficient diets".

Sunflower oil is a cheap vegetable oil and like most vegetable oils is high in omega-6 (what we should have less of) and low in omega-3 (what we should have more of). Sesame oil is also low in omega-3. Hemp oil does have lots of omega-3.

The 2:1:1 ratio they mention doesn't make a lot of sense. The ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 is important, but omega-9 doesn't come into it. The more omega-6 we have in our diets the less our bodies can utilise omega-3. A 2:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 would make sense, but only if they were talking about total fat intake. Because we get lots of omega-6 in the form of vegetable oils it would make more sense to take as much omega-3 in a supplement as possible, and as little omega-6.

So hemp oil as a supplement would make more sense. It would be cheaper too. Fish oil is better because it contains long chain omega-3. Vegetarians would not want to take fish oil or cod liver oil though. So don't be taken in by expensive products like Whey to go or Udo's Oil.

It's not just the manufacturers who annoy me. They confuse people about what they need to do to be healthy and make big profits. I am also annoyed by the magazines who recommend a product as a 'must-have product' when there is no evidence they will help people's health and evidence that it will harm them. I am also annoyed with celebrities like Jemma Kid. I am most annoyed by the so-called health food shops. People trust them and they are letting them down.