A relatively-new offering on the Cooking Channel is a British program called the Food Hospital. It deals with personal stories of patients who have various infirmities that have not been dealt with successfully by conventional medicine. Such complaints include severe eczema, acne, gallstones, obesity, depression and other common problems.
Two doctors and a nutritionist tackle the patients and their awareness of how serious the problem is--for example, a young woman who eats only two or three foods and considers herself phobic about everything else, or a man who is morbidly obese but does not accept that as a very serious problem. After a consultation, based on test readouts that the doctors share with the patients, the nutritionist designs a diet for each individual patient.
The latter half of the program deals with six-week results. The outcomes are usually encouraging--I haven't seen one yet that was not--such as the little boy with severe, chronic migraine headaches who eliminated them, not at first, but by the end of the six weeks of controlled eating.
The program places emphasis on many things we all know, which is what made me pay attention to it. When people look up information on the Internet, for example, they want to know if there is anything they can do, and if it works. That's where the Food Hospital comes in, with case histories showing us that what we ought to be doing with our daily diet is...well, what we ought to be doing.
One thing that is disturbing to almost everyone is seeing a child suffer, like a teenager with acne, a young girl with alopecia (baldness) and another teen with severe eczema. We all know how such conditions tend to single us out and make us unattractive to our peers, and to see such things alleviated does my heart good.
Now, in addition to the heartening results, another reason to watch the program is the sweet compassionate attitude of the doctors and the nutritionist. Doctors Giovanni Miletto and Shaw Somers are very soft-spoken, quite lacking in the brusque manner that suggests that it is the patients' fault and they have no choice about following orders. They are able to deliver a message that is quite alarming in a very gentle way--after all, the young woman who was phobic about eating was destroying her health at a rapid pace.
Lucy Jones, the nutritionist, is more than willing to conduct extensive interviews as part of her process of designing a diet that will introduce substances that build health--the familiar litany of fiber, whole grains, reduction of simple sugars and salads that we hear all the time. Perhaps it will do us good to see the end results of years spent denying yourself what is good for you, often in favor of what "tastes good." Be that as it may, I have learned that you can lose your taste for some of the food offenders--after months or years on a healthy diet, a candy bar actually doesn't taste as good as it used to.
The weakness of the program, in my opinion, is another doctor whose name is Dr. Pixie McKenna. I think she considers herself a debunker, and she investigates claims made about trendy or widespread ideas that are supposedly good for you. My problem with Dr. McKenna is that perhaps her segments need more time to develop; she often seems superficial, accepting the word of one person whom she consults.
If Dr. McKenna wants to do some good background research for the Food Hospital, I wish she would investigate High-Fructose Corn Syrup, but perhaps she doesn't encounter as much of it in the U. K. as we have to contend with in the States. I hope that food in Britain isn't infested with artificial ingredients the way our food is across the pond, that's for sure.
However, I recommend that everyone watch the Food Hospital and learn from it. If you watch a few episodes you will start to see the patterns, and also learn a few things about certain specific effects of foods that Lucy Jones recommends. In fact, I have an appointment to see my doctor this coming week, and I plan to ask him if he is watching it, and to recommend it if he hasn't found it yet. Doctors don't have that much time for entertainment on a week night, I suppose, due to their reading load, but I'm going to give it a try.
One thing that I learned from a friend of mine is that Arizona's Nopal cactus has a good effect on health. This man, the executive chef of a Tucson restaurant years ago called El Saguarito, told me that when his father was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes he had begun infusing his drinking water with fresh cut Nopal leaves. According to his son, he never developed high blood sugar nor suffered any other symptoms of diabetes after he began drinking his cactus water. So that has stayed with me. If nothing else, stop by your neighborhood supermarket and pick up some Cheri's Prickly Pear jelly or honey or the concentrated syrup that you can use in Margaritas or salad dressing. Nopal is good for you.