consumer protection Archives - Dr Bill Sukala Health Science Communicator Tue, 21 Jun 2022 23:06:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 consumer protection Archives - Dr Bill Sukala 32 32 Does Psilocybin Cause Heart Valve Damage? A Review of the Research Sat, 09 Oct 2021 02:56:30 +0000 Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, has been shown in research studies to provide relief for end-of-life anxiety and depression (Grob et al, Griffiths et al, Ross et al) …

The post Does Psilocybin Cause Heart Valve Damage? A Review of the Research appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, has been shown in research studies to provide relief for end-of-life anxiety and depression (Grob et al, Griffiths et al, Ross et al) alcohol and tobacco addiction (Bogenschutz et al, Johnson et al) obsessive compulsive disorder (Moreno et al), and treatment-resistant major depression (Carhart-Harris et al).

But while the responsible use of psilocybin in controlled settings may have important therapeutic value, are there unwanted side effects which can potentially pose a health risk?

Recently, there has been a stir online about whether or not psilocybin or psilocin (psilocybin’s bioactive form in the body) can cause heart valve damage.

With my professional background in hospital-based cardiac rehabilitation and biomedical research, I was alerted by concerned psychonauts and asked my opinion about the likelihood of experiencing cardiac side effects.

Therefore, the purpose of this article is to:

  1. Evaluate the scientific literature that is currently being used to forward the idea that psilocybin can lead to heart valve damage in micro-dosers, recreational users, and research study participants; and
  2. Provide recommendations to guide future research in this space.

*Please contact me if you become aware of other relevant research so I may update this article.

Psilocybin’s physiological effects

Psychoactive mushrooms have been consumed for millennia, primarily for ceremonial purposes by indigenous cultures, but it wasn’t until the second half of the last century that they gained widespread attention in western culture and media.

Magic mushrooms and other psychedelic substances elicit mystical transcendent experiences which some users find deeply meaningful, spiritually significant, and which contribute to helping individuals make positive life changes for the better.

Under the effects of psilocybin, regions of the brain that do not normally overlap or cross-talk begin to communicate with each other. The default mode network, or DMN, is the region in the brain associated with your sense of self (or your ego, Latin for “I”). Psilocybin affects the DMN in ways that it temporarily quiets the sense of self and pushes it into the background for the duration of the experience.

The combined effect of hyper-connected brain regions and a quieted DMN allow you to see things from a different point of view, break unhelpful ruminative thinking patterns, and gain new perspectives and insights, all of which can help you reconcile and resolve issues in your life (i.e., depression, anxiety, trauma, and other issues).

Serotonin receptors

The chemical name for serotonin is 5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT for short, and the receptors it acts upon are called 5-HT receptors. Within the 5-HT receptor family, there are different numbered and lettered subtypes referring to different types of receptors that elicit different physiological actions (i.e., 5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, 5-HT2A etc).

Psilocybin is chemically similar to serotonin and acts primarily upon the 5-HT2A receptor in the brain where it exerts its psychoactive effects.

Psilocybin has also been shown to have an affinity for cardiac 5-HT2B receptors, which could, in theory, play a role in heart valve disease.

Psilocybin and heart valve damage

Concern over psilocybin’s potentially harmful effects on heart valves stems from the fen-phen scare in the late 90s, as well as a link between the party drug MDMA and cardiac problems. Several other reports have also implicated serotonin receptors as the link between fen-phen and valve disease (Hutcheson et al, Rothman & Baumann).

The mechanism behind this damage appears to be the drug binding to the 5-HT2B receptor in cardiac tissue, leading to valvular strands and valve dysfunction.

Because psilocybin also has an affinity for cardiac 5-HT2B receptors, in theory, the assumption is that it may induce valve disease via the same mechanisms as other serotonin receptor agonists.

In the following discussion, I’ll break down the research which has been frequently cited on various websites and online forums.

Cardiotoxic effects of psilocin on rats

A 2006 study found that rats injected with 10µg per kg of psilocin showed subendocardial fibrosis and thickening of coronary arteries. Perivascular fibrosis, the deposition of connective tissue around the vessels, with proliferation of fibroblasts and connective tissue growth was also demonstrated. Electron microscopy revealed damage to cellular mitochondria as well.


While these findings are certainly concerning, the study’s practical limitations must be put into perspective.

First, animal studies are only models that are suggestive of what could possibly occur in human tissue and are not always directly applicable to human physiology. If this same protocol was repeated in humans, the effects may or may not be the same – to my understanding, this research has not been conducted.

Second, this study did not directly evaluate psilocin’s effects on heart valve morphology. It’s not to say that it didn’t have an effect, but this outcome measure was not explicitly studied.

Third, the investigators injected pure psilocin directly into rats, in contrast to human consumption of the whole mycelial fruit (mushrooms) which must pass through the liver in digestion before entering the blood stream and can have an entirely different metabolic profile.

Depending on the psychoactive mushroom (there are hundreds), there are a number of other bioactive compounds, such as aeruginascin, baeocystin, or norbaeocystin, which could interact and moderate the effects of psilocybin or psilocin in the body.

Mycelial chitin is a fibrous biopolymer that is found in mushroom cell walls and has been shown to have numerous important bioapplications such as immunomodulation, antioxidant properties, cholesterol management, and wound healing.

Chitin is also chemically similar to cellulose, an insoluble fibre, and has been shown to have favourable effects on gut microbiota composition (which we know plays an important protective role in human health).

To put this further info perspective, you could look to the example of pure fructose, which has been shown to elicit adverse health effects in high doses in its purified form. However, fructose found naturally in fruit that is surrounded by other health-promoting constituents like fiber and other phytonutrients has no deleterious effects on human health.

Fourth, psilocin was administered to rats every other day for 12 weeks, which would constitute chronic exposure far greater than that experienced by most recreational mushroom users or research participants.

Also, consuming psychoactive mushrooms, particularly at higher doses, can be a difficult and challenging psychological experience, inducing uncomfortable physical body effects like nausea or vomiting such that it does not lend itself well to frequent abuse.

Fifth, the typical doses consumed by humans both recreationally and in research studies are quite small. The psilocybin content of a mushroom fruit is approximately 1% (more or less depending on growth conditions).

So 1 gram of dried mushroom would yield about 10 mg of psilocybin.

If divided by body weight, then the amount of psilocybin per kilogram would be quite low.

For example, a 70 kg adult consuming 1 gram of mushrooms (containing ~10 mg of psilocybin) would take in around 0.14 mg per kg of body weight.

Mushroom microdosers, on the other hand, usually take an imperceptible sub-threshold dose equivalent to about 1/10th of 1 gram of dried mushroom. So dividing it by 10 yields a dose of around 0.014 mg of psilocybin per kg of body weight. And while microdoses are taken once every three days (72 hours), the regimen is only recommended to be carried out in short one week to three month periods, not for years on end.

Lastly, while this study demonstrated deleterious effects of psilocin on rat cardiac tissue, a 2020 in vitro rat study found that water extracts of psilocybe cubensis and panaeolus cyanescens mushroom did not aggravate endothelin-1-induced pathological cardiac hypertrophy and were shown to protect heart cells from tumor necrosis factor-α-induced injury and cell death.

Psilocybe semilanceata induced heart attack

A 1998 case report published in Clinical Toxicology described an 18 year old man who experienced cardiac arrhythmia and myocardial infarction (heart attack) after ingesting a potent strain of Psilocybe semilanceata mushrooms.

Psilocybin % dry weight in different mushroom species


The authors reported the patient had been consuming them frequently in the previous month up to his hospitalisation.

Though psilocybin can theoretically be abused like any other drug, it is generally considered safe in moderate doses both recreationally and in supervised research settings.

However, because the human body quickly builds a tolerance to psilocybin, higher doses are required after only a few days of repeated use in order to elicit an effect.

Though the exact quantity of mushrooms consumed is not stated in this case report, it is plausible the patient repeatedly took progressively higher doses of a high potency mushroom to overcome the tolerance and elicit a psychedelic effect, spiking his heart rate and blood pressure and provoking a heart attack.

Though the report outlines a potential risk associated with abusing mushrooms, it does not directly support the theory that psilocybin induces heart valve damage (valvular disease is different than a heart attack).

Meta-analysis on serotonergic medications

A 2019 meta-analysis of multiple studies carried out by Fortier and colleagues (excluding case reports, uncontrolled studies, and in vitro [test tube] studies) found that 5-HT receptor signaling induced by serotonergic appetite suppressants is associated with a direct functional role in pathological heart valve remodeling.


First, this meta-analysis effectively established a mechanistic explanation that serotonergic prescription medications (i.e., fenfluramine, dexfenfluramine, and phentermine) act on 5-HT2B receptors to cause heart valve damage, but it does not support the hypothesis that psilocybin (either pure psilocybin or that found in mushrooms) can cause the same problems.

In fact, the authors did not include any studies on psilocybin which, to my knowledge, have not been conducted on humans to assess its effects on heart valves.

Second, fenfluramine and phentermine are pharmaceutical-grade drugs that were taken in higher doses for extended periods of time, as compared to psilocybin (pure or in mushrooms) which is taken infrequently and in small doses.

A study that looked at a dose-response relationship between fenfluramine and valve damage found that severe valvulopathy was observed in individuals who took ≥ 60 mg per day, which is a large contrast to 10-20mg of psilocybin as a single infrequent dose.

Lastly, back in the 1990s, there were a significant number of individuals directly harmed by fen-phen, enough so that it prompted FDA action, widespread drug recalls, and thousands of lawsuits.

By contrast, despite the countless number of people that have consumed psychedelic mushrooms since the 1950s or participated in recent psilocybin research trials, I am aware of no published case reports in the biomedical literature that have identified psilocybin as source of heart valve damage.

Future research on psilocybin and heart valve damage

As our understanding of psilocybin as an effective treatment for mental health issues deepens, it will be increasingly important to be able to demonstrate its safety profile before it’s formally approved for medical use.

Initially, future in vitro and animal studies should evaluate the effects of purified psilocybin and psilocin on heart valve morphology versus that found in whole mushrooms.

If valve damage is present, are there any differences between pure vs whole mushroom psilocybin and psilocin, and what mechanistic explanation could account for these differences?

Are there other factors in mushrooms or aspects of the digestive process which might moderate any potentially harmful aspects to purified psilocybin or psilocin.

Are there any dosage or frequency thresholds above which there might be an increased risk of harm to heart valve tissue?

In ongoing psychedelic research, inclusion of echocardiographic analyses of cardiac valve leaflets before and after psilocybin administration would be useful.

Research evaluating recreational psilocybin users should stratify participants by their duration of use (i.e., weeks, months, years), frequency of use in a given time period, usual dosages on each occasion (i.e., estimate of how much psilocybin per dose), and determine if there are any echocardiographic abnormalities compared to age-matched non-users.

For individuals presenting to their physicians with valve dysfunction, it should be documented if there was any psilocybin use.

Take home message

Psilocybin has been shown to provide relief from a variety of mental health issues when used responsibly and in controlled and supportive environments.

The safety profile of psilocybin in healthy adults is generally well established. But as with any drug, there are always risks, some known and others yet to be established.

Numerous lay websites and online forums have promoted the idea that psilocybin could cause heart valve damage. While this is theoretically possible, it has not been experimentally evaluated in any published peer-reviewed human trials and, as of this writing, appears to be primarily based on extrapolations from other studies on serotonergic drugs.

Moreover, to date, no case reports have appeared in the medical literature linking psilocybin to valvular damage.

Future psilocybin research must explore this question in greater depth and, where feasible, should include echocardiographic analysis of heart valves as an outcome measure

The post Does Psilocybin Cause Heart Valve Damage? A Review of the Research appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

Skinny Boost Tea 28 Day Detox Review Wed, 15 Sep 2021 02:07:27 +0000 What is Skinny Boost detox tea? Skinny Boost detox tea is marketed with claims that it can “get rid of toxins, boost metabolism, increase energy, suppress appetite, reduce bloating, improve …

The post Skinny Boost Tea 28 Day Detox Review appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

What is Skinny Boost detox tea?

Skinny Boost detox tea is marketed with claims that it can “get rid of toxins, boost metabolism, increase energy, suppress appetite, reduce bloating, improve digestion, and help you lose weight.”

But what exactly is Skinny Boost tea? Can it really deliver on these claims? Is it safe? Are there any side effects?

What ingredients are in it? And, most importantly, does it work? Can Skinny Boost really “detox” you, help you fight fat, and reduce bloating?

In this review, I dig into the product’s ingredients and carefully evaluate the marketing claims against what is physiologically plausible and what you can reasonably expect.

If you’re determined to try out a detox tea, then please read this entire article to ensure your safety and well-being.

Disclaimer: No conflicts of interest. This review is 100% independent and has no affiliate links. Ads that may appear on this site are autogenerated based on your individual Google search and browsing habits and I do NOT have direct control over them. Any revenue generated from ads offset website costs which keep these articles free, unbiased, and independent for you to read.

Skinny Boost ingredients

Skinny Boost has a morning and evening tea with similar but slightly different ingredients. For purposes of simplicity, I have combined them into one list. In the image below, you can see which tea contains which ingredients.

Skinny Boost Tea Ingredients
Skinny Boost tea ingredients and claims

Green tea

Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine which might give you a feeling of alertness and help suppress appetite.

Oolong tea

Oolong tea contains caffeine which might make you feel more alert. It may also exert a mild diuretic effect.

Orange peel

Orange peel contains health promoting vitamins and phytonutrients.

Ginseng root

Ginseng is known to have a number of health-promoting effects, including improved blood sugar control, mood, and brain function.

Different types of ginseng have different effects, but it’s not known what type is used in Skinny Boost.

Garcinia cambogia

Garcinia Cambogia, also known as the Malabar tamarind, contains hydroxycitric acid, or HCA and may help regulate appetite and contribute to weight control.

Senna leaf

Senna‘s active constituents are called sennosides which stimulate the bowel and causes a laxative effect.

Peppermint leaf

Peppermint leaves may be helpful for digestive problems such as heartburn, nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome. 

Depending on the dose, it could have a laxative effect on the body.

Fennel fruit

Fennel is used by mouth for various digestive problems including heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, and colic in infants among othes.

Cinnamon bark

Cinnamon bark may be helpful for soothing irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhoea, and bloating. 

There is inconclusive evidence on its effects on appetite, with some research showing it can increase appetite and other reports showing the opposite.

Ginger root

Ginger may exert a laxative effect on the body by stimulating the bowels and may be useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea. It may also promote fluid loss as a diuretic. 

Ginger might also stimulate appetite which may counter other ingredients in the teas that decrease appetite.


Dandelion leaves may have a mild diuretic and laxative effect. It may also increase appetite.

Lemon grass

Lemongrass may help improve digestive tract spasms and relieve stomach aches.

Natural lemon, honey, and mint flavours

Skinny Boost contains additional flavourings but the product website does not provide further information.

Skinny Boost marketing claims analysis

The thing about marketing claims is that their primary objective is one thing: to sell you a product.

While there’s nothing wrong with selling things online, as a consumer, you have a reasonable expectation that health claims are wholly truthful and provide an accurate representation of what you can (or should) expect.

As I sifted through the Skinny Boost claims, I found that most were ambiguous and needed further clarification, so my aim here is to give you the other side of the story to help you make an educated purchasing decision.

Claim 1: “Get rid of toxins”

The name of the product is the Skinny Boost 28 Day Detox and the website explicitly states that the “tea is meant to help you get rid of toxins.”

But does it really?

Skinny Boost fails to name any “toxins” anywhere on the website. What are we talking about here? Heavy metals like hexavalent chromium? Please be more specific.

A search of the biomedical literature found zero published scientific studies on Skinny Boost to support this claim.

The product may exert a laxative and diuretic effect on your body which might make you a more frequent visitor to your toilet, but this is not “detoxifying” you. It’s just a normal bodily process.

In short, this claim is one that can mean a lot of things to different people and is subject to your own personal interpretation.

But when viewed at face value, despite being called a detox tea, there is no credible evidence that it’s “detoxing” you at all.

For more information, check out my free interactive detox decision-making tool.

Claim 2: “Boost metabolism”

Many health products on the market that claim they can help you “boost metabolism.”

Sounds great, but is it true?

Yes, no, and kinda maybe, but this all depends on your personal expectations.

Yes, it is true that Skinny Boost tea contains caffeine (a central nervous system stimulant) in the form of tea leaves and this may cause a small increase in how many calories you burn.

But exactly how many calories are we talking about? And how long is this elevation in metabolism? What evidence is this based on? Not much.

A search of the medical journal databases did not yield a single study on Skinny Boost that related to its effects on metabolism and calorie burning.

But a study published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism found that 12 healthy young male volunteers who consumed 200 mg of caffeine increased their metabolism by approximately 7% (or 13 calories in absolute terms).

The bottom line is that, technically, yes, caffeine can increase your metabolism but, in general, it’s unlikely to play any significant role in fat loss unless you help it along with hard work (i.e., eating healthier, exercising, etc).

And, to my knowledge, the milligrams of caffeine in each Skinny Boost tea bag is not mentioned on its website, so we don’t know the extent to which the product will “boost metabolism.”

Claim 3: “Increase energy”

To provide context for this claim, you need to understand the basics of bioenergetics in the human body.

The foods you eat contain energy-yielding nutrients like carbohydrate, protein, and fat and are converted in your body to chemical energy (in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP for short) which is used to drive the cellular reactions that keep you alive.

Because herbal teas contain minimal to nil calories, they do not provide enough energy to sustain you.

Any sense of “increased energy” would be due to an increased feeling of alertness associated with the caffeine content.

As a general rule, “increases energy” is an ambiguous marketing phrase commonly used to sell herbal teas and it is often subjectively interpreted by the beholder.

So check your expectations versus what the product can physiologically deliver.

Claim 4: “Suppress appetite”

Skinny Boost tea contains caffeine, along with ginseng, green tea, and cinnamon, all of which may help control hunger.

However, to my knowledge, no efficacy studies have been conducted on the final Skinny Boost product to know the extent to which it might suppress appetite and contribute to a reduction in calorie intake.

Claim 5: “Reduce bloating”

“Bloating” is a common marketing buzzword used to sell pretty much every “detox” tea on the market.

So it’s important for you to consider your own personal interpretation of the phrase and expectations about what it can reliably deliver.

Bloating (fluid retention) is a real and biologically normal thing (i.e., associated with your menstrual cycle), but this tends to be transient and self-resolving.

In other words, if you tend to “puff up” once a month, rest assured there is nothing “wrong” with you.

The confusion is that, in some people’s minds, “bloating” can also be confused for extra body fat in those difficult trouble spots.

So while Skinny Boost tea may have a diuretic and laxative effect that causes you to urinate and defecate more frequently, this could plausibly help you reduce water retention.

But remember that losing absolute water and fecal weight on a bathroom scale is temporary and should not be confused with losing stored body fat.

Claim 6: “Improve digestion”

This claim is ambiguous and ill-defined and can be interpreted differently by different people.

How exactly does Skinny Boost “improve digestion.” What does this even mean?

To my knowledge, I am unaware of any published studies that have evaluated this product and its effects on digestion.

Claim 7: “Lose weight”

When you read the marketing phrase “lose weight,” you must always ask one all-important question: Lose what exactly?

For many consumers wanting to “lose weight,” their expectation is that they’d like to see a reduction in stored body fat, particularly in those trouble spots like around the hips, tights, belly, and arms.

While Skinny Boost’s diuretic and laxative ingredients might help you excrete more urine and feces and reduce your absolute weight on the bathroom scale, this should not be confused with fat loss.

The bathroom scale only tells you your body weight but does not give any indication of body composition (i.e., how much fat, muscle, bone, and body fluid you have).

So will Skinny Boost cause you to lose body fat?

Some of the ingredients such as garcinia cambogia and caffeine-containing ingredients like oolong tea and green tea could theoretically facilitate weight loss, but because there is no published information on dosage of active ingredients per tea bag, there is no way of reliably knowing the effect it might have on body weight.

And, to my knowledge, I’m unaware of any scientific evidence that this product can cause fat loss.

If you’re consuming Skinny Boost while also improving your diet and exercising regularly, you may lose body fat but there is no way to know the extent to which the product contributed to your results versus that of diet and exercise alone.

Risks and side effects

If you decide to use Skinny Boost or any other detox tea on the market, it’s important to heed a few prudent safety considerations.

The following potential side effects are NOT guaranteed to happen to you, but I’m providing this as general information so that you can preemptively minimise risk to your personal safety.


Nearly all so-called detox teas on the market, including Skinny Boost, contain diuretic and laxative ingredients (senna leaves in particular) which could plausibly induce diarrhea in some people (and thus contribute to dehydration).

Use the product sparingly in the beginning to see how your body reacts after the first use.

Follow the label instructions and do not use more frequently than indicated.

To minimise risk, monitor your bowel habits and discontinue using the tea if you experience diarrhea.

Likewise, if you experience vomiting, immediately discontinue using the product.

Electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies

If you do experience persistent diarrhea that is not resolving, then the resultant dehydration could contribute to electrolyte imbalances and nutrient deficiencies which could negatively affect your health and well-being.

If you have concerns, discontinue using the product and consult your doctor.

Low blood pressure

The combined laxative and diuretic ingredients promote fecal and fluid loss which can contribute to s reduction in blood pressure.

If you have underlying cardiovascular disease and are taking blood pressure-lowering medications, the tea’s ingredients could compound this effect and send your blood pressure lower than normal (which could make you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or make you faint).

Reduction in contraceptive effectiveness

If you’re NOT planning on getting pregnant, be aware that detox teas containing senna leaves have come under fire for reducing the effectiveness of birth control due to the laxative effect.

Reduction in bowel movements

Detox teas should only be used short term.

Long-term use could result in your body habituating to the laxative which may lead to a reduction in bowel motility (leading to intestinal paralysis, lazy gut, and IBS) and make you dependent on the tea for normal bowel movements.

If you’re having problems with your bowel movements after using the tea, you should consult your doctor for further evaluation.

Weight loss product abuse

Detox teas promote “weight loss” through increased urine and feces excretion.

Some consumers obsessed with quick-fix weight loss products may be at higher risk for abuse.

If you’re the parent of a teen with body image issues, you should pay particular attention to their use of such products.

Skinny Boost pricing

As of this writing, it costs $29.95 USD as a one-off payment for the Skinny Boost Tea Kit.

The Skinny Boost Power Kit bundle costs $42.85 USD.

And the Skinny Boost Combo Kit bundle costs $114.97 USD.

To Skinny Boost’s credit, unlike many other detox teas on the market, the company does not offer a monthly subscription option.

I think this is probably a good thing because I’ve seen countless complaints against other companies for flagrant automated charges even after customers tried to cancel the auto-payments.

Refund policy

Skinny Boost’s return policy seems straightforward. They offer a money-back guarantee if you notify them within 15 days of receipt. You simply email them at to arrange a return authorisation number and the return shipping address.

I scoured through the terms and conditions but did not notice any exclusions or additional requirements.

This is a good thing because other detox tea companies claim that if the product is opened, you can’t return it (which makes no sense because how can you try the product if you don’t open it?).

About the company

Founded by Geneva Grainger, G&G Brands, Inc is the parent company for Skinny Boost Tea, as well as a number of other slimming creams and gadgets.

The publicly available corporate contact information is:
8601 Cobblestone
Austin, TX 78735
Phone: (512) 636-5144

Does Skinny Boost work?

In closing, Skinny Boost is yet another detox tea in a long parade of detox teas all using the same or similar marketing tactics.

In fact, I noticed what appeared to be Skinny Boost directly copy-pasting information from SkinnyFit Tea’s terms and conditions.

In the image below, you can see the identical information (including SkinnyFit’s brand name) on Skinny Boost’s website (as well as a similar product name and colors), which leads me to think that Geneva may have just been following the same sales formula as other teas on the market.

skinny boost plagiarised content
Plagiarized info from SkinnyFit’s website found on Skinny Boost’s site

Whether or not Skinny Boost “works” really depends on your own interpretation of the marketing claims and personal expectations.

The listed claims are ambiguous and suggestive (i.e., “boost metabolism, lose weight” etc) but the company does not appear to provide any objective peer-reviewed evidence to support its claims.

Certain ingredients with a laxative and diuretic effect might result in some temporary urine and fecal weight loss.

But no matter what, to lose fat will still require healthy lifestyle changes that include a nutrient-dense diet and regular physical activity.

The post Skinny Boost Tea 28 Day Detox Review appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

An Open Break-up Letter to Conspiracy Theorists Wed, 30 Sep 2020 08:02:46 +0000 Dear Conspiracy Theorists, It’s over. There. I said it. It’s not me. It’s you. And I mean, it’s REALLY YOU. I wanted to do this face-to-face but there are just …

The post An Open Break-up Letter to Conspiracy Theorists appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

Dear Conspiracy Theorists,

It’s over.

There. I said it.

It’s not me. It’s you.

And I mean, it’s REALLY YOU.

I wanted to do this face-to-face but there are just SOOO many of you conspiracy theorists out there that it would be virtually impossible for me to break up with all of you in-person.

Yes, I know how much you enjoy wasting countless hours of my life trying to convince me that the cabal of shape-shifting extraterrestrial reptilian overlords that rule our not-overheating flat Earth want to fry our vaccinated brains with 5G towers and chemtrails.

Or that the “Wuhan Flu” was cooked up in a lab by “elites” like Bill Gates and George Soros to spark compulsory vaccinations to “inject tracking chips” which can then be “activated” by 5G towers.

But it all makes perfect sense!” you say, as you feverishly scour the internet “doing your own research” to find memes, fringe websites, and YouTube “evidence” to “support” your points.

It’s exhausting when, every time you ask me to “prove” there’s NOT a conspiracy, I provide it to you in the form of scientific-evidence, which you reflexively dismiss and claim only “proves” the conspiracy is real.

Likewise, you think a lack of evidence to disprove the non-existent conspiracy only “proves” its existence 🤦‍♂️.

But the truth is OUT THERE!” you shriek.

You want the truth?

Here’s a truth bomb for you:

The brutally honest truth is, you’ve become an insufferable festering blister on our relationship and you’ve left me no other option but to cut it off like the gangrenous limb it’s become.

how to be a conspiracy theorist

Woke AF

Our separation is probably for the best because I just don’t think I’m “woke AF” enough for you.

You insult me with names like “sheeple” and “New World Order minion” and arrogantly bark out “wakey, wakey!” “do your own research,” “go down the rabbit hole,” “question everything,” “I’m just starting a conversation,” or “I’m just asking the question.” 

But you see, that’s just it.

You don’t have the requisite science training or basic understanding of the issues to be forming the intelligent questions that need to be asked or starting the conversations that need to be started.

Last I checked, you didn’t learn one bee’s dick worth of microbiology or immunology at cosmetology school.

So no, you don’t get a seat at the adults table.

Do Your Own Research
“Do your own research”

You don’t know what you don’t know

You’re obnoxiously overconfident about your knowledge of the world and what (you think) is “really going on” (you know, because you’re woke AF, n stuff).

But the #irony is that you don’t know shit about much and you remain blissfully ignorant to your own ignorance.

And this has a name: the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Those with little actual knowledge about a topic tend to be overconfident in their abilities and “think” they know a lot more than they actually do (i.e., high confidence despite low knowledge).

On the other hand, actual subject matter experts that actually DO know a LOT about a topic remain humbly aware of the limits of their knowledge, and they reach out to other specialists to help them understand complex subjects beyond their expertise.

The tyranny of this whole thing is that it’s a vicious self-perpetuating cycle.

The more ignorant you are (and confident in your beliefs), the more you try to push your conspiracy theories.

And the more you rightfully get called out, the more it reinforces your belief in the said conspiracy.

Echo chambers and bubbles

It really breaks my heart that it’s come to this because deep down I think you’re a good person with good intentions.

But that doesn’t make you any less wrong.

You’ve really changed for the worse since you started spending inordinate amounts of time in the echo chambers of anti-vaccine and 5G Facebook groups.

See, what you might not know is that the more time you spend clicking around your favourite conspiracy pages on social media, the more the networks’ built-in algorithms feed you a steady diet of similar false and misleading information.

Savvy advertisers who want to make a buck off your ignorance can micro-target you based on which pages and groups you visit.

You’re literally stuck in an alternate reality bubble and you don’t even see it. In fact, by design, you CAN’T see it.

Woke AF? 

No, more like asleep AF. Wakey wakey!

Hypocrisy theories

You’re also a hypocrite.  

You tell me to “question everything,” yet not once have you ever bothered to reflect on and question your own bullshit theories.

You spend hours questioning science-based evidence, yet you won’t spend five minutes source and fact checking the conspiracy videos and memes you LOVE to share.

You bash scientists as “know-nothing, inept shills for the new world order,” which is a bit rich coming from you since you don’t know shit about science.


And I don’t mean “Wow, That’s Fun!”

In fact, it has been anything BUT fun. 

It’s been mentally exhausting. And you’re only adding to the big disinformation turd clogging the pipes of rational, evidence-based public discourse, which has left us all neck deep in bullshit.

Thing is, I really don’t care if you screw yourself but, if you think I’m going to idly stand by and let you screw the rest of the world with unfounded bullshit, well, I’m going to have something to say about that.

Paradoxes and contradictions

The paradox of your entire argument is that:

  1. The trained experts are “inept, hopeless know-nothings” and yet, by your logic; 
  2. These same “inept, hopeless know-nothings” are also brilliant masters of manipulation capable of expertly coordinating inordinate numbers of government, corporate, and private employees in a global conspiracy to subjugate the masses to their sinister will.

Don’t you think you’re giving them far too much credit? 

No, I’m serious.

It’s not a rhetorical question. 

Answer it. 

How can so many “idiot” conspirators pull this off if they’re so stupid?

Conspiracies are good business

Is there a conspiracy? 

Yes, but you’re the butt of the joke.

Conspiracies are good business and they need gullible, non-critical non-thinkers like you to keep their cash cow well fed.

The easiest thing in the world is to snip video clips and quotes out of context, create a fear- or anger-stoking meme, and spoon feed it to you by social media targeting.

Alex Jones, the American conspiracy theorist who claimed the Sandy Hook school massacre was an “inside job” and then blamed it on his psychosis, was ordered to stop selling a bogus silver cure for coronavirus.

Britain’s David Icke, who maintains that a cabal of alien lizard people rule the world, has expertly leveraged and capitalised on the coronavirus pandemic.

And Australia’s Pandemic Pete Evans has repeatedly posted all sorts of batshit crazy theories on social media about coronavirus, 5G, and activated almonds – Damn you Pete, why did you have to drag almonds into this?!

Like many other promoters of conspiracy theories, Pete likes to beat the “follow the money” drum and claim that his critics are all motivated by profit.

But whatever you do, don’t look at Pete’s own conflicts of interest, including spruiking an unproven device to treat coronavirus for about $15,000 AUD each. 

He was promptly and justifiably fined $25,000 AUD by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for promoting the gadget to his social media following.

The realms of “possibility”

Many times I’ve heard you say, “…yeah, but isn’t it ‘possible’ that <insert conspiracy theory here>?

My short answer is no, but let’s expand on this topic a bit.

Sure there’s a remote, infinitesimally small 0.00000001% possibility that the Queen of England shagged a giraffe in the Botswanan Embassy in London and later gave birth to what is now publicly known as Prince Charles. 

It’s ‘possible,’ but not likely.


In a word: evidence – or lack thereof.

Because any asshole on the planet can say whatever the f*ck he wants, whether it’s true, false, or just batshit crazy.

Granted, I’ll concede that Prince Charles has a sort of giraffesque je-ne-sais-quoi, but any rational, level-headed person would probably chalk it up to an uncanny coincidence rather than the cause and effect result of the Queen Mum shagging a… well, you know what I mean.

You with me? 


Let me give you a more personal example so this makes more sense to you.

Say someone in your local mommy anti-vaccine group on Facebook accuses you of abusing your children.

The allegations are false and there is no evidence AT ALL to support them.

You react and instinctively shout back in capital letters:  “THERE’S NO PROOF I BEAT MY CHILDREN!”

Your argument is quickly countered with “THERE’S NO PROOF YOU DON’T BEAT YOUR CHILDREN!”

You plead with your fellow Facebook citizens in the virtual town square, “Please, you HAVE to believe me! I’m innocent of these accusations.” 

But the more you plead your innocence, the more they’re not having it.

“Ahhh yeah, likely story! Look at those crocodile tears! All guilty people claim they’re innocent!”

The point is, the onus is on the accuser to provide credible, independent, objectively verifiable evidence that corroborates the accusations, NOT on you to have to waste your time trying to prove you’re not a child abuser.

This is exactly how rational people feel trying to field your rapid-fire shock and awe conspiracy theories pinballing all over the place.

With you, it’s always the carnival shell game with the truth and it’s virtually impossible to keep up.

Before I’ve even had a chance to catch my breath, you’ve already moved onto the next conspiracy du jour.

You don’t “believe in science”

You say things like, “Well, I don’t care what the science says. I don’t believe in science.”

And that’s just it. Science is not something you “believe in” or not. It’s not a religion.

Science is a slow, careful, systematic, and methodical way of observing nature, unlike conspiracy theories which are haphazard, quickly snowball out of control, and travel at the speed of Wi-Fi.

Science and Magical Thinking
Super Simple Science Explanation

But whether or not you “believe in science,” your ignorance to it can still kill you just the same.

Virginia Pastor Gerald O. Glenn, who ignored social distancing warnings and vowed to keep preaching “unless I’m in jail or the hospital,” died of COVID-19 after holding church services.

In Texas, a 30-year-old man who thought coronavirus was just a big hoax contracted the virus and died after attending a “COVID party.”

And if the “hoax” virus doesn’t kill you, you can still end up with permanent lung damage.

Yes, I know how you love to bitch and moan that “wearing a mask tramples on your constitutional rights,” but given the nature and urgency of the pandemic, wearing a mask is a social responsibility that can help control the outbreak and let you get back to your hairdresser sooner.

The science behind conspiracy theories

But why is it that you believe all these batshit crazy conspiracy theories?

Science – that thing you don’t “believe in” – has answers.

Since you lost your job and have had a little too much time on your hands, you’ve really had it in for the “elites” that you feel have screwed you.

Moulding et al. (2016) found that variables related to alienation – isolation, powerlessness, normlessness, and disengagement from social norms – correlated with belief in conspiracy theories.

Research by Lantian et al. (2017) found a correlation between the ‘need for uniqueness’ and a belief in conspiracy theories.

…people high in need for uniqueness should be more likely than others to endorse conspiracy beliefs because conspiracy theories represent the possession of unconventional and potentially scarce information.

Moreover, conspiracy theories rely on narratives that refer to secret knowledge (Mason, 2002) or information, which, by definition, is not accessible to everyone, otherwise it would not be a secret and it would be a well-known fact.

People who believe in conspiracy theories can feel “special,” in a positive sense, because they may feel that they are more informed than others about important social and political events.

–Social Psychology (2017), 48(3), 160–173

In terms of cognitive processes, they found that:

…people with stronger conspiracy beliefs are more likely to overestimate the likelihood of co-occurring events, to attribute intentionality where it is unlikely to exist, and to have lower levels of analytic thinking.

–Social Psychology (2017), 48(3), 160–173

Finally, arrogance and a grandiose sense of self-importance is associated with belief in conspiracy theories.

Our findings can also be connected to recent research demonstrating that individual narcissism, or a grandiose idea of the self, is positively related to belief in conspiracy theories. Interestingly, Cichocka et al. (2016) found that paranoid thought mediates the relationship between individual narcissism and conspiracy beliefs.

–Social Psychology (2017), 48(3), 160–173

For the disenfranchised, social media conspiracy groups allow for a sense of belonging and commiseration over a shared distrust of “the man” and his “master agenda.”

The end

Is this what we’ve become?

Is this the final culmination of the 1990s Beavis and Butt-head experiment where being foolish and ignorant are “woke AF?” 

Was the 2006 movie Idiocracy – where they watered crops with Gatorade and wondered why they weren’t growing – actually a crystal ball-gazing documentary that predicted the present Dumbfukistan of gullibility in which we’re currently living?

I’m sure none of this is registering for you and you probably think (ironically) that I “can’t be helped.”

But I’m not trying to convince you because I don’t think there’s hope for you.

My only true hope is that others sitting on the fence, who are confused and unsure what to believe, might read this letter and it will help guide them down a path of sanity and rational thinking.

Maybe I’ll see you ’round… but hopefully not.

Open break-up letter to conspiracy theorists
Save to Pinterest

The post An Open Break-up Letter to Conspiracy Theorists appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

]]> 37
What Does “Clinically Proven” Mean in Advertising? Tue, 29 Sep 2020 06:06:19 +0000 Clinically proven! You've seen it plastered across health products, but wait! What the heck does "clinically proven" actually mean anyway?

The post What Does “Clinically Proven” Mean in Advertising? appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

Clinically proven!

We’ve all seen it plastered across health products and strategically peppered through advertisements and marketing scripts.

Just the other day, I saw an advertisement on television for a metabolism booster pill which claimed to be “clinically proven” to work.

But wait! What the heck DOES “clinically proven” actually mean anyway?

There are a number of aspects to consider in answering this question, so I’ll list them out point by point.

“Clinically proven” definition

First and foremost, within the realm of health product advertising, there is no official definition or regulation of the terms “clinically proven.”

This can mean different things to different people and is often used by marketers to give a deceptive stamp of approval to a product which, in many cases, has no legitimate scientific evidence to support its efficacy.

Clinically proven? Says who?

When they say “clinically proven,” your first question should be, “oh yeah, says who?”

It is possible the company selling the supplement, infomercial ab gadget, or balance device did a poorly controlled “study” where they had people try the product and then tell the company about their results.

While this seems logical enough, it does not constitute legitimate research.

Real research requires very careful and meticulous planning, experimental design, strict methods, statistical analyses, and interpretation in order to ascertain if, in fact, any results were due to the intervention (i.e., the supplement or exercise).

Two random examples (click images to expand):

clinically proven
Misuse and abuse of “clinically proven”
Clinically proven bullshit
Example of “clinically proven” in deceptive advertising

Also check out my Wonder Core Smart article and you’ll see how they ambiguously cite “university lab testing” but provide no details to corroborate this.

Clinically proven in a research context

Research must be put into context.  Real research must be carefully interpreted and applied to different life situations (i.e., is it relevant?).

For example, a study which used a VERY large dose of a dietary supplement to elicit relatively small reductions in body fat in morbidly obese middle-aged women living in a metabolic ward is VERY different from an 18 year old athletic male university student taking one-tenth the dosage of the same supplement.

The reason you can’t compare the two is because a morbidly obese middle-aged woman living in a metabolic ward is going to have a very different physiological response than a young, healthy, fit male university student.

Then consider the experimental dosage.

The women in the study used a large dose where the university student used only a fraction of the dose. 

It’s the same thing as taking 800mg vs. 8mg of ibuprofen for a headache. 

You expect the 800mg to do something but, in all honesty, you don’t expect a Pink Floyd laser light show from the 8mg.

Were the results published in a journal?  

Scientists often prefer to see the results of studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

What does this mean in practical terms? 

It means that the study and all its methods, results, and discussion have been reviewed by experts (peers) in the respective area of research under which that study falls.

These experts systematically dismantle the study, rake it over the proverbial coals, and try to blow holes in it, find weaknesses, and expose it for junk science.

If it survives that, then it is accepted for publication (usually with suggested revisions).

The value of this process is that it shows the scientists conducting the research have been rigorous in their experimental protocols and that the research is worthy.

Research that isn’t worth its salt

Sometimes research is conducted but it never appears in a peer-reviewed journal.

There are a number of reasons for this but, in many cases, the work WAS submitted but was not worthy of publication. 

Other times the research is not submitted for review at all because the scientists know it isn’t up to scratch.

Unregulated jargon

As I said above, there is absolutely ZERO regulation of the terms “clinically proven” so marketers have a number of options for hoodwinking the general public.

Marketers can cite junk science which isn’t worth the paper upon which it’s written. 

This is when they do an impromptu survey of their “satisfied” users and ask them for their subjective opinions.

There are no experimental controls so we have no real way of knowing the “results” were from the product or other uncontrolled factors (i.e., they started eating less and exercising more).

They cite legitimate peer-reviewed research but it is completely irrelevant or a major stretch to the product for sale. 

As stated above, they cite research from morbidly obese women but they’re marketing it to young athletic men.

They cite a single study which may relate to their product but it has methodological flaws. 

Usually limitations are mentioned in the study regarding the real life applicability of the results, but companies looking to make a buck often fail to disclose these limitations.  Not very ethical.

They cite a single study which might have solid methods and is published in a high quality peer-reviewed journal. 

However, one single study is not a conclusive body of evidence to go and make sweeping claims that something is “proven” to work.

Responsible scientists like to see a number of studies using different dosages across different populations in order to get some sort of scope on the relative effectiveness of a product.

The bottom line

In closing, it is very much a case of buyer beware.

“Sciencey” jargon might sound all flashy but when it comes to making a buck, you have to switch on your bullsh*t detector and do your own investigation. 

Trust your instincts.  If a pill, potion, or gadget seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

The post What Does “Clinically Proven” Mean in Advertising? appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

]]> 8
Is Fruit Sugar Bad For You? Sun, 27 Sep 2020 06:16:39 +0000 “Can I eat fruit?”  “Will fruit sugar make me fat?”  “I’m on a low carb diet so I cut out fruit because it’s fattening.”   I hear questions and comments …

The post Is Fruit Sugar Bad For You? appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

“Can I eat fruit?”  “Will fruit sugar make me fat?”  “I’m on a low carb diet so I cut out fruit because it’s fattening.”  

I hear questions and comments like these on a regular basis during consults.

Carbohysteria” has gripped the world and created so much anxiety around food that people are confused about which foods are “good” and which are “bad.”

Fruit sugar is not bad for you (and won’t kill you)

To put you at ease, rest assured, you can eat fruit and it will not kill you or make you unhealthy. Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Fruit contains fructose commonly referred to as fruit sugar.

Enter the food industry chemists.

They’ve found creative and clever ways to refine fructose from its natural sources and pack it into very concentrated forms in junk foods like colas, candies, and ice cream.

This means lots of calories and minimal nutrition packed into small packages.

Unfortunately, the message the public is getting is that all fructose is created equal and will ultimate make you fat in any dose – including naturally occurring fructose found in fruit.

Fruit’s wholesome goodness

It’s important to remember that fruit is packed with much more wholesome nutritional goodness than a candy bar.

Fruit has volume and bulk in the form of water and fibre, not to mention it provides you with valuable vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (i.e., plant pigments that give the food its colour and also have health-promoting properties).

Also remember that fruit’s digestive profile in the body is different than refined junk food.

Fruit, because it’s in its natural whole food state, will take your body a bit more work to break it down, leaving you feeling fuller for longer and less likely to overeat.

The candy bar, on the other hand, is mostly refined sugar and passes through you much quicker (i.e., the hard digestive work has been done), leaving you feeling less satisfied and more likely to reach for the next cola or candy bar.

Orange vs. Snickers bar nutrition cage fight

To illustrate, let’s compare nutrition labels between a navel orange and Snickers bar.

Snickers label

To be fair and keep the comparison realistic, I will adjust the navel orange’s weight to the same amount as the Snicker’s bar (58.7)

A side by side comparison (below) shows that per equal weight, the Snickers bar has nearly 10 times the amount of calories as the orange (280 vs. 29 calories, respectively), with most of these calories comprised of fat (126 cal) and refined sugar (120 cal).

 Navel OrangeSnickers Bar
Weight58.7 g58.7 g
Total fat0.1 g14
Saturated fat0 g5 g
Cholesterol0 mg5 mg
Sodium0.6140 mg
Potassium97 mgNot provided
Total Carb7.6 g35 g
Dietary Fibre1.3 g1 g
Sugar4.7 g30 g
Protein 0.5 g4 g
Vit A2.3%0%
Vit C58%0%

The orange, on the other hand, has virtually no fat calories and about 18 calories from fruit sugar. Not only that, you get plenty of vitamin C to stave off scurvy (argh, ye limeys!).

So you can see that, theoretically, even if you were to gorge yourself on navel oranges, you’d still have a hard time getting close to the equivalent calorie or refined sugar load as the Snickers bar.

And for all the sugar phobes reading this, the 4.7 grams of naturally occurring fructose is so small (not to mention digested and released slower) that it is highly improbably it would do you any harm.

In the obesity game, if you were to eat two (2) Snickers bars per day over the course of a month, you will have eaten the equivalent energy stored in 2 kilograms (4.5 lbs) of body fat.

Snickers loses this match based on a very high calorie density with little redeeming nutritive value.

Moral of the story: eat fruit….or throw it at the person who keeps telling you it’ll make your ass bigger than a bus!

The post Is Fruit Sugar Bad For You? appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

]]> 4
How Much Body Fat Should I Have? Sun, 27 Sep 2020 06:15:51 +0000 I’ve run a LOT of DEXA body fat scans during my health career, but even with a trained eye, I can guarantee you can’t always tell who’s fit or fat just …

The post How Much Body Fat Should I Have? appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

I’ve run a LOT of DEXA body fat scans during my health career, but even with a trained eye, I can guarantee you can’t always tell who’s fit or fat just by eyeing up the person.

Some people appear to have a lot of fat when, in fact, their fat percentage is low and they carry a lot of muscle.  

Others look skinny but actually carry a lot of fat and little muscle.

dexa scan body composition body fat

The DEXA comparison image shows a man with a lot of muscle and very little subcutaneous fat and a woman who carries comparatively more fat and less muscle.

I get looks of despair when people find out their percentage is higher than they thought and tears of joy when lower than expected.  

However, body composition results need to be properly interpreted and put into context for each individual.

Please read my article on fat mass index which sheds light on this common misunderstanding.

What is a “normal” body fat percentage anyway?

I don’t like drawing a dichotomous line in the sand when it comes to so-called “norms” charts.  

I think it’s important that people understand they’re only a general guideline and that what’s too much or too little for one person may be different for the next.

Whether a woman is 30.9% (“acceptable”) or 31.1% (“overweight”), the difference is purely academic and she probably won’t look much different (or suffer a massive heart attack) with the extra 0.2 percent pushing her into the next classification.

How much is too much fat?

Clients often ask me if they have too much body fat.  My answer to this question is always the same: too much fat for what?

The question must be further qualified by asking WHY their body fat percent is important to them.

  1. Are they focused on their body composition and its relationship to health problems?
  2. Or are they only concerned about aesthetics and wanting to look like a ripped fitness model?

How does fat relate to health?

Excessive fat is associated with many health problems including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  

However, our understanding of body fat has evolved over the years and we now understand that it’s not always the total amount of body fat but where it’s located on your body.

Visceral fat refers to the deep belly fat inside your abdomen which wraps around your organs and secretes substances into the bloodstream known as cytokines.  

There are many different types of cytokines and they exert a variety of effects such as blood vessel constriction (high blood pressure) or inflammation which can contribute to the development of both diabetes and heart disease.

How much visceral fat can I have before it causes health problems?

Research has demonstrated that when we look across the population and stuff everyone under the bell curve, a visceral fat area ranging from 10 to 100 cm² is considered normal and at around 100 cm² the risk for heart and metabolic problems begins to increase.

I think it’s important to note that the visceral fat threshold for the onset of disease will vary from person to person.  

For example, a man with a strong family history of early-onset heart attacks on the male side of his family might have a lower individual visceral fat threshold of, say, 80 cm².  

On the other hand, a woman with the longevity gene and a pack a day cigarette habit could plausibly have a threshold of 130 cm².

Fat distribution: apple versus pear body shape and health risk

We tend to associate an apple-shaped body (more central fat) with health risk and a pear-shaped body (more hip and thigh fat) with a comparatively lower risk.

However, a study out of UC Davis suggests that lower body fat is associated with an increase in cytokines linked to the development of heart disease and diabetes.  

This is just a single small study and would still need to be corroborated by more trials which can establish a cause and effect relationship between lower body fat and health risk.

Low body fat, aesthetics, and public perception  

I’ve seen DEXA reports on women with 20% body fat and a visceral fat area of 20 cm².  

These were fit women who exercised daily, didn’t smoke, drank little alcohol, and were careful with their diets.  

Yet no matter how much I reassured them, they were convinced their body fat percentage was too high and they were determined to get down to 15%.

This raises questions about the battle between body fat, aesthetics, health, and the role the media and advertising play in distorted body images.  

The nonstop barrage of subliminal “thin is in” and “nobody will love you unless you’re perfect” health messages have created a disconnect between what ACTUALLY constitutes a healthy fat percentage and what people THINK is a healthy fat percentage.  

How low is too low for body fat percentage?

So how low can your body fat go before it causes problems?  

As with visceral fat, the low-end threshold at which your body fat is “too low” is different for everyone.  

I would say that, for women, when body fat percentages approach the low teens, or for men down in the single digits, then it’s time to pay attention to any changes in your body’s physiology, such as a loss of menstrual cycle, or feeling tired, getting sick more frequently.

Don’t forget, fat is your friend 

Despite all the bad press it receives, fat is important for our survival and normal biological functions.  

Don’t get too hung up on norm charts and don’t compare yourself to the models on the covers of fitness magazines.  

Assume a more health-focused perspective and work on keeping your visceral fat levels to a minimum.  

And remember, body fat is only a single biomarker and other lifestyle factors such as exercise, diet, smoking, and stress must be taken into consideration.

The post How Much Body Fat Should I Have? appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

]]> 14
37 Bullshit Health Marketing Phrases You Should Ignore Sat, 26 Sep 2020 11:46:38 +0000 “Clean eating!” “Detox!” “Get the body of your dreams in only five minutes a day!” Sound familiar?  Yep, that’s health marketing in action… and it’s all bullshit.  The truth is, …

The post 37 Bullshit Health Marketing Phrases You Should Ignore appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

Clean eating!” “Detox!” “Get the body of your dreams in only five minutes a day!”

Sound familiar? 

Yep, that’s health marketing in action… and it’s all bullshit. 

The truth is, marketing is meant to do one thing: sell products and services. Period. The business is money and the storefront is health, fitness, nutrition, wellness, or whatever.

But sometimes the truth gets in the way of a good sales pitch, so marketers craft health claims full of word salad, ambiguity, and nuance that may be technically “true,” but are often deceptive or downright false.

In fact, if the so-called “health industry” had to be 100% truthful and transparent in its marketing claims, it simply wouldn’t be effective in peddling its wares. The fact that the industry can’t or won’t be honest in most cases only underscores a dubious intent.

Sure, I understand there are genuinely good people out there with good intentions unwittingly promoting pseudoscience (particularly those selling multi-level marketing nutrition products). But they’re usually just inadvertent pawns parroting out their pre-packaged marketing script. 

With this in mind, I pulled together a list of some of the most pernicious and pervasive bullshit health marketing claims you’re likely to encounter.

Each one is broken down as follows:

  • Claim: The word or phrase used in health marketing messages.
  • Translation: What marketers would really say if they had to be brutally honest with the public.
  • Reality check: Some common sense advice which explains why you shouldn’t trust the claim.

So next time you’re browsing the internet or social media and you come across these red flags, you’ll know to hold onto your wallet.

Clinically proven!

Clinically proven

Translation: Not clinically proven to do anything. We lifted a bunch of statistics from legitimate research articles and then misinterpreted and slanted the findings to meet our marketing objectives. We know you’re scientifically illiterate so won’t be able to fact check us. 

Reality check: Buyer beware. The phrase “clinically proven” is not a regulated term and can pretty much mean anything to anyone. It is not uncommon for health marketers to take legitimate research published in medical journals out of context and rewrite it to fit their marketing objectives. In the case of Laminine, the company provides a list of peer-reviewed journal articles that, in actual fact, have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with their product (which has not been tested against the claims they make).

Get insert goal in just five minutes a day!

Translation: We know you won’t get jack shit in “five minutes a day,” and certainly not six-pack abs. We know you’re lazy and desperate for a quick and easy fix. And if you’re gullible enough to fall for it, then you deserve to lose your money.

Reality check: “Five minutes a day” is an old favourite of virtually every infomercial. This claim is designed to hammer away on all your pain points. Marketers know exercise and changing eating habits are difficult, so they pander to lazy human nature. It’s a formulaic script that marketers recycle over and over with every new product. Check out my reviews on the Ab Circle Pro, Ab Wave, Wonder Core, and SpinGym and you’ll see the commonalities. 

No effort required! Quick and easy!

Translation: Regular, repeated, disciplined effort required. We know that you can’t do nothing and get the body of your dreams, but it sounds believable when paired up with a svelte fitness model who’s never actually used our product. 

Reality check: There are no quick-fixes on the path to health. If it was easy to get fit and healthy, we wouldn’t have a global obesity problem. Everyone is looking for the golden unicorn of health, but the reality is that it takes hard work and discipline to make lasting healthy habit changes. 

Detox, cellular detox, detoxify, removes toxins

Translation: We’re just bullshitting you into thinking your body is polluted with toxins (which we can’t name because they don’t exist) and then conveniently selling you a detox” tea loaded with laxatives and diuretics or a potentially dangerous “colonic.” We’ve paid off armies of plastic duck-faced Instagram “influencers” to parrot our marketing messages to help lower your skepticism. Product is effective at removing cash from your bank account.

Reality check: “Detox” is a medical term hijacked by health marketers to scare people into buying their products. In an article on Science-Based Medicine, Scott Gavura eloquently provides a real definition for detox:

“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. Drugs used for real detoxification are not ingredients in a smoothie.

In virtually every case, the companies never specifically name any toxins. Provided you have a working liver and kidneys, then you’ve got all the natural detox fire power you need. And if you truly do have toxins in you that need removing, then you’re going to need a heck of a lot more than a “detox” tea.

Cleanse or The Insert random food Cleanse

Translation: We want you to think that life is a filthy cesspool. Then we’ll sell you a product to “cleanse” you but, in actual fact, just cleanses your wallet.

Reality check: Proponents of “cleansing” diets or pills fail to advise which toxins/nasties are cleansed from the body after undertaking the diet. These diets are often extreme. Think no wheat, caffeine, sugar, dairy, alcohol, meat etc. There is no evidence that you need to follow such a diet to improve your health. By all means, eat mostly whole foods and reduce your intake of booze, added sugar, and refined grains if you want to improve your health. But there’s no need to “cleanse” your system to achieve good health. The only thing you’ll cleanse on a “cleanse” diet is your… bank balance.

Contributed by Joel Feren, Accredited Practising Dietitian


Translation: We’ll claim our “wellness” product or service is designed to gently and easily “rebalance your body” and “bring you into alignment” just as Mother Nature intended.  We’ll fool you into thinking it’s “working” by making nebulous marketing claims that are ill-defined and difficult to prove.

Reality check: “Wellness” is a blanket term that, much like “clinically proven,” doesn’t really mean anything. It has no official definition and can mean many different things to different people. When you come across this term, ask the person selling the “wellness” product or service to be specific about what benefits can be expected and what research substantiates those claims.

Contributed by Joe Cannon, MS, CSCS, Strength and Conditioning Specialist


Translation: Something to lull you into thinking our product or service will help you reach some sort of ambiguously defined “optimal” level of health.

Reality check: For a person with a case of the daily blahs, taking a miracle supplement sold on the promise of delivering “optimal” health can be very appealing. The word “optimal” within a health marketing context is generally meaningless and subjectively defined. Optimal what? Optimal compared to what? Optimal according to whom? Optimal by what/whose standards?

All natural

Translation: We want you to think that because it’s “natural” it must be safer, healthier, gentler, or whatever other adjective gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling and makes you loosen your grip on your wallet.

Reality check: Natural does not always mean safer or better than a “non-natural” counterpart. In fact, sometimes natural remedies like herbal supplements can actually be more dangerous and unpredictable than a supplement with isolated ingredients.

For example, ma huang is an herbal supplement that contains ephedra alkaloids – kinda like herbal methamphetamine. In the 1990s, it was aggressively marketed to consumers with claims of being “safe and all natural” but when the dead bodies started stacking up, the feds intervened and banned it.

Thanks to the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, a law sponsored by the supplement industry, supplements are not regulated and manufacturers do not have to prove that the product is safe, effective, pure, or that the potency listed on the label is what’s in the product – as long as it’s labeled a “supplement.” 

In the case of ephedra, overweight people with cardiovascular risk factors were taking the product and, in some cases, getting batches with very LARGE concentrations of active ephedra alkaloids. This sent their heart rates and blood pressures skyrocketing which precipitated heart attacks and strokes.

Bottom line: “all natural” in the context of health marketing should be taken with a grain of salt and put into context. There are lots of “natural” substances out there, like snake venom, arsenic, and anthrax, but that doesn’t mean you want them in your body.

Alkaline foods, water, diet

Translation: We know you know nothing about basic human physiology. We’ll bullshit you into giving up the burgers and chips in exchange for a healthier diet which will make you lose weight and feel better. You’ll then erroneously ascribe all benefits to the diet’s alkalinity. We’ve also bullshitted enough ignorant Hollywood actors and Instagram influencers into promoting it in order to give it a veil of legitimacy.

Reality check: Your body’s blood pH hovers within a very tight range (around 7.35 to 7.45). If it drifts too far outside this range you’ll end up sick or possibly dead (think diabetic ketoacidosis). Your stomach’s pH is extremely acidic, around 3.5 or below, which helps you break down food (which is neutralised by bicarbonate from your pancreas). And your urine’s pH will vary a bit depending on what you eat. 

Proponents of the alkaline theory of health claim that what you eat affects your body’s pH and can either precipitate or protect against disease. Truth is, what you eat doesn’t really affect your blood pH at all.

Fruits and vegetables are cornerstones of an alkaline diet, and improvements in body weight and health are more to do with better nutrition than the diet’s pH levels.

Adrenal fatigue

Translation: Your adrenal glands are working just fine. But if we convince you they’re “fatigued” then you’re more likely to buy our supplements and tests. 

Reality check: The adrenal fatigue myth has been repeated so many times over the years that it’s almost accepted as universally true. But the problem with manufactured illnesses like adrenal fatigue is that if something truly IS wrong, then you may delay or forego proper diagnosis and treatment for very real illnesses like cancer, heart disease, or depression. 

Results from a comprehensive 2016 systematic review found that many of the studies conducted on adrenal fatigue as a clinical entity were fraught with conflicting results due to methodological errors and inappropriate or invalid conclusions based on the data presented. The authors concluded that there is no legitimate scientific substantiation of “adrenal fatigue.” 

Yes, you might be overworked, stressed out, eating poorly, not exercising, and mainlining a gallon of coffee every day but, chances are, there’s nothing wrong with your adrenal glands. The general recommendations for “fixing” adrenal fatigue are to manage stress, find a work-life balance, eat better, exercise, and cut out all the stimulants – all of which is good advice for anyone whether you have “adrenal fatigue” or not.

Leaky gut syndrome

Translation: Your gut is just fine, but that won’t stop us from selling you our sham tests, fad diets, or supplements to correct what isn’t broken in the first place.

Reality check: There is no quality scientific evidence to support the existence of so-called leaky gut syndrome. According to the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, promoters of the leaky gut syndrome claim that “toxins” and bacteria enter your bloodstream through “leaks” in your intestines which supposedly cause a range of symptoms like bloating, gas, cramps, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, moodiness, irritability, sleeplessness, autism, and skin problems like eczema and psoriasis.

The problem with a “diagnosis” of leaky gut syndrome is that the symptoms are so disparate and wide-ranging that they could apply to virtually anything. If you do have a serious health issue, then it could plausibly be worsened by delaying proper diagnosis and treatment in favour of an unproven “treatment” for a “disease” that doesn’t exist in the first place. If you’re having legitimate problems with your gut, then your first port of call should be your doctor. 

Heal your gut

Translation: First, we’ll convince you there’s something wrong with your gut (“leaky gut syndrome” oh my!) and then we’ll sell you something to “heal your gut.”

Reality check: “This implies that anyone with the vaguest gut symptom actually has gut damage and that is just not the case. The benefits claimed by those who follow so-called “gut healing” regimes are based on anecdotal evidence at best. Bone broth is a great example and could even be harmful – there are concerns about potential lead contamination in bone broth. Plus that, don’t pay $30 a packet when you could just make what most of us call “stock” at home and add veggies and legumes – these will do more for your gut health than bone broth!”

Contributed by Dr Joanna McMillan, Accredited Practising Dietitian

Secrets or cures “they” don’t want you to know

Deceptive Marketing Kevin Trudeau Natural Cures

Translation: “They” don’t have any secrets, but my marketing secret is I’m telling you there’s a secret “they” don’t want you to know so you’ll buy my bullshit diet book full of fake cures. 

Reality check: More like bullshit marketing fluff that marketers don’t want you to know. This sort of faux exclusivity gimmick was popularised by the self-promotional king of psychopathic narcissism himself, Kevin Trudeau, a convicted TV conman who sold a series of products which touted “weight loss cures” and “natural cures” that “they” (whoever “they” are) don’t want you to know. The truth is, Trudeau has no health qualifications whatsoever, but he does boast a very long history of deception and fraud dating back to 1984. True to his nature, he refused to pay $40 million in fines and violated numerous court orders not to make false claims. In 2014, Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

Big pharma conspiracy, shills!

Big Pharma Shills

Translation: We fabricate “enemies” and push the “us vs. them” narrative to deflect attention from the fact that our supplements are unregulated and do not have to be proven safe, effective, pure, or that the potency listed on the label is what’s in the product. 

Reality check: Health marketers have been claiming with no proof that there is a secret “big pharma” cabal run by “shills” trying to keep people sick for profit (i.e., “they” have the cure for cancer but are withholding it for profit). 

Let’s be clear, “big pharma” certainly isn’t run by boy scouts, but to arbitrarily demonise the entire pharmaceutical industry and claim “they” are out to keep people sick is naive and misinformed. The pharmaceutical industry is subject to an immense amount of regulation and scrutiny, unlike dietary supplements which are virtually unregulated thanks to the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act discussed earlier in this article. 

The Insert random food name Diet

Translation:  We got drunk, picked random food names out of a hat, and wrote up the Taco Cleanse Diet on the back of a napkin. It was an easy sell because, you know, people are stupid and pretty much believe anything on the internet that looks “science-y.”

Reality check: The scientific jury has met and passed judgement on of all these diets and the verdict is damming. There is no magical, fat-burning, pixie dust, next-level metabolic pathway to be had on any of them – they all work by causing an energy deficit be restricting certain foods or macronutrients with carbohydrates the perennial favourite to be hating on. The biggest predictor of maintaining weight loss on any approach is sticking to whatever diet you can sustain and getting ongoing help and support. Few people can do this no matter what the approach they use which is why there are always new diets coming out to rehash the same principle. So instead focus on eating better to start with – mostly plants, not too much sugar, and food that you prepare yourself.

Contributed by Dr Tim Crowe, Nutrition Scientist

Cures cancer

Black Salve Cancer Cure Photo

Translation: Doesn’t cure cancer. Just empties your bank accounts and retirement funds and leads to certain death for many cancers which can be treated with conventional medicine. If it did work, cancer would have been eradicated by now (and you certainly wouldn’t have learned about it from a YouTube video).

Reality check: Fake cancer cures have been around for a long time, but the problem is that many “cures” simply do not work. They do, however, cause people to delay getting a timely diagnosis or stop treatment altogether which can lead to progression of the disease. 

A common “cancer cure” is black salve which is popular on social media and online message boards, but usually just leaves people permanently disfigured and does not halt progression of cancer. 

Weight loss shakes

Translation: Starve yourself and then drink one of our chalky low calorie shakes. You will lose weight because, well, that’s what happens when you starve yourself.

Reality check: “I was quietly hoping the shake craze would have died a slow death some years ago. However, weight loss shakes appear to have stood the test of time. Meal replacement shakes do not teach you what to eat in the long term and they certainly don’t help you foster a healthy relationship with food. They are just another short term fix. And a pretty tasteless and boring one at that!”

Contributed by Joel Feren, Accredited Practising Dietitian

“Good” foods vs “bad” foods or “guilt-free”

Good versus bad foods

Translation: We draw lines in the sand, label everything as “good” or “bad,” and then guilt you into taking a certain action (i.e., buy our diet, click on our article, watch our video).

Reality check: Divide and conquer is a political strategy that has been used for millennia. By creating a perceived, albeit false, dichotomy of good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, and us vs. them, people will automatically judge themselves as being “good” or “bad” and then look to the authority figure for the “solution.”

Marketers have leveraged this tactic to great advantage but, in actual fact, it’s all bullshit. The mindset of “good” vs. “bad” can create a toxic relationship with food, exercise, or any other health parameter in some people. By this logic, living a healthy lifestyle is a complete failure if you eat a “bad” food or do a “wrong” exercise. 

A more sensible approach is to live a balanced lifestyle that includes lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, physical activity, reduced stress, adequate sleep, moderate alcohol intake, and no smoking (there is no safe level of smoking). If you happen to eat a so-called “bad” treat like birthday cake or ice cream, you know what will happen to you? Absolutely nothing. It just makes you a normal person, not a terrible person.

Clean eating

Translation: If we can bullshit you into thinking your diet is “dirty” then we can sell you our fad diet or “clean eating challenge.”

Reality check: Your eating was never “dirty” in the first place. Sure, it’s good practice to wash your fruits and veggies before eating them, but that’s not what they mean by “clean eating.” If you’re starving yourself on an unsustainable diet of parsley and alfalfa sprouts to meet an unattainable standard of nutrition, then you’re setting yourself up for a fall.

Accredited Practising Dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan warns, “So-called “clean eating” is one of my most hated phrases. It hooks into our obsession with sin and morals – the implication is that I am pure and good if I eat a certain way, or I am bad and naughty if I eat forbidden foods (dirty eating!)”


Translation: Let’s reformulate our product and replace fat with loads of refined sugar. Well make you think it’s healthier and that if it doesn’t CONTAIN fat, then you can’t GET fat.

Reality check: Fat-free does not mean it can’t make you fat. If you eat enough of anything, it can still make you fat.

And don’t go falling for marketing spin. Lollies are 99% fat-free and that’s because they are 99% sugar. It’s important to be a savvy shopper and know how to make sense of health claims and nutrition panels. Remember that knowledge is power.

Contributed by Joel Feren, Accredited Practising Dietitian


super foods deceptive marketing

Translation: Nope, just another obscure or difficult to pronounce food upon which we’ve bestowed special super powers and anointed with a clickbait headline.

Reality check: There are no “superfoods” just super marketing. Do you ever notice that there’s a new “superfood” every year? Consumeristic societies are driven by “new” things, so what better way to sex up food than to call it a “superfood.”

Marketers zero in on something like green tea, quinoa, krill oil, or açai and highlight a single nutrient (i.e., a specific antioxidant) and then blow it out of proportion, along with the price tag. Then they do media appearances on the Dr Oz show (King Purveyor of Superfoods) or feed marketing talking points to science-ignorant women’s magazines and websites (fake news!) who publish flattering articles about the said superfood. If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes “truth.” 

For example, cockroach milk ascended to “superfood” status last year when a bunch of overzealous news outlets misinterpreted the findings of a legitimate research article on the nutritive value of cockroach milk. Nowhere in the research article was there mention of cockroach milk for human consumption. But that didn’t stop other websites from cannibalising and repurposing the content with clickbait headlines. Check out my exposé on cockroach milk here.

Bottom line: the fact is, we don’t (and can’t) survive on a single food. Our bodies rely on a variety of foods to maintain good health. 

If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM)

Translation: It doesn’t matter if it “fits your macros” but at least it sounds “science-y.”

Reality check: “People love something that sounds as if it is highly scientific, when in fact there is no such thing as a perfect macronutrient distribution. In fact, it’s pretty impossible to hit a perfect percentage of each anyway and this kind of counting is not only pretty boring, it also has the potential to lead to an unhealthy obsession with food. There are ranges that each macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate and  fat) can contribute to your total energy intake.”

Contributed by Dr Joanna McMillan, Accredited Practising Dietitian

Activated (i.e., activated almonds)

Translation:It’s the same old food, but I’ve bullshitted you into thinking that “activation” gives it superfood status so I can charge you a premium. Here, click this link and buy it from my website.

Reality check:  You’d have to be an activated nutter to activate your nuts. Or be willing to pay twice as much for almonds. There’s no evidence to show that you have to soak your nuts to improve their nutritional content. They are fine (and delicious) just the way they are.”

Contributed by Joel Feren, Accredited Practising Dietitian

“Miracle” or “magical” 

Magical Thinking

Translation: Code word for bullshit. We know you’re holding out hope for that “miracle” weight loss pill and, if you’re willing to pay for it, then we’re willing to sell it to you.

Reality check: Magical thinking has done the bidding of quacks, conmen and woo pushers for centuries. High profile snake oil salesmen like Bullshit Artist Extraordinaire Dr Oz have consistently used their public pulpit to promote “miracle” cures and treatments for different conditions.

Several years ago, Dr Oz was hauled before a United States Senate panel on health and science and was asked if he believed in “miracle pills.” He replied that he didn’t, despite the fact that he sells a health plan called “The 7-Day Miracle Plan.” 

“There’s not a pill that’s going to help you long term lose weight without diet and exercise,”Oz said. 

Um, yeah, but that’s not what you say to your legions of viewers. I rest my case.

Works on a cellular level

Translation: We’ll claim “clinical studies” confirm the unique ingredients penetrate your cells fast to provide maximum benefits. Even though we know most of the evidence for this stuff is based on mouse studies or isolated cells in petri dishes, we just invent catchy phrasing to slip past your boloney detector.

Reality check: How do you KNOW it’s working at the cellular level? Doesn’t everything work at the cellular level? Food, water, etc? 

This is a common tactic used by health marketers to leverage on normal bodily functions and implant the romanticised idea that a single nutrient (or group of nutrients) will supercharge your cells. But the truth is, the human body relies on a variety of nutrients for normal nutrition. 

Contributed by Joe Cannon, MS, CSCS, Strength and Conditioning Specialist


Translation: We know “biohacking” is a popular catch phrase, so we’ll claim our “unique and patented blend of ingredients” is “clinically proven” to provide maximum benefit for [insert desired health benefit].

Reality check: Biohacking is a popular marketing term, particularly in the biohacking bro science climate of Silicon Valley. In reality, biohacking is just another invented phrase used to sell dietary supplements. The not-so-subtle art of hyperbole is used to maximum advantage in health marketing and, as long as there are people desperate to believe in “biohacking” fairy dust, there will be marketers ready to sell the “solution.

Contributed by Joe Cannon, MS, CSCS, Strength and Conditioning Specialist


Translation: We know you’re terrified of “chemicals”, so we throw “chemical-free” in our marketing spin to bullshit you into thinking our product is “pure” and “natural” and, therefore, better, safer, or whatever.

Reality check: There’s no such thing as “chemical-free.” If it’s on the periodic table of elements (which pretty much accounts for everything) then it isn’t chemical-free.

Health marketing is well-known for playing the “chemical-free” card to scare people into buying products that are no different or better than a similar product that contains “chemicals.” 

People have an irrational fear of all things “chemical.” For example, dihydrogen monoxide has a scary chemical-sounding name…but at the end of the day, it’s still just plain old water. Acetic acid is commonly referred to as vinegar. And ascorbic acid is commonly known as vitamin C. 

Boosts/increases/unlocks/supports your insert bodily function 

Boost your libido deceptive marketing

Translation: Doesn’t boost, increase, unlock, or support anything. We’ll just take some clinical research findings out of context and bend them to fit our marketing objectives.

Reality check: You should view sensationalised marketing claims with skepticism, especially when they’re accompanied by stock images of sexy models who’ve likely never even used the product. You also need to evaluate each claim against the original research from which those claims were derived. 

For example, in 1997, pyruvate was being aggressively marketed as a miracle supplement that could “significantly” increase fat and weight loss, improve exercise endurance capacity, and reduce cholesterol. In response, I authored a comprehensive review in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition which categorically addressed and debunked each marketing claim against the original research. The marketers had lifted every single claim out of context and were using animal and Petri dish studies to make sweeping claims of efficacy. Also, the extremely large doses of pyruvate used in the studies didn’t really compare to the extremely small, benign doses being marketed and sold to consumers (in other words, there was pretty much nothing in the supplements). Not surprisingly, follow up studies found that small, more realistic doses of pyruvate have no effect on performance or weight loss.

“This one weird trick….”

This One Weird Trick

Translation: There is no “one weird trick,” but we know you’re curious and you fear missing out if you don’t click on it. 

Reality check: Seriously? If you’re clicking on ads like these, then maybe you need to lose a few bucks to learn a lesson.

These “one weird trick” types of clickbait ads have been around for about a decade and attempt to capitalise on your natural curiosity and desire to know “secret” information. The formula used in the ads was first applied to weight loss products but has since been applied to everything from diabetes to hair loss to penis enlargement.

“I tried XYZ and then THIS happened!”

Translation: Abso-f*cking-lutely nothing happened, except that you were duped into clicking a stupid clickbait headline.

Reality check: Similar to the “one weird trick” tactic, this one also taps into your curious nature and fear of missing out. Aside from the fact that clickbait is often used to sell products and services of dubious repute, it’s also associated with malware infections that can destroy your computer or put you at risk for phishing scams.

Bottom line: don’t click any clickbait headlines – ever. Do so at your own risk.

Enemas, colonic cleansing

coffee enema

Translation: Your colon is working just fine, but we’ll make you think that normal colonic waste is “toxic” and is poisoning you to death – even though we know that’s not the case (or we actually believe it ourselves).

Reality check: Enemas are an “enema” of the people. Enemas used in so-called “detox” spas are, excuse the pun, full of shit. Unless there is a medically warranted need for colonic irrigation, you don’t need them. 

Researchers at Georgetown University School of Medicine evaluated the scientific evidence on colonic cleansing and found that it provided little evidence of benefit. They did, however, note numerous adverse events, including cramping, bloating, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance, renal failure, and even death.

Bottom line: if your colon isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Visit a qualified medical practitioner if you’re experiencing symptoms you think are related to your colon.

Thermo, burn, shred pills

thermo shred ripped supplements

Translation: Wanna burn more calories kids? Set yourself on fire!

Reality check: All these so-called “thermo” or “shred” supplements and drinks that claim to get you “ripped” all tend to have one thing in common: they contain stimulants such as caffeine.

Research does show caffeine can modestly enhance fat oxidation and  boost metabolism but not as much as you might think. While a study result might be “statistically significant,” this is not necessarily the same thing as clinically (or practically) significant. Under strictly controlled experimental conditions, the increase in fat oxidation and calorie burn is quite small. So in free-living adults (outside a lab setting), an increase in energy expenditure can be offset by variations in a person’s daily diet and exercise habits. Humans are also known to develop a tolerance to caffeine which can blunt its effects over time.

Fat blasting formula

Translation: We’ll claim it’s a “proprietary blend” of ingredients that are “research-based,” but it’s really just the same old hackneyed ingredients as all the other “fat burner” supplements out there. We’ll give it an over-the-top name to get people’s attention so they’ll think it’s different and buy it.

Reality check: Just as with the parade of “thermo” or “shred” products out there, many of these “fat blaster” supplements make you burn maybe an extra 10 calories, but not enough to have any clinically significant effect. This is where you need to be extra careful when interpreting health marketing claims. The research may very well show that lab rats burnt a few extra calories and, while technically “true,” these results may not apply to free-living humans or be meaningfully significant.

Contributed by Joe Cannon, MS, CSCS, Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Functional training

Translation: Everyone is selling an exercise program or method of training, so let’s make ours stand out by promising better results. Saying something is more “functional” means we can promise our clients will get better results for the same training. We can also use exercises that are different to everyone else and be fancy and/or more complicated/interesting.

Reality check: “The term “functional training” is pretty rare in the exercise science world, because what’s the point of doing any exercise that doesn’t improve your “function?” The real issue is what the function you have in mind is and how well the exercise program leads to improvements in this function. This is also why there’s such varying interpretations of this term. Does functional need to be body weight training? It could, but if you’re training for something that exposes you to high forces (a very explosive sport like sprinting, or a contact sport), this will be insufficient. Does it need to include unstable surfaces? It could, if unstable surfaces are a major part of the function you have in mind. I’ve seen some great unstable training done with snowboarders and surfers, for example, but this won’t suit the rest of us. Does functional training need to include heavy free weights? It probably will, but if you lack the ability to control a heavy weight well, then we need to try something different. Maybe even a machine (shock!) The fact is, when we design a workout we can choose an exercise, a weight, a repetition range, and a speed of movement that will provide the stimulus we are looking for. In that respect, every well designed program should be functional. A poorly designed program will not be.”

Contributed by Dan Jolley, PhD, Strength and Conditioning Specialist


Translation: “Weight loss” and “fat loss” are too difficult. Here, let’s call it “toning” instead. Toning is much more ambiguous and difficult to measure. Plus it sounds much less menacing, so we can package it up and use it to sell fad diets and infomercial ab and butt sculpting gadgets. 

Reality check: Beneath your skin you have a layer of fat which sits in different areas of your body depending on your gender and genetic factors. The muscle lies under that layer of fat. If you reduce the thickness of the fat layer, you will see better muscle definition. You can train the muscle all you want, but if that layer of fat is still there, you won’t see any visible change. With resistance training, you can make the muscle bigger, produce more force, and make it sustain contractions for longer. But the bottom line is that no matter how strong or fit the muscle itself is, you still need to reduce the fat between the muscle and skin to get a “toning” effect. So if you think an infomercial ab or butt blaster will “tone” you up, you’re going to be disappointed with the results unless you help it along with a healthy diet   

Contributed by Dan Jolley, PhD, Strength and Conditioning Specialist


Ab Circle Pro

Translation: This is fun, because we can use the term “core” to suck in the functional people, and the toning people! We can throw in some crunches for people that want a flatter stomach, or some fancy rotational exercises who think this will improve their sports performance.

Reality check: The idea of “spot reduction” has been done to death. It’s been around for about 130 years, and we’ve known it’s nonsense since the 1970s. It pops up again and again, though, because we all love a shortcut. But there is not shortcut, except for the age-old wisdom of eat well, not too much, and move often. Other people talk about core training as a way of improving our posture or performance, but this is pretty controversial. The other factors influencing posture have far more impact than the strength of our abdominal wall (30-40 kg of abdominal body fat has a pretty noticeable impact on posture!) In fact, one of the most experienced strength and conditioning coaches I’ve had the privilege of meeting once said the best core exercise he knows is a heavy squat. Why? Because in a good position you have to brace your core to control and lift the weight. It’s impossible to squat heavy without doing this. Program the right exercise, for the right person, and the core will work as required. Isolated “core training” won’t make much difference to most people, under ordinary circumstances.

Contributed by Dan Jolley, PhD, Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Expert, guru

Shred expert

Translation: I managed to make myself [insert adjective, i.e., massive/tiny/ripped], so it can’t be too hard to help other people do the same, right? Sure I lack qualifications or an understanding of the principles of the training I am recommending. And my experience is mostly limited to myself, but I have no reason to think that anyone will be different to me. And I look great, so I can charge more!

Reality check: “Genuine expertise is complicated and takes a long time to develop. And it often relies on learning and feedback from others who are highly qualified. A social media health “expert” will often lack this feedback, so may be blissfully unaware of their shortcomings (something popularly known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect). An expert is also more than the sum of a bunch of facts. Knowledge of exercise is important though, and formal recognition of this with qualifications is useful quality control. A genuine expert also knows how to apply this knowledge in a range of situations, like for people with different levels of ability or underlying disease states. They have highly developed decision-making skills, seek out feedback (even negative feedback) from other professionals, can communicate their knowledge, and have a clear understanding of the boundaries of their expertise. One program, or one diet, never fits all. We can safely ignore anyone selling one system, or one approach, to suit everyone. No matter how good they look.”

Contributed by Dan Jolley, PhD, Strength and Conditioning Specialist

The post 37 Bullshit Health Marketing Phrases You Should Ignore appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

]]> 23
Iaso Detox Tea Review Fri, 31 Jul 2020 00:55:46 +0000 What is Iaso Detox Tea? Iaso detox tea is manufactured by Total Life Changes, a multi-level marketing (a.k.a. direct sales, network marketing, or pyramid selling) company based in Fair Haven, …

The post Iaso Detox Tea Review appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

What is Iaso Detox Tea?

Iaso detox tea is manufactured by Total Life Changes, a multi-level marketing (a.k.a. direct sales, network marketing, or pyramid selling) company based in Fair Haven, Michigan in the United States.

The company claims Iaso tea is a “world-famous all-natural cleansing drink” that can help you “lose weight, boost energy, improve mental clarity, and cleanse your internal organs” and that its “unique blend of nine ‘essential’ herbs rid the body of harmful toxins.” You can supposedly “lose up to 5 lbs in 5 days” by drinking 2 1/2 cups a day.

Iaso Detox Tea product marketing claims
Screenshot of Iaso Detox Tea product marketing claims

Bold yes, but is there any scientific evidence to substantiate such claims? Or is this all just marketing hype and hot air?

Essential herbs?” Essential according to whom?

Harmful toxins?” Which toxins?

Lose 5 lbs in 5 days?” 5 lbs of what exactly?

The thing is, so-called “detox” products have a not-so-good reputation for being sold with ambiguous and suggestive phrasing which might fool you into thinking things that are misleading or just plain false.

You’ve already seen the Iaso tea marketing spin, but what’s the other side of the story that has been, shall we say, de-emphasised?

It’s your responsibility to be an informed consumer and make informed purchasing decisions, which means evaluating all aspects of the product and the veracity of the advertising being used to sell the product.

Therefore, the purpose of this review is to cut through all the magical marketing and golden unicorns and give you the brutally honest, no conflict of interest, unvarnished facts about what is physiologically plausible and realistic, as well as information on ingredients, safety, pricing, refund policy, and consumer complaints.

Disclaimer: No conflicts of interest. This review is 100% independent and has no affiliate links. Ads appearing on this site are autogenerated based on your individual Google search and web browsing habits and I do NOT have direct granular control over them. Revenue generated from ads offset website costs to keep these articles unbiased and free for you to read.

Iaso Tea nutrition & ingredients

TLC claims Iaso Tea contains nine “essential” herbs to rid the body of “harmful toxins.”

Scary sounding stuff, but let’s be specific. What’s actually in the product and what are the effects of each ingredient?

iaso detox tea nutrition ingredients label
Iaso detox tea nutrition label and ingredients

Holy Thistle/Blessed Thistle

Holy thistle (a.k.a. blessed thistle, spotted thistle, or St. Benedict’s thistle) may exert anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects in the body. It has a mild diuretic effect which might make you pee more often.

Note: Both holy thistle and blessed thistle are listed as separate ingredients on the Iaso nutrition label, but on a different product sheet, they mention that holy thistle is also called blessed thistle (therefore the product would appear to have eight ingredients).

Persimmon Leaves

Persimmon leaves are rich in plant compounds known to protect against cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and damage from chronic alcohol consumption. The leaves exert a diuretic effect which can cause more frequent urination.


Papaya exerts a laxative effect on the body which may increase your number of bowel movements to prevent or relieve constipation.

The papain enzyme found in papaya may assist with protein digestion.

Malva Leaves

Malva leaves may exert anti-inflammatory and mild laxative and diuretic effects. It might help with irritation of the mouth and throat, cough, and constipation.

Marsh Mallow

Limited evidence suggests that marshmallow might help relieve stomach ulcers, diarrhea, constipation. It may also exert a diuretic effect in the body.


Ginger may exert a laxative effect on the body by stimulating the bowels and may be useful for upset stomach, gas, and diarrhoea. It may also stimulate appetite as well as promote fluid loss as a diuretic.


Myrrh is a sap-like substance that is derived from a tree in Africa and Asia and may exert anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic effects. It has also been used topically for wounds and infections and is used as a flavouring agent in foods and beverages.


Chamomile is commonly consumed in tea form and has been touted as a natural remedy for a multitude of health conditions. It exerts a mild sedative effect in the body due to the flavonoid apigenin, though the mechanisms for this effect are not well-understood. A 2010 study in Iranian women found that chamomile tea could help reduce menstrual discomfort. Preliminary research in rats suggests that chamomile may help with blood sugar control. A 2004 test tube study found it may help promote bone density.

Content plagiarism on the Iaso website

I found a couple instances of what appears to be copy and pasted ingredient descriptions verbatim from WebMD and Healthline.

While plagiarising content might seem like no big deal, in my opinion, this gives me the impression they just threw together some tea ingredients, slapped up a website, populated it with lifted content from other health sites, and started marketing it to consumers.

Note to TLC: Write your own original content and provide correct attribution to source articles.

Plagiarised from WebMD

In the myrrh example below, you can see that the exact same phrasing is used on the original WebMD article. And whoever copied and pasted the content (“FIRE THAT INTERN!) didn’t even bother to change anything, including leaving the parentheses.

plagiarized content by Iaso Tea
Screenshot of Iaso Tea website with content plagiarized from WebMD

WebMD source article

Screenshot from WebMD with content plagiarized by Iaso Tea

Plagiarised from Healthline

In the chamomile example below, as in the Web MD example above, you can see that the content is identical both in phrasing and punctuation.

Iaso plagiarised text - chamomile
Screenshot from Iaso Tea website with plagiarized content highlighted

Healthline source article

Iaso plagiarised text
Screenshot from Healthline with content plagiarized by Iaso Tea

Analysis of marketing claims

Careful review of Iaso Tea marketing revealed a hodgepodge of ambiguous and open-to-interpretation claims with no scientific evidence to substantiate them.

While there is research on individual ingredients, a search of the PubMed scientific databases found no published studies on the end product to support any of the marketing claims.

The only hits for the search term “Iaso” appeared because the authors were affiliated with Iaso General Hospital in Athens, Greece, but the research topics had nothing to do with detox tea.

Claim 1: Lose 5 pounds in 5 days

This claim is deceptive and begs the question: 5 pounds of EXACTLY WHAT in 5 days?

It’s physiologically implausible that you could shed five pounds of STORED BODY FAT in five days.

Short of running a marathon every day for five days, lopping off a limb, or having liposuction, it’s unrealistic to think you’ll lose that much body fat in such a short period of time.

However, because the product ingredients have diuretic and laxative effects, you’re likely going to spend more time getting acquainted with your toilet.

Bottom line: while you might “lose weight” on the bathroom scale, it will likely be water and fecal weight rather than stored body fat.

Claim 2: Weight loss and weight management

Following on from “5 pounds in 5 days” above, specifically, what “weight” are you expecting to lose?

If you’re taking this product with the expectation that it alone will cause “fat loss” then you will likely end up disappointed.

Whether or not you use any “detox” tea, you still need to be making good food choices and maintaining a healthy overall lifestyle.

Any sustainable changes in body fat will occur over an extended period of time and will be due to your consistency in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Claim 3: Boost energy

The claim that you can “boost energy” is, at best, vague and ambiguous and can mean different things to different people.

Many “detox teas” rely on caffeine-containing ingredients to give users an increased feeling of alertness, much the same as a standard cup of coffee or tea.

However, based on the ingredients listed on the Iaso label, there does not appear to be any herbal stimulants which might make you feel more alert.

So you’ll need to specifically consider what your expectations are and how you define “boost energy.”

Claim 4: Mental clarity

As with “boost energy,” the phrase “mental clarity” is vague and undefined and could mean virtually anything to anyone.

It would be helpful if Total Life Changes was specific and defined exactly what “mental clarity” means.

Otherwise, this is just another suggestive ambiguous marketing gibberish left open to individual interpretation.

Claim 5: Improved skin

Just more ill-defined marketing jargon which really doesn’t give you any clear idea of what to expect.

Improved skin?” Does this mean it will make your skin smoother? Reduce wrinkles? Reduce acne?

TLC, please be specific and explain how this can be objectively quantified.

Claim 6: “Gentle cleansing of your intestines and internal organs”

More baseless marketing gobbledygook.

Be specific? What does this even mean? How is this “gentle cleansing” quantified? Based on what objective research?

How do you know it’s “cleansing your intestines and internal organs?” Simply, you don’t.

Claim 7: “…nine essential herbs”

Again, more meaningless invented phrasing. “Essential herbs” according to whom?

While it’s true there are such things as essential amino acids, essential vitamins, and essential minerals, there is no such thing as “essential herbs.”

Claim 8: “…ridding the body of harmful toxins”

Really? Which toxins? Please name them and be specific.

Are we talking hexavalent chromium? Lead? Mercury? What?

If you spend some time looking around the Iaso website, you will notice that nowhere do they specifically identify by name which “harmful toxins” their product rids from the body.

The threat of “toxins” is a very common fear tactic used by health marketers to scare you into buying the product.

But rest assured, if you have two working kidneys and a liver, you have all the built-in detox fire power you need.

Check out my Interactive Detox Decision-making Tool.

Side note: In the legal troubles section of this article below, I discuss the 2015 lawsuit against Total Life Changes which found some of their products actually contained lead.

Claim 9: “a world-famous all-natural cleansing drink”

Just more bog standard marketing hyperbole you can ignore.

World famous” according to whom?

The “all natural” claim is another common bogus phrase that tries to leverage on the myth that if it’s “natural” then it must be safe and effective (even snake venom, arsenic, and poison hemlock are “all natural” but that doesn’t mean you want them in your body).

Moreover, while the risk does remain low for most herbal products, you need to be aware that the risk is never zero and there have been reports of serious injury and death from products labeled “all natural.”

To be clear, I am NOT saying that Iaso tea is dangerous. I am simply making the point that, when it comes to marketing in general, you should never be lulled into a false sense of security by the phrase “all natural.”

Claim 10: “Supports the circulatory system”

What does this even mean? “Supports the circulatory system” how exactly? Be specific.

You know what else supports the circulatory system? Fruits and veggies, exercise, not smoking, and getting adequate sleep.

Claim 11: “Encourages healthy intestines”

Encourages” healthy intestines? 🤦‍♂️

Summary of claims

Overall, the marketing claims made for Iaso tea are deceptive, misleading, physiologically unrealistic, and unsupported by any scientific evidence.

It’s not what what you’re being told. It’s what you’re NOT being told that matters.

The consistent ambiguity in each marketing claim leaves each marketing claim open to your own personal interpretation.

While it may be technically legal to phrase things this way (see below), in my view, it does raise concerns considering there is no publicly-available peer-reviewed research on the finished product in any medical journal to support any of the marketing claims.

FDA “Miranda warning”

Also notice that the product marketing is loaded with those pesky asterisks* which basically refers to the FDA Miranda warning: “*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Iaso Tea asterisks
Iaso Tea claims and asterisks

In other words, “we can make wonky claims as long as we’ve let you know they’ve not been vetted by any regulatory body.”

The syntax is always the same: make a questionable claim, then waive it away with an asterisk. “You’ll lose 5 lbs in 5 days…

Translation: *Probably not.

A grain of truth

Ironically, after hitting you with a litany of confusing and ambiguous claims, the only straightforward honest thing I read on the website was in the fine print disclaimer at the very bottom of the website:

*This product supports a healthy lifestyle. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary based on diet and exercise. We cannot and do not guarantee that you will attain a specific or particular result, and you accept the risk that results differ for each individual. Health, fitness, and nutrition success depends on each individual’s background, dedication, desire, and motivation. Always consult your healthcare professional before consuming any dietary supplement.

But here’s the thing. When you buy a product like, say, a lightbulb, you have a reasonable expectation as a consumer that when you install it and flick the switch, it is going to light up the room.

You don’t want to see a disclaimer that says “we cannot guarantee that you will attain a particular result” and “you accept the risk that results differ” for each lightbulb.

That said, if a company cannot, with reasonable confidence, assure that you will get a desired result, then those claims are deceptive and misleading – pesky asterisk or not.

About Total Life Changes

According to a Bloomberg listing, “Total Life Changes, LLC (TLC) is based in the United States and offers health, wellness, and beauty products. The company offers soap, hair oil, solution kits, gym bag, eye drops, body cream, and other personal care products. TLC serves customers worldwide.

Contact details

6094 Corporate Drive
Fair Haven, MI 48023-1422
Phone 1: +1 (586) 630-5791
Phone 2: +1 (810) 471-3812
Website: totallifechanges [.] com


Iaso Tea retail price

To buy Iaso Tea, it costs $49.95 US dollars retail for a 5-pack.

However, once you’ve become a distributor, there is the option to purchase the products in bulk:

  • 10 pack – $99.95 USD
  • 25 pack – $249.95 USD
  • 50 pack – $499.95 USD

The only thing I found peculiar about the bulk pricing is that it does not yield a volume discount compared to the 5-pack.

In fact, if you do the math, the per unit price for the 5-pack, it’s $49.95/5 = $9.99. For the 50 pack, it’s $499.95/50 = $9.99 as well.

Business opportunity

To become a Total Life Changes independent business owner, called a “Life Changer,” you just need to buy a starter kit (either digital or physical) for $49.95 USD.

Total Life Changes Starter Kit
Total Life Changes Starter Kit

The starter kit includes:

  • Product sample credits
  • The top 5 product guide 
  • Physical samples (in standard kit)
  • The product catalog 
  • The TLC brand & culture book 
  • The purple book 
  • The welcome letter
  • Replicated retail website
  • Online business management system

I did not see any conspicuous mention on the site that the prices become discounted once you’ve signed up as a product distributor, but presumably the commissions made on product sales which would offset what you pay.

However, if you sign up as a “Preferred Customer,” you can earn credits towards free products when you share them with other retail customers.

Income earning potential

In the interest of transparency, when it comes to the direct selling industry, there is a documented history of promoting inflated earnings potential, so it’s important to do your due diligence about what you can realistically expect to earn.

Hyped-up promises of high earnings, especially on social media, should always be thoroughly vetted. In the legal troubles section below, you’ll see that the FTC sent a warning letter to TLC regarding unrealistic health claims and earnings potential.

In the TLC earnings disclaimer below, you can see that, per month and before expenses, 44% of first-year distributors earned an average of about $157 and 64% of other distributors around $362.

Fifty-six percent of first-year distributors and 36% of other distributors earned no money at all.

And if you’re in the top 1 to 10%, you can make significantly more than the average.

Total Life Changes distributor income earning potential
Total Life Changes income disclaimer


According to the Total Life Changes website, there is a 30-day refund policy.

You can return products for a 100% refund (less shipping and handling costs) within 30 calendar days from the date of delivery.

You just need to print and complete the RMA form on the TLC website and return it with your product to:

6094 Corporate Drive
Fair Haven MI 48023

Products purchased through third-party websites such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart are not eligible for a refund.


According to the Better Business Bureau (as of this writing), Total Life Changes has had 171 consumer complaints in the last three years, of which 157 were closed in the past 12 months.

The majority of complaints centered about problems with the product (74), delivery issues (58), and billing/collections issues (22).

On a positive note, the company holds an A+ rating so this would at least suggest that TLC is making an effort to resolve issues.

Total life changes better business bureau complaints

Legal troubles

Lead contamination

In December 2015, The Environmental Research Center filed suit against Total Life Changes for products adulterated with lead (full PDF here).

Total Life Changes Environmental Research Center California lawsuit.

According to the document:

Ongoing violations have occurred every day since at least December 16, 2012, as well as every day since the products were introduced into the California marketplace, and will continue every day until clear and reasonable warnings are provided to product purchasers and users or until this known toxic chemical is either removed from or reduced to allowable levels in the products. Proposition 65 requires that a clear and reasonable warning be provided prior to exposure to the identified chemical. The method of warning should be a warning that appears on the product label. The Violator violated Proposition 65 because it failed to provide persons handling and/or using these products with appropriate warnings that they are being exposed to this chemical.

To be fair, this lawsuit does not mention Iaso Tea so I cannot say it applies to that particular product. Though I am concerned that the company would not internally test all of its products before allowing them to hit the market and remain so for three years up to the point of the lawsuit being filed.

As of 2020, I do not have any follow-up information on resolution of this case but, if any reader has information, please let me know so I can amend the article.

False COVID-19 treatment claims and earning potential

On April 24th, 2020, the United States Federal Trade Commission issued a warning letter to Total Life Changes stating that product distributors unlawfully promoted certain products on social media with claims they could treat or prevent COVID-19 and misrepresented that consumers who become Total Life Changes business participants are likely to earn substantial income.

Total Life Changes FTC Letter

Regarding product claims, the letter states:

It is unlawful under the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq., to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease unless you possess competent and reliable scientific evidence, including, when appropriate, well-controlled human clinical studies, substantiating that the claims are true at the time they are made. For COVID-19, no such study is currently known to exist for the products identified above. Thus, any coronavirus-related prevention or treatment claims regarding such products are not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. You must immediately cease making all such claims.

Regarding income earning claims:

Additionally, representations about a business opportunity, including earnings claims, violate Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 41 et seq., if they are false, misleading, or unsubstantiated and material to consumers. Express and implied earnings claims must be truthful and non-misleading to avoid being deceptive, which means that claims about the potential to achieve a wealthy lifestyle, career-level income, or significant income are false or misleading if business opportunity participants generally do not achieve such results. Even truthful testimonials from participants who do earn significant income or more will likely be misleading unless the advertising also makes clear the amount earned or lost by most participants. Your business opportunity participants and representatives must immediately cease making all express and implied earnings claims that would be false or misleading to current or prospective participants.

Take home message

Overall, the marketing for Iaso Tea is loaded with ambiguously deceptive and misleading claims and, to the best of my knowledge, there is no objective published evidence on the final product that substantiates a single claim.

I found a number of ethical issues including what appears to be plagiarised third-party content used on their website, numerous consumer complaints, and legal troubles surrounding adulterated products, false COVID treatment claims, and inflated earnings potential for would-be distributors.

In summary, given the numerous unsubstantiated marketing claims and ethical concerns, I do not support Total Life Changes nor recommend Iaso Tea.

The post Iaso Detox Tea Review appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

]]> 8
Interactive Fake News Detector Tue, 12 May 2020 04:00:00 +0000 How do I know it’s fake news? In this post-truth era of fake news, you’re bulldozed by a daily tsunami of information, misinformation, and disinformation, and it is critical to …

The post Interactive Fake News Detector appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

How do I know it’s fake news?

In this post-truth era of fake news, you’re bulldozed by a daily tsunami of information, misinformation, and disinformation, and it is critical to know what’s legit and what’s not.

You must become a rabid pitbull guarding the gates to your mind because fake news (and, more recently, virus-related conspiracy theories) is an ever-present poison that will infect you and colour your perceptions of the world.

However, the thing about fake news is that there are common red flags that can tip you off to which news items are likely false or misleading.

Therefore, the purpose of this interactive fake news detector is to give you a tool you can use to sift through the latest news stories.

Please help stop the spread of fake news by sharing this tool on social media, linking to it from your website, bookmarking it in your browser, and sending to others who may need help in spotting fake news.

Try the fake news detector

Answer all the following questions

1. Did you see the news item on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc)?

2. Was the news item shared with you by a friend, family member, or colleague you know to have polarized views (particularly related to politics, health conspiracy theories, etc)?

3. Does the news item use a sensationalized clickbait headline (i.e., Soccer mom’s home cure for (insert ailment) leaves doctors stunned)?

4. Does the news item appear on an uncommon or spammy website domain extension (.xyz, .info, .biz), a free subdomain (i.e.,, or a spoofed subdomain (i.e.,

5. Is the news item political or related to a current election cycle?

6. Does the news item contain obvious spelling errors, lots of capital letters, or dramatic punctuation (i.e., CORoNavIRRus!?!?!)?

7. Is the author a real person (Check to see if they have a legitimate bio and other published articles. Check if author’s social media accounts look real and have active engagement, not bot traffic. Also consider if the author is trained and credentialed in the subject matter)?.

8. Is the news item a video of someone famous (politician, actor, etc) saying something outlandish or completely out of character?

9. Is the news item actually an advertisement written to appear as an article (Inspect closely for purchase links)?

10. Is the news item satire (i.e., sites like The Onion and the Betoota Advocate are known for deadpan straight-faced satire)?

11. Does the news item cite reputable sources and experts (i.e., peer-reviewed studies, not YouTube videos and fringe websites)?

12. Does the news item only appear on only one or a few websites you’ve never heard of (and is not covered by any other independent media sources)?

13. Is the news item written in using strong, emotion-filled language with calls to action?

The verdict: Is it fake news?


Fake news facts and further reading

The following discussion expands on the questions from the fake news detector and provides reliable resources to help protect you.

1. Social media

While social media outlets like Facebook are trying to crack down on the proliferation of fake news on its platform, it’s still a leading source of viral false and misleading information.

Facebook flagging misleading content. Credit: Facebook

The fact that any bad actor can create an account and start posting unfiltered fake news readily opens it up to abuse.

Even since the Cambridge Analytica and Russian interference scandals, Facebook has consistently failed to effectively stop disinformation and hate campaigns on its platform.

During the current coronavirus pandemic, a deluge of fringe conspiracy theories have polluted social feeds with numerous baseless YouTube videos. Each time they are rightly removed from social media platforms, in the eyes of believers, it only serves as “evidence” that it “must” be true.

Spoiler alert: they’re fake news.

Fact checking sites

Before you share anything, do a quick search to see what other independent, objective evidence corroborates (or refutes) it.

Bottom line: As a general rule, assume a guilty-til-proven-otherwise approach on social media where you deem everything fake unless proven otherwise.

Further reading

2. Family and friends: smiling assassins

You love your family and friends, but unfortunately they’re not always a reliable source of information.

They’re only human and are subject to the same forces of fake news as everyone else.

In fact, family and friends are the PERFECT vector for spreading fake news BECAUSE of the trust factor.

Architects of fake news KNOW exactly how to craft expert bullshit that will hit deep-seated emotional tripwires that lead to viral sharing.

Bottom line: If you know people who share every dodgy story doing the rounds, let them know the news item is false.

If they get combative and try to defend fake news as truth (something increasingly common for health and politics news items), then mute them from your social feeds (without having to delete them).

Further reading

3. Clickbait headlines

Sensationalised clickbait headlines are nothing new but, in the digital age, clicks mean eyeballs on page and eyeballs on page translate to advertising revenue.

Clickbait is essentially copywriting on steroids. It uses false or barely legal misleading hyperbole to create outlandish headlines that pique your curiosity so you just *have* to click on it.

Be on the lookout for the following clickbait elements and resist the temptation to click.

Fake news clickbait elements

  1. Lists: List articles, or “listicles,” cater to our short attention spans by putting information into easily consumable lists.
  2. Human interest stories: Relatable stories written in the familiar “you” voice or those that tell a first-hand account tend to be more personal and likely to tug on your emotional heart strings and circumvent your in-built bullshit detector.
  3. Hot, breaking, or trending topics: Did someone say coronavirus? Enough said.
  4. Pop culture or famous person: The cult of celebrity is a popular pull for eyeballs. The voyeuristic desire to peer into the glamorous lives of the rich and famous never fails to appeal to the masses.
  5. New or unknown concept, idea, or technology: Humans are always looking for ways to improve their lives so when something presumably novel shatters the status quo, we tend to look up and take note. These often begin with “…this one weird trick that shocked doctors…”
  6. Shock and excitement: This is the online version of slowing down on the highway to get a look at car wreck.
  7. Animal tales: Because who can resist cute fuzzy animals cuddling or doing amazing tricks.

Also check out my article that dismantles the cockroach milk superfood myth, as well as my 37 Bullshit Health Marketing Phrases You Should Ignore article.

bullshit superfood headline

Bottom line: Be hypervigilant and learn to recognise clickbait headlines. Once you scratch the surface, you will find that, in many cases, it’s either false or misleading and doesn’t quite measure up to the headline that sold it to you.

Further reading

4. Spammy domains

Not all websites are created equal, and depending on how digital savvy you are, you might not notice the website domain name or domain extension on the news item (a domain extension refers to the ending of the web address such as .com, .net, .edu).

Spammy sounding domain names you’ve never heard of are a big bright red flag for fake news.

fake news example
Proven false news item on spammy unknown domain name posted to Facebook

Following on from above, free subdomains are also a popular vector for fake news.

While WordPress and Blogspot are legitimate platforms, the name that comes before it in the URL is usually your tip-off (i.e., or

Moreover, purveyors of fake news want to spread their brand of bullshit as easily and inexpensively as possible, and cheap or free domains allow them to do exactly that.

A regular dot com domain costs around $15 to register, but spammy domain extensions such as .xyz, .info, .site, .biz can be registered for $5 or less and discarded once flagged as spam.

Cheap spammy domains for fake news or spam sites

Further reading

5. Political news or current election cycle

A news item on a political topic or event does not necessarily make it fake news, but because politics is a highly emotional lightning rod topic, it opens the door for political operatives and trolls to take advantage of it, particularly in an election year.

No matter which side of the political aisle you’re on, there is an overabundance of polarising fake political news and rhetoric designed to inflame your emotions and push you to take sides.

“Fighting fair” is out of fashion as cashed-up, well-connected dirty tricksters take advantage of every medium available to spin a story in their favour.

For example, the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data scandal culminated in the aggregation of psychological profiles of American voters which were then sold to political campaigns to create micro-targeted fake and misleading content to sway public opinion.

Bottom line: Be on heightened alert about political news items, particularly around election time when lighting rod issues (i.e., abortion, gun control, and illegal immigration) are ripe for exploitation.

Just because you agree with something doesn’t make it true. When you share false or misleading political stories, you become part of the problem and it detracts from your own credibility.

As a general rule, fact check news items with independent third-party platforms before sharing.

Further reading

6. Grammar, spelling, or exaggerated punctuation

Poor grammar, spelling, and exaggerated punctuation should be viewed as a tip-off for fake news and spam emails.

But as Joseph Steinberg points out in his article on online scammers, sometimes errors are used on purpose:

  1. Use of poor grammar and spelling help weed out more astute readers and increase the likelihood of more gullible people clicking through.
  2. Misspelled words can often evade email spam filters and increase the likelihood of it getting through to potential victims
  3. Poor spelling and grammar errors make the content seem more “authentic” and “believable” and may be more relatable to people who make the same mistakes (as opposed to those snooty high brow professional journalists).

Poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation are also tell-tale tip-offs that the content is foreign-generated spam created by non-native English speakers.

Further reading

7. Is the author even a real person?

Check and see if the author is a real person with real credentials and a real-world digital footprint.

Click the author’s name on the article (if clickable) and see if there is a bio and any links to social media profiles. If they have LinkedIn, check their work history.

If social media profiles exist, are they active accounts with regular engagement? Or, if active, do they fit the profile of an automated bot (i.e., no original tweets, excessive retweets, etc)?

On Facebook and Instagram, you can check the account age and geolocation. If it’s a new page that appeared a month ago and is registered in a far-flung remote place, then you should be wary.

Google search the author’s name and see if they have other published articles. If so, are they published on legitimate, reputable sites? Are the author bios consistent across other sites?

Bad actors (particularly non-native English speakers) also tend to fabricate names that sound odd and unrealistic. I often get unsolicited automated bot emails from spammers with names like Fidelia Tuggle, Orval Tancred, and Silke Welch looking to write guest articles (spam) on this site. Unsuspecting website owners desperate for content often get sucked into this scam.

Bottom line: Be hypervigilant with vetting authors and ensuring they’re a real person. Fake news thrives on reader laziness and unwillingness to vet and qualify the veracity of the information.

Further reading

8. Deepfake videos

Deepfakes are videos that use artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to process images, video, and audio of real people to produce realistic videos of them saying and doing things they did not actually say or do.

While some deepfakes can be funny and harmless, bad actors are now using them to manipulate people for nefarious ends.

Deep fake video of Barack Obama

Arm yourself with these tips to protect yourself against deepfake videos.

Signs of a deepfake video

  1. Unrealistic hair and frizz: Faked videos have a hard time generating realistic looking hair.
  2. Unnatural eye movements: Look for odd gazes, lazy eyes, or absence of natural blinking.
  3. Unrealistic teeth: Deepfake algorithms have a hard time recreating the detail in teeth.
  4. Distorted facial features: Look for distortions or discolouration in facial features when the person moves their head. Look for graininess or blurriness where the face meets the neck and hairline.
  5. Larger screens reveal inconsistencies: View the video on a larger screen like a desktop or laptop computer. Smaller screens tend to mask minute details that are visible on larger screens.
  6. Highly emotional: Deepfakes with sinister intentions leverage lightning rod issues (i.e., politics, health, etc) to polarise the masses.
  7. Bad or unnatural lighting: Look closely for unnatural lighting and shadows on the subject and objects in the video.
  8. Poor video and sound synchronisation: Check for consistency between mouth movements and the soundtrack. You might notice a lag in synchronisation.

Further reading

9. Advertisement masked as article

Advertorials are another form of fake news. At quick glance, they are meant to look like an article but their primary intent is actually to sell you a product.

This type of fake news pushes on your pain points and trumpets the product as the guaranteed solution. They include emotive testimonials and usually mention “doctors” and “university studies” (often lifted out of context). Towards the end, you’ll find links to purchase the product.

advertorial fake news example
Spammy advertorial masquerading as an article

Health marketers pushing useless quick-fix snake oil potions rely on a massive arsenal of psychological tricks and sleights of hand.

Further reading

10. Satire

While we all love a good laugh, but sometimes straight-faced deadpan humour blows right over the heads of the less astute subset of the population.

The following list will give you some tip-offs that a news item is satirical (full article here).

  1. The article is declared as satire
  2. Cartoon animal mascot
  3. Quotes real people but the comments are outlandish and unrealistic
  4. Published on known satire website (i.e., The Onion, The Betoota Advocate)
  5. The article leverages on current events or dates (i.e., April Fools Day)
  6. Article quotes inanimate objects or animals
  7. Article uses badly photoshopped image
  8. Curse words in headline for comedic effect

Further reading

11. Sources and experts

Fake news thrives on readers’ ignorance and unwillingness to fact check sources and experts so it’s more important than ever to discern legit from bullshit.

If the article lists scientific articles as evidence, chase down the articles to ensure that those references actually support the point the author is trying to make.

In my Laminine product review, I point out that the company provides a list of references to “support” their health claims but, upon closer inspection, they were irrelevant and had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with their product.

If a news item cites an “expert,” do some digging to determine if the person is actually qualified to speak on the topic. Chase down their professional bio. Do they have the credentials and experience to provide a qualified opinion?

Depending on the reporter and the publication’s bias, they may interview pseudo experts to meet the slant of the article.

Further reading

12. News coverage by only one source

Has the topic been covered across multiple news outlets? A tell-tale sign of fake news is if a news item appears on a single website (fringe or otherwise) and is non-existent on every other news site.

If it were a legitimate news story, then it would receive coverage.

Beware of conspiracy mongers who will claim it’s “not being covered by MSM because it’s true.” No, it’s not being covered because it’s false and not worthy of devoting resources to cover it.

13. Opinion pieces

It’s important to understand that opinion pieces are not the same thing as objective news reporting.

Opinion pieces can still be written ethically, in a civil tone, and supported by independent sources, experts, and quotes, but they are often orchestrated to elicit a specific emotional response and/or action (i.e., think a certain way, believe a certain thing, vote a certain way).

Problems arise when an article becomes a baseless (fake news) emotion-filled rant that uses dichotomous, all-or-none phrasing and offers no corroborating, independently verifiable evidence to support the points made (i.e., all immigrants are rapists and murderers).

How to identify opinion/editorial pieces

Look for the following signs that may indicate a news item is actually an opinion piece.

  1. Look for labels. Opinion pieces are often labeled with words such as: editorial, opinion, op-ed, viewpoint, review, column, or analysis.
  2. First-person statements such as “I think, I believe…”.
  3. Heavy handed appeals to action such as “You should, You’d better..”
  4. Use of sarcasm, irony, and insults
  5. Exaggeration and use of superlatives and/or diminutives
  6. Uses parodies of a person, place, or issue

Further reading

Share this article on Pinterest

interactive fake news detector

The post Interactive Fake News Detector appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

]]> 0
Want to Lose Weight and Be Healthy? Then Stop Chasing Golden Unicorns! Sun, 12 Jan 2020 03:59:00 +0000 Want to lose weight? Eat healthier? Feel better? Have more energy? Of course you do. But if you’re looking for that elusive golden unicorn that pisses diamonds and farts rose …

The post Want to Lose Weight and Be Healthy? Then Stop Chasing Golden Unicorns! appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

Want to lose weight? Eat healthier? Feel better? Have more energy?

Of course you do.

But if you’re looking for that elusive golden unicorn that pisses diamonds and farts rose petals, you’re not going to find it in a bullsh*t infomercial gadget, miracle diet, “teatox,” body wrap, or so-called Instagram influencers.

You know what I mean. You bounce from one fad diet to the next, buy every infomercial gadget, and gulp down “metabolism boosters” and “fat burner” supplements, hoping that maybe, just maybe, THIS one is REALLY going to work….which it never does.

Still with me?

I know, it’s tough to think otherwise when your social feeds are overflowing with self-proclaimed “celebrity” nutritionistspersonal trainers, and health coaches spruiking the next latest greatest pill, diet, or exercise routine.

“Revolutionary thermogenic formula! Optimised macros! Dynamic inertia! Gyrotronic resistance! 28 day fat blaster challenge! 5 minute abs!”


Yeah, because that’s what health marketing does. It misrepresents science, celebrates the mundane, and embellishes barely legal marketing claims to sell you sh*t you really don’t need.

Two words: golden unicorn.

The secret to health is no secret

Want a real golden unicorn that DOES work and is evidence-based?

Granted it’s not sexy, but you’ll find it in the age-old scientifically proven advice your sage grandfather might have given you:

diet and exercise research summary

Beware the golden unicorn salesman

There is no limit to the useless sh*t marketers will try to sell you and the lengths they will go to accomplish that end.

And guess what? In their eyes, you’re the easy mark. The low hanging fruit. You’re the sucker and your wallet is their target.

Their mantra is always the same: “whatever people are buying, I’m selling.”

Their business is money. Their storefront is health, fitness, nutrition, or whatever.

Do they actually care about your health?


Can they really be bothered to think about your health when they’re too busy counting cash grifted from gullible people desperate to believe in elusive diamond-pissing golden unicorns?

Ethics? Huh? Wha…?

Sure, they’ll use lame apologetic excuses like “well hey, anything that gets people off the couch is a good thing, right?

Uh huh. Yeah, sure buddy. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

Species of golden unicorns

As you have seen, there are a variety of golden unicorn species out there and the only way to protect yourself is to know and understand their natural habitat and behaviour.

The following list is by no means exhaustive, but will prepare you for when you come face to face with some of the more common diamond-pissing golden beasts.

Bullshiticus infomercialis

Infomercials. The scourge of late night TV – and now social media.

They come with fancy names like the Ab Circle ProAb WaveSpinGym, and Shake Weight.

You know the rest.

Don’t delayLose weight NOW for the incredibly low price of $199.95! That’s right, just $199.95 for the BODY OF YOUR DREAMS! But WAIT! That’s not all you get! Act now and we’ll throw in a golden unicorn pissing diamonds!

Back in 2010, I authored a comprehensive review of the Ab Circle Pro‘s deceptive advertising.

I was so viscerally furious about the sheer number of false and misleading claims, I transcribed the entire 10-minute infomercial and then categorically dismantled each claim through the lens of exercise science.

The article generated a lot of buzz in the media and resulted in my being interviewed by a number of international TV and radio stations, as well as print and digital publications.

The regulatory agencies eventually caught up with the Ab Circle Pro in Australia and New Zealand and forced them to amend their ads for making deceptive claims (i.e., if “results are not typical” then they’re misleading).

The final coup de grâce came in August of 2012 when the US Federal Trade Commission fined the company $25 million for making false claims, which contributed to the company going out of business.

The moral of the story is that the Ab Circle Pro is not unique and is only one drop in an ocean of dodgy infomercial products.

They all use the same regurgitated formulaic advertising (i.e., hammer on your pain points and insecurities, make grandiose promises, feature hired fitness models who’ve never used the product, add in weepy overacted “testimonials,” and repeated calls to action to buy now!) over and over and over again.

Why? Because it’s marketing and it works.

When one golden unicorn runs its marketing cycle, the makers recycle the same tactics and invent a “new and revolutionary” golden unicorn.

And the end result is always the same. You’re lighter in the wallet, fatter than you were before, and the ab blaster piece of sh*t ends up on your sidewalk waiting for Tuesday morning garbage collection.

infomercial ab blaster

Bottom line

Golden unicorn infomercial pushers are bottom-dwelling scum who cannot sell their wares by honest means. Please do NOT be just another gullible sucker falling into their sales funnels. You are a dollar sign to them, nothing more, nothing less.

Bullshiticus miraculus dieteticus 

Bullsh*t diets have been around for centuries and, like infomercials, there’s no limit to the variety of names or wacky regimens.

How do you know if the diet you’re following is a golden unicorn?

Nine times out of ten, its name fits this syntax:  The  <Fill in the Blank>  Diet.

Here, let’s take a look at some real diet Hall of Shamers.

  • The HCG Diet
  • The Cabbage Soup Diet
  • The Grapefruit Diet
  • The Alkaline Diet
  • The Blood Type Diet

Tried any of these?

Did you lose weight?

Of course you did.

Losing weight is easy when you starve yourself on 500 calories or less per day.

How long did you last on the diet?

One week? Two weeks? Maybe you ran the gauntlet and lasted a full month.


Then what happened?

You eventually said “f*ck this, it’s too hard.” You threw in the towel, went out for a burger, and then scolded yourself for being a failure.

But here’s the thing: you didn’t actually fail the diet. The diet failed you!

When you go from eating 3000 calories down to 500 calories or less per day, your body’s internal physiology and biochemistry goes, “sweet baaaaby Jesus, the famine has arrived!!

Thing is, your body is a lot smarter than any fad diet that ever was or ever will be. You see, your body has a built-in famine response mode to protect you from yourself and idiotic diets.

You might think you’re speeding up your metabolism but, contrary to your wishes, starving yourself actually slows down your metabolism. Your body wants to conserve as much energy as possible, which includes holding onto valuable life-sustaining body fat, because it has no idea how long this famine is going to last.

You might be thinking, “well, wait a minute. How come I lost weight if my body is holding onto fat? That doesn’t make sense to me.”

It’s because you didn’t lose fat, or not that much anyway.

One of the first things you lose on a starvation diet is your muscle glycogen and the water bound to it.

*Glycogen is just a fancy name for stored carbohydrate. It’s stored mainly in your muscles and your liver. (FYI, if you’re scared sh*tless of carbs, read my article Carbohysteria).*

Next, your body begins to break down it’s muscle tissue. This is bad – really bad.

Muscle is your body’s rock star tissue. Muscle is metabolically active and burns more calories than fat tissue per equivalent weight. In other words, it pays a higher metabolic rent in the body to earn its keep.

Not only that, muscle, particularly well-conditioned muscle from regular exercise, protects you from things like heart disease and diabetes by effectively siphoning sugar and fat from your bloodstream and burning it for energy (instead of floating around your body where it can wreak havoc).

Rule: muscle good. No muscle bad.

Fat tissue, on the other hand, is something of a metabolic freeloader… but in a benevolent tough love sort of way. It’s a rich source of valuable energy and burns comparatively fewer calories to earn its keep in the body – which is valuable for keeping you alive during a real famine or prolonged stupid diet.

If you’re starving yourself while on a high protein diet, then you might lose even more weight from peeing out all the excess nitrogen.

Paleo vs Mediterranean diet

If you go into ketosis, then it’s going to be tough (REALLY tough!) to stay on the diet for any length of time because ketones are sort of your DEFCON 1 emergency fuel. Eventually you’ll collapse or get tired of having disgusting smelling breath.

*FYI, check out my related article Fat Burns in the Flame of Carbohydrate

After several weeks of starving yourself on The Golden Unicorn Diet, yes, you may have “lost weight” on the scale, but you definitely haven’t lost as much fat as you think you did.

Tale of the DEXA scan

Last year, I ran before and after DEXA scans on a couple that was doing a so-called “weight loss challenge” at their local gym. They told me they were on a high-protein diet and were exercising six to seven days per week.

When they came back in for their follow-up scans six weeks later, they were smugly bragging about how much “weight” they lost, but the DEXA scan showed them the ACTUAL COMPOSITION of that weight loss.

They each lost a TRUCKLOAD of muscle and, to their astonishment, a comparatively small amount of fat. In fact, because they lost so much muscle, their body fat percentages had actually gone up!

And they were worse off for it because they had lost so much valuable metabolism-stoking muscle.

So what happened? They were under-eating, over-training, and under-recovering.

Bottom line

Focus on slow steady FAT LOSS instead of nebulous golden unicorn goals like “losing weight” or “getting results.” Steer clear of popular diets your friend Britney and Aunt Gertrude are doing and arm yourself with these 13 principles for safe, effective, and permanent fat loss.

Bullshiticus teatoxium 

The market is flooded with all kinds of “teatoxes” which come with all kinds of outlandish health claims.

But what gives? Can you REALLY “detox” yourself into “losing weight” or “cutting the bloat?”

No. It’s physiologically impossible.

It’s not possible because it’s not “toxins” that are causing you to be overweight in the first place.

But you might argue, “What do you mean? I ‘lost weight‘ on a ‘teatox.'”

In my Skinny Teatox, Flat Tummy Tea, Skinnytabs, and SkinnyMint Teatox review articles, I point out that these types of products are, in actual fact, nothing more than exorbitantly overpriced diuretics and laxatives.

Skinny Teatox review

Get ready to piss and sh*t….a lot…because you and your toilet are about to become good friends again (like back in your university days, downing 11 beers, 5 tequila shots, and a bottle of chardonnay every Friday night).

In an article on Science-Based Medicine, Scott Gavura eloquently provides a real definition for detox:

“Detox” is a legitimate medical term that has been co-opted to sell useless products and services. It is a fake treatment for a fake condition. Real detoxification isn’t ordered from a menu at a juice bar, or assembled from supplies in your pantry. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals under life-threatening circumstances — usually when there are dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or other poisons in the body. Drugs used for real detoxification are not ingredients in a smoothie.

Still with me?

Thing is, these “teatoxes,” aside from making you piss and sh*t all day long, often recommend that you improve your diet to, you know, “synergistically enhance the effects of the teatox.”

And I won’t argue, eating better is definitely a good thing and is precisely what any responsible health professional would recommend. But you don’t need to waste your money on overpriced laxatives and diuretics to achieve good health.

Bottom line

Stay alert and don’t fall for the cutesy teatox advertising or the photoshopped Instagram pics. Remember, the business is money and the storefront is health.

Bullshiticus corpus wrapum

Body wraps.

Have you seen “those crazy wrap things?”

You know, the ones where you smear a herbal concoction over your fatty areas, cover yourself plastic wrap, and whammy, you’re thinner!?

I know, kinky right? But hey, who am I to judge…if you’re into that sort of thing?

Body Wraps weight loss

Yes, body wraps have been around for quite a number of years and, like bell bottom jeans and bad haircuts, this golden unicorn keeps coming back.

Can you really “melt away the fat” from those trouble spots with a body wrap?

In a word: no.

Fat doesn’t just melt away through the skin. You need to improve your eating habits and become more physically active.

Sure, you might “lose weight” or see brief cosmetic improvements from a body wrap. However, this is more of a temporary illusion than any lasting effect.

While you may see small reductions in scale weight or inches on the tape measure, the actual composition of your weight loss is not body fat.

By the very nature of being wrapped in plastic (and sometimes heated), you will “lose weight” through sweating and dehydration.

Bottom line

The concept of “spot reduction” has long since been debunked. You cannot melt away fat through the skin. Once you leave the spa and consume food and water, you will replace what you lost in sweat weight.

For more information on body wraps, please see my general body wraps article It Works wraps review.

Bullshiticus Guru Instagramicum

I’ve been doing consumer advocacy work in the health space for well over two decades now and never in my entire career have I seen a bigger cesspool of health misinformation than on Instagram.

I’ll admit, Facebook and Twitter are quite prolific on the douchebaggery scale, but Instagram is a particularly onerous place for someone looking for reliable, trustworthy, and responsible health information.

What do I mean?

Think all of the above: teatoxes, 28-day fitness challenges, diets, fake testimonials, airbrushed images, micro-targeted advertising. It’s all there, on your phone, in your face, in 3D, in full colour.

If you’re a a teenage girl or young adult woman reading this, please know that Instagram is a great place to inspire an eating disorder (#fitspo). It has been studied and linked to poor mental health outcomes.

First, in the quest to rise above the social static and noise, Instagrammers are going to great lengths to image craft and mould their feeds. What you’re seeing is not reality. It’s a carefully coordinated effort to enhance their “personal branding” and social influence.

Second, the “health advice” your getting is, in most cases, questionable. “Influencers” are now getting paid to say a “teatox” was the secret to their success. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

Third, the images you see are often distortions of reality. Some Instagrammers have had surgery, botox, and treatments to make them look like a top-heavy mannequin. The photos are often professionally done, with certain looks accomplished by altering angles, using different lighting, playing with after-effects filters, or, if all else fails, airbrushing in Photoshop.

Aside from social media’s distorted aesthetics, sometimes information can be downright, well, just plain idiotic.

Last year, a young Australian “health coach” named Olivia Budgen when down in a media firestorm for saying that “cancer and disease is your body trying to save you.”

Olivia Budgen instagram quack

She eventually deleted the Instagram post under intense media scrutiny. Then, in a so-called apology video on YouTube, Olivia blamed everyone else for misunderstanding her. To add insult to injury, she doubled down and had the audacity to spruik her ebooks below the video.

Olivia Budgen YouTube 2

In the video, she cited a well-known cancer quack as the source of her comments. Based on her responses to comments, the only thing she appeared to be sorry for was getting called out (below).

Olivia Budgen You Tube

Bottom line

Social media has given a platform and voice to everyone, irrespective of whether or not they’re qualified to give health advice.

If your Instagram feed is plastered with “detoxes,” “cleanses,” “fat-burner” supplements, and 28-day fitness challenges, then you need to unfollow your #fitspo “experts” and “gurus” and follow reputable health professionals instead.

Closing thoughts

Yeah, I know. I sound like the drunk uncle at Christmas time telling the kids there’s no Santa Claus. And sometimes I feel like it too.

Maybe it’s not what you WANT to hear, but it’s certainly what you NEED to hear.

You don’t have to like it either, but sticking your head in the sand and continuing to pretend long-term health comes in a cutesy “teatox” or “fat burner” pill is only going to keep you from achieving safe, sound, and lasting health changes.

I know there’s always that little sliver of hope in the back of your mind, hoping that one of those golden unicorns will work.

But I’ve worked in the health field for a LONG time and I have never, not even once, seen someone attain and maintain good health and body weight by following bad advice and using gimmicks.

Now, having said that, repeat after me:

“Bill, even though I think you’re a smug, sarcastic a$$hole, I will accept your challenge by trading my golden unicorn for more veggies and walking!”

The post Want to Lose Weight and Be Healthy? Then Stop Chasing Golden Unicorns! appeared first on Dr Bill Sukala.

]]> 8