Dr. Biju James takes you through all the scientific …errr rather Social media evidence /of the latest diet advices one would encounter!!!

My doctor looked from the computer screen to me. From his expression, I could read my cholesterol levels to two decimal points. He took off his glasses, sighed sadly and began, “As you know, there is good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, or HDL and LDL. You have to increase your good cholesterol levels and bring down your bad cholesterol levels. I am sure you can check on the internet and find foods that will boost the good cholesterol and avoid foods with bad cholesterol.”

“All this stuff is too complex,” I replied. “Can I just eat food with Indifferent Cholesterol?”

The doctor managed a sad smile. “Good joke.”

Actually, though we can find every kind of medical information on Google, we can also find it in the most unexpected of places. Occasionally, knowledge is thrust upon us.

At a buffet once, my friend asked, “You are drinking tea?”

I couldn’t deny it. So I replied, “Yes.”

“No milk?”

“No. The cardiology websites say that adding milk reduces the positive effects of tea. Apart from the whole thing about good and bad cholesterol.” (See above for detailed description)

“You know, tea is quite high in oxalate and this can lead to calcium oxalate stones. If you add milk, some of the oxalate gets bound to the Calcium in the milk and doesn’t get absorbed.”

“So the choice is between having a cardiac issue and having renal stones?”

My friend nodded. “Effectively. Believe me, if you were experiencing a renal colic, you would prefer anything else.”

“What about green tea?”

“Same issue but different type of calculi, if you want to split hairs.”


“Dilutional hyponatremia. Good people have just keeled over and died.”

“Dilutional hyponatremia. Is that even a thing?”

My friend nodded sagely. “Trust me. It is a thing.” He was holding a plate laden with salad leaves having fifty shades of green with some tendrils curling around the plate. Just looking at that thing improved my health.

We were joined at the table by a generously built doctor who shall remain nameless to protect my identity. He had surrounded himself with at least five plates laden with food, including salads from the salad bar and pastries from the dessert table. He motioned to the waiter with the drinks tray, held out a pudgy index finger and said, “One Diet Coke.”

I know what you must be thinking- ‘Diet Coke? Why not Diet Pepsi?’

Guidelines about some food items appear to keep changing. Take eggs, at least a dozen of them and then.. Okay- that’s for another article actually. Are eggs good for you? Or bad? Should you eat the full egg? Just the egg white? Or only the yolk? Or just look at pictures of eggs? And, if all this confusion wasn’t enough, there are some articles about the benefits of the egg shell.

I did find an article on the BBC website about the egg. Adding it to salads increases how much vitamin E we get. One egg contains more than half of the recommended daily cholesterol intake on the other hand. There have been studies showing consumption of eggs are good for your heart and some stating exactly the opposite. For variety, you might find articles suggesting spitting into eggs before cooking increases the antibodies in it (hopefully, you won’t try this at home). The egg shells are a wonderful source of calcium, a suggestion that might crack you up.

So what’s the bottom line? Nobody. Knows.

In the future, ordering food might be like this:

‘Welcome to Fantastic Foods. To continue in English, press 1.’ 1. ‘This conversation is not being recorded for quality assurance and training purposes because, frankly we don’t have the time to go through the whole boring conversation. Again. To place a new order, press 1.’ 1. ‘Please listen to our options carefully: Press 1 for healthy tasteless food. Press 2 for unhealthy tasty food. Press 3 for healthy tasty food. Press 4 for unhealthy tasteless food. Press 5 for extremely tasty totally unhealthy food. Press…’ 1. ‘Please enter your weight in kilograms followed by the hash key.’ () ‘Please enter your last LDL level followed by a random emoji’

At which juncture, you hang up, order pizza with extra cheese and enjoy- how you have been doing it all along.

The future of food is already here.

Dr. Biju James is a Radiologist in the UAE and is a prolific quizmaster and author.