Food Briefs

Brief but useful information on food and – DNA Testing, Arthritis, Prostate Cancer, Hypoxis, Dioxins and the reuse of plastic bottles

DNA Testing

DNA testing involves the Polymerase Chain Reaction whereby a very small amount of DNA is replicated thousands of times so that there is sufficient quantity of DNA for its identification. This can be very useful in determining WHAT (qualitative) but NOT HOW MUCH (quantitative). This technique is so sensitive that one can even detect the shepherd’s dog in a sample of mutton. Hence, in interpreting the DNA testing of foods one has to bear in mind that the method is not quantitative which is a very serious problem and one has to ask “is this finding significant”. In the United Kingdom it has been decided that a level of contamination in excess of 1% amounts to adulteration. In South Africa the technology to determine meat contamination at the 1% is not yet available; hence scientifically, it is not possible for us to state that there is a significant amount of “horse in our wors”! Ref.


Normally the cartilage covering the bone ends becomes worn in normal use and the body produces enzymes called “proteinases” to remove the debris as necessary. As we get older one of the problems is that the mechanism that switches off the production of proteinases becomes faulty, so the body produces these proteinases continuously and they then attack and destroy the normal cartilage covering the bone joints and the result is arthritis. It has been shown that ingested gelatine accumulated in the joints where it either acted as a sacrificial protein for the proteinases to destroy in preference to healthy cartilage, or it provides the raw materials needed by the cells to produce new cartilage. This is the beginnings of an explanation of why it is that some 70% of arthritis sufferers obtain relief of their pain by consuming 7 grams or two heaped teaspoons full of gelatine daily. (Two teaspoonfuls of powdered gelatine stirred into half a glass of cold fruit juice and swallowed, is a reasonable way of taking gelatine).

The treatment has to be continuous and the results develop with time – it takes time to regrow new cartilage to replace that destroyed by the over-active proteinase production. Scientifically controlled studies have also shown that gelatine consumption promotes nail and hair growth. In the past, regular consumption of meat-based soups would have given an adequate supply of gelatine in the diet.

Hypoxis – African Potato & HIV / AIDs

Garlic, onions, African potato and virgin olive oil don’t boost the immune system of HIV-positive people. In fact excessive use of these ingredients could be detrimental to health. Human studies on the African potato had to be terminated because patients taking the extract had shown severe bone-marrow suppression. Garlic interacts with some anti-AIDs drugs and reduces their efficiency. Janicker Visser, a dietician who presented a paper at the 2004 HIV/AIDs and Nutrition Symposium said that there was no convincing scientific evidence that these items could boost immunity or alter the course of HIV/AIDs. Persons suffering from HIV / AIDs like anyone inflicted with a disease or injury or who is convalescing, need to follow a sound balanced diet which may be beyond the knowledge or means of most.

For more information on HIV & diet go to the article HIV AIDS NUTRITION on this website.

Dioxins and the reuse of plastic bottles

The Internet has been flooded with email warnings to avoid the reuse of plastic bottles so as not to be exposed to carcinogenic dioxins. One hoax email has been erroneously attributed to Johns Hopkins University. The University strongly denies having any association with any statement that implies that the reuse of plastic food or drink containers poses any health hazard to the user as long as proper hygienic precautions are taken before reuse.

Reviewed for FACS by BCo (2016)