Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Miracle Health Drink?

A Miracle Health Drink?
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Q: Are you familiar with Himalayan Goji Juice? I have heard many health claims, including strong anti-aging effects for goji berries. -- Chen A: Goji berries and the juice made from them seem to be the latest rage among those who think a single food can accomplish nutritional miracles. Goji berries are being promoted as the most nutritionally dense food on earth, packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The health claims being made for them and their juice are wide-ranging: anti-aging effects; implied benefits in the prevention and treatment of cancer, diabetes, arthritis, digestive problems; and, of course, they're being touted as a means of weight loss and weight control, always a sure-fire way to attract customers. Although promoters mention "studies" that supposedly support these effects, no specific scientific studies were cited on any of the several websites I visited to learn more about goji berries. In a search of peer-reviewed medical literature, I found no studies at all on goji berries.
I've heard similar health claims, many times before, for other products, none of which has proved over the years to be the great secret to good health and longevity. Goji juice is expensive - about $30 per half liter (18 ounces). If you follow recommendations to drink four ounces a day, a month's supply will cost you about $200, a high price to pay for an unproven product.
In addition to my doubts about the unsupported health claims, I am prejudiced against the multi-level marketing through which goji juice and goji berries are sold - you can buy them only through distributors who make money not only through their own sales but those of the people they recruit. My advice? Save your money and bank on proven nutritional strategies to optimize your health.
Andrew Weil, MD
Last Reviewed: July 2005

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