It's not exactly new, the idea that eating certain foods affects your health
“An apple a day…”, “you are what you eat…”, folk wisdom suggests a long history of people understanding how diet and health are entwined.
As last night’s Horizon (BBC2) forgot to point out, within this history of humans controlling what they put into their bodies, fads and crazes are not new either.
Mr Kellogg, inventor of the cornflake, was influenced by the Seventh-day Adventist Church which believed a diet based on the rules laid down for the Israelites in the Old Testament was the route to a long, sickness-free life.
Clean eating, the latest bit of on-trend food consciousness and the target of last night’s probe, is really nothing more than healthy eating.
The difference, as biologist Dr Giles Yeo found out, is how seriously it’s taken and by whom.
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram would seem, on the basis of last night’s viewing, to be the bread and butter of clean eating.
Across the globe, people from top chefs and cookery writers to ordinary enthusiasts at home post snaps of their creations which typically involve a lot of vegetables and a complete absence of meat, dairy and anything processed.
These “healthy” snapshots form a sort of gateway to buying the hefty cookbooks and diet guides of a coterie of clean-eating gurus.
Horizon appears on BBC2
Social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram would seem, on the basis of last night’s viewing, to be the bread and butter of clean eating
These mostly just advise lots of colourful, fresh fruit and veg and an avoidance of the stuff everyone knows to be fairly bad for them.
The Hemsley sisters, who declined to comment, might call their bone broth an “elixir” but ultimately they’re not saying anything that generations of chicken soup-cooking grannies haven’t covered already.
The real problem for Dr Yeo it seemed was that the likes of the Hemsleys had been influenced by an older generation of scientists and pseudo scientists whose theories were not sufficiently proven.
So there was Dr William Davis, author of the bestselling Wheat Belly, proudly telling Dr Yeo that he’d seen blood cells turning into bacteria under his microscope.
Behind the scenes of BBC Breakfast
Thu, December 29, 2016
BBC Breakfast: Behind the scenes with Carol Kirkwood, Dan Walker, Naga Munchetty, Louise Minchin and the gang.
1 of 11
Pasha Kovalev dished the dirt on his strictly partners Naga Munchetty and Carol Kirkwood
Then there was Dr T Colin Campbell, whose China Study has influenced untold numbers to cut out meat and dairy despite being based on a flawed statistical model.
Out on the furthest fringes meanwhile was Robert Young, acknowledged by top food writers, with a PhD from a diploma mill and facing imprisonment after a cancer patient died in his care.
He may not have come across as squeaky clean in this show but it also felt like the presenter was chasing his tail.
A line acknowledging Dr So-and-so in a recipe book is barely relevant to the people cooking the recipes and not on a par with someone paying thousands for a cancer treatment in the falsely engendered belief that it will help them.
The science underpinning clean eating may be faulty but the common sense surely isn’t.
That same common sense perhaps reminded Archduke Franz Ferdinand to put on his vest on a warm June day in 1914.
It was a silk vest and, as one of the stranger televised experiments in last night’s Sword, Musket & Machine Gun: Britain’s Armed History (BBC4) proved, unexpectedly good at repelling gunshots.
All the great and good of Europe wore silk body armour at the time.
But as history testifies, even the most bulletproof of vests can’t stop a bullet hitting the rest of you.