Over the next few weeks I will be channeling the inner spirit of Dr James Lind. The no-nonsense Scottsman is considered to have conducted the first modern era clinical trial while working aboard the Salisbury ship in 1747. A curious soul, he was appauled by the high mortality rate of scurvy among his young once vibrant sailors, so he decided to do something about it.
He took 12 sailors with the putrid gums, muscle weakness, and laboured breathing common to the condition and divided them into the following treatment groups:
|GROUP (2 sailors each)||REMEDY|
|1||Quart of cider per day|
|3||2 spoons of vinegar|
|5||2 oranges, 1 lemon|
|6||Some sort of electrical procedure.|
Low and behold, within a week the orange/lemon group had miraculously recovered and was deemed fit for duty. Vitamin C deficiency was the culprit and lemon juice became a mandatory part of the seafarer’s diet.
While I would like to say the quality of nutritional research has blossomed since these early relatively simplistic days, that is not the case. Bile from moon bears is still used to treat digestive issues and I still don’t know whether to believe coffee cures, or causes cancer. But rather than discuss how cortisol levels can be lowered by swimming in Kaballah water, the rigorous aspects of online training programs, or the merits of unqualified certification bodies, I will conduct my own experiment. I will implement the same scientific method often propagated as credible science because lets face it, who doesn’t love a bit of science?
HYPOTHESIS: Egg-Salad Sandwiches (from Luni Tuni convenience) Improve Sport Performance and Reduce Inflammatory Responses in Humans.
SUBJECTS: Three or Four folks keen on egg salad. N= 3-4
METHODS: Yes I should take my standardized egg salad and compare it against current best practices such as Gatorade, Powerade, protein shakes or a placebo, but that would be overstepping conventional industry-based study design. I will therefore compare my sandwiches to nothing.
RANDOMIZATION/DOUBLE BLINDING: While it is true that one group (if you can call it that) should randomly be given the intervention while the other gets something else (unbeknownst to me or them), that’s tough to do with egg salad sandwiches. It just goes to show you that real-world clinical trials are tough to conduct.
OBSERVATION: Nutritionists often rely on observational studies – tracking eating habits over a period of time and reporting the results. Well how will I know if it’s the egg-salad that improves performance you ask? Don’t I need to consider the plethora of other factors that could possibly help or hinder my athletes? Yes of course I do but in keeping with tradition I will ignore the uncontrolled and imprecise nature of observation and focus instead on my isolated variable.
HUMAN DIVERSITY: I can already hear those darn academics barking at me for this one:
“ Daniel haven’t you seen the recent study published in the Journal Cell where researchers followed 800 patients and discovered a massive variability in blood sugar responses to the same food? This goes to show that even if your study proves your hypothesis, you can’t cookie cutter your findings and extrapolate those to the general public – human variability is just too great.”
Of course I can, it is done all day, everyday. Nobody reads Cell anyway. In anticipation of this retort I decided to prove the academics wrong with a little pre-experiment, experiment.
I called it TIM vs DAN and it went like this:
Tim Lincecum, Pro Baseball Player: Tim would happily consume three double-double In – N – Out Burgers, two orders of fries and a chocolate shake.
Result: 3 x World Series Champion, 2 x Cy Young Award winner.
Daniel Gallucci, Rehab dude: same diet.
Result: Hot sweats, a weird tremor in the low legs and I just about shit myself. Twice. I guess I was wrong.
Back to the task at hand. Now that I have clearly established my egg salad research design and methodology on par with the profoundly overrun nutritional pseudoscience of today, I must get started. I am looking to hand pick 3-4 individuals with an affinity for heavily sauced egg salad sandwiches.
Please contact me if you would like to participate. Compensation will be provided upon completion of the study.