Tuesday's at 8pm, Channel 4
In a pioneering new eight-part specialist factual series, Channel 4 examines the science behind using food as medicine. In experiments conducted with strict scientific rigour, patients suffering from a range of medical conditions and symptoms are invited to attend The Food Hospital where they are prescribed specific food treatment programmes to find out if their health problems can be alleviated or cured by the food they eat.
At the hospital, patients can have detailed consultations with a GP, a specialist consultant related to their condition, and a leading NHS dietitian after which they are advised how to integrate particular foods into their diets or leave them out. The Food Hospital follows the patients as they undertake their new food treatment programmes and attend follow-up appointments to monitor their progress. The experiments taking place at The Food Hospital, under the supervision of the medical team, aim to reveal the untold health benefits and medicinal properties of certain foods, whilst busting myths about some of the widely-held misconceptions and old wives' tales. The patients in the series have conditions ranging from common problems like chronic fatigue and eczema, and the more unusual such as fish odour syndrome and gout, to life-threatening diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and breast cancer.
The experts in the programme include: Mr Shaw Somers, Specialist Consultant Gastrointestinal and Bariatric surgeon; Lucy Jones, who is Senior Specialist Dietitian at the Whittington Hospital, North London and General Practitioner Dr Giovanni Miletto.
Online, The Food Hospital seeks to put this emerging area of medical science to the test nationwide by inviting viewers to take part in scientific studies conducted by a British university and a research institution. These will constitute valuable research into how simple foodstuffs could improve illnesses, on a national scale.
The Food Hospital #1 - Tue 1 Nov, 8pm, Channel 4
In the first programme, the doctors meet 24-year-old Lauren, who has been suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) since she was 15. Her case is so extreme, with symptoms such as weight gain, fertility problems and most noticeably, excessive body and facial hair, that Lauren fears living as a virtual recluse forever unless she can find help. Crippling migraines are destroying 7-year-old Harvey's life, and his mother will try anything to help her son. Twenty-five-year-old twin sisters Kristen and Maren are trying to use food as a weapon against breast cancer. And can 44-year-old single dad Chris turn around the world's fifth biggest killer, Type 2 diabetes, with food?
But it's not just about treating patients. Dr Pixie McKenna (Embarrassing Bodies) investigates the truth about ‘superfoods'. And The Food Hospital launches a series of ambitious nationwide ‘food as medicine' trials, kicking off this week to see if chocolate can help fight high blood pressure.
The Food Hospital #2 - Tue 8 Nov, 8pm, Channel 4
The Food Hospital doctors meet Karen and her six-year-old son, Callum, whose lives are both blighted by psoriasis. Karen fears her son will get bullied, as she was, because his lesions are so noticeable. No amount of creams and potions seem to help, so Karen and Callum are turning to food after conventional medicine has failed. Professional singer Sophie suffers from such severe acid reflux that, if it continues, it could spell the end of her career. After 13 years of this condition, she is also at risk of Barrett's Oesophagus, which can increase the risk of cancer. Sixteen-year-old Rianna is looking for an answer to her distressing and unexplained hair loss. And can obese 38-year-old father Ian reverse his dangerously fatty liver through food, and increase his life expectancy? Dr Pixie McKenna investigates the truth about vitamin supplements, asking if they have any real benefit to our health. And The Food Hospital launches its second Big Food Trial to see if food can help lower our cholesterol levels, asking the nation to take part online channel4.com/thefoodhospital.
The Food Hospital #3 - Tue 15 Nov, 8pm, Channel 4
In the third instalment the Food Hospital experts employ cutting-edge research as they treat a 19-year-old dancer with Crohn's Disease, an ex-soldier with a sleep disorder, and a man whose sperm needs a boost if he's to father the child he wants so much. And one of Britain's growing numbers of morbidly obese teenagers is taught how to approach food again after her gastric bypass surgery. Dr Pixie McKenna discovers the truth about sports drinks: do they really boost energy or are they an expensive irrelevance? And, with one in ten of us reliant on sleeping pills, viewers get the chance to take part in a nationwide survey aiming to add to the growing evidence that there might be a natural remedy to insomnia, in the third Big Food Trial, on channel4.com/thefoodhospital.
The Food Hospital #4 - Tue 22 Nov, 8pm, Channel 4
Through the hospital doors this week - 36-year-old Garrett who's in constant pain from gout. Despite age-old associations with old men and rich living, Garrett's gout is hereditary and he's desperate for advice on how to control it and reduce his incapacitating joint pain. Twenty years of living with depression brings 37-year-old Debbie to see The Food Hospital doctors in the hope of a new approach to managing her condition. Suzi, a mum of three young children, has survived on a diet of just pancakes and chocolate bars for two years. Her faddy diet is seriously damaging her health. Suzi is deficient in many of the key vitamins and minerals and without help she'll risk life threatening complications like organ failure. And 31-year-old Tristan who comes to see the doctors about his persistent eczema, but gets a much more shocking and serious health warning. Also, Dr Pixie McKenna discovers the truth about detox diets: do they actually make us any healthier or are we simply overlooking the power of our own digestive systems?
The Food Hospital #5 - Tue 29 Nov, 8pm, Channel 4
The Food Hospital experts meet 42-year-old Ellie who has a rare and traumatising condition called Fish Odour Syndrome. She gives off odours ranging from sulphur to rotting garbage and the reactions she gets have taken her mentally to the brink. By taking her treatment into her own hands and cutting out whole food groups without medical supervision, Ellie's relationship with food has been destroyed and her health has been put at risk. Severe eczema has taken over 16-year-old Toby’s life, to the extent that he fears ever being able to fulfil his dream of becoming aeroplane cabin crew through fear of people’s reactions to his noticeable, crusty lesions. Thirty-year-old mum Michelle suffers from crippling pain due to suspected gallstones. Can Shaw and Lucy treat her with just food, thus avoiding surgery? Lucy and Gio myth-bust hangover cures with three hard drinking students from Leeds the morning after a big binge drinking session. Plus, Dr Pixie McKenna investigates the truth about health claims on food packaging – does food always really do what it says on the tin?
The Food Hospital #6 - Tue 6 December, 8pm, Channel 4.
In episode six, The Food Hospital experts treat Taigh, a 19-year old fitness instructor so food phobic that she's never even eaten a vegetable, Anne who is going through the menopause and her hot flushes are ruining her life, 39-year-old photographer Kate whose diet could be causing her spine to fuse. Can an experimental food plan help control her disabling condition? They may have the body beautiful, but are the gargantuan appetites of a wannabe Mr & Mrs Universe killing them from the inside? The first Big Food Trial results are in - how have the group study from episode three and viewers taking part remotely via www.channel4.com/thefoodhospital, facebook.com/thefoodhospital and the iPhone app got on with their Insomnia? And, in ‘The Truth About' Dr Pixie McKenna investigates whether do-it-yourself Food Intolerance Tests can really tell us which ingredients make us ill.
The Food Hospital #7 - Tue 13 December, 8pm, Channel 4
In programme seven of The Food Hospital, 47-year-old Alan, who suffers from painful and embarrassing bloating, gets more than he bargained for when consultant surgeon Shaw Somers reveals the shocking news that his body is more like that of a 62-year-old and that he has Metabolic Syndrome - a whole host of life threatening conditions from high blood pressure and cholesterol to full blown Type 2 Diabetes. If he is to increase his life chances, Alan is going to have to take immediate action implementing Dietitian Lucy Jones' tailor-made food plan, or he may have no choice but to go straight onto medication. Twenty-three-year-old Dawn's life is blighted by extremely bad breath. She's self-conscious with other people and rarely gets kissed on the lips by her man. Dawn is desperate to know what foods will help her banish her halitosis forever. Meanwhile, for another young woman called Steph, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has impacted normal life for the past 13 years. Can Lucy and GP Gio Miletto's experimental plan help cure a controversial illness that has no proven causes? Joan is in her fifties and has high blood pressure - a common condition that can be fatal. People of Afro-Carribean origin, like Joan, are far more likely to suffer from high blood pressure. Joan has lost many in her family to the consequences of this condition and she's willing to do anything to avoid the same fate. In this week's 'The Truth About...' Dr Pixie McKenna talks to a top cancer expert, to find out what foods in our diets can influence cancer, both good and bad.
Notes to Editors
The official book, to coincide with The Food Hospital, is written by the series' three experts, and is out 10 November, published by Michael Joseph.
Prod Co: Betty
Series Prod: Neil Smith
Exec Prods: Sarah Freethy and Walter Iuzzolino
Series Dir : Vicki Cooper
Comm Ed: Tanya Shaw