How Can We Deal with Contradictory Health Claims?
Everyone wants to get healthier. Some people are more successful than others at getting and staying healthy.
Some people exercise every day and some occasionally. Some people never eat sugary foods and some eat sweets as a treat only on the weekend. Many people eat sugary foods at every meal. People are also becoming more aware of the value of playing games or just laughing as a way to reduce stress which contributes to poor health. There are many different ways to play games as a way to remove stress such as online casino gaming, playing computer games, and actually playing the games physically.
In short, we all have our own way of maintaining our health.
Some people try to do their own research on health issues. Here is where a big problem lies: especially online but also from the professionals we talk to, there is a lot of contradictory information about health.
What to do?
What Once Was Healthy
We heard not so long ago that a small amount of red wine is good for us but we now hear that even small quantities of alcohol taken every day is not good for us.
We read that potatoes are a great source of fiber and other nutrients but now we read that potatoes are like other “white” foods such as white rice, table sugar, white bread or pasta and so on: potatoes turn into sugar in our bloodstream quickly and that’s not good for us.
Lactating women were told to drink beer because the yeast is good for them. Then they were told to stay away from alcohol.
Dairy was once a healthy food but we now hear that dairy might not be the healthy food we once thought it was. And so goes yogurt.
Margarine was developed as a healthy alternative to butter. Now, margarine is a hated trans fat. Butter made a small revival and was then replaced by olive oil.
So, now, even olive oil, once the centerpiece of the healthy Mediterranean diet is being criticized for a link to cancer and other problems. The Arab men who lived long lives and drank a thimble-full of pure olive oil every morning might say otherwise.
Corn oil was developed as the healthy alternative to lard. Now, while lard is still not considered a healthy fat, corn oil is no longer seen as the savior of the desire for good health.
The ketogenic diet says that we should eat far less carbohydrate and replace it with protein foods and fat. The Pritikin formula is to increase whole non-white carbohydrates to 65% of our calories while fat gets 15% and protein gets 20%.
Soy is good as a replacement for meat but soy has female hormones which may be bad for men and may be bad for some women as well.
Ocean fish such as salmon are rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients but the salmon flesh is polluted to the extent that it can no longer be considered a healthy food.
Correlation versus Causation
One of the problems we have in finding the right formulas for ourselves is to understand the vast difference between a correlation and a cause. There might be a higher incidence in some cancers amongst vegan women but that doesn’t mean that their vegan diet caused their cancer.
There might be a higher correlation of diabetes amongst people who drink soft drinks but that doesn’t prove that the soft drinks cause the diabetes.
Ill health has many causes so, what to do?
Listen to Your Body
Your body can tell you if what you’re doing is good for you or bad for you. Many people have given up on dairy foods because they cause a build-up of mucus in the body. Others give up dairy because it contributes to joint inflammation. Still, others give up dairy because they are afraid that the hormones given the cows might have a deleterious long term effect on them. And many people eat dairy freely with no side effects.
You can try the ketogenic diet for a short period of time. If you feel good and you don’t miss starchy foods, you can stay on the diet. The same applies to the Pritikin diet: you can try it out for a period of time and evaluate how you feel physically and psychologically.
Both the ketogenic diet and the Pritikin diet have vocal advocates but some people on the keto diet find themselves with terrible cravings for such foods as an apple while people on the Pritikin diet may find themselves craving pizza or steak.
Both of these diet plans are radical and few people can stick with them long term.
The same holds true for the vegan diet. It is so restrictive that people who are not completely committed to it psychologically fall off the vegan formula at some time. One of the biggest problems with the vegan diet is that while it restricts animal products it doesn’t restrict calories and many people gain weight on this eating system.
There are many different forms of sugar. Learn to recognize them so you can determine if any given food is a sugary food or has just a very small amount of sugar.
Some people do very well by eliminating as many processed foods as they can. This is not easy as most foods are processed but foods with long shelf life are more highly processed than foods with a short shelf life.
American beer brewed in a large company has sugar and preservatives while beer brewed under the German government formula has only four ingredients: yeast, barley, hops, and water.
Whole grains have more fiber and other nutrients than processed grains but they become the same amount of sugar in your bloodstream albeit less quickly than processed grains.
Even if you don’t have any chronic disease, the food you eat has to processed by your body in some way. In your stomach and intestines, the food is converted into sugar. This process is slow for some foods and very fast for others. Protein foods are converted to very little sugar and oils, not at all.
A healthy body then produces insulin to take the sugar from your bloodstream to your millions of cells. Too much sugar in the blood damages internal organs. This may be a slow process but it is also an inexorable one. A healthy body will take all the sugar to the body’s cells where if there is too much sugar it gets converted into body fat.
We can’t know for sure which health information is best for us unless we perform our own experiments on ourselves. Until we know for sure, the best way to stay healthy is to eat small meals and get some exercise every day.
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