Have you ever wondered why it seems that every time we’re told that we’re supposed to do something for our health, or eat something for our health, it’s just a matter of time before that healthy thing is no longer healthy, and we’re never supposed to do it or eat it again?
Remember when you were supposed to eat margarine instead of butter, because butter had too much saturated fat. Then a few years later margarine was suddenly worse than butter, because it had trans-fats? We were also supposed to avoid the sugar or corn syrup in soda, but then we heard all kinds of terrible things about artificial sweeteners like aspartame found in diet soda?
Next it was eat less fat, because fat makes you fat, but then that changed to eat all the fat you want, but avoid carbs like the plague. Garlic is good for this, and dark chocolate is good for that. Acai berries and flax seeds are good for this, while fish oil and gingko biloba are good for something else. Get the point?
It may seem so confusing that the idea of trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle in terms of diet seems like a waste of time. What’s the point of even trying, if everything we try is only going to be found worthless a few months down the road?
Well the truth is that actual health information has not changed that much for a very long time. You only think it has. The problem is that as people became fatter and fatter, they got more concerned with health. The News outlets know it, and so they feel compelled to have a “health segment” on just about every news broadcast, podcast, website and newspaper. Seriously, try to find a paper without a “health” section. How are they really supposed to put anything in that section and call it news? Well that’s exactly the problem.
You have to start by understanding how research really works. Then you can see why the things you are constantly hearing are so misleading. The easiest way to understand this is with a simple example.
Let’s say some researchers do a study, and they grab a group of people and give half of them a pill made of garlic, and the other half a fake pill (placebo), and then follow them for 5 years. Then let’s say that at the end of the 5 year study they discover that the group taking the garlic pills had a lower rate of heart attack. The actual researchers would simply note that garlic intake may play a role in heart attack prevention, and say that it deserved more study. They are well aware that there could be many more factors involved.
But that’s not what you would hear on the news. The news would show a 15-30 second clip with newscaster staring into the camera and telling you that a fancy new study shows garlic prevents heart attacks, along with some witty background picture with an I heart garlic reference.
A bunch of people would run out and buy garlic pills, only to find out a year later that another new study shows that garlic does not prevent heart attacks at all, and may even cause cancer. Then everyone would through away their garlic pills because they don’t want cancer.
These are just examples, so if any garlic farmers are reading this just calm down.
The problem is that people don’t understand how research actually works. In reality, research works like a balance.
When research is done, and there is some kind of conclusion drawn, they put it on one end of the scale. When other research is done and shows something different, it goes on the other side of the scale. After many years of research, and many studies, the scale will start to tip in one direction. This tipping of the scale is what leads professionals to make health recommendations based on real evidence. The individual studies have little or no meaning all by themselves.
We will never be able to get the media to stop reporting the results of each individual study as if each study has some meaning all by itself. But the moral of the story is this. Stop looking to your local news for health advice. You shouldn’t be doing that in the first place.
If you want to do something about your health you should talk to a professional. There are a number of health care providers who spend the majority of their time helping people just like you become truly healthy. If you take advantage of their care and expertise, you will greatly increase your chances of obtaining your health goals.