Saturday, October 22, 2011

Health myths - it never ends

The more I read about healthy food and the more I apply rules, the more I notice the contradictions involved. It seems that science isn't much wiser than a hundred or more years ago when people believed in witches, the earth being the centre of the universe and so on. And in fact, why should we believe we are better off, just because we have the internet and the microwave?

Perhaps the biggest myth subject, and mentioned on this blog several times before, is Vitamin C. Does it help during a cold, how much should you take, do you need extra Vitamin C, what is it good for, how much is healthy / unhealthy, the list goes on.

Some time ago, the internet brought up the claim that it doesn't help to consume extra Vitamin C when you have a cold because that doesn't make you recover faster. Well... here is the problem: Define "extra Vitamin C".

There is a recommendation for the daily consumption of Vitamin C. So whenever you hear "extra Vitamin C" or "normal intake" of Vitamin C, it always relates to whatever was established by whoever. That doesn't mean the information you get helps you in any way.

For example, if the recommendation for one person is to consume 100 mg of Vitamin C a day, then there is no surprise if a university finds out that taking in 120 mg during a cold doesn't make a difference, even though that's a 20 per cent raise in Vitamin C intake. But what if some doctors don't recommend 100 mg, but 10 to 30 times as much? Could that make a difference? I guess so, because there is always a study that proves something else.

So here we have lesson number one: Whatever someone proved can easily be proved wrong or to be different somewhere else.

The story goes on. Next issue: The potato. I am astonished to realise that started a war on this topic claiming it is now suddenly okay to eat the skin of potatoes or to eat raw potatoes if certain criteria are met, mostly the potato having to be very fresh. Well, I still don't trust it and remembering the hysteria from some years back, potato skin is extremely poisonous and can cause death. Thank you, not interested in trying any experiments.

Then there is carbohydrates... oh hell... I hate this topic. Yes, it's about bread not being so unhealthy at all. The most common claims are these: First: Bread as such doesn't make you fat. Second: Wholemeal bread is better than other bread because it's the "better" carbs that are not so sugary.
My point here: First, bread as such does not make you fat, correct. You need to eat tons of bread before you gain weight, but who eats bread alone with nothing on it? Bread always goes with something else, you know. We don't live in 3rd world countries or in jail where that might be the case. So bread goes with other things that are either very sweet or very fat. And that, combined with the sugar that is in the bread, has the combined effect of making a person fat. In the long run. If they don't do a lot of physical work and eat too much of what they eat.
And about the whole "the type of bread is important" thing... it's still sugar, and one fourth of the population where I live have either diabetes or the stage before diabetes where any kind of sugar is dangerous and therefore it's not healthy.

Second lesson I learn: There is always a lobby for whatever thing is being preached. How do I know? Well... it's the way stories keep spinning. There are bakeries all over the country and bread is staple food, and they market it as being so healthy. But I don't get it. They even say it's healthy because of the fibres... because that helps digestion. Excuse me? If that is the only reason for it being healthy then I'd rather eat nuts, vegetables and fruits because they will give me all that extra shit on top of the vitamins for free.

Another thing: Saying that vitamin pills are dangerous. Yeah, we have all heard the stories. Comparing two groups of people over a period of time to find out that the one that took those pills died earlier than the one that didn't take supplements in the form of pills.

My comment here: Could it be that the ones who took the pills are also the ones who never had time to eat healthy, who only rushed from appointment to appointment and took the pills as a substitute? Besides, yes, I have read what the biological cause can be: Individual vitamins can be dangerous if they appear alone. Vitamin E for example has the task of protecting the body from things that can turn into cancer (I will keep it simple) but can also turn aggressive if not accompanied by Vitamin C. So how do you solve the problem? Easy: With every pill taken, add juice, vegetables or fruits. It also makes the vitamin more efficient.

I'm really tired of all this. Especially since they make it sound so urgent and demanding everytime they "find out" something new. Really, it tires me. Then they are always like "Never do this!" or "Beware of the danger!" and so on. Just stop it...

What are the parties involved here... let's sum it up.

Media: Willing whore of any company or person who is willing to pay enough money to get a message across.

Food production "mafia": Selling their food as staple food, healthy, essential, which it doesn't need to be.

Scientists: They need money, too. And it's always possible to prove something when you only use the studies in which the things happened that you want to prove. Just leave out the other 25000 studies that say the opposite.

Pharmaceutical companies: Trying hard to come up with a cure for everything, always disregarding the natural cure available in food, making everything look esoteric that is not based on scientific facts (see above). I also see a connection between them and the authorities when it comes to recommendations.

The "Authorities": Half-assed state-controlled or half-state-controlled institutes that give out advice and recommendations. Their knowledge is usually based on stuff from the 50s and 60s and if what they said was true, eskimoes couldn't exist (because they don't eat carbs).