The 7 Most Dangerous Myths about Health and Wellness
Updated: May 29
It’s your fault that you are unhealthy and/or overweight. It’s not your fault or anyone else’s fault. It's because we are all programmed by our genes to seek out certain types of foods which were critical to our survival in an era when food was not that plentiful. It's because we are inundated with food (and advertising about that food) designed by marketing people to appeal to those genes. It's because we are not given enough, if any, information by the people we trust - including doctors - about the health effects of our diets.
As long as you eat some healthy food you can also eat food which is unhealthy for you. For example, eating a whole grain carrot muffin is OK because it has carrots and whole grains in it. NOT! It is loaded with sugar and simple carbs whose negative effects far outweigh any potential benefit that the carrots and whole grains might provide. Oh, and as it turns out, whole grains are mostly bad for you. So you might as well just go all out and scarf down a sugary donut (or my favorite - a butter croissant) and call it an indulgence.
You can eat anything you want if you exercise enough. This is a particularly dangerous myth because it assumes that food is simply a source of calories. Many foods cause damage to your body that have nothing to do with the calorie count. Indeed, many foods should have warning labels similar to what they put on cigarette packs. Caution: Eating this "Food" May Be Hazardous to Your Health. The definition of food is "any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth." By that definition, most of what we can buy in the grocery store today does not qualify.
Sterilizing everything and avoiding exposure to germs will protect us from diseases. While there are certainly common sense things that we should do to limit excessive exposure to deadly germs, our best defense against diseases is to build a strong immune system. And a big part of our immune response is a healthy digestive system full of good bugs. The surest way to get very ill or die from a deadly germ - such as the current Covid-19 coronavirus - is to have a weak immune system. So, yes, protect yourself from exposure to deadly viruses but, more importantly, eat and drink food that supports a strong immune system. (All disease begins in the gut. - Hippocrates)
The way we eat today - the modern diet - is not that different from how, and what, our ancestors ate. This may be the biggest and most dangerous myth of them all. What we eat today and how it’s prepared is dramatically different from our ancestors and quite different from even our grandparents. This has had a huge impact on our health. Modern processed food, and the large, multinational companies which produce it are a largely post World War II phenomena. In other words, we have all been part of a large experiment which we are starting to discover has not been to our benefit!
Natural foods, whole grains, and anything that says organic on it must be healthy. There are plenty of natural poisons which will kill you outright and many natural things you consume today which are making you sick. Not sick as in having a cold or the flu, but sick as in having diabetes, crohn’s disease, heart disease, etc. This is not to suggest that you should not eat foods that are natural. Most of the food you eat should be as natural as possible but not all natural foods are good for you. And the term "natural' is not used on food labels to mean "unprocessed"; it simply means it starts with a natural product. How your body responds to these processed foods is often not natural, or good.
Our health and wellness is predetermined by our genes. While, sadly, some people are born with serious health problems, the vast majority of us can have a major impact on our health and wellness by changing what we eat and how we live. There are many studies showing that people with serious health issues are able to significantly improve their health by changing their diets. In particular, eating to create a healthy digestive system will go a long way to improving your health. One of the leading proponents of this view is Dr Steven Gundry whose latest book - The Longevity Paradox: How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age - goes into considerable detail on the evidence. I recommend it for those, like me, who want to better understand - in great detail - how different foods impact your health and what you can do about it.
Any dangerous myths you would add? Please share your own favorites as well as your thoughts about the ones listed above.