I tried to avoid this term for a long time. But how else can I describe what is happening right now? It seems like everything that’s being identified as bad for health is being replaced with something even worse. What is really sad about the whole situation, is that the replacement is being touted as healthy. I am not sure if it is due to lack of research, but we should not be jumping to conclusions too quickly.
Let me elaborate a bit more and cite some examples. Let’s tackle fat first. It seemed logical that when you eat fat you get fat. After all it is the same and looks the same so it is easy to believe this notion. After a lot of so-called experts voiced their opinions and the media jumped on the bandwagon, the whole society became paranoid of eating fat.
So the funding became available for more research and after some more studies it became clear that not all fats were created equal. Saturated fat became the scapegoat since it was identified as a building block of artery clogging cholesterol. And the media frenzy followed with a “heart-attack” scare campaign. This seemed to benefit the manufacturers of cheap, processed plant oils. The solution to the problem were polyunsaturated oils and shortenings full of partially hydrogenated fatty acids.
Today we know that trans-fats are the bad guys. So let’s ban all trans-fats. It does not matter that like with everything else, there are good and bad varieties of trans-fats. Citing not enough research into the subjects, the health experts, food manufacturers and politicians are all racing to get rid of the poisonous trans-fats from the diet. New York City and Starbucks are recent examples.
All this is of course benefiting the big pharma. If people are not overweight, then the multi-billion dollar patents into diet pills will be worthless. Same goes for every other modern affliction; diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cholesterol just to name a few. But who funds the studies into diet in the first place? Sometimes it is transparent, and sometimes not so clear.
In fact, fat is not the real issue when it comes to obesity and diabetes. The traditional Japanese diet was low fat and there was no epidemic of obesity there. But what about other cultures’ diets that were high in (saturated) fat as well as the Atkins diet? They also have proven their worth in the fight against obesity. The common factor in both examples was the lack of sugar (fructose). So we have studies into this subject and now we have some alternatives. There is of course the push back from the sugar industry but diet conscious people are switching to the zero calorie artificial sweeteners.
Saccharin touted as diabetes friendly is now found to cause it even faster. Aspartame and its derivatives are found to be carcinogenic. Sucralose (Splenda) is becoming the new aspartame. Fructose and HFCS are now found to be causing liver damage. The list goes on.
And what about exercise? Again we are given wrong advice. Cardio, cardio and more cardio seems to be the accepted notion. But is it working? You just have to look around. Visit any gym. The majority of people are middle-aged and overweight and mostly occupy the treadmills and bikes. Aerobics lost its appeal, but in its place we have Zumba and spin classes. More of the same and with the same results – none. What seems to be the problem? Ah, not enough exercise they say. Now, if you have to run a full marathon just to burn off one burger, it not only can be discouraging, it’ll never work. Not many will have sufficient willpower to accomplish this.
By the way, running marathons is not a good way to health. People get RSI from just typing on a computer keyboard. Just imagine the stress on joints, muscles and bones from running for hours every day. Furthermore, body adapts to the demand and becomes more efficient. More efficient at storing energy, nutrients, water, oxygen… And that is bad because while you become smaller, your lung capacity gets also smaller and the energy from food gets stored more efficiently, usually as fat.
It seems to me that we are turning into a sick and obese society with brittle bones and very dependent on the health system, especially past the middle-age. Is this how we want to be? Is this what we want? To work hard for the better part of the life and as a reward lose all the savings to hospitals and pharmaceutical companies? Of course, on the way there, the food manufacturers collect a healthy profit from us. Taxation makes sure that science does “proper” research. Insurance companies come up with better and better plans that always fill up their coffers. All the while we end up unable to fend for ourselves and cannot function without medicines.
I think it’s time for humanity to reclaim the well-being that we were meant to have. It’s time to start thinking about our future. It’s time to live well and long. It’s time to listen to our bodies and stop abusing them. It’s time to start thinking for ourselves and draw conclusions from past mistakes. It’s time to take charge of our own health and fitness. It’s time to stay in shape 🙂