“Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.”
Twain lived in a time of charlatans and snake oil salesmen. It was a time when we knew little about health and science.
And the thing is, times haven't changed all that much.
We have plenty of anecdotal evidence as to what works and what doesn’t, but that doesn’t stop people from forming their beliefs based on information that supports what they want to believe (known as confirmation bias).
We are now starting to see just how “bad” all the "science" pertaining to diet and health has been over the year. But besides all the research in the world, we have the all the evidence that our ancestors left us, which is we will ever need.
In my opinion, the "answer" to what dictates health and proper nutrition has already been “solved" by the paleontologists. But, few believe this because they think some guy in a lab coat (who is probably overweight) should conduct some “study” or “test” to determine what the actual answer is. (Not to mention the problem people have with the idea of "evolution" and how that ties in when studying our ancestors.)
The fact is, until it becomes profitable to fund studies that will end up suggesting that people simply “eat real food,” there will always be a disconnect between what actually works and what others with an agenda push as "what works." (Hint: most corporations fund studies to support their agenda, and that agenda is selling products that aren't good for you or that you don't need.)
So what is the point? The point is to not buy into the hype. Be very selective in whom you take advice from. And when you do take advice, vet it for yourself. If it works, ok. If it doesn’t, ok.
Here is my list of what works for health that I've learned over the years based on anecdotal evidence in my own life and from what I've seen in other people's lives (plus plenty of research):
In simple terms, to live a long and healthy life you do this:
- Eat real food
- Practice calorie restriction and skip meals often (fasting)
- Engage in intense exercise multiple times a week
- Move as much as possible (walk) on a daily basis
- Believe in something
- Have a purpose
- Be social
- Get sunlight
- Balance everything
That’s my list. It works. It has life-saving/changing potential. But that list doesn't sell the latest diet book, or provide much content for Dr. OZ to tout to fat women (and men) across the country. Nor does it sell courses, crappy supplements, or the gimmick ab machines you see on late night infomercials. That single little list could cripple more than one multi-billion dollar industry.
I'm not saying these industries are all evil and out to make a buck at your expense, although some are. What I am saying is most of them don’t know any better, and because of it, they DO end up making a buck at your expense.
In 20 years, there will probably be enough peer-reviewed, scientific evidence that we will all point to as the “answer” to all this health, nutrition and fitness stuff. Maybe it will hit the mainstream and the old fitness and diet fads of the 20th century will start to die.
I dunno. (But I hope so.)
You don’t have to wait for that. You can be an educated consumer. You can buy the best products in the world that are sourced from producers doing things the right way. You can read books and articles and seek out the answers for yourself instead of having some corporation—news or food company—tell you the answers.
When it comes to your health, you should live by the maxim: caveat emptor; let the buyer beware.
In the United States, caveat emptor was the default for American business before the government started regulating industries. Nowadays, there is at least the perception that you, as the consumer, is protected by the government. But this is just perception.
I’ve seen, first hand, how lax the regulations actually are through the development of the initial Wild Foods product line (Wild Coffee, Wild Tea, Wild MCT Oil, Wild Whey).
Of course, we take the opposite approach here at Wild Foods: we actively seek the best ingredients and manufacturing practices for our products. This almost always ends up costing us more. In a way, that makes us proud. We want to have the best products, not the cheapest. And when we are able to get a break by ordering in bulk or by negotiating with our suppliers, we pass that on to our customers (or reinvest it into making the product even better).
But I digress.
It’s time to become an educated consumer. Start asking questions of the products you use and the companies you get them from. Learn how they are made, where the raw ingredients are sourced from and how they are produced. If they are unable to answer your questions because they don’t know, that should raise a red flag.