You know how in the cosmic battleground of vaxxers versus anti-vaxxers, those that malign people that refuse to take the vaccine often like to point out (in a derisive manner) that having ‘done their own research’ usually just means they’ve watched a Youtube video or a read an article linked on FaceBook… its usually inferred that reading kooky stuff online and making life choices based on this ‘research’ is a really bad idea.
Don’t worry, this is not a vaccine post. For further context I’m double jabbed… because well… I interestingly choose to believe some of the information I’m exposed to… but disregard other information. (I also believe its your body and no one has the right to tell you what to do with it, fuck mandates, but I’ll also punch you in the face if you call me a sheeple).
Having said all of that… I do my own research on LOADS of stuff. And really so does everyone else. From politics, to ideology and philosophy, spirituality and… *dramatic pause* diet! Why is ‘doing your own research’ used as stick with which to beat the anti-vaxxers? Don’t we all do it?
Nutrition is weirdly controversial. I feel it should almost be put on the Verboten-list. You know the list of things you don’t discuss with other parents at a kids birthday party. People get super angry about food. (steals a quick glance at the Vegans… but then looks away and pretends to rub his eye so as to avoid confrontation). I have long since learned to curb my enthusiasm somewhat and NOT introduce myself as a godless libertarian ideologue who thinks we should all be bow-hunting at least some of the stuff in our larder at these sorts of events.
Tough to make friends after that. (or even have them consider politely anything you say)
Right! Where were we… Epidemiology!
… the study (scientific, systematic, and data-driven) of the distribution (frequency, pattern) and determinants (causes, risk factors) of health-related states and events (not just diseases) in specified populations (neighborhood, school, city, state, country, global).
Epidemiology is in a tough space… interestingly we have more consensus on many more of the -ologies in our society than we do on what foods do right by us…. and what is (slowly) killing us… or maybe killing us off sooner than we would ideally like.
Its notoriously hard to get solid data on us (homo-sapiens) eating food. Apparently people might take umbrage at being kidnapped, isolated and fed only a certain type of diet for twenty years (while the control group eats only Hotdogs and Hershey bars) and then after two decades (as a reward) get prodded, probed and dissected. For the greater good though.
Most epidemiological data is gathered through… *drum roll* questionnaires and surveys… you know the type where you have to check little ticky boxes about how many servings of fruit and vegetables you eat. Problem with these sorts of surveys is that they are hugely… bullshit.
Well, maybe bullshit is a stronger term than is absolutely necessary. But people often fill out questionnaires like this with incredible bias… or with a sense of self that doesn’t necessarily correlate with reality. Also you’re not measuring… hmm… humans are notoriously different. Measuring diet on a non homogenous test group… well, it gives you data… but its tricky data. Under ideal circumstances you would need 10,000 white, 42 year old males (to use my own stats), non smokers, non drinkers who do moderate exercise… then give half of them the Hotdog/Hershey bar diet and then the other half the Avocado, eggs and steak diet. Ostensibly you’re measuring the same thing… does fat intake increase the risk of a heart attack in the incredibly narrow white 42 year old bracket. Which is the other problem… especially when it comes to recoding fat intake… The Hotdog/Hershey diet is considered the same as Avo, eggs and steak diet. No allowance is given to the source of the fat… or indeed how the body processes that fat and what is eaten together with that fat (for example the bread with your hotdog or the Kale with your steak)
In any event the data gathered in the epidemiological gill net is not useless… but its not hugely useful either. And based on this governments (and we hates them) make pronouncements and suggestions on diets for their subjects. The creation of the food pyramid (with a mind boggling amount of simple carbohydrates at the base) can arguably be regarded as the biggest crime that has ever been perpetuated on the homo sapiens.
In any event, I’m getting sidetracked by proclivities…
Problem is if we take Epidemiology outside and burn it (maybe while we’re all gathered round wielding farming implements and tiki-torches) we have almost no nutritional data left from which to make decisions.
Well… we are left with (basic) science in so far as we know how certain things interact. Randomized clinical trials (difficult) and studying the long aged among us (specifically centenarians) and trying to discern what they ate… and if what they ate made them live longer (ie not get cancer or heart disease). In other words identifying the worlds blue zones (Okinawa, Greek islands and a community of seventh day Adventist in the California) and seeing what they eat and then trying to replicate it. Each one of these other facets which make up our nutrition knowledge can only take us so far though. Its actually a little embarrassing how little we actually know or how little consensus there is among people who study this stuff for a living.
Does anyone else find it weird that you can lose weight and become healthier following a strictly Vegan diet. But you can also lose weight on vegetarianism, Low-Carb, Keto, Paleo, counting calories and probably a whole bunch of other diets too. Surely Veganism and something like Paleo/Keto should be diametrically opposed… like one should work and the other shouldn’t. In my mind I find that… odd. Especially since both disciples of either sect are quite ferocious in that their way is the (only) way.
Not me. Obviously. Ha ha. I am the benevolent moderate squishy center of the universe. Actually its more a case of I don’t really care about you. I mean I care in so far as your Big Mac lifestyle puts strain on our medical establishments (and our society) and that you are kind of a cash-crop for the pharmaceutical companies (who love to sell you insulin and statins)… but other that that your life is your own. If you want to live your life shoveling leafy greens and legumes into your facehole or ghee and duck fat… or even burgers and french fries… that’s up to you.
Where was I going with all of this again?
I can’t actually remember now. I think I was going to branch off into functional medicine eventually somewhere down the line… but this already feels TL;DR. I think maybe I just wanted to point out that diet (and indeed quite a lot of our lifestyle choices) are colored by our own research that we did online.
You know what Vegans, Vegetarians, Paleo, Keto and Low Carb all have in common though?
None of them follow the government guidelines on nutrition.
Now if only we could get them to start looking more critically at some of the other stuff government recommends. Way to turn this into a libertarian post Joey. I know right? Gold star for me.