Super Food Or Super Phony: Researching Nutrition -Part Two
Where’s The Harm?
If you pay attention to the wrong nutritionists, it seems like all you need for a healthy life is to eat the right things at the right time. Eye problems? Just eat berries! Concerned about UV rays? Load up on supplements! Beyond wasting money, these ideas can cause people to reject their doctor’s advice, take risks, and stop their prescriptions without even bothering to properly withdraw from their medication. This last problem is of particular concern, since abruptly stopping medication can cause both a resurgence of the problem the medication was for, as well as potentially serious – even dangerous – withdrawal symptoms. Even seemingly mild symptoms of medication withdrawal, such as irregular heartbeats and dehydration, can cause problems for people who are ill or have heart problems. Stopping any kind of medication should be done under a doctor’s supervision, whether done “cold turkey” or slowly, over the course of several weeks.
While over-prescription of medication and abuse of medication is definitely a concern, the answer isn’t to reject conventional medicine altogether. Of course, not everyone who believes in the nutrition hype goes so far, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods. Disturbing studies show that people who believe they’ve taken something “healthy” – say, a supplement – are more likely to smoke, more likely to think of themselves as invulnerable to disease, and more likely to slack off on taking care of their health in other ways. This is the way the human mind works, even when we’re aware of the problem, and it’s a clear indication that over reliance on nutritional hype can do more harm than good when trying to create a healthy life.
The takeaway lesson here isn’t that nutrition isn’t deeply important, or even that you shouldn’t try out that newest addition to the list of “super foods” (provided that you make it part of an already healthy diet). What’s important to remember is that nutrition is only one way of caring for our health, and that believing the hype surrounding supplements, foods, and nutrients can leave us relying on the advice of people and companies who stand to make money from our belief. By looking deeper and doing the research, we can save money, protect our health, and take control of our own well-being.