Hugh Pickens writes:
Scott Adams of Dilbert fame writes on his blog that science's biggest fail of all time is 'everything about diet and fitness':
I used to think fatty food made you fat. Now it seems the opposite is true. Eating lots of peanuts, avocados, and cheese, for example, probably decreases your appetite and keeps you thin. I used to think vitamins had been thoroughly studied for their health trade-offs. They haven’t. The reason you take one multivitamin pill a day is marketing, not science. I used to think the U.S. food pyramid was good science. In the past it was not, and I assume it is not now. I used to think drinking one glass of alcohol a day is good for health, but now I think that idea is probably just a correlation found in studies.
According to Adams, the direct problem of science is that it has been collectively steering an entire generation toward obesity, diabetes, and coronary problems. But the indirect problem might be worse: It is hard to trust science because it has a credibility issue that it earned. "I think science has earned its lack of credibility with the public. If you kick me in the balls for 20-years, how do you expect me to close my eyes and trust you?"
He's lashing out at the mixed messages that make it out to the general public, with a special emphasis in his post on what authorities, scientific and otherwise, have told people about diet and exercise. I would rather second his nomination on that score. Take sweeteners for example. Thirty-forty years ago it was that sugar is the devil, so let's use saccharine. Whoops. That's a carcinogen. Aspartame, that's the ticket! Oops, it turns to formaldehyde in your stomach. Sugar isn't bad, it's over-processed sugar that's bad. So use raw sugar instead. Nope, causing too much diabetes. Splenda! Agave syrup? Stevia? No, no, what you should use is coconut sugar, er, nope, monkfruit sugar. And don't even get me started on high-fructose corn syrup.
Mix in all the other constantly shifting sands of diet and health advice (running is good! no, running is bad--too hard on your joints), and it's small wonder people start to tune out. I have. Sadly, my wife has not and whipsaws our pantry after a new study comes out every two months; I am sure many of us have non-ignorable people in our households who do likewise.
Maybe in the end the important thing is to track your health, eat what makes you physically feel good, make sure your blood sugar, cholesterol, thyroid, heart rate, blood oxygenation, flexibility, strength are all within scientifically established healthy ranges, and call it a day. Maybe a fitbit or something like that can help you track it, who knows. But doing stuff like that seems more scientific, in the truest sense of the term, than taking blanket advice from authorities who might or might not have conducted a good study, or who might be taking a payoff to say what they're saying, or who don't have the foggiest idea what the best diet is for *you*.
Maybe a fitbit or something like that can help you track it
It does an excellent job of that. I'm at 2114 steps today, of course its pretty early in the day. Its got two problems:
1) Track to perfection, but it only takes a couple months until the weekly email may as well go to the spam folder. I ran into the same problem with runkeeper, I was tracking all my urban and backwoods hikes, and eventually I'm busy and stressed and I "only have time to hike, or to runkeeper the hike, but not both" well forget tracking then I'm just going hiking. Metrics that won't be acted on are worthless.
2) Don't work so well after a washer/dryer cycle. Haven't killed mine yet but its only a matter of time based on what my wife's done to hers and what I've heard. I ran it thru the wash last year and its still running ... for now. The key seems to be an immediate dryer cycle to dry out before electrolytic corrosion sets in. Any other response including the "vat of uncooked rice" trick seems to result, per online gossip, in a dead fitbit.
I like the idea of "spend money get health" but it doesn't exactly work like that, at least as implemented, and there's lots of competitors with that marketing message. Probably should have just spent the money on new tires for my old bike.
Aspartame produces less formaldehyde than fruit juices, it really is a non-issue. There's never been a real study showing a connection between aspartame and anything other than migraines.