RANT - good health is SO SIMPLE!
I have spent today, as I spend many days, researching a variety of health related topics. I have been watching a number of videos and reading a few books, all written by or featuring well-qualified and well-respected doctors and scientists. They are all driving me crazy!!
I know I still have a lot to learn, about human biology, about physiology, nutrition, medicine, blood, muscles, food, nature…I will spend my life learning and I am sure I will never know it all. But really, if one more person says that healthcare “stands at the door of a new era” or “we face a paradigm shift in our understanding of human health” or “years of research into human genomics is helping us to unlock the secrets” then I will scream…oh really come ON people!
To be crystal clear from the start, I have nothing against doctors, professors, research scientists or academics. I know that the vast majority of doctors and other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, surgeons, and so on, all work very hard, are dedicated, honest, caring, highly intelligent and highly capable. I know and appreciate that these people spent years in education and I know they started out in medicine as a profession because they want to help people. So please understand me, this post is not knocking ANYONE in the healthcare profession. I have the utmost respect for anyone who cares and wants to help people.
However, this ‘over technical hype’ stuff is nuts, I am sick to death of over-qualified doctors from the US baffling us all with science and fancy long words, telling us all of “new breakthroughs in our understandings” when it’s all just smoke and mirrors, science to baffle the masses so these wealthy individuals can justify the ten years they spent in an Ivy League education that mummy and daddy paid for.
I firmly believe that good health is simple:
- Eliminate [as much as possible] ALL the junk and stress and poison and pollution that the modern world is bombarding us with
- Eat natural, whole, healthy, real food; that is plants and animals, natural and free from chemicals and violence and human tampering
- Avoid the junk; the sugar, the fizzy drinks, the nicotine and so on
- Move. Use your body in a variety of ways, often, like every day
- Spend some time in nature, get sunlight, clean fresh air, move about, walk and run and swim, breathe deeply and embrace the weather, good or bad!
That’s it! Really, it’s all so damned simple, but it seems to me like every highly-qualified expert is trying to make it all WAY more difficult and complex than that. Why? Well most of them are selling supplements, vitamins to replace those which modern living has stripped from our no-longer-very-natural food supply. Most of them are selling educational courses to teach us all how to teach each other to be healthier. Most of them are selling detox courses, health retreats, recipe books, protein powders, oil blends, vitamin pills, ointments and powders…and rather unsurprisingly, the so-called health advice they give suggests you buy and consume their products! Oh come ON people!
Don’t listen to me, I know nothing!
Look, there are many honest, decent, caring doctors, surgeons, nurses and healthcare professionals out there, but there ALSO seem to be a lot of very well-qualified doctors who have somehow decided that ‘the answer’ to all our health problems lies in some ‘new system’ of eating, exercising and taking supplements, and this system will cure all our ills. Rather unsurprisingly, these people then sell the supplements, the required pieces of exercise equipment, and the training program for others to become certified trainers in this new system.
I’m not saying they are all wrong, that there is anything inherently bad about what they are doing. I’m not saying they are a con. I’m not bashing these people or putting them down or saying that their ‘new paradigm shift in health care in the 21st century’ doesn’t work or is ripping off consumers. All I am saying is, that I think it is misleading that such systems and the people who promote them, somehow have the right to claim that they are the only people who know HOW to be healthy, that they are the only people qualified to help those seeking guidance. Mother Nature put all we need on this planet millions of years ago, and it all worked beautifully for many millennia before we started writing things down, peering through microscopes and naming molecules and compounds. Before we invented all this highly organised, systematised healthcare, we were just another mammal, one that instinctively knew what to eat, when to eat, how to eat…how to move, when to move, how often to move.
Caveman didn’t need a PhD in nutrition to catch, kill, skin and eat a deer. Cave woman didn’t need a certified Personal Trainer to teach her how to walk, fetch, carry, climb and run.
But for some reason, now, we live in a world where instincts count for little? Academic qualifications seem to be the currency of expertise.
For example, I am not qualified, I am not a doctor, I don’t have a degree, I have not been to medical school, and I have no qualifications as a nutritional therapist or dietician. You know what, in order to LEGALLY start a business in the UK and give people medical advice about their diet, I would need to be registered as a dietician with the UK BDA, the British Dietetic Association. In order to be registered with them, I would have to complete a diploma or degree course with a university recognised and approved by the BDA, and on average such course take 3 or 4 years and cost easily as much as ten grand over the full term of the course.
So I have to spend ten grand and study for 4 years just TO KNOW HOW TO EAT PROPERLY???? Really, how did caveman manage to eat for the last 2 million years without the BDA to help guide him???? Somebody tell me because I am dying to know…
Regulation of the healthcare industry vs. regulation of the food industry
Of course, I understand the need for regulation – we don’t want unqualified quacks and cowboys setting up all around the country and giving people bad, potentially unhealthy advice. No, of course not. Obviously, it’s OK if they are giant powerful corporations though, right?
So an individual like me, I AM NOT legally qualified to give you dietary advice. It would be ILLEGAL for me to advise anyone about nutrition, exercise, etc. If you read the entries on this site and follow what I do, you could wind up in all sorts of trouble. I say go rock climbing - but be warned, if you do, and you have an accident, break a bone…don’t say I didn’t warn you. I say do lots of push-ups. But if you end up with s rotator cuff injury (that’s a sore shoulder to most people) then remember, you shouldn’t have taken my duff advice.
However, it is NOT illegal for profit-making companies to give you ‘dietary advice’. It would seem that structures such as the British Dietetic Associations are there to protect YOU and your CHILDREN from ‘mercenary cowboys’ like me, an unqualified renegade mad man, loose on the Internet causing havoc. However, they are NOT present in regulating the food companies which advertise on our TV stations and place their products within every child’s reach on the lower shelves of our high street shops. So it seems OK to advertise to our children, on children’s TV channels, promoting choco-coated cereals (show me one piece of evidence these are in any way good for you?), or selling “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play”, or adverts for Coca-Cola and McDonalds…it’s OK to build the world’s largest McDonalds inside the 2012 Olympic village in London…it’s OK to fill our supermarkets, corner shops and convenience stores with row upon row of sugar-laden sweets that have NO proven health benefits whatsoever, yet thousands of scientific studies show they promote everything from obesity, to diabetes, to tooth decay, and so on.
So apparently at this point, regulation of the things the British population actually eat is really pretty relaxed. How strange does this seem to you? My 9-yr old son could walk into any shop and pick up chocolate bars, crisps, sweets, cakes, fizzy drinks, and buy them, and far from anyone (except me) trying to stop him, he is actively encouraged in this behaviour. The manufacturers advertise this garbage on TV channels made just for kids, shop windows are full of posters advertising this stuff. Advertising agencies are employed by food manufacturers to exploit ‘pester power’, and they use toys to sell junk food - McDonalds are the world’s largest toy distributor and they have put cheap toys in breakfast cereal boxes for years.
And yet, endless research studies show that junk food, cheap burgers, sugary drinks, confectionary and sugary sweets are bed for us in many ways. There are thousands of research studies linking sugar consumption to obesity, tooth decay, diabetes and more. There are thousands of research studies lambasting junk food diets, yet these marketing practises are legal, common place, and broadly accepted across society.
BUT, anyone who wants to be qualified to actually TELL people what to eat, well then at this point, we seem to have much tighter regulatory controls in place. Someone like me, without a “Dr” in front of my name, if I start talking about what food we should or shouldn’t eat, I’m criticised for being unqualified, a charlatan, a quack, some opportunist businessman taking chances with other people’s health just so I can make a quick buck.
Why would these organisations create such complex structures?
And why do all these structures exist? Because the education system is as self-protecting as the medical profession and the food industry…no one on the planet seems to want to admit that ‘actually, good health is really simple, you don’t need all the drug companies, you don’t need all the nutritional supplement companies, you don’t need 4 years of degree level study into nutrition, you don’t PhD’s in nutritional research…you don’t need any of it. All you need to do is eat plants and animals, like Mother Nature has been providing us everywhere we look for the last 3 million years. Just eat natural things, whole and not poisoned or messed up. Move your body, get some fresh air and exercise, stay away from the TV for several days each week, walk don’t drive if it’s close to home, that’s it’.
No, these people don’t want to say that. Instead, everyone seems bent on making the world more and more complex. We have taken the NATURAL bounty that Mother Nature provides, and made it wildly complex, messed it up, then built multiple industries to undo the mess and fix the resulting damage.
- Agriculture - big industry, mechanised and industrialised what was once the biggest employment sector among the human race. Now all about size, scale, corporate control, machinery, oil (yes, agriculture is a vast user of oil, to power the tractors and to make the fertilizer) and petro-chemicals.
- Farming and meat packing - big industry, mechanised and industrialised. Animals are mistreated, we have CAFOs, slurry problems, contaminated meat problems, animal feed problems, BSE (mad cow disease) and many more problems. Farming is screwed up, subsidised, unfair on the third world, it’s become a troubled industry in many countries - animals are routinely fed chemicals, mistreated, slaughterhouses are hated and farmers complain of corporate pressure and a lack of profits.
- ‘Big Food Inc’ companies - the food supply business has become a vast corporate game. Huge companies buy grain in vast quantities and then produce huge arrays of food products under many brand names. The illusion of choice is a smoke screen, when in fact a handful of giant corporations control most of the meat, grain and refines sugar that makes up a hefty percentage of the Western diet in many countries (measured by calories).
- Medicine - big pharma has become a mega-multi-billion dollar industry. Billions of dollars are spent on drugs such as statins, ant-acids, blood pressure lowering drugs and extremely expensive treatments for cancer, HIV and so on. Data shows that every decade, we take more and more pills. Today, the average Westerner takes way more pills than anyone ever has before.
- Healthcare - And so with all these big complex industrial structures above, and the problems they have exacerbated (obesity, too many chemicals in our food, fattier meats, rising prevalence of diabetes and heart disease, etc.,) so now we have made another big complex industrial structure to help fix these problems - the multi-billion dollar healthcare industry. From the endless array of vitamin supplements, herbal remedies and diet powders, to the vast world of spa retreats, therapeutic massage treatments, diet books, workout DVDs and weight-loss treatments.
Within this new and complex world of healthcare, somehow, someone decided that to de-code all the complexity that caused our problems, we all need a PhD or MSc in nutrition and food science and anything less is simply not adequate. Well I don’t agree. I think that if we just go back 12,000 years before ANY of the complexity listed above existed, I think Mother Nature had all the answers we need, and the cause of the problems, and the solutions to those problems, can all be found in MotherNaturesDiet.
Honest help? Or a sales pitch?
Too many academics with strings of qualifications are trying to protect their patch, selling supplements and training courses and sustaining complexity where it is not required. No one wants to admit the truth – because there is NO MONEY in that truth. No wonder poor old Joe Public is so confused! We have qualified experts saying that anyone (like ME!) who is not an equally well qualified expert is therefore a quack, a charlatan, and potentially dangerous. We have doctors prescribing drugs because they have been blinded by the research that drug companies pay millions for. Food companies funding the political campaigns of politicians who they later lobby for food approval. It’s all money and politics and power. Until a few thousand years ago, none of that existed. We roamed the planet happy for 2 millions years eating plants and animals.
We didn’t need a book or an expensive education to know what to eat. Nor do you. Eat plants and animals. Avoid poisons – sugar, nicotine, alcohol, chemicals, pollution, junk food, etc. Eat natural things, food that has not been tampered with, organic vegetables, animals that have been treated with respect, not cruelty. Avoid stress, simplify your life, simplify your finances, borrow less, try to enjoy your work, shout at the kids less. Move and use your body, do some gentle exercise, go for a walk, try yoga, then do some vigorous exercise, go running, climb a tree, lift some heavy things. Enjoy nature, get out and walk in the sunshine and fresh air.
Good health is simple, there are no ‘new paradigms’ or ‘breakthroughs in our understanding’…there is only the restoration of common sense. We live in an age where sedentary lifestyles, apathy and ignorance have replaced activity and self-awareness. Enjoying good health is easy if we WANT it. Get off the sofa, move your body, make smarter choices when you shop, contemplate everything you put into your mouth or spray onto your body. If it doesn’t feel natural, it is probably not that good for you. The choices are all yours.