Ok, I’ll admit, it can be a crazy world out there. And that covers just about everything. It would seem particularly so, at least as of late, when it comes to nutritional science and health advice. The last few years and decades have been filled with so much information, guidelines and “breaking” news that it can be hard to keep it all straight. Let’s take a look at a few examples of what we thought we knew that has been recently changed or modified…
“Carbs are good. A mainstay for energy in the diet.” Check that, carbs are probably bad. Maybe really bad. Could carbs be the enemy?
“But whole grains are still good.” Wait, now there’s this gluten and grain research coming out…
“We have got to get our fiber!” Uh-oh. Another overblown recommendation?
“Well, we all know that fat is bad.” Wait… now fat appears to be good.
“OK, but saturated fat is definitely bad.” Hmmm, not so fast on that one either.
“Cholesterol is definitely still bad.” Whoops, that one seems to be pretty wrong, too.
“Ok, 8 glasses of water a day. Simple, right?” Not really.
“Sunscreen is a must though.” What?! We need more vitamin D? Ok, this is just getting out of hand!
Exercise… as much as possible or whatever feels good and you like?
If you follow nutritional science, or if you are just a person trying to get ahead in life, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the nonsense surrounding health and nutrition. Unfortunately, some of what we hear is right on, some is not. Some is based on good science, some is funded by big companies with their best interests at stake. Some is from a new, fresh perspective, some is just following the current or old dogmas. What it comes down to is this: use your common sense. Try to keep up with the current health and nutrition thinking and research, but frame what you hear and read with some common sense. If you come across a health dilemma or choice and you’re not sure what to do (and you think that you’ve got some good logic and reasoning skills), let common sense be your guide. It won’t let you down too often.
Two foods: one is nature made, one is man made… What’s likely the better choice?
Have a health problem… Fix with medication or lifestyle changes?
Sun exposure… None, a little, or excessive?
A food doesn’t make you feel good, revs you up, or brings you down… Avoid it in the future or keep eating it?
Water… drink a half gallon a day or just when you’re thirsty?
Animals… eat them (as humans have always done) or avoid them altogether?
Eggs… only eat the egg whites (because that’s what someone told you) or eat the whole egg?
Butter and margarine… use the one with one ingredient or the multi-ingredient one created to mimic the original?
An ingredient you can’t pronounce… eat it or pass on it?
Sugar… it’s ok in moderation or limit it whenever possible?
Sleep… make it a priority or use stimulants and food to keep you awake?
That is probably enough to make my point. Is every health question answered by common sense? Of course not. Are most? Probably. The trick is to remove what you have been told and led to believe. How often have you heard some health statement and thought, “well that doesn’t seem natural,” but then trusted it because it was from a government authority or a newly published research study? Think about what seems natural. If you can see our ancestors (or even your great grandparents) making the same decision, it’s probably a good one. They lived off common sense and feedback from their decisions. Science, although great in many ways, has ignored common sense and subsequently mishandled nutrition and health. Scientists and researchers took the “real world” out of food and behavior and tried to study it in a lab. Although that has given us some nice insight it has also completely led us astray. Now we are left trying to find the middle ground, to sort through the natural and artificial, the fact and fiction. Can this be challenging? Absolutely. Thankfully, I have found there is a relatively easy way to navigate your health related dilemmas. Humans seem to make the best decisions when remembering this principle…
Our bodies abide by the old laws of nature, not the new laws of science.
Keeping that in mind, let your common and natural sense be your guide.
Isn’t it something that today we would even need for someone to tell us to use our common sense? That’s the way it is though. Nice post!
Thanks. Yeah, this post came from a conversation I had with my mom about making healthy choices. She said that she thought the ancestral/paleo/primal/traditional lifestyle was basically like using your common sense. I thought- it would be nice if we could all consider it that way.