Friday, August 13, 2010

The Food Myth

The best way to meet your nutritional needs is through a healthy diet.  eg, Eat the right foods.

Is a myth.  It is not a valid scientific hypothesis. It cannot be tested by the scientific method.  The truth is, we don't know what is the best way to meet our nutritional needs.  The truth is, we do not have more than the faintest idea what our needs are for optimal nutrition.

This particular myth is often presented as 'fact' at the end of a series of 'scientific studies', giving it credence as if it was the result of a scientific study.  This only encourages sloppy thinking.

You can see many articles and reports that present evidence from scientific studies on the effects of vitamins on disease, and then leap to the unscientific conclusion, the mother-false-hood statement, "The best way to meet your nutritional needs is through food."

Why is this statement a myth?  Why is if 'false'?  First of all, it is a myth because, simply, it cannot be proven.  There is no scientific test that can be designed to prove that "your best source of nutrition is through food (where food does not include nutritional supplements)".  The only scientific tests completed to date have proven the opposite.

Scientific tests have shown that adults who consume calcium supplements - are healthier than those who try to meet their calcium needs through their diet.

Scientific test have shown that, for most people in the northern hemisphere - it is better to meet your Vitamin D needs through supplements than through diet. If you don't get enough sun, you can try eating a lot of fish, liver, etc. But because this is difficult, and possibly dangerous, many foods are 'supplemented' with Vitamin D, including milk, yogurt, margarine and breakfast cereals.

This bring us to one of the other issues with the statement: "The best way to meet your nutritional needs is through a healthy diet."  What is food?  What does a healthy diet consist of?  Is it better to meet your nutritional needs through 'supplemented foods' where you have no control over the amount of supplement - and possibly no knowledge of the supplement - or through personal supplement decisions - where you make the choices?  Or both? .

The second reason it is a myth, is that it is a 'black swan statement'.   There was once a theory that there were 'no black swans'.  And this theory held true for many years - until black swans were discovered in Australia.  And the theory was dead. The Food Myth is, like the Black Swan Theory, an 'all or nothing' thinking error.  As a result, a single contrary report nullifies the myth.  The food myth has been proven wrong many times.  There are many specific, well known examples where (non-supplemented) food is NOT the best way to meet your nutritional needs. Salt is supplemented with iodine - because most people cannot meet their iodine requirements through non-supplemented food.

Next time someone hands you the myth - 'the best way to meet your nutritional needs is through a healthy diet', ask them simply:

"Interesting, what scientific studies have proven this to be true?"  But don't hold your breath waiting for an answer - one of your nutritional needs is oxygen.

Why is this important to Personal Health Freedom?  We believe it is important for every person to make their own health choices, and to be responsible for those choices.  We also believe it is important to study, not to discount, the value of nutritional supplements to improve health.

The Food Myth discourages personal actions and personal decisions - while pretending to give you 'responsibility or perhaps simply 'blame' for your dietary choices.

Personal Health Freedom wants you to have the freedom to make personal decisions about your health, including both your diet and your supplements, as well as the freedom to act on those decisions.

See Part 2 of the Food Myth here
and the Reader's Digest version of the Food Myth here

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Tracy is the author of two book about healthicine: