When It Comes to Health, Who The Hell Do You Trust?
Up until a couple o’weeks ago, I’d never heard of the Food Babe. But I’ve been watching the recent spat between she and another blogger, Science Babe, with interest – not least because I bloody love watching good ol’ fight for exactly the same reason I enjoy watching Grey’s Anatomy.
What can I say? I just love drama.
If you haven’t seen it, lemme fill you in: Food Babe, aka Vani Hari, is an anti-GMO, anti-flu-jab, anti-food-additives activist who runs the “Food Babe Army,” and has a bit of a habit of making what might kindly be described as “inadequately researched” claims about food.
Science Babe, aka Yvette D’Entremont, wrote a piece on Gawker called “The Food Babe is Full of Shit,” which said… Well, basically that.
This, naturally, was followed by a response by Food Babe – which I’m also going to link to, although anyone who’ll cite a letter that makes unverified claims about someone on a personal level as proof that their arguments are wrong makes me somewhat uncomfortable.
Still, in the interests of balance – you can find that here.
Also in the news this week, you’ve got a man who appears to be a demon hybrid of all that is wrong with this argument, the one and only Dr. Oz.
The man has been called out by the medical community on numerous occasions – including by the British Medical Journal, who stated that 50% of his information has no basis in fact – for peddling what can only be described as “bullshit.” Yet he’s also a doctor – “America’s Doctor,” in fact.
So: you’ve got a scientist, an activist, and a doctor – all offering you conflicting information.
Of course, this ain’t new – but it does quite nicely crystallise an issue that’s been bothering me for some time.
I’m pro-science, and I’m pro-medicine – but I’m also pro-clean eatin’, for the pure and simple fact that I retain water like a cactus (and become a goddamn prickly bitch) when I eat processed foods. I’m not, however, pro-Dr. Oz, or pro-Food-Babe, despite their being an overlap in what we’d consider good food – and the internet, for all its wonders, makes finding verifiable science something of a minefield.
We’re absolutely bombarded with conflicting information presented as the truth on a near constant basis. You can Google anything and find arguments for and against it. Dairy, gluten, alcohol, sugar, fat, carbs, protein, supplements, shakes, cardio, weights – for every 10 arguments for all these things, you’ll find 10 arguments against ’em. Quite often these are backed up by science on either side… Even if their reference source is a study funded by a vested interest, or a footnote in an obscure journal article from 1982.
So information-wise, it’s near enough impossible to work out where to start.
But there’s an economic aspect to this, too. I live in London, one of the most expensive (and amazing) cities in the world – where you’ll find both incredible fast food joints on the one hand, and £9 cold-pressed juices on the other. You’ve got people living on whatever they can afford on a minimal weekly budget, living around the corner from organic, mega-healthy stores that’ll charge you £3 for a potato.
I earn enough – not loads, but enough (and not from blogging, I’d like to add – this ol’ thing has earned me a whopping £16 in the last six months) – to be able to eat well, and make healthy choices… But I certainly can’t afford to buy my weekly shop from places like that, and I’m not even sure I would if I could.
Yet, were certain areas of the internet to be believed, I’m probably damaging my health by not investing in these premium foods – so hell, why bother trying? Essentially, it’s like the ugly cousin of diet logic – the idea that if you don’t live perfectly, according to all the rules set out by whatever plan you’re following, you’re doing it wrong. It’s flawed, and it’s damaging, and it’s rigged to set you up for a fall.
The big question, then, is… How do you find the path to health? And how do you draw out credibility from a million and one sources?
Quite frankly… I don’t know, short of reading as much up-to-date scientific literature as you can get yo’ hands on – but for the time poor (self included) that’s easier said than done.
What I do know is that I’ve been convinced of many things over my long, long, still continuing journey towards good health – having heard compelling arguments from both sides of pretty much every story. Hell – those very arguments have thrown me off course, and pushed me back on it again, and then chucked me onto another course, on more occasions than I can count.
But I’ll give you the benefit of my experience here, and tell you one thing I know for absolute certain: you should question anyone that tells you there’s one way to get healthy, or live well, or be happy – because quite frankly, there ain’t.
Everyone’s different, and that’s a glorious thing – but it means there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to good health. The only thing you can guarantee works is the thing that makes your life better. For me, personally, that’s avoiding processed foods, liftin’ weights, and doing yoga. For my no.1 homegirl, it’s walkin’ and spin – the latter being my personal idea of hell, most of the time.
The only way to know what works for you is to try things, and build your own lifestyle around what makes you feel good – and what’s achievable for you. Try things, test ideas, and draw your own conclusions as to what makes you happy – and when you work out what that is, bask in it.
If finding the path to good health in your life means switching out the occasional chocolate bar for an apple, or cooking a meal from scratch a couple o’times a week – that’s awesome. If it means not eating meat, or eating more meat, or whatever – good for you. If it improves your life, and the way you find yo’ path to health, then homie – I am delighted for you. Great job.
Have confidence in the things that make you happy, and that make your life better. Listen to others, and allow them to choose their own path – but don’t be shaken by people who think the right arguments are the loudest. And for god’s sake, don’t believe everything you read – even if I wrote it. (Hell, especially if I wrote it. I write a lot o’stuff after wine, is all I’m sayin’.)
Where you can, ask questions. Use science.
And above all: listen to your body. It knows what’s right for you far, far better than some stranger on the internet – so trust in the things that bring you, and you alone, the joy of good health.