5 Ridiculous Ideas People Have About Health

As a doctor I’m exposed to a lot of different ideas people have about health. I have a lot of discussions about how people can improve their health. There are 5 attitudes or ideas I come across regularly that just don’t make any sense to me. Don’t get me wrong… These aren’t the ONLY 5 out there but how long do you have to read? Look… just because people have certain attitudes about the way things work or what they can do, it doesn’t make them correct. Take this short video for example:

https://youtu.be/qzKEp6k63w4

See what I mean? People will cling to these silly ideas regardless of how absurd they may seem. Are you ready? Here we go:

1) Poor Nutrition Can Make You Sick, But Good Nutrition Can’t Get You Well.

Everybody knows that eating bad food will make you fat and sick. Every time I write an article or give a talk about the dangers of bad foods I almost wonder why I even bother. Who doesn’t get that sugar will rot your teeth, make you fat, and ruin your health? Everybody knows that chips, french fries and other junk foods aren’t as nutritious as an fruits and vegetables. When I talk to people who have a bad diet and they feel the effects they are seldom surprised.

However, there is an odd short circuit of logic when I suggest that the solution to these problems is actually to eat good food instead. Sometimes people think that they are too far gone for nutrition to make a difference in their problem. The fact is that good nutrition can ALWAYS make a difference. It may not cure everything but it can always enhance the quality of your life. And let’s be honest… it DOES cure some things. In short, when you eat your way into this mess and often you can eat your way out of it.

2) Rest Isn’t A Big Deal

Nobody is confused when the battery on their phone eventually runs down when they haven’t charged it.  It isn’t a shock when you have high utility bills because you leave the light on all night long.

However, people think it’s crazy talk when you tell them that their depression, toxicity, obesity and even fatigue may be related to not getting enough rest. This is usually their cue to tell you about how well they can function on just a few hours of sleep or about how they are a night person. Human beings are all built pretty similar and we all need rest. Everyone needs rest and time to de-stress in order to maintain health. You can’t get mad at a flashlight for being dim when it needs fresh batteries and you can’t expect that your health won’t suffer when you let your energy run low without resting.

3) Vitamins Are Only Good For Making Expensive Urine

This one is often perpetuated by some doctors. The idea is that if you take a multivitamin you are just getting a bunch of vitamins and nutrients that you are already getting in food (see #1) and so your body just dumps all of the extra vitamins in your urine. This reflects a complete lack of understanding of the how vitamins and minerals are used by your body. Yes… I’m saying your doctor often doesn’t understand how these vitamins and minerals are used in your body. Vitamins are nutrients that the human body needs for survival that it can’t make enough of on its own. By needs I mean CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT. Supplementing a multivitamin can be critical to filling any gaps in nutrition you aren’t receiving in your diet.

Cheap vitamins and candies masquerading as vitamin supplements may make expensive urine (more likely poop) but a good quality multivitamin can enhance the quality of your life.

4) Children Are Immune To The Effects of Bad Habits

One of the craziest questions I get from parents sometimes is, “When do I need to start being concerned about making sure my child eats healthy?”.  Ummm… from the moment you know you are expecting a child to the moment they die of old age. Kids are resilient but their developing bodies need good nutrition, adequate rest, exercise and protection. Because they are growing quality nutrition is actually more important for a youngster than an adult. Behavior problems, rashes, asthma, learning disability, and other conditions have been tied to poor health habits of children.  McDonald’s, cookies, cake and caffeine are no better for a child than they are for you. You wouldn’t let your children smoke, drink alcohol or other harmful habits. You should protect them from sources of long term health problems as well.

5) Science Has The Answer For Every Health Problem

This one really gets me. The idea is that it doesn’t matter what happens to me because we are so scientifically advanced that there’s some kind of cure if I don’t take good care of myself and I become sick. That’s an idea you get from watching shows like House, Grey’s Anatomy or even Scrubs. But folks… That’s TV. I hate to break it to you but there is also nobody living in a pineapple under the sea.

Some of the things we call “science” are really just commercials pretending to be science. Take drug trials in scientific journals for example. The majority of these published studies will demonstrate that Drug ‘X’ is beneficial for treating condition ‘Y’ without any side effects. If this is really the case then it means that 1) effective drugs are very easy to make 2) most drugs have no side effects 3) science really does have all the answers! Remember that “I can break these cuffs!” video? Well now I get to be the guy saying “You can’t break those cuffs”. Drug companies only try to publish studies that support their drug. Scientific journals tend to only publish studies that support these drugs because the companies who make them will order reprints of the journal for marketing purposes. Is that science? Noooooo. Is it a commercial disguised as science? You bet.

Also, consider the amount of science out there that you are already ignoring. We know how to prevent Type 2 Diabetes, certain types of cancer and even most sexually transmitted diseases. Is this knowledge stopping us from having these problems on epidemic scales? Nope. For every scientific solution we have there are 100,000 people willing to ignore that answer. Science doesn’t hold the answers, choices do.

We live in a society where one of the greatest pursuits is to unlink choices from their natural consequences. All of the things I listed above are examples of this goal that plagues our society. But if you want to talk science or reality or anything like that the most important thing to recognize is that every action carries inescapable consequences. You get to choose your choices but you don’t get to choose the consequences.

What kind of health idea silliness do you encounter on a regular basis?

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