Many health tips are simply vague

Published 12:03am Sunday, October 28, 2012

Vaguety — a nebulous state of affair(s), conjoining in an indeterminate fashion. It brings about controversy, misunderstanding, and misconception due to the fact that things are poorly explained or poorly understood.

Antioxidants: Much has been said about the extraordinary powers of antioxidants. Supposedly the little devils known as “free radicals” are swept away by things that are usually highly pigmented such as red wine, beet juice, blueberries, etc. Many “experts” have emerged expounding their life-prolonging qualities.

However, large studies involving thousands of people have shown that antioxidants have no effect on longevity. Antioxidants have been used for years to prevent tires from rotting and preventing the oil on potato chips from becoming rancid.

If one wants antioxidants then why not gorge on potato chips or eat tires (plenty of fiber).

How does one test for the antioxidant power of something? Our blood sugar, for example, is expressed in milligrams. What units are used to express the antioxidant power of blueberry juice for instance? Is there a test available to do so?

Olive oil: Olive oil, calorie-wise is no different than any other cooking oil. The vaguety here is that since the Italians have fewer heart attacks, and they eat lots of olive oil then olive oil must be good for you.  The Italians also eat a lot of tomatoes and a compound called lycopine has been elucidated from tomatoes. Therefore, lycopine must also be good for the heart. Is it possible that the Italians, for the most part, live simple lives isolated from the stresses of the modern world rending them less likely to have heart attacks?

Organic foods: Organic foods are supposedly grown free of fertilizer, insecticides or herbicides. The vaguety is that these substances cause diseases. What diseases?  What are the mechanics involved in causing these diseases? Anyone who has ever attempted to raise a vegetable garden or flower garden fully understands the necessity of using “chemicals” to preserve and augment their hard work.

Vaccines: Louis Pasteur observed that milk maids did not have smallpox. He also noted that at some point milk maids had a non-fatal disease called “cowpox.” Knowing this, he took a scraping from a cow with cowpox and inoculated a person. This person did not get smallpox. (The word “vaccine” is derived from the French word for “cow.”)

Since the inception of vaccines, people not understanding their vaguety have expressed foolishness toward them. Experts such as Oprah Winfrey (who will never have children) has said, “I would never vaccinate my child.” Because of this vaguety, many children have suffered needlessly or even died.

Before we go around reciting, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” let’s try to understand what we are saying and attempt to dispel nonsense.

 

Ed Field

Natchez resident