Recently, I made the mistake of attempting to create a dialogue around gut health in a science group. I made a comment on a sad post that was shared about a man who lost his mom to cancer. He was angry that she stopped her chemo treatments because someone told her she needed to improve her gut health. The poster shared this story with a message that basically said anything but science will kill you.
Despite being briefly disoriented from the bullying and trolling as the result of my comment, I was intrigued by the fact that people who allegedly believe in science have zero knowledge of the importance of basic nutrition. And how important, scientifically, it is to our health.
People tend to want things quick and easy ~ especially their fuel. They have neither the time nor the means to invest in good nutrition. Which stands to reason why most people fall for the messages they are given about their food. Marketing and advertisements for food in general are completely misleading and a lot of times completely false. Food science today tends to revolve around creating the "perfect" concoction to get people to become addicted to the taste in order to ensure repeat customers.
In the book Salt Sugar Fat, Michael Moss tells a story about a soda company finding the "bliss point" in a formula - basically how much sugar to use. They find it by setting up taste tests in a professional setting; have participants answer a set of questions after each tasting; then compile giant stacks of data about intensity of taste, and related sensations important to the consumer; all the while determining how they can reach this so called bliss point while saving themselves money and still achieving their goal of hooking the buyer. Science meets capitalism.
Looking back through my upbringing, I see how old world and new world thinking about food changed in one generation. My grandparents all cooked their own meals, grew their own food, and bought and shared food locally. My parents and the generations after them all bought into the fast food craze, grabbing or heating quick meals because they were too busy working and didn't have time to cook.
Quick and easy was what I was raised on! Frozen dinners, or what they advertised as TV dinners, were consumed weekly. Lots of sugary snacks or cereals with cartoon characters to entice us to enjoy them daily. Processed foods galore - canned, bagged, boxed - we practically grew up on "science".
Besides the "bliss point" of sugar, processed foods are loaded with preservatives like sodium. And consumers get approximately 2 to 3 days worth of the daily recommended salt in ONE processed meal. Just one meal. But that is what these food companies have to do to preserve the integrity (loosely used term) of their product.
The human body is an amazing machine. It can temporarily adjust to find homeostasis. But when you are forcing it to adjust constantly, the body will begin to break down. Everything you eat finds its way into your blood stream, and that then feeds your cells. If your fuel weighs heavy in the sugar and salt department or it's full of chemicals, a domino effect of issues for many systems in the body begins. This is how people end up with diabetes or heart disease. Or cancer.
Despite the fact that we are all made up of the same molecules, we are all bio-individuals - which basically means that one person's fuel can be another person's poison. Some people can eat dairy, while others are intolerant. Likewise, we all have different "breaking points" from intoxicants or chemicals. Some people will die faster from smoking for instance, while another person could smoke until they are 100 years old.
The important point to remember is that you can be biologically pre-disposed to illness, but that doesn't mean you will inevitably become ill. Genetics doesn't tell the whole story. It's a basic platform and your actions, or rather more specifically how you live and what you feed your body, determines your health.
So, the 100 year old smoker probably has a wonderful support system, a good diet, and may have excellent genes. But why chance it?
Aside from growing your own food, it's important to be mindful where your food is coming from. If you are only eating what is under the 7-Eleven heat lamp or always driving through McDonalds, it might be time to re-evaluate your fuel sources.
When shopping at the grocery store, if you spend most of your time in the center of the store where most of the boxes, bags, and cans are located, you are sure to be ingesting more than the daily allowance of salt. Not to mention many other chemicals and toxins.
This topic is a source for much debate, but the bottom line is that we are not fully educated on what we are ingesting. We eat things all the time that causes our bodies distress. And sometimes that distress turns into illness. Of course, we do not connect illnesses with the food we eat because we are not educated to do so. We are told to believe that genes or inherited family issues decide the fate of our health.
Making better choices is all we can do in the moment: Maybe choosing at least one whole food for each meal, or choosing water over that daily soda. YOU decide your health... much more than you are being told or were ever taught.
Trusting capitalistic science - as demonstrated through the lens of a soda company - is not always a smart choice.
But the science of what we are made of - the basic molecules that make up our bodies - is not up for debate. What we feed our bodies, and subsequently what our bodies absorb, determines our wellness. It literally determines how efficient your body will work. And making good choices now keeps you from either getting ill, or getting as ill as you would have if you didn't.
Food for Thought
As recent events have shown, not everyone believes in science. But even the ones who do believe in it still tend to be given poor information. Even that poor lady that stopped her chemo treatments.
Shocking fact: doctors are not taught nutrition. So it is up to YOU to find out what is best for you. Sometimes going to a nutritionist is important for specific issues. But most of the time, YOU must decide what is right for you.
If you need guidance, I offer it. In fact, I offer it for free! Let's get you pointing in a healthier direction. Let science work FOR your health, and not against it.
Be well, Friends