It’s been quite a while since I’ve written, and for the few of you that actually take the time out of your day to read my posts, my apologies. I have been on an all out educational reading binge, and I finally got to the point where I just couldn’t take anymore in before expunging some of my thoughts onto a blank piece of (digital) paper. Time for some serious output.
The books that have stood out to me most in this most recent reading binge are
“Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”
I’d love to give a brief synopsis on each but that might take several days to get through, and no amount of summary on my end will ever do any of these outstanding titles the justice they deserve. The gist of the first (and most eye catching) of the titles, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” is the nuts and bolts of the human stress response. We’ve all heard the phrase “fight or flight” at some point in our lives, but Dr. Sapolsky writes an overwhelmingly thorough description of exactly how us humans have constructed a world in which we endure a modest version of this “fight or flight” almost throughout the entire waking day (and sometimes during the night, too!). Comparing this ambient and omnipresent stress that we endure as a species, to the extremely immediate and urgent stress that a Zebra is subjected to while being chased through the African savannah by a pride of Lions, and you arrive at the basis of the title. Zebras don’t get ulcers from this acute stressor triggering an acute “fight or flight” response, because they don’t subject themselves to 24/7 news cycles, non-stop social media notifications, and hour-long white knuckled commutes to jobs they dislike. Now, obviously, I wouldn’t trade my life for that of a Zebra, but hopefully you catch my drift. Also, I might add, ulcers are a bit more complicated than just stress response, think genetic predisposition, medication, food choice, and timing of digestion of said food.
The second book, “Hype” by Dr. Nina Shapiro is in my eyes a must-read for any person existing in our hyperbole laced, sensationalized Western World, which coincidentally, if you’re reading this, probably includes you. From the completely unnecessary villainization of gluten, to the ridiculous claims of “juice cleanses” (or anything that “cleanses” you for that matter), Dr. Shapiro does a wonderful job of clarifying a lot of misinformation and righting the ship. Thinking that there is some magical combination of juices from different “superfoods” (there is no such thing as a superfood, just super marketing) that will somehow “cleanse” you of “toxins” better than your kidneys and liver can is just smoke and mirrors. Not to mention, if something did the job better than our wonderful urinary and digestive systems, wouldn’t we have it already? Where there is doubt, you can be sure of highly skilled marketing teams trying to exploit that doubt and turn it into dollars. This book can really shed some light on what’s fact and fiction, by combining all of the best available scientific evidence with expert opinions of some of the most qualified and well-studied individuals in the world.
“The Truth About Food”
The third, and perhaps the most useful book for most of my friends, family, colleagues, and clients, is “The Truth About Food” by Dr. David Katz. I think the title is ironic and maybe unintended irony (who knows, I don’t know Dr. Katz personally), but the hyperbolic and somewhat cliche title to this book is much like many of the examples he cites as snake oil pitches available in today’s mass media. The BIG difference, and I can’t emphasize enough how much this book and all of the science backing it differs from all other bogus “diet” or “next best thing” books, is quite obvious from the start. Throughout the book he does an excellent job of not just identifying the hundreds of topics and buzzwords utilized to exploit the general population’s naivety through hyperbole, but more importantly how to actually sift through what is real, and what is being “hyped” (to take a term from Dr. Shapiro’s book) to make a profit. He does a magnificent job of breaking things into categories, from Animal Protein, to Eggs, GMO Foods, and all the way down the alphabet to Veganism, Whole Grains, and Water. If I had to recommend which book of these three to tackle first, I would highly recommend “The Truth About Food”. Even if that “Truth” is more about dispelling highly progated lies, and even if that “Truth” is rather inconvenient to those who build their diets around a lot of highly processed meats and refined sugar.
Rigged Against the Consumer
I’m all about Capitalism, and I love what it can afford those who are willing to work harder than others. But if you have to rely on deceit and taking advantage of sources of innate human fallibility, to be successful in your form of business, or to sell more of your particular product, then isn’t your business deeply flawed? I’m not a purist or a member of some kind of moral police, but I just think certain industries deserve a swift kick to the almonds when it comes to how they excel in their perspective fields. Seriously though, if a company has to hire a board of food scientists to find out how much unneeded sugar should be added for a product to hit the human “bliss point” (which is a real thing, determined by MRI scans of human test subjects consuming certain products with differing levels of added sweeteners), just to sell more product, should the product even be selling well in the first place? It’s kind of like letting professional athletes take banned substances to gain a competitive edge (which I honestly don’t mind the idea of, since it’s all just different forms of entertainment at the professional level). But we’re not talking sports, we’re talking “Frosted Flakes” not having enough substance to stand on being just “Flakes” alone, so Kellogg’s has to bring in the food scientists to figure out what needs to be added so that the kiddos being fed the stuff have a big enough dopamine response to make them want more.
Now, here is the point where most people reading that last paragraph (myself included), will say “What about the parents! They are the ones buying the stuff!” Yes, true, but I don’t think that a parent shouldn’t be blamed for a car seat belt failing to hold a child in the car during a car accident. For things to actually change, it will take policy makers, independent companies, parents, and the education of children to all tie in together.
I am committing myself to all of my clients in 2019, by providing more information in the form of blog posts, video posts, and podcasts in the coming months. Big things are in store for 2019, and for those willing to follow along, I promise you won’t be disappointed. This year will be about making a bigger impact, not just with my existing loyal clientele, but in the wellness field in general. Boom goes the dynamite.
Yours in Wellness,
Prevention over Treatment