These days there are more scary stories on the internet, TV and in magazines than ever before. Resistance to antibiotics, environmental pollution, harmful substances in our food… how do we sort out all of the stories and determine the myths from reality? We’re always more programmed to pay more attention to bad stories than the good, but determining what we can do to improve our health is still important since some of the stories we hear are actually true.
At one time, people used to be worried about fat, however now, sugar is being demonized instead. That means that some people choose not to eat foods that may be good for them. For example, juicing was very popular not so long ago, and now people are sometimes scared to do it because they’re worried about the fruit sugars being bad for them. However, we all need to use our common sense – drinking fresh juice as part of a healthy balanced diet is more beneficial than harmful as it represents an excellent way of including more fruit and vegetables in our diet in a quick and easy way. And that is just one of the alarmist stories that we need to weigh up and consider before we jump into eliminating foods from our diet and changing our lifestyles dramatically.
A study was carried out in 2013 which chose 50 different ingredients from a cookery book and then checked all of the published literature to see how many of them had been linked at some point with cancer. Most of the chosen ingredients had been associated at some point with cancer as either a benefit or a risk, and all of the evidence was poor. This evidence showed that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to scare stories.
It’s important to look at the contexts of the studies before taking a decision about whether a certain food is safe to eat or not. Any study that has been used with animals rather than humans or in a lab rather than in real life should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Also, any study which has been carried out on just one demographic should also be seriously reconsidered. On the other hand, if the trial is randomized, that suggests the result may hold more water.
The top killer of American children is cars, however, nobody avoids getting in one. That alone proves that we need to be less panicked about food scare stories and weigh up the risks more rationally. Advice which comes from a recognized public health source may be worth paying more attention to, but a scare story in the newspaper without any clear evidence to support it should be disregarded until further more convincing evidence comes to light.
Until conclusive proof appears to the contrary, it’s best to stick to the classic advice – exercise often, maintain a healthy body weight, eat a balanced and healthy diet, protect yourself from the sun, don’t exceed the guidelines on alcohol consumption and avoid smoking and you’ll give yourself the best chance of living a healthy, long life.