Health Misconceptions

On a daily basis we are inundated with health information. Every morning and evening, on national or local news, is a health segment. The morning newspaper reports every day on the latest informati

On a daily basis we are inundated with health information. Every morning and evening, on national or local news, is a health segment.

The morning newspaper reports every day on the latest information or scientific studies. Radio occasionally follows suit, and then there is the vast purveyor of mostly misinformation, the Internet.

A visit to your favorite health food store and the friendly $7 an hour employee will be as helpful as they can about whatever they've read recently.

Your neighbor just ran into the greatest vitamins since sliced bread, and if you need some extra income, he's also got a multi-level marketing idea for you. The local bookstore has shelves full of books on every health topic.

Repeatedly we get health advice from a study that contradicts another study from a few years ago. Many people rely on health and nutritional information from their doctor who has received very little, if any, training in nutrition. How do you filter through this deafening roar and make any decisions?

It's not easy, and that has fostered more than a few health misconceptions.

Great moderates of history
Many people proudly state that when it comes to their diet, they believe, "Everything in moderation." Unfortunately, that might be further from the truth than they would really like it to be. In fact, it might be dangerous for them.

There are dietary and nutritional absolutes. What this person is really saying is that since they haven't taken a real stand about the subject, the rationalization of moderate behavior allows them to make emotional instead of intellectual decisions about what food they "feel" they would like today.

Of course, everyone has his or her own definition of moderation. This also holds true in the political world. Many people, not wanting to join right or left wing political movements, bask mindlessly in the middle ground by calling themselves "moderates." No passion or decision-making there. No risk, either. I'm still looking for a book about the great moderates in history.

Expensive urine
Not everyone takes a multi-vitamin or mineral supplement. There are people who "feel" that if they eat a balanced diet (we might be talking about those moderates again) they will get all of the vitamins and minerals that they need. How would they know? What is a balanced diet?

The majority of vitamins and minerals come from plant material grown on farms. Unfortunately, in this country, we have lost a large amount of the nutrient-rich topsoil compared to just 50 years ago. That's strike one.

The fields are treated with chemicals and pesticides that deplete the soil of living organisms that constantly recycle the soil and replenish nutrient content. Strike two.

We also have no control over whether the fruit or vegetable was picked ripe, under-ripe or overripe. How long was the transportation time to market? What was the temperature while being transported? How long was it stored by your favorite grocery store? At what temperature? How did you cook it? Did you overcook it and destroy all of the nutrients? Was it processed, cooked and packaged for you? Strike three.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) publishes a handbook, Composition of Foods, which contains nutrient content tables for 100 grams and one pound of all foods. These are averages and were recorded more than 50 years ago. As an example, recent studies have shown that there are actually oranges coming to market with less than 40 percent of the Vitamin C that the USDA claims there should be.

Vitamins and minerals prevent disease and the aging process. Eight of the Top 10 chronic illnesses are diet-related. Take your vitamins. If you don't need all that is in your multi-vitamin, the body will excrete what is unnecessary. Considering the alternative, you would really rather have expensive urine.

Bitter or sweet?
Another common reason that people don't take vitamins and minerals is that they claim that they upset their stomach or cause constipation. The good news is that only poor quality vitamins cause these symptoms. That translates to cheap.

If you are a price shopper and think you are being smart by shopping for the lowest priced brands, you are making a big mistake, whether they upset your stomach or not. Usually, it's the poor quality calcium and iron that causes the problems. Not only are you getting small nutrient amounts, but also they are synthetic, which means that the body can only absorb a small percentage compared to a more natural formula.

Also, common ingredients include artificial colors, preservatives and other additives. If you buy from the chain stores, the big discount stores or your corner drug store or grocery store, you more than likely have a poor quality product from a company that has very little commitment to your health.

Within reason, when it comes to supplements, you get what you pay for. Remember that the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.

That's it?
Take nothing for granted when it comes to your health. Don't accept common thought. Question authority. Take a stand when it comes to treatments offered by your doctor; ask for alternatives.

If you don't get the information you want or it doesn't make sense to you, call an alternative physician for an opinion. Your health might depend on it.

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