I just can’t believe how easy it is to find “wrong thinking”, or I should say, “false beliefs” that are repeated every day in the newspapers, on television, on Internet websites and, sadly, in doctors and nutritionist offices.
And probably your mother, your sister and even your neighbor have also repeated them to you; including, sadly again, if you stop anyone on the street, and you talk about the said belief, they will answer to you: “Of course, it is right… everybody knows this!”.
And all these sayings, repeated by millions of folks every day, to be again repeated the next day to another millions of folks, just creates this “false beliefs” pattern which is incrusted in today’s society and make people do bad choices and /or bad changes in their lifestyle with, sometimes, serious health consequences.
So let’s go and continue our journey to put down more “cement blocks” in this “city of wrong knowledge”, based on bad science and, of course, which brings in huge amount of money to large corporations…
“ALCOHOL, IN MODERATION, IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH”
I decided to be brave and begin with a “big one”: alcohol consumption. Maybe I will not make friends here but still, read what I have to say. If you can pick up a few new hints about alcohol consumption, at least you will know what you are dealing with.
So here I go: alcohol (beer, wine and strong stuff, all of it) is toxic to the human body, especially to the brain and the liver. It is a poison, it is addictive, and it provides absolutely no nutrition to your system.
Ok, I said it, now let’s look at the science behind this.
The French’s were the first one to “exploit” the idea drinking wine was good for your health. Strangely, most of their sayings are based on… one observational study. Of course, they rapidly jumped on the results and they saw a rapid increase in sales of wine all over the planet. Just to give you an idea of the importance of the wine business in France, it represents 20% of all jobs for the 65 millions inhabitant of this country. We saw, over the years, the prices of French wine sky rock; now, it is not unusual to see the entire production of one season being sold… even before the grape plants have regain life in spring! The Japanese, which were never big wine drinkers, are now the largest client of French Bordeaux.
Except that there was a few “remake” of the said observational study and the difference this time is the “non drinking” folks, who were believe to have more health problem then the moderate drinkers, were selected with more caution. How this was done? Well in the first French study, they had included the “heavy drinkers that have stop to drink” in the group of the “non-drinkers”. And, as alcohol has a permanent and cumulative effect on the human body, we can understand why a lot of “folks considering themselves as non drinkers but are old heavy drinkers” have push up the bad health record of the non-drinking group…
So the Japanese government, seeing these huge imports of French wine entering their country redid the study and their conclusions are quite different: non drinkers (the ones that never drank) are in better health conditions then moderate and heavy drinkers.
Interestingly, when old centenarians European folks are questioned on their drinking habits (ex: in Crete, on the island of Sardinia, south of France or Italy where they have huge numbers of centenarians), they will admit, “daily drinking”. But they view wine as a “medicine” and they would only consume a very small glass after lunch and dinner. And when I say a “very small glass”, this is between ½ inch to max 1 inch of wine in the bottom of a small glass. Which has nothing to do with today’s 250 ml (one cup) portions of wine in our countries…
So what should one do about his alcohol consumption? Well it seems there are 2 patterns of recommendation that I think are good: if someone tends to overdrink, even occasionally, alcohol should be cut to zero. That simple.
On the other side, if alcohol can be kept in normal portion size (meaning one glass do not create the need for a second glass), “small quantities” can be tolerated by the body without too many consequences.
“Small quantities” means a glass of less then 100 ml (about a 1/3 cup), with a maximum of 2 portions per day AND AFTER THE MEALS AS A “DIGESTIVE DRINK”. I also like the idea of having 2 days per week without alcohol…
This is a personal choice and I think the best approach is to have one small glass “on special occasions” meaning you still allow yourself to drink but not on a daily basis.
Do never forget that each sip of alcohol entering your blood will automatically destroy some brain cells and will trigger inflammation in the liver, with an “permanent and cumulative damage effect”….!!!!
“IF YOU EAT TO MUCH MEAT, YOU MAY GET GOUT”
This is another very interesting subject, which still creates huge confusion in the medical field.
Classically, gout is caused by an accumulation of “uric acid” in an articulation, the “big toe” being the most known presentation with redness, swelling and excruciate pain. But it may also affect many other articulations in the body and often goes undiagnosed.
For more then a century, gout was known as a disease of the “rich man”, the ones being able to purchase meat (and especially organ meats), which contains a lot of purine. And when the said purines are metabolized, they produce uric acid; so, from this, the idea was born that “eating to much meat gives gout”…
Of course, research went on, and we discovered uric acid is a natural antioxidant produced by the body to defend itself against inflammation. You can see here a tricky thinking that leads to a question: is it uric acid that causes gout OR is uric acid produced to cut down inflammation in reaction to something else?
Interestingly, we discovered in the last decade that one of the most important substance creating inflammations in the body are carbohydrates, especially fructose, which make 50% of the structural elements of white sugar. By the way, what do you think was also considered a treat for the “rich man” one century ago, aside meat? SUGAR!!! Sugar was for the rich, not the poor.
Yes, when you eat sugar, you eat fructose. And the said fructose gets metabolized in the liver, as does other toxic substances, having as by-product “uric acid”, which is use, luckily, as an anti-inflammatory substance to help calm down the damages of… fructose!
Nowadays we include in the description of the “Metabolic Syndrome” (hyperinsulinism with insulin resistance) a “high level of blood uric acid”. This also goes very often undiagnosed and it is a shame because the most serious consequences is the higher risk of “uric acid kidney stones”; which is, and those of you that ever had kidney stones will recall, a very painful experience.
Sadly, most doctors treating patients with kidney stones, keep the habit of recommending to cut dairy products (to limit the calcium intake) because “calcium kidney stones” use to be very common. But with today’s epidemic of Metabolic Syndrome, this has changed and patients should be advise, as you may have guess, to cut on fructose…!!!
“HUMANS NEEDS TO STAY HYDRATED AND DRINK 2-3 LITERS OF WATER PER DAY”
I have written in the past about this but now, I am even more convince there is no reason to push ourselves to “overdrink to stay hydrated”. The idea looks good, but overdrinking has terrible side effects, and any fluids that you take in more then what your body can handle can bring in health complications and even death.
The first and more severe problem with drinking too much is that you will have to eliminate this excess water and by doing so, you will flush minerals out of your body. From sodium to precious potassium, you will also force your body to evacuate important ions such as calcium, not talking about the precious micro minerals (trace elements) such as “selenium”. This may create electrolytes imbalance and increase the risk for hearth failure for anyone at risk for this pathology.
Overdrinking can lead to digestive problems, behavioral changes, brain damage, seizure and even coma. These problems are real and do occur. The pathology of this is simple to understand: overdrinking water causes the fluid outside of the cells to be low in electrolytes and this will causes a shift of water into the cell, causing its swelling and serious damage. It is bad for all organs, but particularly the brain as it can cause intracranial pressure. Some cases of folks passing away are regularly reported in medical literature: the most striking one is this woman who died because of overdrinking while on a “water cure” having 8 ounces of water per hour all day long…
So don’t be foul: hyponatremia (low blood sodium) is the number one cause of athletes dropping dead when running marathons. The kidneys, in normal conditions, will eliminate a fixed quantity of water per hour but if one is under stress such as with any physical exertion, the kidneys will seriously diminish the excretion rate of water with subsequent consequences I just described.
Interestingly, infants and elderly are the most at risk for overhydrating because, or their sense of thirst is not yet well developed, or they have lost their sense of thirst with age, the result being they will drink not according to their needs but what it presented to them.
Anyway, the number one cause of urine incontinence in women, especially elderly women, is… overdrinking!!!
Some of the most common symptoms of overhydrating that are often not considered seriously are “muscle weakness” and “fatigue”. And if your are on any medication, this can be even worst, as it can be with illicit drug consumption, which can lead to serious damages.
Finally, a lot of folks think they need to drink a lot for proper bowel movement. Again, the idea seems good but aside flushing more electrolytes via your bowel, this is not the ultimate solution.
So, as the old Chinese doctor use to say: drink according to your needs, needs meaning according to your thirst, as this is a sense that was created by nature for your body for survival purposes.
Again, we have to learn to listen to our body.
“HUMANS SHOULD EAT 3 REGULAR MEALS PER DAY”
Did we ever ear this one as a kid AND do we still ear it nowadays. Interestingly, it appeared when breakfast cereals came on the market…
Interestingly, many studies came out in the last years demonstrating there is no advantage to have 3 meals per day. NO, breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day; NO, again, eating many small portions of food per day is NOT bad for your health: and, always NO, having a big lunch and a small dinner, is NOT the solution to all our problems.
They only thing that seems sort of sure in all this is, trying to eat “regularly” seems to do the trick. When centenarians are interviewed, they always describe regular eating habits, “regular’ meaning having their meals everyday at the same time and including about the same quantities. Interestingly, they also do not have these habits of doing things like “rewarding themselves on the weekend” with a big meal or having food “out of the ordinary”.
They often eat the same food items, variety not being of first importance and will prepare them about the same way. There I no place here for “Thai food on Monday”, “Mexican on Tuesday” ect. It may seem boring for someone wanting a “trendy 2014 lifestyle”, but seems to be the way it goes for these centenarians.
I strongly believe there are no “written in stone” recommendations about any “optimal eating pattern”. Everyone should look for what does better for them are go along. But, still, when someone has founded “his pattern”, I like the idea of keeping it regular and avoiding “excess feeding of special food items” on any particular day or on celebration days…