Are You a "SMART SHOPPER?" The Importance of HEALTHY SKEPTICISM When Consuming Health Info
There is a LOT of information out there these days, and about EVERYTHING under the sun...health, wellness, and nutrition being no exception. Every time I turn around I'm reading a post online or on social media that goes something like this: "Milk causes cancer," or "Red meat will give you heart disease," or "We should all be paleo, it's the way our ancestors ate," or "All humans are designed to be fruitarians/raw foodists," and...*sigh* I think you get the idea. There are other claims out there, too, about still other diets and health practices...and it's about time I make a post about this, and just why exactly I get so frustrated by them all.
Claims like this can be appealing, I'm not going to lie. In fact, I bought into many in my quest for the answer to my healing. I lived on grape juice for 40 days, believing the claim that my "dis-ease" was the result of systemic acidosis and I just needed to "detox." I went without any food or water for 24 hours one day per week, believing the claim that in order to truly hydrate and alkalize the body, dry fasting was necessary as it hydrated on a cellular level. I bought into the belief that animal products were toxic to humans and would only result in parasites, disease, and early death. I believed (and touted) that an all-fruit diet was the optimal diet for humans. I believed all of these claims...even though not one of them was worthy of being believed. I got Crohn's disease from my grape juice fast. I worsened my kidney problems from dry fasting (intentional dehydration? Don't try this at home, kids...). I wasted away and lost more and more weight by removing animal products from my diet. And I nearly lost my life, ending up in the hospital with chronic pancreatitis thanks to the unsettlingly large amount of fructose I was consuming on a daily basis.
My point? There's a lot of health claims out there...but very few worth listening to and believing. Trust me. While not everyone will have as scary an experience as I have had buying into anecdotal, theoretical claims, take my story as a lesson for yourself, so you won't have to go through something similar. Do your research...practice healthy skepticism. Don't believe everything you read on Instagram, Google, or the cover of Woman's World. Science isn't everything, but it counts for a lot.
So how do we know what to believe? There's a couple steps to ensure the information you're consuming/listening/adhering to is legitimate and worth your time and energy.
1. Ask yourself "what is this claim based in?"
-Is this claim based in science, or opinion? Is there research you can track down backing up this claim, or is it a blanket statement, with a phrase like "it should be obvious" following it?
2. Has this claim/theory been tested and proven to be true/accurate?
-Again, is there research and evidence in support of this claim, or is it purely anecdotal, or based in another theory (like the acid-alkaline theory) that has been disproven by science? If the claimee cannot provide you with the research articles proving their claim to be true (or if they get defensive when you ask for them), move on.
3. Does this claim take individual differences into account, or is it a "one-size-fits-all" approach to wellness and healing?
-Nutritional needs, physiological makeup, ancestry, health status, metabolic processing...these are just SOME of the variations we humans have! Any advice or claim that offers a universal "one-size-fits-all" approach to nutrition, health, and healing is a recipe for disaster. Run. And run fast.
4. Is this claim/advice in line with Scripture?
-God's design for us is freedom from worry, fear, and stress, as well as life abundant in Him...which is only found when we surrender the need to CONTROL our lives and our health. Does this advice/practice encourage freedom in Christ, or is it rooted in dogmatic rules and restricting that instill fear and a need to control in the recipient?
Scripture tells us to be wise and "test the spirits": Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them" (1 John 4:1-5). We can know a spirit by its fruit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against these there is no law" (Galatians 5:22-23).
Be wise in what you're listening to--both in health and in life. There's a lot of "noise" in the world nowadays that can easily turn our eyes away from the ultimate goal: of glorifying Jesus by living lives pleasing to Him, including in the way we treat our bodies. But be mindful that your desire to "take care of your temple" out of respect for God (1 Corinthians 6:19) doesn't become an idolatrous situation: keep God the focus, and health and wellness will remain in it's proper place, and remain a health-promoting thing for you, instead of a health-deterring thing.
May blessings, friends.