I recently watched a video on YouTube called Diet, Health and the Wisdom of Crowds by Tom Naughton and found myself watching it again and again.
It is a very funny but sobering look at why people looking for diet and health advice are turning away from doctors, nutritionists, government agencies, medical trade organizations and other established authorities and are instead getting their information from bloggers, pod-casters, independent filmmakers and countless other dedicated amateurs who communicate through social media.
So why is this happening? This post is not intended as an attack on any doctors or other health professionals, I believe as health professionals – most of us have good intentions and we treat and teach our patients/clients to the best of our ability with the best of our knowledge at the time. What I am questioning is what knowledge are we following and the flaws in the current health system? When did it become OK to spend three minutes with a patient and only prescribe a drug, which may help with symptoms, but causes more symptoms that require more drugs and goes nowhere to addressing the cause?
I know that in my personal health journey which I have discussed here before, the more I listened to “mainstream”medical and dietary advice, the sicker I got. I wasn’t being heard by the health professionals, so I went looking for answers elsewhere, as many do. This can be a good thing and can also be a bad thing depending on who you choose to believe but unfortunately the same thing applies to health professionals – you may get good advice or you may get bad advice. I believe that our current dietary guidelines are completely flawed, and actually drive obesity and chronic disease.
We are born with a natural connection to our body and an inner wisdom, once upon a time society nurtured it, and encouraged children to learn to listen to their intuition. Now of course we are taught from very early on that we are wrong and we must do as we are told. Someone outside of us always knows better, mum, dad, doctor, whoever but we don’t know what we are feeling. We are also encouraged to stop listening to our body, if a child says they have eaten enough and their tummy is full – they often get told they are wasting food and “what about the starving children…..”. They are effectively told not to listen to their stop signal but to eat until somebody else thinks it’s enough. When a child is hyperactive, they are often having a natural reaction to the sugar in their body, they instinctively know they need to move to get it out of their system – it is an appropriate physical response. Of course we label them as bad and tell them to sit still and if all else fails, medicate them – ignoring an important biological message.
I hear stories every day of people who know that something is wrong but their doctor doesn’t believe them, often they get prescribed valium for bugging their doctor all the time about “nonsense”. Many years ago my grandmother sought help with her doctor suspecting that she had something very wrong with scary symptoms, the doctor laughed at her and shamed her and many years later advanced bowel cancer was found – she survived, but only just, and it ruined her health and quality of life for the rest of her life! People with issues like food sensitivities and thyroid disease are constantly told that there is nothing wrong, and they are making it up. The stressful situation of living with their symptoms and the nutrient deficiencies that develop due to their reduced digestion then lead to anxiety and depression, then for sure we know they are “making it up” it is of course “all in their head”, they just need some anxiety medication!
We have medicalised everything from pregnancy and child birth through to reflux and digestive issues. Pregnancy and child birth were once natural and intuitive but now we need to be told what is normal and how things should happen. Someone has reflux and instead of not eating the food that caused it, we diagnose them with Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and prescribe Nexium (which creates a whole bunch of new issues)! Or we prescribe tonnes of antibiotics to people, almost never prescribing probiotics without compehending the damage this does – and that the balance of bacteria in our bodies is essential for health! Not saying that medical intervention is never a good thing, sometimes it is precisely what is needed. Just pointing out that we no longer listen to our intuition – we often blindly put our life and health in the hands of experts.
Then we have the weight loss industry. We are told if we are overweight that we must be lazy and overeat (the glutton and sloth theory), we are put on low fat diets and when they don’t work and or we are fed up with feeling deprived and hungry (which results from not eating enough fat)! We are told that we have no self control and we are doing it wrong. It usually goes like this “there is nothing wrong with the diet, you are just lazy and stupid and have no willpower”. We start to believe message that we hear constantly and feel deep shame, leading to many more physical and psychological health issues!
We once knew how to eat, it was natural, we just ate real food when we were hungry until we were satisfied, simple as that. It was also well known that eating too many carbohydrates/sugar drove obesity and disease. An example is this diabetic cook book from 1917.
We had it right, we knew how to eat, that is – until the experts came along to tell us we were wrong! Tom explains really well in this video how it all changed and how we went from the Wisdom of Crowds to the Vision of the Anointed!
Now in this age of information we can be our own advocates, research and study health and take control of our health. I would encourage you however, especially if you are dealing with big health issues, not to go it alone. There are more and more “aware” health professionals every day, so seek out the right health professional for you, someone who listens to you, someone who is up to date but ensure it is someone with real qualifications. It can be tough as a practitioner now, because many clients arrived armed with their internet research knowledge but I see it as my job who help them sort through that information and find a solution that works for them. It certainly encourages me to keep up to date!
Note: Tom updated his Youtube video in 2018, here is the updated version of Diet Health and the Wisdom of Crowds.