Sunday, July 10, 2011

Oh for the simple life

Remember those good old days when the baddie always wore a black hat and the good guy wore a white one? I remember being taught in Medical school that there were three deadly white poisons: white flour, white sugar and heroin!! If only it were as clear cut as that - even heroin is a fantastic pain killer in Palliative Care.

I was reminded of how muddy the waters can be when "pontificating" on health matters, by an article in the Weekend Australian on the simple subject of sugar: which for many decades has been the "bete noir" in the obesity and diabetes stakes. Many patients that I've had over the years, when it comes to being told they have diabetes, respond with "That's all about sugar isn't it"? The simple answer is, "No, it's not just about sugar" - it's about healthy eating and effective physical activity. In fact, according to Jenny Brand-Miller, the University of Sydney Nutritionist, too much dietary information is out of date and eating sugar is not "inherently dangerous".

One of the problems in promoting good health is that we go for the simple headline, the "catchy" phrase to encompass a subject that is so big and so varied in nature. Obesity, and all the related health issues that go with it can be improved if you eat good quality food in the right quantity and get an appropriate form of physical activity on a regular basis - according to who you are, and where you are in your life; and that - as we know - is constantly changing: so one size will never fit all, despite so many health organizations trying to convince us otherwise.

What gets my goat at the moment, is the bullying and hectoring that some "health lobby" types use to press their message: in particular when prosletysing about their current hobby horse, alcohol - a toxic poison when used incorrectly, but one that when used appropriately, does have health benefits as well as making those healthy eating occasions, so much more pleasurable. This is another of those "one size fits all" health issues that just doesn't add up: some people should never drink alcohol because they just can't stop after one drink, and I respect their wise decision never to drink. Most young people of Anglo Saxon heritage seem to think that the purpose of alcohol is to make you vomit and black out - these young people need a serious lesson about the terrible toxicity of alcohol. Interestingly, most Italian, French and other non Anglo communities appear to be able to educate their young people far more "creatively" when it comes to alcohol. When it comes to the health negatives such as cancer, and the health benefits, such as heart disease: then I suggest we lock those experts up in a room and don't let them out until they sort it out; and then let us know where the real truth may lie!
Ampersands & angle brackets need to be encoded.

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