Saturday, 14 December 2013

The "My Dumb Body" Myth

I want to try and tackle a complex subject that touches in a lot of areas of our lives. Most of us have seen something related to this regarding either vaccines, or diet, or exercise, or sleep patterns, or even romance--I call it the "my dumb body" myth. It is, simply put, the idea that our bodies are too "dumb," or un-evolved, to handle our present environment. Coupled with that is the idea that the intentions we place behind treatments or practices make the idea at hand more or less effective. Let's discuss!

First, the idea that our bodies are un-evolved. Now what I mean by this is, for example, the idea that our colons don't clean themselves, and that we have to cleanse our colons of toxins in order to live healthy, happy lives. The reasoning behind this one is that there are a lot of processed food and non-food items being put in our bodies these days, and that maybe our bodies can't clear these things out for themselves. One trigger word we see a lot in this discussion is "chemicals."

Ok. So first off, let's clear up that trigger word, and see where it comes from. Chemicals brings a negative image to mind for most of us because we associate it with the things that we keep under the sink. Chemicals are things that are used for warfare, chemicals are things that we use to clean our kitchens, and surely they shouldn't be things that we put in our bodies. But the reality is, a chemical just means "a distinct compound or substance," that is, a substance that stands on its own. C6 H12 O6 is one most of us like, it's glucose. Glucose is a base sugar used to survive; our bodies break things down into glucose to garner energy. It's a chemical; and when things are listed by their chemical names, they look unfamiliar and unnatural to us, and so we suspect that perhaps it's unhealthy. But everything, EVERYTHING, is made up of chemicals. You and I are made up of chemicals. We are all made up of distinct compounds that interact with each other to form a living system; so we need to change our perspective on the term.

The next part is the idea that we have dodgy bits in our food and care products, and absolutely, we do. There are a ton of foods out there that are so processed that I wouldn't touch them (I'm thinking little Debbie's sweets here, and only because the sugars are so simple that I don't think my insulin would recover from the shock). Are these added elements good for us or bad for us? Well…they're a mixed bag. But what I can tell you is, your body DOES know how to deal with them, in one way or another. 

What I mean is, the history of our successful race is defined by our ability to survive in harsh environments with limited or subpar resources. Our bodies can handle small amounts of known poisons. And by the same token, our bodies recognize and reject large portions of poison. Think "food poisoning." That's actually your body saying, NO, this has e. coli in it, I need to get it out. And it does. I think anyone who's ever had food poisoning would agree that their body has cleaned itself out with tenacious effectiveness. To that end, no, these things don't then "hang out" in your colon. The body is a self cleansing, self-maintaining machine, developed from years of evolution through illness, genetic happenstance, famine, near desolation--humans are remarkably adaptable. And a large part of our adaptation is our survivability on nearly anything that we have as a resource. Your body CAN deal with it. 

Does that mean that you should shoot it all to hell and stock up on the sweeties? No, because even if your body can deal with it, and doesn't need some physical enema or strange juice fast to assist in this process, you can still help yourself stay healthy by following an optimal diet. So high protein, lots of veggies, a limited dose of complex carbs to keep your system going, and a ton of water and exercise. Focus on those items in a diet that is rich in nutrient dense foods (think plants and meats with lots of colours), and you'll giving your body a huge boost because it won't HAVE to worry about getting rid of all of the other junk.

Now the other side of this, and I've always found this one interesting, is the intentions portion of our discussion. One of the main draws of people saying that they can cleanse your body, or cure cancer with the laying on of hands, or broad statements saying that vaccines don't work, is that these people have good intentions towards you and themselves. They want to live happy, fulfilling lives, and they want you to live one, too, and that's incredibly appealing, and it engenders trust. 

But trust and good intentions are not enough to protect us from the things that are out there. Think about it this way. Say I have been with a sexual partner for ten years. I love him, he loves me, and I can trust him with literally anything in my life. I want to spend my life with this man, and as a trusting couple, we have unprotected sex. There are no danger bells ringing in my head, because we both trust and care for each other, and want the best for each other, so he'd never hurt me, right?

Except he carries Hepatitis. And doesn't know it, because he hasn't been tested. His intentions, and the trust I have in him, cannot protect me from him communicating this illness to me. It FEELS safe, but from a biological standpoint, I'm at risk. And it might sound dumb on paper, but it's such an easy mistake to make in so many areas of our lives, because people that make us feel safe and healthy should surely not be able to hurt us. But disease doesn't care about intentions. In the same way, something sold to you by someone who has bad intentions doesn't mean that the efficacy goes down; and generally these items were not created by the "retailer" in the first place.

 Now one of the things I said earlier was that we're incredibly adaptable, and we are; and we've used that adaptability to our advantage. We've realized that our bodies can process medicines to help us heal illnesses. We've also created tools through vaccines to help prevent illnesses. Some of the people working in medicine, particularly in profit oriented societies, have absolutely rubbish intentions. They want money. They are bad people. BUT for all of those bad people are the scientists developing the techniques that go into vaccination and treatment. For those of you familiar with the scientific hierarchy, you'll know that the people really developing these treatments are often grad students on grants. They are students doing research to try and discover something new and useful for the world. Faking their research, or not doing their research at all, won't end in the development of a product for money. It'll just end--these people have to have results (either, oh, this doesn't work, I'll tell everyone, or alternately, HEY, this works, I'll tell everyone!) and then have those results peer reviewed (tested and re-tested for method), then published, which involves more peer review, then published again, and then after years (I mean, 20 years) of trials, a new technique will enter the medical market for treatment. 

These treatments are not faked, and their efficacy has nothing to do with the amount of money that can then be made from them. The science behind them is sound; it is tested and re-tested and checked for errors. And that's when you get it put through to production companies. 

Unlike, I'll add, many products out there that are not researched scientifically, but are rather purported through pure, anecdotal evidence, and have not been tested for efficacy, but are rather being used as alternatives because of the issue of intentions. Now these items have not been tested or retested, or peer reviewed, or lab processed, and that is actually what makes many of them dangerous. Because intentions, and the "naturalness" of a product does not make it safe or effective--the effectiveness of a product makes it effective, and that can only be shown through the scientific method. 

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