6

votes

Is there a general perception that diet doesn't influence health?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 06, 2012 at 10:14 PM

To us PaleoHackers it's obvious that one's diet greatly influences health. Do you think your family, friends, and the public get it? To me, the greatest danger in western medicine is that we've been programmed to abandon our bodies, to defer to a medical system that tells us that we have no responsibility for our health and that a drug will fix our "bad luck."

Your thoughts?

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on July 09, 2012
at 02:47 AM

Negative perceptions or not- don't cut off your own hand. I have as much negative perception of insurance cos & their BS as anyone. I don't trust them but I'm not going to risk harm to myself or my family.Im going to be in charge of my health at all cost. More people should get catastrophic insurance & just pay for what they need for primary care. We have done this for years now and we come out ahead always & that includes our supplements. I dont make health decisions based on what insurance will or will not pay for, it simply makes Zero sense to me to do so. Im not rich either.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on July 09, 2012
at 02:43 AM

Negative percetion or not... don't cut off your own hand. I have as much negative perception of insurance companies and their bullshit as anyone. I don't trust them at all but Im not going to off my own hand. Im going to be in charge of my health. More people should get catastrophic insurance and then pay for what they need for primary care. We have done this for years now and we come out ahead for a family of five and that is figuring in supplements. I make almost NO health decisions based on what insurance will or will not pay for, it simply makes Zero sense to me to do so.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on July 09, 2012
at 02:39 AM

Well yes... and no. I think your order is wrong. The myths are propagated by FDA and USDA and government backed commodities and Big Pharma and MDs are last on that list - IMO.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on July 07, 2012
at 09:37 PM

I don't believe this. EVERY Doc? NO influence of diet?

091423a30c0188fbff51e39397e7e056

(384)

on July 07, 2012
at 06:37 PM

It probably has to do with a negative perception many people have of Insurance companies, Crowlover. When people feel wronged they often do irrational things. One time in everyone's life they were ripped off by someone. I think this type of experience sours most people to the point where they just don't trust advice coming from certain sources. It's not that they don't want to be responsible; they just don't believe you when you say something is necessary. Kind of like how very few people in Paleohacks trust Conventional Wisdom they don't trust you.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on July 07, 2012
at 10:03 AM

I really like this answer.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on July 07, 2012
at 02:40 AM

bachcole, this reminds me how weird it is to me when people hold insurance companies (together with MDs) responsible for their health! I work in health care & I cannot tell you how many people I encounter who will not do something that they need, or get something that they need because insurance will not pay for it. Im talking about people who CAN afford it too. Examples that come to mind are labs tests that insurance won't pay for (ie a comprehensive stool analysis) or treatments that are needed (say supplements). It floors me. I don't trust anyone but myself to manage my health.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on July 06, 2012
at 11:23 PM

bachcole - you reminded me how irriated I get when people hold insurance companies (together with MDs) responsible for their health. I work in health care and I cannot tell you how many people I encounter who will not do something that they need, or get something that they need because insurance will not pay for it. Im talking about people who CAN afford it here. Examples that come to mind are labs tests that insurance won't pay for (say a comprehensive stool analysis for example) or treatments that are needed (say supplements like Ubiquinol). It floors me!

F31d10b54b31428e189d9b771bf7b1d1

(1439)

on July 06, 2012
at 10:47 PM

Health is a spiritual enterprise. People who do not have at least some slight centeredness (not self-centeredness) are very unlikely to take responsibility for their own health. MDs are no more and no less centered than the general population so they don't do much in the way of leading. They, in fact, don't eat any better than the general population. MDs are intellects; intellect has nothing to do with spirituality. Connecting the dots is not easy, especially if doing so would be a threat to one's income and vested interest. Pharmaceutical executives are not sitting around eating paleo.

091423a30c0188fbff51e39397e7e056

(384)

on July 06, 2012
at 10:22 PM

It seems strange to me that you point towards some nebulous programming by some malicious source designed to hurt us. Honestly I see the opposite as being entirely true. We are so obsessed with personal responsibility that most of the outrage I see everyday is people feeling some other people is failing in their responsibility to do what is right. The reality is just that is easy to overlook the failings of our own life and easy to see them in other people. Our brains evolved to focus on external threats and it makes for a potent dose of hypocrisy.

091423a30c0188fbff51e39397e7e056

(384)

on July 06, 2012
at 10:21 PM

More likely it is the fact that our brains are designed to focus heavily on short-term problems over long-term problems. Combine this with the fact that the creep of poor diet is slow and you have a recipe for people focusing on the next big crisis until they turn around and are 50 with heart disease.

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12 Answers

5
03a4ec34751186201a56da298ac843ce

on July 06, 2012
at 11:17 PM

Among doctors, yes! My oncologist at Sloan Kettering told me flat out that it did not. So have every other doctor I have spoken to, and I have them in the family.

24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on July 07, 2012
at 09:37 PM

I don't believe this. EVERY Doc? NO influence of diet?

4
F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on July 07, 2012
at 01:49 AM

I think they do understand, but it's not hard for me to remember how I used to think I was eating healthy before Paleo. Beans, brown rice, tofu, whole wheat everything, oatmeal, etc.

It's nearly impossible to cut through the fog of "information" out there. Food advertising and marketing have been immensely successful. Our own government is running its own disinformation campaign to support farm subsidies and big business.

In addition, nobody understands their own human body. My husband, a doctor, talks about this all the time. It's a complete abstraction. Everyone knows they have a liver, but most can't tell you where it is or what it does. When you start talking about foods and the eventual molecules they become affecting the human body via cells...I mean...you just lose 95% of the audience.

Throw into the mix here that processed foods are engineered to be addictive and that we all carry tons of microbes that have their own agenda about what we eat, and this whole business of nutrition gets really murky.

It behooves all of us to remember that even though we've found a way to eat that makes sense for us, we still don't understand it or how it works. This is all far from settled. No wonder everyone's so confused. I feel like the best option is to default to what we ate before we had choices.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on July 07, 2012
at 10:03 AM

I really like this answer.

4
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on July 06, 2012
at 10:20 PM

In my experience and my social circle, everyone recognizes that diet plays some role in health. In all honesty, I think that many paleohackers overemphasize it's importance, thinking it plays a larger role than it actually does. I used to be this way, but I like to think I've matured for the better and not for the worse in coming to realize it's only a (perhaps rather small) piece to the puzzle. Socializing, physical contact, stress reduction, job satisfaction, money, and exercise all play a significant role in general health. Perhaps cumulatively, they actually play a greater role than diet does. A clean diet of wholesome foods is likely enough- it doesn't have to be "the perfect diet." THat's just my opinion, you're free to disagree.

3
Bece741db5f5fed6bafa12e3548f973f

(715)

on July 07, 2012
at 04:49 PM

By nature we are lazy and want the quick fix. Who in the world likes the painstaking inquiry and work that it takes to be healthy. Often times you don't see people doing that until the body is in ill health. We (in general) also let our pocket book and the media control our food choices, and then complain about the high cost of health care. To those above who've had doctors that say it doesn't matter, how can any doctor say that nutrition doesn't make a difference when in fact it's a foundational course in medicine, nursing and other health care sciences? But then again, who often questions someone who seems to have an earnest, charitable personality? Sometimes we think we're too dumb to figure it out, or maybe we're too afraid to try something different. Maybe we're afraid to ask. It takes someone with the non-partisan spirit who isn't afraid of controversy to wake things up and shake things up a little. But remember paleo can tend to be it's own kind of box too. We can fall back into the same trap of lack of inquiry and a one-size-fits-all philosophy.

Our married daughter studied in South America for awhile and lived in the mountains for part of a year eating rice, fresh meats and eggs, fruits and veggies, fresh cows milk and homemade cheese, and getting lots of fresh air and sunshine. Being pregnant, she maintained a healthy weight and said she felt terrific. She did however develop eclampsia at the end of her pregnancy, so one has to be thankful for what can be done with modern medicine or I wouldn't be enjoying having grandkids around.

The one thing though, that established medicine often fails to recognize, is the strong physical, mental and spiritual combination in health. Often times physicians think they can sit you down for a maximum of 10 minutes and figure it out, when in fact they're pressed to remember your name or anything else about you let alone address your health holistically. Diet is a small piece of the bigger picture. How often does someone refer anyone to a nutritionist and how often does the insurance pay for it? Some larger companies are actually starting to hire their own health information people to address the diet and exercise before they have to pay for the heart bypass surgery, insulin, gastric bypass and all those goodies. Maybe they are the smarter ones. I think medicine done correctly would encompass a team effort that would address more of the issues or at least a doctor who takes the time to address more of the issues. Unfortunately I don't think we'll often see it in the way we do medicine in huge, expensive clinics, where people are rushed through like cattle. They have the capacity for it, but it's too costly or something. Wish someone would tell me the problem (?)

Right now we have an amazing doctor. This one is in a small clinic. We've had great docs in the larger clinic too, but we've had to hunt for them. Unfortunely they'll move out of state or something and then we'll have to look again. Sometimes we've chosen to go outside the insurance plan and pay the upfront costs. I know that not everyone can do this. Actually right now this one has proven to be the most cost effective. We need to bear in mind that doctors are supposed to serve and not be our authority. Doing the research, weighing all the information and being one's own advocate is the best use of medicine.

3
F9ca6003487705397c57624dc1002be9

on July 06, 2012
at 11:12 PM

A couple of years ago I had a cousin (mid-30's) who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A few of us encouraged her to change up her diet in an effort to assist her body in building her immunity or at the very least to do what she could through diet to give herself a fighting chance. When this was presented to her, her reaction was "what does food have to do with anything"? And her doctor actually encouraged her to eat "comfort" foods which were by no means of the healthy variety. Sadly she passed away about a year ago, but it does show some people are entirely oblivious to what the benfits of healthy eating are.

2
61f9349ad28e3c42d1cec58ba4825a7d

(10480)

on July 07, 2012
at 10:09 PM

In my experience, most people do realize that diet has some effects on health - it's just that they don't see it as affecting their overall health in general. Most people I know only seem to think their diet affects A. weight B. heart conditions (hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood pressure) C. digestive problems (constipation, nausea, diarrhea) and D. outright testable severe allergies - like people with peanut allergies who have to carry epi-pens.

Anything else, like energy level, sniffles, aches and pains, chronic minor illnesses, headaches, acne, etc - they just don't seem to think there could be a connection, and instead jump to the conclusion that they have some disease and they need a pill. Not that lots of people don't have legitimate diseases, or that the pills prescribed for them do nothing - but many times, it would be a lot more advantageous to overall health, and to the wallet, to first try some dietary changes for a few months and see how that works out.

Or they just really don't realize how bad their diet is, how often they eat what they know should be treats, or eat a much larger portion even by SAD standards.

2
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on July 06, 2012
at 11:33 PM

I think you have something there. While I think that most people think that dietary fat and cholesterol has something to do with health, and that they should eat more fruits and vegetables, that's about as far as it goes. I've sat around with lots of older folks and the general consensus that isn't even questioned is that physical degeneration is to be expected, even laughed about. The brain fog, the aches and pains. I know you can't keep from slowing down as you age, but I do think brain fog and aches and pains are symptoms of eating the industrial oils and too much sugar and wheat and not enough meat, protein and animal fat. Nobody questions whether soy bean oil and packaged products are food. They probably know they aren't healthy, but they don't know they aren't even food.

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on July 08, 2012
at 12:44 PM

Absolutely. Unless someone is "alternative" or "homeopathic" (which in popular culture means "weird"), diet seems to be their last choice in how to affect one's health. I have been to numerous doctors that just wanted to get me out the door with a prescription without even a question about diet or lifestyle. I have asked doctors about this, and they say they don't even try to change people's lifestyles because it never works.

The fact that Dr. Bieler even had to write a book named "Food Is Your Best Medicine" is a testament to the fact that most people don't think that it is.

Americans are all too willing to believe the myths that Fruit Loops are part of a healthy breakfast, it's ok to be 25 pounds overweight, and we should all expect to be on daily meds by age 30. These myths are propagated by doctors, government officials, and the incredibly sophisticated and well-funded marketing divisions of the food and drug companies in a unified concert of misinformation. No matter at which altar you preach (the medical profession, the government, or what you see on TV), you're screwed.

4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

(4413)

on July 09, 2012
at 02:39 AM

Well yes... and no. I think your order is wrong. The myths are propagated by FDA and USDA and government backed commodities and Big Pharma and MDs are last on that list - IMO.

1
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on July 08, 2012
at 12:04 PM

There's certainly a huge disconnect. I don't know whether it's a cultural thing, or pharma advertising, or the way doctors are (or rather aren't) trained.

Maybe it has to do with planning, or rather a lack of long term planning. The same thing that gets people in trouble with credit cards, or buying more house than they can afford, living paycheck to paycheck, never having real goals. People these days have a very short memory, and a very short attention span. Perhaps years of advertising, and pop-up ads trains us to get a "break" several times an hour, and perhaps that prevents us from being able to pay attention for two hours straight.

Perhaps it's the SAD diet that depletes us of the nutrients required, or perhaps we don't have enough free time in our lives to reflect on their lives (I'd say "meditate", but in the western sense of the word, but not everyone would get that reference, or perhaps ruminate would be a better fit.)

The best description I've found is from the book "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin: "The days are Long, but the years are short" I think we're too worried about the day to day stuff, and don't spend enough time looking at the long view.

So in this way, eating crap in a box, drinking toxins, not moving, not resting enough become yet another "oh it doesn't matter, it's just this once, I'm very healthy" to justify, or not even give a second thought to. But of course the "just this once" justification happens almost daily, if not several times a day, and over time, as the years pass, the effects slowly show up, but there's no light bulb over our heads to connect the effect with the cause.

Sure, the healthcare system doesn't lend itself to actually providing preventive health advice, and when they do, it's the usual conventional wisdom, which has been hijacked by the interests of big agriculture. But, somehow, I think it goes deeper. We, as a culture, seem to lack the long view. It certainly doesn't seem to be that way in other cultures, outside of the USA, but it does go that way where we've exported the American Way of Life(tm).

Which is very sad, because upto WWII, the American Way of Life was "Can Do", it was about long term planning, it was about ferociously defending liberties, and now it's all "OMG!!! Like, when will the new shiny gadget that does something marginally more than the one I have come out, so I can wait in line outside the store for 3 days, and spend twice as much on the new one as I did on the old one, which still works and could last for at least another year, but I want to look supa-cool and trendy, so I can have it before Derpina and Herp do, and impress them and make them jealous!!!!!1!! Yooo kno whut I mean gurrrll?"

1
4ef079c57d2140bba4dbf4e30240a645

on July 06, 2012
at 11:17 PM

I don't think "there is a general perception that diet doesn't influence health" at all. I think even the typical person who eats a SAD will admit that diet is very important. Still, they might have a ton of wrong information, is the issue. For example that saturated fat is bad and its healthy to eat a lot of whole grains and "healthy" carbs and unlimited fruit etc.

I think what is misunderstood by all of us is the huge influence of genetics. That may be what you mean by "bad luck". Still, gene expression can be influenced by environmental factors... we just don't really know to what extent.

I think its safe to say that bad genes (or a lot of SNPs) together with a bad diet (SAD) is a recipe for disaster.

That said, I think a person can have a really clean diet, have all the things in place mentioned by foreveryoung, get enough sleep, get ample sunshine and outdoor time and still genetics may prevail causing a disease.

0
7cf9f5b08a41ecf2a2d2bc0b31ea6fa0

on July 07, 2012
at 10:10 PM

I don't know what it's like in America but in England I probably couldn't find anyone who didn't know that diet affects at least some aspect of health

0
24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on July 07, 2012
at 09:52 PM

I don't want to put numbers to this, but paleo peeps need to get down a little off their high horses about who believes in diet-health connection. Probably 95% of the medical profession and other nutrition/fitness realms believe there's a connection. It's just what the "proper diet" is to achieve the desired improvements, etc.

I have yet to see a single doctor who didn't see me when I was underweight (yes I was!) or overweight, that didn't inquire as to my diet at a comprehensive visit. Maybe people here don't agree with the conventional wisdom applied to the answers, that's fine ... but that doesn't mean the connection is denied.

I think most of the reticence to embracing nutritional therapies is most of the time they go into unproven supplement land. If it works fine, but consider the risk to your doctor these days to suggest a supplement -- Hey Mary, there are no controlled clinical trials demonstrating any benefit at this 100 mg dose I'm going to suggest you take ... seems about right because holistic guru McGuyver says it's the cure for what ails you. But there are no clinical trials that identified this wasn't a good idea because if there had been, probably 38% would have responded with explosive diarrhea and 5% had arrhythmia. Some whack jobs on McGuyver's blog tried to tell him they experienced anal fireworks but they got shouted down by his "success stories". We can't validate such claims one way or the other. Mary takes the supplement as prescribed and reports she's glued to the loo with a racing heart? Nothing to worry about. Wipe woman, and take a chill pill. Sigh.

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