Thoughtfood 2: The Survivorship Bias And The Great Food Pedestal
by Alex Bernier,
I am so grateful for my car! Through the blistering cold, the heavy heat, or tropical rain, this wonderful feat of human engineering has always been there to take me from point A to point B, no matter how far. I seldom take the time to truly appreciate everything she does for me, like helping me grow my business, or visit my family. We share so many memories together, and now she can't even handle the weather. She's not as powerful, rust has sapped her youth, You only realize what you have when it's dying in front of you.
Thankfully, a health authority on social media reminded me that the human body is just like a Ferrari, and therefore requires only the finest diet to function accordingly. Of course! How could I expect a 3500 pound machine to perform on this cheap chemically altered fuel I had been feeding it?
I didn't have a Ferrari, but a car is a car, so I started filling it up with the finest, most expensive organic gasoline I could find.
''If I feed it like an Italian sports car, '' I thought, '' then logically it's going to work like one, or pretty close to it. ''
Unfortunately, the fuel made no difference, and I was forced to take my car to the shop. The mechanic told me there was a problem with the engine and the transmission, probably from not doing all the maintenance required for such a complex piece of machinery. A few thousand dollars later, it was back on the road, better than ever, but all I could think about was the amount of resources I had wasted trying to fix the fuel when there had been an underlying issue with the components all along.
Speaking of missing information, In the political world of academic publishing, only a tiny fragment of the few studies that ever rise above the noise will receive media attention. Recently, for instance, the World Health Organization issued a warning on the dangers of red meat in regards to cancer. This is exactly the kind of media fuel that has been feeding the headlines since the 1950's, when saturated fat was pinned as the culprit behind the growing heart disease epidemic.
Although many scientists now recognize we have been wrong about saturated fat, the formula remains the same. You take one nutritional villain, correlate its consumption with the rise of a certain disease, and with the proper medical and political push you have yourself a front page story.
We never really hear about studies like the one posted in the July 2015 edition of the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, where a team of researchers demonstrated the negative impact of sitting on digestive function in patients affected by acid reflux and esophageal dysphagia, a condition marked by a sensation of food sticking to the base of the throat.
Using a high-resolution manometry diagnostic system, the researchers were able to detect a weakened activity of the important muscles necessary to move food to the different processing stations in the digestive tract, a process otherwise known as peristalsis, more frequently when patients were in a seated position.
Not exactly best-selling material, and who even reads the Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility anyways? Now, you may not have acid reflux or esophageal dysphasia, but the mechanics still apply to you. Surely, in the context of digestion, slowing down the transport of food through the digestive tract will have a significant impact on the entire process. Would a Ferrari work like a Ferrari if the fuel took longer to get to the engine?
If you think about it, the average person gets up in the morning, sits down to take a shit, then sits for breakfast, sits in traffic to commute to work, sits at a desk, sits to eat lunch, sits at a desk again, then sits in traffic to commute back home, sits down to eat dinner, then most likely collapses in front of a screen. That's a whole lot of sitting, and a whole lot of digestive slow-down.
How long do you sit for during a typical day?
You are a little more than what you eat. You are what you absorb, assimilate, metabolize, detoxify, transport and defecate. It won't matter how much you exercise or how clean you eat if your digestive components are functioning at subpar capacity.
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