Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Debunking Food Myths

Dear Madame L,

I read that article you linked to the other day about debunking food myths, and I think you're wrong about high salt intake. I think that article debunked the idea that salt is bad for you, and your reader should talk to his/her doctor about another way to take care of his/her high blood pressure.



Dear Delusional Debunkee,

Madame L sticks by her original advice. Madame L would like to bet you money, except that she's not a bettor, that in a few months from now another article will come along, citing a new study showing that salt is indeed very bad for you and that reducing sodium intake is essential for lowering blood pressure.

Madame L is amazed at how so-called "popular science writers" can take whatever idea they like at the moment and "popularize" it for the "general public," which generally means dumbing it down beyond recognition and misrepresenting the scientific research involved.

Case in point: Recently you may have read that everyone, including pregnant women, should be drinking a glass of wine a day for its resveratrol content, even though the content of that chemical is practically nil in a glass of wine. And even more recently you may have read that women should not drink wine at all. Both of these contradictory ideas were supposedly supported by scientific research.

Madame L disagrees with a lot of what so-called "medical science" recommends for people, particularly when she sees articles in news magazines or reports on the nightly news. From her own experience, she knows how hard it is to represent accurately the results of complicated experiments in 200 words or less; and she has seen the vast difference between the news articles and the scientific papers the science and medical writers are trying to summarize for us, the general readers.

But she believes that moderation in all things, except in drugs that are deleterious to human health (including alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine), which should be avoided entirely, will promote health and well-being for everyone, no matter what the latest scientific or medical fad says.

And she asks you to read this comment from another reader, seconding the advice of Madame L and countless medical researchers:

Dear Madame L, As someone who has high blood pressure, and is on medication for it, I'd like to comment, too. I think your answer was very good--most of us would benefit from cutting back on salt, with or without high blood pressure. I assumed I was supposed to do just that, at the time of my diagnosis, and I've learned to appreciate the flavors of food without all the salt. Interestingly enough, after my last annual check-up, I was told that my sodium levels were too LOW, and I actually needed to start salting my food a little more! When the nurse called me with that news, she said she had never before been asked to give that message to any of the doctor's patients. That's beside the point, I know, but I just wanted to share, lol. High blood pressure is serious, and, as you implied, using yourself as a guinea pig with such a serious health concern would not be very wise. There are a lot of seasonings available that can make food taste soooo good, without all that salt!! Good luck to your Dear Reader.

So, again, take care,

Madame L


AskTheGeologist said...

Umm. What about drinking urine? It even has a name: Urinotherapy.

A former Prime Minister of India, Morarji Desai, practiced drinking his own urine, and it is referred to as far back as the Roman poet Catullus, criticizing a Gaul named Egnatius for using it to whiten his teeth.

Is this practice currently "in" or "out" with the so-called "science writers"?

BTW, how do you make comments anonymous?

Ellen said...

What "other way" do you think the doctor will recommend to take care of high blood pressure? It should be remembered that lowering salt intake is only one way that is recommended to help control high blood pressure. Other aspects of the diet, such as eating lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, along with plenty of exercise, stress-relief, and possibly even weight loss, should also be considered. When those things are not enough, or when the patient is not motivated enough to do those things, the next thing a doctor will consider (at least, in my experience) is medications. Personally, I've always believed that if it can be resolved without medication and all the side effects that go along with the meds, so much the better.

I have a friend who, with her husband, served a mission to Africa. While there she lost weight and her blood pressure went down to normal levels. She attributed it to the change in her diet, although I'm sure the increased walking must have helped as well.

Low sodium diet, healthy diet, exercise, stress relief, and, when needed, medication. I bet that's what the doctor will order.