By Don Bennett,
of the keys to a happy and healthy life is balance. We'd all agree
that having good balance as we walk is a good thing, and balancing
a checkbook for some people elicits a sigh of relief. And there's
no doubt that emotional balance is what allows us to experience
the joys of life. But now let's talk about balance as it relates
you look at something in isolation, you can get a distorted view.
If you find and focus on a health-promoting aspect of something,
any health-damaging aspects that exist can become overlooked.
Indeed, if you try, you can take almost anything that would be
universally recognized as an unhealthy thing, and find something
positive to say about it, but obviously that doesn't make it a
good thing to consider.
article on how to get a good night's sleep can include, among
the healthy suggestions, the recommendation to drink a glass of
warm milk. With what is known about dairy products today, some
people no longer drink it (see health101.org/milk).
Why does the article on getting a good night's sleep contain the
benefit (milk can help you sleep), but not the detrimental items
(contributes to osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, MS-like symptoms,
contains hormones that can upset your hormonal balance, pasteurization
can damage nutrients, homogenization makes it a rocket fuel for
cancer). Wouldn't a tea containing valerian root be a better,
healthier suggestion? Or how about a lamp that mimics a sunset
which causes the brain to make melatonin which helps prepare the
body for sleep? Why not suggest a healthier alternative that still
fills the bill, but one that doesn't have any detrimental properties.
an article that suggests that eating fish helps prevent strokes
doesn't mention the health-damaging aspects of fish (PCBs, mercury).
And since most fish is cooked, the healthful Omega-3 fatty acids
are damaged in the process. So even though the fish oil may indeed
make blood less sticky and therefore less likely to clog blood
vessels, on balance, is fish such a good thing to eat? Isn't there
a healthier alternative that can help prevent strokes without
the negative aspects of fish? Sure there is, but by not including
that information in the article, and by not mentioning the unhealthy
aspects of cooked fish, the article isn't a balanced one.
what about the idea that cooking food makes certain nutrients
more bioavailable? You'll see articles about this, but they fail
to mention the dozens of nutrients that are made less
available from cooking (and they fail to mention that the amount
of the increased nutrients are plenty when consumed in uncooked/raw
tomatoes for example). Not a very balanced way of looking at the
issue of cooked food versus plant-based foods that can easily
be eaten raw.
yes, drinking wine has been shown to improve cardiovascular function.
But the news stories that tout this factoid don't mention the
health-damaging aspects of alcoholic beverages, which, on balance,
make them a poor choice for maintaining a healthy heart and arteries
(and by-the-way, it's the red in wine that's healthy, not the
alcohol). Isn't there a healthier alternative that still provides
the same benefit without the harm? Sure there is (red grapes and
anything red). But you don't hear about that in that news piece,
making it an unbalanced piece of information.
what about the discussions that contain people at both ends of
the topic's spectrum? Eating a vegan diet is very health for you.
No! Eating a vegan diet is unhealthy! Very often, the truth can
be found somewhere in the middle... where there is balance. Eating
a vegan can be a very healthy way to eat, much healthier than
the Typical Western Diet, but it can also be less healthy than
the Typical Western Diet in some important respects. But those
at both ends of the discussion won't know about the nuances of
the vegan diet that exist in the "middle" unless they
stop living in the extremes of the issue where "all things
considered" does not exist.
can you do about unbalanced information? If you don't see pros
and cons mentioned, or, where health is concerned, healthier alternatives
and a discussion of both benefical and detrimental aspects, then
there's probably information that you're not getting. Important
information. Information you need to make an informed decision...
a decision that's in your best interest. A decision
that has the potential to be an investment in your future health.
don't focus on just the good or just the bad, focus on looking
at something on balance; all things considered. In most cases
this will require further research. Yes, that's time consuming,
but, on balance, aren't you worth it?
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