Hundreds of thousands of the elderly watch enough health shows and surgery broadcasts to believe they’re almost qualified doctors themselves. With much casual medical knowledge easily available on the subject of what to eat, how to exercise, and how all the medicines on the pharmacy shelves work, some people can effortlessly end up with some pretty strong feelings on how to maintain the body, in a state of good health. Anyone who sees a self-styled health expert go on like this, invariably thinks of the following lines from Tom Sawyer: ” [Aunt Polly] was one of those people who are infatuated with patent medicines and all new-fangled methods of producing health or mending it. All the “rot” [the "Health" periodicals] contained about ventilation, and how to go to bed, and how to get up, and what to eat, and what to drink, and how much exercise to take, and what frame of mind to keep one’s self in, and what sort of clothing to wear, was all gospel to her, and she never observed that her health-journals of the current month customarily upset everything they had recommended the month before.” Let’s look at a few of the health tips that the overenthusiastic get wrong all the time.
Eating healthy is wonderful, and important. But people love to get carried away with the dietary health tips. One rule they love is, “only eat raw organic foods”, because cooking destroys the “essentials” in foods. Some people love to save up all their money to spend on exotic small farm produce that’s carted over by a pony and Farmer Brown. In fact, “eating right” can so consume them, and take up all their energies, that they often have little time for anything else in life. Doctors actually feel that there is a kind of eating disorder associated with going too far with eating right. They call it orthorexia nervosa, and they feel it’s as serious as anorexia.
If there is any one thing among all health tips that deserves to be called a health demon, it has to be the multivitamin. Advances in an understanding of what vitamins were in the early 20th century, revolutionized public health. Quaint old diseases that were very common back then, scurvy from low vitamin C, beriberi from a lack of thiamine, rickets from low Vitamin D and such, came from how humanity then, had not enough food to go around. What people got to eat, didn’t supply them with the vitamins they needed. So, the health establishment began to recommend vitamin supplements. While those were excellent for the time, they aren’t really needed today, a time when reasonable nutrition standards are easily achieved all over. But the multivitamin habit is hard to kick, still. And from this comes vitamin overdosing. There were all kinds of reports now, that too much vitamin C can give you cancer, how too much vitamin E can give you a heart attack, and so on. The thing is, if you don’t have a clear health problem you need to take extra vitamins for, you’re best off leaving them alone.
And of course, to include something from outside of the diet, how about a runner’s knee? The health tips are always telling you that a regular run in the park, I can give you arthritis. The doctors got that from studying marathon runners long-term. But researchers have been following marathon runners long-term, and they find that nothing really happens to them after running for 20 years. They find that people who have sore knees and take a running, actually improve over time. If you have a good running technique, no one can fault you for exercise of this kind.
The basic rule with following health tips always seems to be, to follow your heart, and to not let an idea run away with you.
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