Tags: y2k | healthcare decisions | internet | grapefruit

Do You Want Ideas or Results?

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Tuesday, 02 Jun 2015 03:04 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Have you ever felt that a shortcut could save you time, only to find out the result was a dead end? I sure have. I want to help you avoid dead ends and get the results you want.

To get good results, you need to be able to effectively sort through information.

Why does this matter? Prior to the Internet, health information was hard to find. There were books in libraries and bookstores, but in general newspapers and periodicals said little about food or lifestyle.

Now, in the Internet age, there is no shortage of health advice. Unfortunately, more advice is not always helpful, as so much of it is conflicting. The result is to leave people more confused than ever.

So here’s an easy trick that will help you sort through the chaos without making it a full-time job. All you need are two things:

1. The ability to tell the difference between ideas and results.

2. The knowledge that results always trump ideas.

What is an idea? Let's look outside of the health world for an example.

In late December 1999, I bought a few cases of canned food and water storage containers because I was worried that Y2K could cause a collapse of society.

Of course, it seems laughable now, but I wasn't the only one who did it. Experts had told us that computers were about to give out due to flawed date codes that would not work in the year 2000. Well, we all know how that turned out. All that happened to me was that I had a huge box hogging up space in my garage for a decade before I threw it out.

Just like in world affairs, ideas about health are a dime a dozen. Here's why: Your body is regulated by an amazingly complex, interconnected system. With just a little imagination, it’s possible to look at this system and imagine that any food, nutrient, herb, or drug could do anything at all — good or bad.

Let's look at an example of how ideas can go wrong. Start with a couple of pieces of data:

• Grapefruit has an alkaloid, called naringin (true).

• Naringin slows one of your liver enzymes (true).

From these true statements, you could imagine an idea like this:

• Grapefruit might cause liver damage (not true).

One way to tell ideas from results is ideas use words like "might" or "should." They also sometimes make categorical claims, using words like "always," "only," and "never." Results are pretty low-key. They stick to the facts and tell you about what actually happened, not what someone thinks will happen.

Below is a fun game that will give you some practice. Take a look at these competing health claims, and see if you can tell which column has ideas and which has results.

Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty easy to tell the difference.

Column A
• Beans might cause cancer because they have lectins, and some lectins cause cancer in test tubes.

• Only carbs cause weight gain.

• You should be able to get all the nutrients you need from a well-balanced diet.

Column B
• Studies have shown that beans kill colorectal cancer cells. (1)

• The largest studies comparing the long-term results of high-carb vs. low-carb diets show that there is no clear difference. (2)

• Severe vitamin D deficiencies have been found in more than 80 percent of the adult African-American population. (3)

If you guessed that Column A has ideas and Column B has results, you were right!

Next time you hear competing health claims, don't even worry about who the expert is or how good the opposing arguments are.

Start by figuring out which is an idea and which is a result, and you'll know which you should pay attention to and which you can safely ignore.


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AlanChristianson
To get good results, you need to be able to effectively sort through information.
y2k, healthcare decisions, internet, grapefruit
647
2015-04-02
Tuesday, 02 Jun 2015 03:04 PM
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