Health as a dogma? And how to avoid being caught in that trap.

Throughout my life (well, I'm young, but still I have had a lot of experience with health), I have encountered many health trends and watched them as they evolved and spread like a virus. Superfoods, Ayuverda, Yoga, Meditation, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Herbal supplements, Veganism, Paleo diet, Intermittent Fasting, Gluten-free diet, Oil Pulling and even Vaginal Steaming.

Now, wanting to improve your health and experimenting with new things is wonderful, if the change is made under specific circumstances; following a diet or taking a supplement because your favourite celebrity does the same, may not only be useless, but harmful. Also, sometimes people get excited about a new health trend they discovered and whether they see results immediately or not (for their own reasons), they become militant, therefore ignoring any scientific feedback on their choice, potentially harming themselves.

Take Homeopathy as an example; I do not endorse it due to lack of scientific background, but the placebo effect is powerful and if patients can be helped that way, I can live with that. But when patients are homeopathy fanatics and reject all kind of other medicine, the act of not treating yourself can result into harming yourself. Being a pharmacist, I have encountered a patient with a serious bacterial infection in the kidneys, who rejected a treatment with antibiotics, continued with homeopathic remedies and the result; 98% kidney failure on that kidney. No matter how hard I tried, their mind was set. And it hurts me when I see my patients harmed.

So here are my main points on how to avoid getting caught in that trap of health as a dogma:

1) Always cross-reference your information

You've read something on a website and you want to try it out? Don't. Look further, check scientific websites, Google Scholar, look for academic studies, look for real case studies. Research to see if there are people reporting harmful side-effects, interactions, go deeper. Do not allow your excitement to trump over the scientific method. 

2) If you admire certain people/celebrities, you still have to question everything they do before you try it out

I am a big fan of Tim Ferriss. However when I read the 4-Hour-Body I still checked the studies he had referenced, looked online for counter-arguments and checked for further research when it came to supplements. I also love the work of Brandon Gilbert (Hyperion Herbs), Teemu Arina (Biohacker's Handbook), Ben Greenfield and Rich Roll. I am always pumped to see a new post with information from any of them, but I always stop for a moment and check the info and the sources before I even think of trying something out. The great thing is that most of them list their sources (unlike many bloggers and "health" sites), which makes it easy for me to cross-check.

3) Keep an open mind for both sides of the coin

Life is not black and white and so is health. Technology and research are ever-changing. Scientific facts get disproved every now and then rendering things we took as granted, false. On the other hand anecdotal evidence that you may have been laughing at, may be research-backed sooner than you think. Do not adopt a fundamentalist mindset when it comes to your health, because at the end of the day you are the one that could be harmed.

I hope you find this information helpful. Feel free to comment or message me with further questions.

Keep healthy my friends!