Thursday, November 13, 2008

Take it With a Grain of Salt …

By Madeleine Kando

It is hard these days to do the right thing to stay healthy. Every time you think you know what’s good for you, some study comes along and says that what you thought was good for you is either bad, not enough or will downright kill you.

Amongst many other things, we are told to eat more fish to get enough vitamin D, take up dancing to avoid Alzheimer’s disease and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to flush out toxins.I happen to like fish, so for me that’s not a problem, and I run a dance studio, so if they are right I will probably die of something other than Alzheimer. But the water.. well, it makes me pee too much and I confess that I have not kept up with the ‘8 glasses of water a day’ advise. So, if they are right, I will start shriveling up like an old apple soon. I just cannot afford to leave my pre-school ballet classes every 5 minutes to go to the loo. It would be like letting the lions loose in a zoo. So I was relieved to hear that some doctors are now saying that drinking too much poses a far greater health risk than not enough.

But what makes us so gullible to all this so-called ‘expert’ advice? Are we all so insecure that we don’t trust our own judgement?

Could it have to do with fear? Fear of the big IF word? “IF I do this I will be safe from that.” “IF I drink 8 glasses of water a day I will be healthy and able to run a marathon.” This kind of reasoning reminds me of Sarah, one of my 3 year old ballet students. She barged into the studio one day beaming: “I am going to dance real good today, Miss Madeleine. I am wearing my tutu.”

There is a saying in the French language: ‘Avec des si on mettrait Paris en bouteille. (“With ifs you could put Paris in a bottle”. Also known as "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.") In fact, every country has one of those expressions to denote the IF word. Here is one from Canada: “Si ma tante en avait, on l’appellerait mon oncle” (If my aunt had any we would call her my uncle).

Think about it. If the word ‘IF’ didn’t exist, there wouldn’t be any way to experience fear. Anything you can describe with an ‘IF’ expression is not real. If something is already happening you have other things on your mind then thinking: ‘what IF this car wasn’t about to hit me?’ The car IS about to hit you and you can bet your sweet bippy that you would sprint out of the car’s way, unless you are suicidal of course.

So whenever you hear of another study that is proving your ‘staying healthy strategy’ wrong, take my advice: just wait a little while. Hold off on the fish, the water, the dancing. Soon another study will come along and prove the exact opposite of what the ‘experts’ are telling you today.

The best advise regarding your health is this: take everything coming from ‘experts’ with a grain of salt.
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