As a doctor that believes in research and well designed studies, I have found a majority of research incidentally omits or intentionally excludes factors resulting in biased and/or inaccurate outcomes. Yes, this includes the esteemed “Harvard Studies.”
When it comes to achieving optimal (or simply better quality health,) research will never discover the ONE solution ensuring this outcome.
This is because multiple solutions are required to satisfy the different needs of different people. It really comes down to personal conviction, discipline and a willingness to incorporate better choices (within reasonable boundaries) addressing the various components that impact healthier outcomes.
This explains why:
Vegan, Vegetarian, Low Fat, Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, South Beach, Atkins, etc… by themselves:
DO NOT REDUCE THE RISKS OF DISEASE OR EXTEND LIFE EXPECTANCY,
but instead, play an important COMPONENT in the solution that contributes to reducing the risk of disease and extending life expectancy.
To clarify this point, let’s substitute “quality” food choices with “quality” construction material (used to build a house.)
If laborers were supplied with “quality” building materials, but had no experience in the field of construction, would you expect a “quality” house built? What if the construction team consisted of experts provided with “quality” building material, but no tools for assembly? Would it likely impact the quality of construction? What if you had experts with quality materials and quality tools, but were forced to build the house in one day? Would this likely impact the final outcome?
Are you beginning to see that focusing on ONE aspect in life (ex. a quality nutrition program) excludes important components necessary for achieving comprehensive results?
Our scientific research is frequently flawed in its attempt to prove the “ONE “THING“ all human’s need to achieve the same results. It tends to remove the “human” component from the EQUATION.
Instead we must learn to incorporate (not the ONE,) but the various physical and emotional components that CONTRIBUTE to the BIG PICTURE (better quality health and longevity.)
Now, if we return to our nutrition strategies, can you see the missing pieces in scientific research and the affects these gaps have on producing the best outcomes for society? The scientific diet lacks the ability to account for external factors (some of which include: sleep disturbances, high stress, insufficient exercise and depression.) Just as “quality” building materials (in and of themselves) aren’t sufficient to produce “quality” structures, “quality” scientific research publications often lack credible conclusions based on design limitations and flawed interpretations.
Our research can only include so many parameters within the design of a study. With every additional parameter we add to a study, we narrow the population base of those who qualify to participate. In addition getting those who qualify to participate honestly and accurately over the duration of the research project is exceptionally challenging.
These challenges lead to biased inaccurate conclusions often used to sell books, sell exercise machines, sell personal counseling/training, etc…) When we see “HARVARD’S” name attached to the research we assume integrity, accuracy and quality. Much of this research relies on our ACCEPTANCE without reviewing the details!
SO, IF HARVARD’S RESEARCH CONCLUSIONS ARE QUESTIONABLE, WHAT BETTER OPTIONS EXIST TO IMPROVING ONE’S CHANCES FOR QUALITY HEALTH?
1. First, determine a REALISTIC ZONE of self compliance. This means determining the boundaries one is willing to set to match a chosen outcome. The more factors one is willing and ABLE to include in a lifestyle plan of action addressing PHYSICAL AND MENTAL aspects of health, the better the chances for success.
2. It is important to understand ALL components needed for better health should be applied in a realistic manner consistent with positive outcomes. For example, exercising 3-5 days a week for 20-50 minutes while eating REAL FOODS 80-90% of the time and permitting 10-20% “comfort food,” is REALISTIC and sustainable. Exercising 7 days a week in order to eat a diet primarily of unhealthy foods without weight gain or health consequences is UNREALISTIC.
3. Don’t begin the journey with over burdening challenges that may reduce motivation early on. Use various quality approaches and tailor them to meet your NEEDS as well as your WANTS. This means accepting reasonable CHANGES (including limiting harmful habits) in favor of discovering new experiences that offer hidden opportunities. These discoveries will easily become more relevant and better satisfy emotional needs than harmful practices (ex. turning to ice cream, fast food, potato chips, cupcakes, etc…) once used as a coping mechanism for stress and other negative emotions.
4. Take intermittent breaks from environments that “suck you in” to anger, resentment and frustration. So many people living with high levels of stress turn to social media sources for social engagement. Commonly all this does is elevate these harmful emotions and weaken the body’s natural defenses.
5. Focus on people and pathways that support your NEEDS and WANTS. As you begin thinking in these terms and experiencing the benefits, it becomes easier to “remove” people and pathways impeding desired results.
These five concepts applied within self CHOSEN boundaries (rather than boundaries established through “scientific research”) make the process REALISTIC and ACHIEVABLE.
Are the results guaranteed?
But, exercising 7 days a week, eating only plant based organic foods, drinking only purified water in place of EVERY other liquid, and meditating twice a day doesn’t guarantee GOOD HEALTH either. What it most likely guarantees is an unsustainable approach to living life ultimately “feeding” anger, resentment and other health threatening emotions.
I believe most people already have a good idea what’s needed in life. It’s a FEAR of change and unknown outcomes that paralyzes the average person from getting off the starting line.
HOW CAN WE REDUCE THE FEAR?
Make the experience of LEARNING fun! Don’t go into it with a negative mindset. Take your time and experiment. See what works; see what doesn’t. This is how one LEARNS. If it doesn’t work using one approach, find another approach that addresses a NEED or WANT from a different angle. Over time, you’ll discover intelligent creative PERSISTENCE leads to greater ACCOMPLISHMENTS that boost confidence and self esteem.
This approach will soon replace the most commonly followed path today; the one in which an individual CHOOSES to walk directly into a wall over and over again producing the same UNWANTED RESULTS
when all one has to do is approach this wall in a different manner to get beyond its limitations.