HOW MUCH TRUTH IS IN OUR TRUTHS?
For the longest time the ‘common’ treatment for burns was to put butter on it. When my partner, who’s nine year older than me, first told me this I was sure he was joking. As long as I can remember the first aid treatment for burns has been to run it under cold water. No he assured me, when he was young, all those years ago, butter on burns was the way to go.
Then, around the late 70’s early 80’s he tells me it changed. He doesn’t know if they had a public service announcement or just the fact that butter is really not a good idea on burns reached a tipping point and everyone suddenly just ‘knew’. But something happened and this old wives tale was put to rest.
It makes me wonder how much of the information we’re fed, both through media and through other people, is actually incorrect. My partner often says to me “… they say [random fact] …” and I always ask him, who’s they? Tell me your source. Information is rife and unless you strip things back to the source it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s become an old wives tale.
For instance, dietary fat. The recommended dietary guidelines are very clear regarding fat. It’s bad. Don’t eat it. In fact avoid it as much as possible. Instead eat a mix of grains, fruits and vegetables and lean meat. And then you’ll be a good little person and we won’t have to shame you and start a campaign of hate toward you and…. but wait, I digress
It turns out that there’s no actual science to support that. The subject is discussed in some detail in the book Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. Dietary fat was first lionized back in the 1970’s in response to concerns about heart disease. It became part of the national dietary guidelines in the 1980’s following a particularly good marketing campaign. Prior to that the accepted diet to loose weight was high fat, high protein, low carb. It was, and I believe still remains, the diet that is most likely to produce sustainable weight loss.
Since the changes in dietary guidelines there have been a number of studies regarding dietary fat and their effect on heart disease and any number of other diseases and, well, they show no correlation at all. In fact fat in our diets has proven to be not an issue at all.
The information, the little nuggets of wisdom that we pass amongst ourselves, aren’t always correct and don’t always help. Some can be quite toxic, and given that our ability to pass that information around has evolved so much I think it’s important that we evolve the way we pass on those nuggets, and receive them.
Which is a round about way of saying ‘don’t believe everything you see or hear’.