This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, which I thought was more than long enough as it was.
The Hundred-Year Lie
But the book was also enormously disappointing — after promising it wouldn’t scare-monger, it does exactly that, and leaves the reader with next to no ideas on how to compensate for and cope with the damage these industries are doing to us.
The best feature of the book is the vast amount of data that it contains, and its thorough refutations of the common myths that our health and longevity are actually improving because of modern foods and drugs, and that reported incidents of spikes in previously-rare diseases are only due to better measurement and reporting mechanisms. We really are living in an era of epidemic diseases, caused by these three industries, diseases for which there are, in most cases, no cures. And we face huge denial, massive and powerful resistance from the rich and powerful industrial lobbies, and huge costs if we want to reform these industries so they stop killing us.
Fitzgerald analyzes the entire food supply chain to explain how the multiplier effect of modern malnutrition and exposure to toxics works to impoverish and poison what we eat:
I’ve tried to capture all this in the diagram above.
The problem is, we can’t rely on government or government agencies, the medical profession, industry or science (which relies heavily on industry grants and sponsorships) to warn us, or to take any meaningful steps to fix the system. The FDA and EPA have no capacity to test or demand information, very limited authority and resources to take legal or other action, a desperate shortage of inspectors and staff, and indifference and even animosity from anti-regulation governments put in power by donations from these industries. Government can’t protect us. The medical profession and Big Pharma profit from our illness. A medical journal study showed that half of all drug advertising and drug information supplied to doctors is so misleading as to encourage mis-prescription and over-prescription of these drugs. Industry cares about profit, not people’s health. And science does and says what the people who dole out money to them tell them to. It’s up to us to protect ourselves. Even the NIH admits to its helplessness:
We’re struggling to look at where genetics and the environment interact in the human cell, causing a molecule to change that starts a kind of chain reaction leading to disease. Scientists liken the changes to a cascade — a series of ever-larger waterfalls of cellular changes — that may lead to cancer, Parkinsons’, arthritis, heart disease or other diseases. Though we still do not understand the root causes of many of these serious chronic diseases, we suspect they can be caused or triggered by chemicals and other environmental exposures, even from years before.
Last year the US Government Accountability Office cited the EPA for abject failure to protect people from tens of thousands of toxic chemicals. But they have no authority to rectify the problem. The EPA relies totally on tests provided by industry itself, and even those biased test results have only been forthcoming for 15% of the chemicals industry has introduced in the last generation.
Fitzgerald criticizes industry and policy-makers for trying to find and push “silver bullet” solutions to health problems instead of looking at programs that combine natural and common-sense actions holistically. But when he finally proffers solutions at the end of the book, they too are of the ‘silver bullet’ variety: Eat “pure foods” and “no synthetics” he says. Go to a detox centre like the Hippocrates Health Centre. Eat wheatgrass and green algae. Fast every second day. Sweat in a “far infrared” sauna. Get your colon cleansed regularly. Some dubious (and recently-challenged by independent sources like Consumers Union) claims for a few popular herbs are also trotted out. Aw, come on, Randall, surely you can do better than that.
Nevertheless, The Hundred-Year Lie is a useful resource to add to your library, if only to understand how the multiplier effect works to ruin our health and to deal with the pervasive myths and naysayers.
A Stress Management Program
As I explained yesterday, so far my body seems to have taken charge of managing my stress level, to the point I feel less stressed than I have at any time in my life. But some of this may be due to the combined effects of drugs, insomnia, fatigue, and anemia, so I don’t want to count on it continuing. Part of Phase 2 of my self-experimentation program will be conscious stress reduction and stress management activities, geared towards strengthening the four stress coping capacities mentioned in yesterday’s research: Perspective (dispassion in the face of stress), Let-Self-Changeability (developing resilience), Outlets (to discharge stress), and Acceptance (of what you cannot control/change). There is a mind-boggling amount of material on the Internet about this subject, but most of it is just common sense. Some of the ideas out there are ludicrous, and some obvious ways to cope with stress are not mentioned at all. I’ve developed the following stress management program, which I hope will supplement and sustain the ten stress-reducing changes I wrote about yesterday that my body has already had the good sense to impose on me:
Perspective and Acceptance Capacity-Building Activities:
I’d love to know what you think is missing from this program. I also need to develop measures for each of these, so I can track progress.
Questions on Probiotics:
The idea of probiotics is to replenish the natural ‘flora’ of bacteria and enzymes that take the good stuff out of what you digest and neutralize the bad stuff. The problem is that the natural flora are infinitely varied, while probiotics, whether taken in yogurt or in nutritional supplements, tend to me one or a few specific varieties. There is some evidence that probiotics act only as a temporary working substitute for natural flora, until the latter can replenish themselves, rather than actually replenishing the flora, but that’s OK. The most common probiotic types are lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. The current fad product, Activia yogurt from Danone (Dannon in the US), contains a type of bifidobacterium that supposedly speeds passage through the large intestine, which I guess is important for those who suffer from ‘irregularity’ and don’t want to take high-fibre products like psyllium seeds (aka Metamucil). There’s yet another commercial probiotic called saccharomyces boulardii, prescibed as an anti-diarrheal (the opposite effect of Activia).
Another problem with probiotics is the lack of standards: In many products tested recently by the CBC, most of the bacteria were already dead at time of purchase, or died quickly thereafter. Quantities of bacteria promised and delivered per dose are all over the map. There’s even some evidence that most probiotics never make it through the digestive tract (the stomach especially) to the place where they do their magic.
The clinical and empirical evidence for the value of probiotics seems impressive, and I’ve already made them part of my regimen, but I’m not sure it’s doing me any good. Anyone out there suggest some good, credible readings on the subject, or have stories, good or bad, about your use of probiotics? I’d love tohear them.
OK, I’m done. I promise, no more about self-experimentation for awhile. Tomorrow, some musings on co-dependency.
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Dying of Despair
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Making Sense of Who We Are
What Would Net-Zero Emissions Look Like?
Post Collapse with Michael Dowd (video)
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CoVid-19: Go for Zero
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A Better Way to Work
Ask Yourself This
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May I Ask a Question?
Cultural Acedia: When We Can No Longer Care
Several Short Sentences About Learning
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A Harvest of Myths
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Not Ready to Do What's Needed
A Culture of Dependence
So What's Next
Ten Things to Do When You're Feeling Hopeless
No Use to the World Broken
Living in Another World
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The Value of Conversation Manifesto Nobody Knows Anything
If I Only Had 37 Days
The Only Life We Know
A Long Way Down
No Noble Savages
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Too Far Ahead
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All the Things I Was Wrong About
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We Make Zero
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Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark
Healing From Ourselves
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Nothing Needs to Happen
Nothing to Say About This
What I Wanted to Believe
A Continuous Reassemblage of Meaning
No Choice But to Misbehave
What's Apparently Happening
A Different Kind of Animal
Did Early Humans Have Selves?
Nothing On Offer Here
Even Simpler and More Hopeless Than That
What Happens in Vagus
We Have No Choice
Never Comfortable in the Skin of Self
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All There Is, Is This
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Your Self: An Owner's Manual (Satire)
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