In my last post Not a PubMed Warrior, I explained that although I love reading a good analysis of nutritional studies from those skilled in communicating that information, I no longer waste my time trying to determine what is or isn’t good research. I’ve been suckered by studies that ended up being crap. Instead of taking sides, I’m at the point that I’d rather move on to something else while the smart people in the room work out their differences. I’m a hobbyist. I don’t need to be 100% right. As long as I’m moving in the right direction I’m OK. I have no clients and the only person’s health that I am responsible for is my own.
I feel I’m different than other bloggers that discuss nutrition in that my primary motivation is not about seeking optimal health. It is about creating more resiliency. To be resilient means to thrive in absence of perfect health or perfect knowledge.
In the comments of the last post, I was challenged that I was bright enough to become skilled in doing analysis of nutritional studies. My response is that I did this once before with finance. I spent a few thousand hours studying finance from 2005-2010. But as my knowledge grew, I didn’t become a better investor. The first 500 hours were valuable, but beyond that, I ended up learning about things that had no relevance to portfolio performance. In other words, it ended up being wasted time.
Research by Danya Bateman
I now feel the same about nutrition. Like finance, it isn’t that I feel I know everything, it is that I now know that one can’t know everything and things you know end up being wrong or incomplete. But you never what is or isn’t valuable at the start. You get sucked into the illusion that if you just read more and dig into the problem deeper that it’ll all make sense. But you never stop digging. And the reason you don’t stop digging is that you still have fond memories of early successes that were life-changing. Cutting out gluten was as powerful to me as was shorting the 2008-2009 stock market crash. If I mustered up all the effort to research more and more, it is highly unlikely that I’ll top those milestones.
I’d had planned on listing some examples of how I use common sense to resolve those PubMed Warrior debates. There really is no reason to. The answer is to experiment with the ideas we find the most compelling. The majority will not show a difference, but every now and thing you find something interesting. When it comes to nutrition, I think all the low-hanging fruit has been picked. At least for me, it has.
Nov 8, 2012 — 4:27 pm
Great post. The low hanging fruit has been well and truly picked. We are now left with minor tinkering that can take a lot of thought and study with little reward
Nov 8, 2012 — 11:17 pm
Sure. Diminishing returns. Yet, there is where you find expertise.
Nov 9, 2012 — 1:06 am
MAS- you’ve got a real way with writing. It’s the mark of good and logical prose that you find yourself agreeing with virtually everything and it feeling like you would have said the same thing if given the chance- though somehow you keep beating me to the punch over and over again 🙂
Nov 9, 2012 — 3:42 am
that’s “PARETO’S LAW” doing the talking for you in this post. 🙂
Nov 9, 2012 — 5:33 am
After years of studying nutrition as a health professional I have come to the conclusion that there are many roads to health, and just as many roads to ruin. I truly believe there is no ONE ANSWER for everyone. Perhaps it is that American moral arrogance that creates the belief that there is one way. True longevity and resiliency is a confluence of many things, not least of which is common sense. You are wise to take the high road, MAS!
Nov 9, 2012 — 6:39 am
@All – Thanks for the nice comments. I had a lot of trouble writing this post. I’m glad it came out OK.
Nov 9, 2012 — 9:04 pm
I just analyze the people doing the research on the subjects Im interested in and If I detect that they’re honest and earnest about their conclusions then I bookmark their site and follow.
I don’t know….maybe Im just a lazy ass, but that’s my style.
Canadian Globe Hopper
Dec 7, 2012 — 12:49 pm
Excellent post for me to read … I am sometimes a voracious vacuum when it comes to consuming nutritional and fitness information … all with the intent of distilling it down to as few simple easy-to-follow principles as possible … I think Becky also said it very well when she said “there are many roads to health” … I know IF, eating raw once or twice a week and interval training all did wonders for me … now I’m delving into fermenting and cold training, inspired by your ideas 🙂 thanks for sharing
May 20, 2013 — 6:52 pm
For sure! I spent so much time on nutrition research and, while it was valuable and necessary, there came a day when I realised I needed to start focusing on other things. It’s like minimalism, where people get so caught up in the process that they forget they started it as the means to an end. Time to start the end game 🙂