Fear of a Toxic Planet

A common theme I see everywhere in the health space is how toxic our environment has become. Our food, our water, our soil, and pretty much everything is loaded with toxins that will make us sick, give us cancer, and kill us.

Yet despite all these toxins, people aren’t dropping dead. In fact, life expectancies for most countries are continuing to rise. I’ve been skeptical of the entire thesis that our world is a toxic mess and that unless we open our wallet and spend copious amounts of money to protect ourselves from toxins, we are doomed to a worse outcome. Fear sells.

Assuming one doesn’t smoke, do drugs, is at a healthy weight, and keeps alcohol use low, how much benefit does one get from spending their way to better health via “clean products”? I’m guessing not by much, if at all. There will be exceptions, but my guess is we know far less than we claim to know.

Many of the people I see spending their way to better health at Whole Foods or the Farmers Market, develop a transactional mindset to accomplishing their health goals. Buying the best food, the best sports gear, and the best gym membership becomes how they demonstrate to the world and to themselves that health is a priority. Spending money is easier than actually doing something that would yield a measurable benefit. Of course, this is not everyone, but I see this behavior far too often.

The people I see spending the most money on organic food are also the same people that buy a lot of high-end alcohol. Do they subconsciously believe that their grass-fed steak gave them enough “healthy credits” to polish off that bottle of wine? I’ll take my conventional potatoes and no alcohol and we will see who gets better sleep and has a better outcome.

Several years ago I was a member of a local nutrition group based on the principles of Weston A. Price. The group is no longer around, but I did spend a couple years with them. I never saw a group of people more concerned about the quality of food in my life. They would call local farms and ask them what the animals were feed. They shared spreadsheets of data on where to get the best quality of meats and produce.

Did their obsession with food quality yield them optimal health? Nope. In fact, despite all the effort and money I watched them throw at the problem, their health never seemed to get better. They were fanatic when it came to controlling their food environment and they stressed whenever they didn’t get it 100% right.

fear of a toxic planet

Photo by @cristian_newman

I don’t fear a toxic planet. For a brief moment, the free-range-organic-heirloom people made an impression on me, but as time passed, their case seemed greatly exaggerated. I’ll freely admit that my bias is to be frugal. But being a peasant has served my health well. And I honestly don’t see how having this toxic planet viewpoint can be useful.

Toxins are stored in our body fat. The best way to reduce toxin load is to not be heavy. This means if you are already heavy, you will need a plan and some willpower to get lean. You can’t buy that at the Farmers Market or Whole Foods.

Doing a Potato Hack or High-Intensity Training will do more for your health than the most organic superfood you can buy.

If you are already lean and can afford to spend money on the highest quality food, knock yourself out, but don’t be deluded into thinking you have a major health edge on the rest of us. That is my view.

In my next post, I will cover a dirt-cheap plan for reducing toxins.

Can April Fools Day Be Saved?

I wrote this post last April Fools Day, but never published. I wanted to share this idea far away from April 1st. 

I recall back in the pre-Internet Days, April Fools Day was more fun. Some teacher or co-worker would come up with something clever and we’d all enjoy the joke. Now we all globally connected every waking minute. This means usually within 30 minutes of waking up on the West Coast on April 1st, I’ve probably already read about some April Fools Day prank from a few time zones to my East.

Also, year in and year old we are bombarded with more stories of April Fools Day pranks. Our guards are up. Corporations use the day for marketing. If something does happen to fool us, which is rare, it is fact checked instantly so one is only fooled for seconds.

If I were King of the World, I’d change it so April Fools Day was less frequent. Maybe only on years that were divisible by 3 or 5. But that isn’t going to happen.

I have an alternate idea.

Truth Bombs Then Silence

What if a large number of people held off on some really big news until April 1st? Post something really interesting that is true on the morning of April 1. Let people assume it is an April Fools joke. Don’t respond until April 2nd, when you confirm the information was truthful.

Use April 1 to announce your engagement, coming out of the closet, moving, quitting your job, your arrest or you’ve decided to go vegan. Why not? If enough people start doing this, it could make April Fools Day fun again or twice as bad. 🙂

I Didn’t Read That Article or Watch That Video You Sent Me

If you sent me an email with a link to an article or a video with no explanation on why it is relevant to me, I most likely never looked into it. I’ve discovered that unless someone can explain in a sentence or two why I should devote time and energy into something they found interesting, it is probably worthless. I used to waste my time trying to figure out why the linked content was relevant to me and then respond. Not anymore. Now I just delete the email.

I would never send someone a link to something without context. If I can’t tell you as concisely as possible on why I think something might be of value to you then I will not send it. I NEVER send links without context. It is rude.

People have sent me so much nonsense related to coffee I wrote 5 Coffee News Stories That I Never Want to Read About Again. Yet they keep sending me the very crap I list in the article.

And why do people share stories that are everywhere? I’ve had an idea for a website called “Should I Share?”. Basically you would paste in a link and it would search that story in the news and social media and determine how unique it really was and let you know if you are truly sharing something of value or if you are repeating something we are all probably aware of. Think of the countless hours wasted online by over sharing the same nonsense. A really smart version of the site could even determine if your friend had already seen the story based upon their social networks.

I am also tired of echo chamber links. I don’t care to read some 10,000 word article that agrees with my blog just because it is in the mainstream press.

And all those links to a PubMed abstracts – I’ve never read them. Delete. Delete. Delete. I’ll let the smart science bloggers read them, determine if they are good studies and then break them down in plain English. That isn’t my gig.

Lastly I need to once again bring up the you should people. Your advice sucks.

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Photo by Maria Elana (since removed from Flickr)