There is a phenomenon in journalism where a fascinating scientific study gets blown out of proportion. For example, many studies show that consumption of collagen aids in health and connective tissues and appears to have a link with reduced inflammation. Even though your grandmother achieved this by making chicken soup, people have been persuaded to pay top dollar for grass-fed collagen as the result of a single study.
I experienced this recently. “Have you heard of Akkermansia?” the woman asked me. I nearly blew my coffee through my nose, but I hate to waste the caffeine. I belong to a small percentage of the population who actually has heard of it–not because I hawk the latest snip of research as the missing link to my fat thighs, but because I read stool bacteria reports for a living. As a result, I know that studies show that a high count of the bacteria Akkermansia correlates to increased insulin sensitivity and efficiency of fat metabolism in mice.
Equally, I have read the independent studies on various products from Protandim to Asea. Studies have long shown the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of curcuminoids and green-tea extract. Studies have also shown that balancing electrolytes aids in intracellular communication.
Here is what those studies don’t show—and it’s not their fault: They don’t tell the rest of the story. For example, you can take a bunch of Akkermansia bacteria and think you’re getting skinny; but, if the environment of your gut cannot support Akkermansia growth, it will die off and you’ll be paying for it out the other end.
I am not saying these products are bad or they do not do what they claim to do (in part because they have better lawyers than me). But I can say that the FDA can barely keep up with sending them requests to take dubious claims off their websites.
Here is the stark reality that we must all accept before we shell out $50 for a cure-all: Your body is an environment in which many variables must operate synergistically in order to maintain homeostasis. Any single item, ingredient or red pill on its own will not change your body.
You can, however, change the environment by making it capable of responding to and using those fancy ingredients you are putting into it. If you are injured, by all means, swig that bone broth and take those curcuminoids. But, if you’re drinking beer and shoveling down a pint of ice cream at the same time, you are making the environment worse.
We must become more responsible and accountable for our environment as a whole. It takes a measure of self-honesty that I seldom see—even in myself. I’m remodeling my house right now and living mostly on oatmeal cookies and cocktails. I could take some inositol because studies show it aids in a reduction of sugar cravings. Or maybe I could slow the f@#k down and take the time to make myself a salad with salmon and actually chew my meal.
Is stress making us eat more or poorly? Reduce the stress. Are we inflamed and suffering sore joints? Maybe we should review our training regimen. Do you want to drink a bottle of wine in the garage before you make dinner for the kids? Maybe you need a 10 minute yoga session instead.
It’s simple, really. Eat good food. Get enough sleep. Drink your water. Laugh with your friends. Hug your children. Move your body. Use your brain. Studies show that the happiest and healthiest people are those who maintain healthy habits and relationships throughout their lives. They also occasionally enjoy oatmeal cookies. //
When Ammi is not chasing her first love (trails), she is preaching her second (food) as a Nutritional Therapist. To find out more about saving the world with kale or the misadventures of a single mom, visit her website at www.twobirdsnutrition.com.