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The Ever Confusing World of Food and Health Science

The world (and history) of food and health science has always been confusing. And often contradicting. One year coffee is bad for your heart. Years later it is not only nutritious but also a “Nootropic.” In the 1950s, doctors advocated smoking on television. (Yes, really.) And now smoking is widely acknowledged as one of the most detrimental things you can do to your body. Knowing this, it becomes understandable why so many older people seem to become cynical with age.

And it is not just food and health science either. Any science appears to fall victim to contextual manipulation and media spin. Climate science is currently the most polarized, politicized, and controversial scientific topic out there. There is so much noise surrounding this topic that it makes the entire issue ugly and tainted. This, of course, hurts the truly positive initiatives and important issues regarding the planet’s environment and ecological system. Moreover, it turns average people off and fosters distrust, which is ultimately the most disastrous outcome of politicizing scientific matters.

As of recently, another food and medical contradiction has begun to bubble to the surface—one that has been labelled and treated like a pariah practically for my entire lifetime.

Fat has been characterized as a killer for decades. But now health professionals are humming a different tune, and it even appears that the science on this was never really settled.

Butter, eggs, cheese, whole milk, and naturally raised red meats are making a huge comeback thanks to the science not being unscientifically settled and simply being more scientific and transparent.

Our bodies require good fats to maintain optimal energy levels. Fat from natural sources help our bodies build cell membranes. In addition, it helps us receive and absorb such vital nutrients as vitamins A, B, D, and E as well as essential minerals. Fat is also necessary for muscle development and blood circulation, and can help the body ward off inflammation.

Are all fats good? Of course not. Especially industrial-made fats like trans fat. Trans fat is a by-product of hydrogenation, which is a process that is used to turn healthy oils into solids to prevent them from becoming spoiled. This would seem like a no-brainer to stay away from, right? “Industrial-made food” sounds more like an oxymoron, not too dissimilar to military intelligence.

The real question here is why has science been so wrong and why does it take so long to right itself? Although there are several reasons behind this, the main culprit revolves around crony capitalism.

Big business, government, and science-for-profit have seized control of what is labelled healthy and edible. Big food conglomerates’ business models are to sell the masses cheaply produced addictive food at the highest tolerable price. They also need help from for-profit science labs and government officials to help maintain an air of respectability.

This orgy of consumer deceit has been going on in the United States since the 1950s, when Betty Crocker replaced scratch cooking and stay-at-home moms were encouraged to pound the pavement and find a job. Naturally, the U.S. government loved this idea as it increased tax revenues, but it also lined some of their pockets after they left government and went to work directly for the food industry. This revolving door between industry and regulators continues to this day and does not appear to be ending anytime soon.

Unfortunately, this does not begin and end with fat either. Salt and sugar are also misrepresented and misunderstood. The processed and fast food industries mislead the public, and government regulators and the mass media facilitate it.

The good news is that the advent of the Internet has given consumers the tools they need to make healthier decisions. This does not always lead to rapid change or moral adjustments within our societies, but it does cultivate important discussions and ignite steps towards more positive change.

The ever increasing health issues and healthcare costs around the world require us all to examine carefully what we eat and put into our bodies. It should also trigger us to investigate who is behind the people we elect into office.

Science, big business, government, and marketing can no longer be blindly trusted. Luckily, the truth always seems to rise to the top. Yes, even if it takes several decades to do so. Let’s just hope that we, the average frogs, wise up quickly enough so as not to get boiled alive.