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Ep. 112: How to Tell Good Research from Bad Research in Health Topics, Part 3 (of 3) with Robyn Openshaw

Robyn Openshaw - Dec 26, 2018 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Vibe with Robyn Openshaw: How to tell good research from bad research in health topics. Part 3 of 3. With Robyn Openshaw. Episode 112

Today’s episode closes up the mini series on using your critical thinking skills to help navigate through the health and wellness industry. We’ve talked about how to know what is worth investing time and money on. How to tell what’s a fad and what’s really legit and good advice. And in this episode Robyn teaches us how to know the good research and valid studies from those that are more just marketing ploys to get you to buy and invest. In order to find what is best for you, what is of real value, what things have been proven and time tested to work, it’s important to understand the hows and whys behind all the research and testing that is done out there. Robyn is a master researcher and has spent thousands of hours and read countless books and studies on a huge variety of topics in the field. So put on your critical thinking cap, gear up with your tool belt of knowledge and experience and get ready for some more great insights on how to best navigate that ever changing and often confusing world of the health and wellness industry.


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Hi everyone, and Welcome back to The Vibe show. This is part three of how to sharpen the saw, how to make better decisions when you’re taking a look at all the different supplements, functional medicine practitioners, courses, books, products of all kinds that you’re being pitched on to help you stay healthy in this crazy toxic world.

So today I’m talking about types of data and we’re going to have a little statistics 101 class here. I’m sure that you’re keeping an eye on which experts or influencers or authors that you trust most because their advice has served you well time and time again. If I was going to rate influencers, that would be what I would base it on. Has their advice served you well time and time again? Because if someone is telling you to use our last example from the previous episode that you can lose weight and ditch inflammation, eating mostly burgers and bacon and butter, surely your gut will tell you that this flies in the face of logic, and that someone here is marketing a product that isn’t useful and that isn’t honest.

So I recommend that you choose influencers because we do have a function in the economy and in the information space, in being your shortcut to the library. But choose influencers who are keeping you grounded in what we already know is true. Influencers who are inspiring you to be more and be better, but who aren’t taking you off into weird, trendy fads that they are going on a wing and a prayer and that they can’t prove. Choose influencers who are focusing most on what is already well proven. The ones who spend most of their time keeping you grounded in the basics, the most important things, not influencers who want to sell you every ridiculous gadget and Gizmo and new diet that they have and have no idea if it’s even effective.

Here’s the thing, not all studies are created equal. However, in the modern age, virtually every product is going to cite studies, so let me cover a few things that any university level statistics class would teach you, but these are the parts that you can apply to your life as a consumer of information, as a consumer of products out there in health and wellness.

First of all, any study should be reliable. This is sort of the gold standard in research. You should be able to repeat the study with consistent results. This sounds easy, but it’s actually not. I read published cancer studies that well over half of them when duplicated, and I’m talking about drug research, drugs for cancer studies, when well over half of them were repeated, they did not come up with the same results as the first study. So a study should be reliable, which means consistent results when it is repeated.

Secondly, a steady should be valid. The study should measure what it says it measures. And I’m going to give some examples of that, but a lot of times this is harder than it sounds. Just like a reliable study is harder than it sounds. A lot of times a study isn’t particularly valid because they did not control for certain factors. Some studies are case studies and these are ones where I might say, well that’s interesting, but without more data I’m not going to put a lot of credibility in this. Some case studies, and I see this a lot with the Keto diet marketers, is case studies of one person or four people or whatever, and you can actually get these published in reputable scientific journals. But people who actually consume scientific information know that case studies prove nothing, especially if it’s a case study of one.

Okay. So one person having good results or bad results or whatever is interesting, but remember it proves nothing. Virtually all of the evidence that is being leveraged to sell the Ketogenic Diet are case studies and or they are short term biomarkers studies or they are animal lab results. Okay. I always see them with very small sample sizes. The smaller the sample size, the less that study actually proves and the less I’m going to actually put in it. So I’m really just seeing them use studies that track short term biomarker changes.

Now what I would like to see is end point data. Okay. A study is going to be meaningful to me if it’s one of those really expensive studies where they follow people, like the Framingham study, the nurses study where tens of thousands of people are tracked on multiple data points for decades. And we find out, okay, people who eat a lot of dairy products, do they have more or less osteoporosis between now and the day they die? If people eat lots of animal protein or very little animal protein, do they get cancer at a higher or lower rate over the course of their lifetime? This kind of end point data is highly meaningful. Short term biomarker changes is not highly meaningful. You could see your triglycerides go down for three months and have that diet or that product be actually completely useless.

So hopefully you understand the difference. If I ate the Ketogenic diet for three months and my triglycerides go down just since I’m using that as an example, what does that actually mean? Really not a lot. A lot of studies just really aren’t very scientific. They don’t isolate factors very well. You know, let’s say we’re going to study people who drink wine versus people who drink beer. This is, I don’t remember all the details of this, but this is a very old study and the inference from this study that wine drinkers suffer from a lot less disease in general, including cancer and heart disease. Well, if wine drinkers have less heart disease and cancer than beer drinkers, can you then say that wine is preventative of cancer and heart disease? No. You can’t.

Because, and this is an important thing to remember, anytime you’re looking at data, correlation does not imply causation, so try to remember that. Write that down. It’s important. Correlation does not imply causation. So perhaps people who drink wine are also in a higher socioeconomic group and they also have higher access to healthcare. Perhaps people who drink wine also eat a lot more vegetables. Maybe people who drink beer also eat a lot more fried food. We would have to control for those variables for that study to make any sense. You can imagine who pays for research like this usually. Oh, I don’t know. The wine industry for instance.

So for instance, just because vaccines in infants increased by a multiplier, right about the time that we had a 40 times increase in Autism. Okay. So let me say that again. We have more vaccines being injected into infants by the time they’re a year old by, I want to say quadruple, what they were a few decades ago, that happened at about the same time that we saw a jump in Autism of 40 times. So that doesn’t by the logic that I just explained, correlation does not imply causation, that does not prove that vaccines cause Autism. Right? Certainly led lots of people to wonder if there was a link there and we still don’t have a clear answer on that. But you would be rather unsophisticated to go out there and make the argument that because vaccines increased in about the same decade that Autism jumped massively, therefore vaccines caused the increase in Autism.

You’d also be pretty unsophisticated to say, well, the US Government spent a million dollars to study it over the course of a decade, and they said they couldn’t prove a link. Well, they also couldn’t prove that no link exists between the two. So we should be precise about how we talk about data. And so many times when those $17 an hour staff writers are reporting on data, they get the story wrong. They overstate the link. They fail to see that correlation does not imply causation. So you might have had the thought, well the US Government, when it comes to vaccines in that example that I just used, is led by the vaccine administration who is always made up of former pharmaceutical executives. It’s pretty much a revolving door. People on the highest level of government who are supposed to be the watchdogs over the vaccine industry, they take jobs in the pharmaceutical industry and vice versa. They just kind of play musical chairs.

And last I read, it’s been quite a number of years, but last I read, James Cherry who headed the vaccine administration and every single member of his appointed committee, remember, they are appointed by government, they are government, they’re supposed to be watching over Big Pharma, every single one of them was getting six figures in kickbacks from drug companies. So you may have had the thought, that anytime the US Government is the initiator of the study, I have a problem with it. And I agree with that. I am more skeptical when the Government funds the study, then I would be if say Johns Hopkins University did the study.

But that brings me to this, while we’re talking about it, most research that is highly valued out there is done at the University level. But I do want to point out, and I don’t want to say that all University research is legitimate because of this, but most University research is funded by an industry with a profit motive. Think about it. Why would someone pay $1,000,000 or however much to see if tart cherries are good for us or prevent cancer or if essential oils are bad for us. Okay. Somebody is paying for these studies. This money doesn’t happen by magic. Someone with a profit motive is usually behind University research and they love being behind University research because what you hear in the media is the University of Washington just published a study in Journal of American Medical Association or whatever, medical journals showing that tart cherries have anticancer compounds that may be useful in the treatment of many bone cancers. Okay. You can almost bet that probably someone who benefits by the increase in demand for tart cherries paid for that study.

Now, keep in mind that is not always the case. Sometimes researchers have grants from less agenda driven organizations and sometimes scientists are extremely scrupulous and they find exciting things that they didn’t intend to find. They didn’t set out to find about whatever they’re studying. Something you should be aware of though, and any real scientist will back me up on this, is that all science is flawed and it’s very difficult to run a good study. And so all science is flawed, but most science is deeply flawed. This does not mean that science doesn’t matter. It does matter, but it does mean, I hate to tell you this, my friends, that your own ability to discern has never been more important than it is right now because science is mostly bought and paid for these days.

Some studies are less quality than others. If a drug study is not placebo controlled or actually I might even say a supplement study, if it’s not placebo controlled, it’s just worth less. Especially in supplements, let’s just use an example. A study should have a control group and it should have a placebo group and it should have the group that receives the drug or the supplement. Another thing to look for is that a study should be double blinded were the subjects of the study don’t know which is which. They don’t know if they got the placebo or the actual supplement or drug and the double blinded is that the researchers also don’t know which is which either. They set the study up so that no one can be biased based on that.

So why control for Placebos? Because time and time again, the placebo effect has been proven that the placebo group, even though they received an inactive substance, it has no ability to affect the desired change, these folks due to some kind of power of the mind, these folks do better than the control group or worse than the control group, depending on what we’re actually studying here. Countless studies have shown that. So you have to control for that placebo effect.

So what’s my inference from this? It’s that you shouldn’t bet the farm on a study that isn’t placebo controlled or double blinded. Okay. Or don’t bet the farm on the studies, like I mentioned earlier, that are based on short term biomarkers. Okay. I’ve never seen a study on the Keto Diet that wasn’t based on these short term changes. Okay. So one thing to keep in mind is that with science and published studies just proliferating out there and now with the Internet, we all have access to databases like Pub Med, but don’t put too much stock in any one specific study. The ones, like I mentioned earlier, that are really longitudinal and span decades and some are really reputable university researchers, track tens of thousands of people for decades, these are really interesting studies. It’s not that they’re not without flaws, but those are ones are really pay attention to and I can count probably on two hands how many studies in the field of health and wellness and nutrition there have been that or have that scope and or that credible.

But you know, what I love? Is I love Meta studies. Another word for them is literature reviews or Meta-analysis. I love them. Let me give you an example. Uh, recently legalizing marijuana came up for the vote to the population here in Utah where I live and I was studying it and I looked at a Meta study that evaluated all of the published research about CBD THC, but actually it was specifically about marijuana. So CBD is getting to be a lot less controversial. For a while, people who were out there, um, sort of the early adopters, their credit card processor online would shut them down if they were using CBD because there’s just a lot of charge to marijuana. Well now state after state after state is legalizing marijuana, at least for medical use.

Well, it came up for the vote here in Utah, which is really, this is a very, very conservative state. There’s a very heavy influence of the dominant religion here. And so I thought it was pretty interesting. It actually passed in the legislature even though the dominant religion came out saying we’re against this. And so I wanted to study it because I had a feeling that people are getting way too hopped up about CBD as the solution to everything, as this miracle supplement. THC is a psychoactive compound. CBD is not psychoactive, ok you’re not going to get high from it. Um, but it’s an anti-inflammatory. And just because I was a little skeptical about CBD as a cure all, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t think that it was useful. And it doesn’t mean that I’m against legalizing marijuana.

The reason I line up pro legalization of marijuana is twofold. One, I think we spend a ridiculous amount of money incarcerating people for using marijuana. And secondarily, I think that the pharmaceutical industry and our government have colluded to create tens of thousands of Opioid addicts. And I think nothing is scarier than the addiction to Percocet and Lortab and all of the Opioid drugs. It’s our fault. It’s our government’s and our government enabling the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry and protecting the pharmaceutical industry and protecting its patents, extending its patents. It’s just been quite a debacle and Opioid addiction is destroying lives, is destroying families. It’s killing fathers and mothers, sons and daughters.

And so I wanted to study a little bit more about marijuana because I feel like there’s lots of people out there acting like it’s a super food and I don’t believe it. I think it has toxic side effects. I don’t think we’re really supposed to be out there smoking things. I don’t think that’s a super food and I was kind of having debates with people close to me. And so I read a Meta study and what was very interesting is that Meta study, it really helped me form an opinion. And what I found is very interesting in this literature review of all the published studies out there about health benefits and health risks of marijuana use. Guess what? Marijuana doesn’t cause cancer. I thought that was pretty interesting.

I think we’re overselling CBD. I think it’s going to be useful. Now Pharma is jumping in on it and I’m going to make a prediction here. The first CBD derived drug has just come to market watch and wait. I would predict that lots and lots of CBD derived drugs are going to come to market in the coming years. There’s a rush to market. Pharma wants to own as many patents as possible. They are going to be synthetic derivatives. They are going to be molecularly altered similar to CBD substances for very, very specific uses, otherwise they can’t make billions of dollars on it. It’s going to be interesting to see how toxic and what the side effects are of Pharma’s knockoffs of what already exists in nature. But that’s a side note.

The point is the Meta study was very enlightening for me because I learned that lots and lots of studies have tried to determine whether marijuana or its derivatives, like THC caused cancer. And they don’t. Now marijuana and its derivatives do potentially cause some neurological problems and they do cause respiratory problems. Okay, so I want to make that clear is that the study didn’t give marijuana a free pass. There are problems caused by smoking weed for a years or decades. However, cancer is not among them. So I thought that was pretty interesting.

So don’t be overwhelmed if you’ve never heard of a literature review or a Meta-analysis or a medical study. It’s okay, we’re learning here. But these are the kinds of things that I want you to think about as you’re faced with a new piece of information and what it has to do with your decision in front of you right now. Which can often be big decisions. Decisions like whether to do chemo therapy or something else, whether to put your 14 year old child through surgery or do something else, whether to eat the Paleo diet or the Keto diet or the Vegan Diet or the meat lovers diet or something else. More than half of published studies, remember when they are replicated, have dramatically different results. It is not easy to do a good study. There are often special interests behind a study.

I’m just recapping some of the topics that I’ve covered here. Somebody is usually paying for that research and if the outcome is good, is favorable for whatever substance or food or supplement or drug that’s being studied, they will use that study’s findings in their marketing. If the outcome is bad, they’ll just scrap it and it will never get published.

So imagine the wine industry paying for lots of research through a University’s research arm, they do that. The wine industry does do that, and then they cherry pick what they want to actually publish. They tell us that there’s resveratrol in red wine and that that is a wonderful anticancer compound. Well, that’s great, but alcohol is pro cancer, it’s oxidative, and guess what? We can get resveratrol from grapes or even from a supplement if we want to. We don’t have to drink wine to get resveratrol. These are the kinds of things that having good critical thinking skills will help you think through when you see a study instead of buying into absolutely everything that you read.

So I share these thoughts with you so that you will ask yourself these questions. Can you necessarily always know the answers? Do you always have time to dig to the very bottom of an issue? Trust me, I know it’s very difficult to do that. And you’re not going to make a several thousand dollar decision without a lot of digging, a lot of research. How deep are we really gonna go on any given topic? If I’m going to purchase a piece of health equipment that costs several thousand dollars, unless I’ve read many studies from many different institutions, preferably around the world that have similar results that are favorable conclusions about that product, I’m not going to invest that several thousand dollars.

Now, if it’s a $50 supplement, I might have a lower bar, I might do a little googling about whether there are toxic side effects and I might ask my functional medicine doctor what her opinion is. I might probe, I might listen carefully to get a sense of how much my practitioner really even knows about the topic. This is something that I always put my functional medicine practitioners sorta through the ringer on, to get a sense of how broad and how deep their knowledge base is. Not that I’m not going to work with them if they don’t have knowledge in this or that specific subject matter, but I’m probably not going to use them as my authority if I feel like they have pretty thin knowledge there. And then with a $50 supplement, if it seems like a good idea, I might give a supplement a try, even though I don’t have all the information about it.

Think about how a doctor or a practitioner relies on his or her almost godlike powers and knowledge. We do not expect to hear our doctors say, “I don’t know” about our health problem, do we? So I found, and this just goes to how to talk to your practitioner and how to use your critical thinking skills about who you work with and how you work with them, I’ve just learned to pay close attention to what practitioners say when they don’t know. Sometimes, they just bloviate, sometimes they just go on and on and on and you realize at the end of it that they didn’t even answer your question.

I’ll tell you what, I love a practitioner who will say, “I don’t know,” however, that has to be in so many words. You know why I love it, because if they act like they know everything, then they’ve become either a very good liar or a cover-up artist and that might sound kind of harsh. But there is a lot to know about human health and about medical interventions for every kind of disorder there is in every kind of situation there is. And so of course they don’t know. Often, they don’t know. And so when they do say in so many words, “I don’t know”, it makes what they do tell me that much more credible. Plus, it tells me that they’re humble enough to admit it when they aren’t so ego driven. Perhaps as some other practitioners, that means a lot to me. So as strange as it sounds, a practitioner who is willing to say they don’t know is a practitioner I like to work with.

One type of information that I think most people rely on way too heavily is testimonials. Especially those sexy little two liner testimonials and especially testimonials by celebrities. If I am going to tune into what the user experience has been on a course or a product, I really like to read more detailed customer experiences, especially if it’s something more expensive. With the Green Smoothie Girl Detox, which we are doing again together as a community in January coming right up. We have over 600 testimonials that people have submitted to us and they come from a questionnaire that we send out after people do the program. And it asks detailed questions about their experience.

So obviously on our page about the program, nobody wants to read 600 testimonials, but what we do is we put a slider on the page which means it’s just a stripe of texts that it moves every 30 seconds to the next one so you can sit there and read as many as you want. We don’t load all 600, but we load a lot of them. We actually had some of our detoxers do an interview with me where we really deep dived and I asked them questions and we made a 45 minute video with their voices talking about their experiences with the detox and what happened in their life and we put the words on the screen as well for people who prefer to read or read and listen at the same time.

But just remember that testimonials are secondary evidence. They should not stand in for quantifiable results of the product that you’re thinking about. So remind yourself that you are a more sophisticated consumer of products. You are educated. This is what your education is for. To be able to intuit whether a product is worth your attention, whether it’s worth your money or not. Even literally by listening to this three part series, you are far more educated and savvy than the average person out there. So put it to work.

Let’s go onto another example. There’s the anti-gluten industry and movement. Last I checked, it’s an $11,000,000,000 industry. There’s plenty of experts out there. Some of them are friends of mine and they literally think that the proteins in wheat and other grains, maybe even some legumes, these grains and legumes that have sustained mankind for thousands of years are what is killing us. Now on a very basic, logical level, this makes no sense, right?

I mean there are folks with Celiac disease and for you, if you have Celiac disease, you’re a fraction of one percent of the population. You’re never going to be able to eat wheat, ever. It’s a bad food for you. It’s not a matter of healing your gut and your liver like it is for a lot of people, and then you’ll react better to wheat. You just can’t eat it, probably ever. You might not even be able to eat non hybridized organic ancient grains. Although I have met several Celiac folks who say they have no reaction to the ancient grains when they are organic and prepared, um, sprouted or not sprouted, some of them. So that’s pretty interesting.

But for the rest of us, the other 98.9 percent of us or whatever it is, since people and early hominids have been eating wheat for literally millions of years, you have to wonder if there’s more to that story. I would invite you to listen to my Episode 46, which was with Dr. John Douillard who wrote a book called “Eat Wheat” and he basically says, wheat is good for you but not how you’re eating it. So you can get a lot more detail there. I had come to similar conclusions to what he did. And what I think is happening here is that there are other issues that are obscuring the gluten issue.

And so there’s industry out there selling you $11,000,000,000 worth of products that have been found to be four times higher in heavy metals because they usually replace any kind of gluten grain with rice and other types of protein and other types of processed grains and they’re really super high in arsenic specifically. But these gluten free products have been sold to the public as health food and they’re not health food. They’re just gluten free. They’re gluten free, junk food, and they have a different set of risks and problems. I’m not saying eat gluten like crazy. I think that most gluten products, most wheat products are highly refined. I think that they are hybridized, and this may be part of the problem.

And most of all, I think the evidence points to the fact that not sprayed once, but twice with Roundup is the major problem with most wheat products. Now wheat is sprayed twice first of all as an herbicide and then after it is harvested as a desiccant to dry it out. And so we’re getting just massive Roundup or Glyphosate exposure, which is devastating to the gut, devastating to our immune system. And that may be the bigger problem, I don’t think that exposure to natural organic wheat is the actual problem. It is quite the fad and it’s quite an interesting case study in these various fads.

The fad of moving onto another one, targeted supplements. Your functional medicine practitioner may sell a product line and it has a bunch of different products in it. And that supplement company has trained that functional medicine practitioner to put you in one of its products. So a lot of functional medicine practitioners, especially the ones who are a little bit Bush league, maybe they’re newer, they kind of have just bought into one supplement line. Now I don’t want to say that that supplement line cannot help you and I don’t want to say that your functional medicine practitioner is a poor practitioner just because they get a lot of their ongoing education from supplement companies.

But I think it’s something we have to keep an eye on because it’s just a variation on a theme. Very similar to how standard of care practitioners get most of their continuing Ed from pharmaceutical reps. okay. So keep an eye on your functional medicine practitioner. Does he or she just fell a specific line of supplements? I could give you examples of those supplements, but I don’t want to create a perception that these are bad supplements. I just want you to know that I think the best functional medicine practitioners are educated much more broadly than that and much more deeply in many issues and they aren’t just repping for a supplement line.

Another thing you should know about the supplement industry is that it’s almost entirely unregulated. You know, I think about the probiotic industry, which is another mega billion dollar industry. And once I took a whole bunch of probiotic brands that our listeners sent to me, I said, send me two doses of your probiotic, and I used those probiotic cultures to culture milk. And there were only two brands that had any living probiotics in them. Which is kind of what I expected to find because if you put a two year shelf life on probiotics, that’s ridiculous. How can you have living probiotics that have been sitting on a shelf for two years? That’s how unregulated the supplement industry is.

So I started making my own probiotic. And I was talking today with a friend, whose son has a history of drug abuse and he’s doing well now and she’s doing everything she can to get him eating better and our PreZymePro, which is our prebiotic, probiotic and digestive enzymes in one, is the only thing that she’s had him do, she told me, that he notices the difference. And we hear that all the time. That this product really helps people’s gut health in in a way that is not only are we saying that’s the case, but they actually notice it. They actually notice more output. They notice the gut rehab going on in a variety of ways.

And the reason I bring this up is that we are a tiny little supplement manufacturer and we formulate our own products and we make them in small batches, especially PreZymePro. We are often sold out of PreZymePro and the reason we’re sold out is that I refuse to make it except in small batches. Because when you get it, I want it to be fresh. I want it to be able to build a colony of healthy bacteria in your gut. So you know what you cannot necessarily count on a large corporation whose objective is profit, to care about whether the product actually works for what you intended for. So just another little thing to put in your mind about what to consider. I think the smaller companies, the ones who are not owned by Pharma are a lot more likely to give you a high integrity product. There’s usually a person whose name and reputation are at stake if the product does not do what it says it will do.

Next example, Genetics. Genetic tests are all the rage these days and I think that “23 and Me” is more interesting from a standpoint of what continent did your ancestors come from, that kind of thing, the fun stuff than anything else. But marketers are taking this very, very young, very incipient body of knowledge that we now have access to and I can learn how many genetic snips,ok?, snips being SNP’s that I have that indicate whether I detoxify well or not. Just as an example of what I can learn from genetic testing. What are the problems with that? First of all, any gene that you have, remember you have tens of thousands of genes. So you have backup systems. You have other genes. And there are so many unknowns in what many of the other genes do that play a role. We just don’t know that much yet.

So be a little skeptical of the solutions offered out there by supplement companies. I don’t really see how offering some pill for a genetic problem is the answer. Some functional doctors, uh, some blog posts are saying if you have the MTHFR gene, you just need to take a methylated B vitamin. Well guess what? You can overdo it with methylated B vitamins. There are some B vitamins that are going to be really toxic for you. So we don’t actually really know much about how the interventions out there currently are successful against or with your genomics. So I don’t want to say that what your functional doc has done is wrong or bad. I do want to suggest that I think it’s just too darn early in the science of genomics to be telling people because you have this snip, you should take this supplement and things like that.

People are being told today you have the MTHFR genetic snip and then people are weeping and wailing and posting on social media that everything that’s wrong in their life is because they have the MTHFR. And they are not realizing that well over 80 percent, maybe even over 90 percent of people have that genetic snip. And so you have other genes that can help you if you have deficiencies in another. Relax. And also you might be overdosing on B vitamins. Or the B vitamins you’re taking might be toxic. So…

Lately I’ve been learning about how junkie vitamin C supplements can be, which is probably a function of the fact that pharmaceutical companies have now bought up most of the supplement companies. So with Pharma owning supplements, of course we’re going to see a decrease in commitment to the idea that supplements should be as whole foods oriented and as unprocessed and as efficacious as possible. I’m worried about the fact that most supplements are now owned by Pharma. So that’s another piece of information to put in your mind, is I trust a few influencers who dig deep. I trust the small supplement companies who are doing a lot of research and who are not beholden to Pharma.

I’m not saying that if Pharma doesn’t own the supplement, it is therefore good. That would not be what I want to say there, but some vitamin B is toxic. Some vitamin C is not actually vitamin C, it’s just similar to vitamin C. It’s not even molecularly the same thing and can have toxic side effects. So I keep learning more about this and one of the conclusions that I come to you, the more I watch all of this, is to count on your food as your primary lifestyle intervention. You really can’t get around that. You really cannot replace what you need to get from food with supplements. Most of our food needs to be plants.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, let me say the plants, the whole foods, plant based diet that we need more of, and I’m not here to promote a specific diet. I’m certainly not going to come out in favor of one of the fad diets, although some of them are better than others, is we need to be eating whole foods, plant based starches like potatoes, rice, corn, etc. And I’m talking about organics there. We need to be eating more vegetables. We need to be eating, more greens, more legumes, more whole grains, and they must be organic, more nuts and seeds.

So anytime you buy supplements, and this includes me, I think about this every time I buy supplements, even supplements prescribed by my medical doctor in Switzerland who I trust a lot. I think there’s so much to know about this supplement. This is really an educated guess that my body can even actually use this and that my body even needs it. That it’s even from a quality source. So you know, just remember this supplement you may be taking may be now owned by a drug company and when people talk about how something is pharmaceutical grade, I don’t see that as necessarily a positive thing like some people do.

There’s this great book I just read called the “Biology of Belief ” by Dr. Bruce Lipton and he talks in detail about how our genetics are the problem, the actual proteins we need to rely on only five percent of the time or less. And how it’s the environment and how we react to the environment that causes the expression of our genes. And this is good news because we have more control over how we react to stress for instance. Whereas we have no control over our genes. Taking methylated B vitamins isn’t necessarily the way to mitigate your genetics or control them or make anything better, really.

That’s one of my examples of how being able to know more data about our health shouldn’t make us constantly squirrel into the thought that this supplement. No wait that one. No wait, this one over here, is the answer to our health problems. If we haven’t cut out the processed food, the stimulants, the alcohol, the processed meat, and most of the meat in general or all of it, then we are engaging in magical thinking rather than really working on needle movers for our health.

One more example, and that is a book that has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for many, many months now is a total head-scratcher for me. Another fad going on. The book is called “The Plant Paradox”. And Dr. Steven Gundry theorizes in the book that lectins are the devil. Lectins are killing us. Lectins are at the root of virtually all disease. Now, this theory is quite ridiculous and I am not the only one saying that. But it’s been on the New York Times list for months. And I want to use this as an example of how just because something is popular doesn’t make it good. Doesn’t make it valid. Doesn’t it make it valuable.

Why is this book going crazy on the New York Times list? Well, my theory is that everyone wants something unique. Everyone wants to read something interesting. Everyone wants something to be easy, about why they’re sick or why they got a disease. And Gundry had something new to say. Okay. Thousands of authors write about the whole foods, mostly plant based diet, and it’s not new. It is, however, based on a massive amount of evidence, so sometimes boring is better. unlike the plant paradox. Unlike the high fat, low carb diets, unlike the eat right for your metabolic type craze, unlike the gluten free diet and all the others. What we can count on is what is proven by thousands and thousands of studies. So Gundry’s “The Plant Paradox” is another example of interesting theory that completely flies in the face of what all of the Blue Zones eat. All of the long living people of the world eat legumes. Some of them eat it as foundational and staples in the diet, but all of them eat legumes and they live longer than the rest of us by a multiplier effect.

So this series, this three part series, is really based on the fact that my followers often write me and say, I love that you do the research so I don’t have to. Can’t remember how many times I’ve heard that, but it’s a lot. And so that’s precisely what I consider my job to be, even though I also love it when I see you digging deep too and reading books and asking questions and flexing and using your god given critical thinking skills as well.

So I hope this discussion has been useful to you. I think being cynical is a first step as you become more savvy about how you evaluate information coming in, but if you push through that, you actually become far more empowered and you trust yourself and your ability to intuit the more you question and the more you learn. So that’s my goal for you. I hope it’s been useful. I will see you next time.


2 thoughts on “Ep. 112: How to Tell Good Research from Bad Research in Health Topics, Part 3 (of 3) with Robyn Openshaw”

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  1. Laurelee says:

    Thank god, someone is finally speaking the truth!!!

  2. melanie price says:

    Thank you for doing our homework and sharing it with us. Love these podcasts. Just found them and started with with 113 and working my way back. This 3 part is great. Skepticism has it’s purpose and I’m glad you do the research when you have it on a person, theory, or product. I do the same. Not as thorough as yourself but, I do. Thankyou for again having Faith and mentioning Chris Wark, for just yesterday, as I listened in on this, my nephew had surgery on one of his kidneys for Stage 1 renal carcinoma and sadly, they had to remove the entire kidney. Back to the reference of Chris, just a month or so ago I was able to pass this information along to my nephew for support on his diagnosis and thankfully he was accepting of CW’s ideas. He took this advice to his surgeon and he was also on board, also opposed to chemo for treatment after surgery and was right along with the thoughts on healing with a plant based diet. Doctor is primarily a vegetarian who sometimes in a blue moon likes a steak. That’s what he told my nephew. My nephew is now on board with making lots of smoothies getting those 17 in I think he said. lol and just posted the blog from CW on the Keto diet being bad for you on his FB. With your help and CW I am helping to change lives too. ♡♡♡
    Plus, Guess who threw out their Cod Liver oil supplement yesterday after having doubts about them when I was first suggested that I needed them awhile back. Funny how I had skepticism too and only took a few and left them in the drawer. Yesterday they went in the trash.
    Thanks for everything you do. Currently I am detoxing again with your 1001 green smoothie recipes.

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