What has the potential to do the most damage to your health? First, let’s define health. Many people think they know what it means, and if you ask them they’ll usually describe health in terms of absence of symptoms, high energy level, good physical performance, or maybe they’ll see it as a relative thing and say they are healthy now because they just resolved some semi-serious or serious issue. But everything people say about it is usually in the present tense.
There aren’t that many guarantees in life, but here’s one: Every day that you’re alive, you will have a level of health. After all, you had a level of health a month ago, so why not a month from now? You had one years ago, so why wouldn’t you have one years from now. In truth, you’re always going to have one, and it can change from year to year, even month to month and, yes, even from day to day. If those daily changes are acute, like hitting your thumb with a hammer (one day it’s fine, and then the next day it’s in sorry shape), you’ll definitely notice them. But it’s when you degenerate over time, slowly, that it’s hard to notice, and that’s why it’s called degenerative disease.
Those eating a typical Western diet and living the life that goes along with that diet can often chalk up the early degenerative changes as simply “getting older,” i.e. “it comes with age,” but most readers of these articles know that this isn’t true. The loss of vitality comes with age only when you age poorly because of poor lifestyle choices. But most people don’t see their life as a bunch of choices; they follow what everyone else around them is doing. And these behaviors may be the norm, but they’re certainly not normal.
So for the sake of this article, let’s define health as your state of health today, tomorrow and all the rest of your tomorrows. Let’s acknowledge that you will have “future health.” And to a very large degree, what has the potential to affect your future health the most is the thing you should be giving a lot of thought to today.
So I’ll give you a hint regarding the question I asked at the beginning of this article—the thing that can do you the most harm is the title of my latest book. And that is, What You Know That Isn’t So.
That’s correct friends, it’s incorrect information that can turn your dream of robust health into a nightmare. The kind of nightmare you started doing all this health-improvement stuff to avoid in the first place.
Those folks who are heavy into positivism and avoid listening to nonpositive things need to hear this side of the coin, too, if they truly care about their health. I didn’t want to write a book that was essentially devoted to the negative side of the health-improvement community, but since I never had a problem speaking out about the downsides of the meat, dairy and medical industries, why should I treat my own area of practice any differently. If there’s mis- or disinformation here, shouldn’t people know about it? Especially considering that these folks want to improve their health (many in the mainstream population couldn’t care less if there was less-than-accurate health information).
So this 200-page book explores over 80 of the top pieces of miseducation. This book has been 10 years in the making, and this is because during that time, when I’d come across a piece of info that I knew was incorrect or felt might be incorrect, I’d make note of it and then research it. Recently, when I stepped back and took a look at the resulting file of misinformation and noticed that it could fill a book, that’s exactly what I did.
The book doesn’t just point out what I believe to be pieces of misinformation, it also explains why misinformation exists. Understanding the “why’s” helps you to come to grips with the “what’s.” To summarize this section of the book, here’s an excerpt from page 26 …
What Accounts for Conflicting Information In a Nutshell
So although this book covers some of the negative aspects of the health-improvement community, if, by reading it, you become enlightened to the point of being able to avoid the pitfalls that come with following incorrect information, I’d call that a positive thing. And just so you know, my hope is that slowly but surely, over the years ahead, I can delete some of the worst offenders in this book, until it becomes more of a booklet, and then a pamphlet (owing to human nature there will always be a need for at least a pamphlet).
I’ve ended many of my lectures with the phrase, “Remember, what can do you the most harm is what you know, that just ain’t so.” And I realize that thinking about how you may know things that, in reality, aren’t true, can be unsettling. But compared to how you’d be affected by a diagnosis of something serious, I’ll take a little unsettled any day. Karl Menninger said, “Set up as an ideal the facing of reality as honestly and as cheerfully as possible.” And I’ve also heard that, “The truth may hurt for a little while, but miseducation harms you forever.”
So seek the truth though the heavens may fall. Since your body exists in reality regardless of what you believe, it’s best if both you and your body are on the same page … your future health depends on it.
Don Bennett is an insightful, reality-based author and health creation counselor who is neither a pessimist nor an optimist. More about Don’s latest book on Health101.org/books.