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If You Care About Wellness, Are You Anti-Science?

A recent article in the New York Times by Jen Gunter raised the hackles of health enthusiasts across the country. Titled “Worshipping the False Idols of Wellness” the author proceeds to snub her nose at those of us who are working to improve our personal health and that of our families, and even country. The article is helpful however, as it has sparked an important discussion around how we use science to inform our wellness decisions. In fact, I don’t hate the article, I agree with a lot of what she has to say.

For example:

  • Fad diets are getting old. I see many fads as yet another way for food companies to manipulate consumers and make a buck. At the end of the day each of our bodies are different and there is no one size fits all approach to healthy dieting.
  • Some in the wellness community selectively use science to support their recommendations. I’ve found this to be particularly true in the consumer safety space in which I intimately work. Many people ask for “chemical-free” or “toxin-free” products. While the phrase is scientifically incorrect—there is no such a thing as chemical-free product—and the term toxin is a naturally occurring poison like snake venom. Science must be used by brands and consumers to clearly articulate what we want and we must be patient as people learn the proper vernacular to ask companies for safer products.
  • Many wellness gurus are unqualified and have simply leveraged social media to exert influence. Sure, there are plenty of health “experts” who have little to no qualifications for being considered thought leaders.
  • Most “chemical” detox diets are a scam. I wrote an entire article about this HERE, which I recommend reading. I cut through the BS and use science to help you understand how you can detox your body from certain chemicals and to be leery of detox products.

But here’s where I take issue:

  • It’s okay to take inspiration for eating healthy, reducing sugar, and changing your life from social media influencers. Many people have transformed their lives by following leaders (including doctors) on social media and taking their counsel and advice seriously.
  • Just because you don’t want chemicals linked to cancer in your beauty or cleaning products, doesn’t make you fringe. The mainstream scientific community has sounded the alarm on harmful chemicals in consumer products. This isn’t some anti-science movement of fear mongering. You don’t have to take it from me, take it from leading research and medical organizations who have made public statements about the need to remove harmful chemicals from consumer products:
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics
    • The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
    • The American Nurses Association
    • The American Public Health Association
    • The American Medical Association
    • The Endocrine Society
    • March of Dimes
    • Just to name a few…
  • Heavy metal poisoning has been happening for decades. Try telling parents in Flint, MI with children facing lead poisoning that you think they are falling for a “wellness” scam. Including this in a list of “fallacies” is not only scientifically ignorant, it’s insulting to the many people who have been permanently poisoned by heavy metals.

So just because you want clean tampons, cosmetics and lead-free environments for your family, doesn’t mean that you also want to get a coffee enema, rely on supplements to cure cancer, or subscribe to goop’s jade egg vagina treatment.

While the author finds “wellness gods” offensive, I find her attempt to clump everyone who cares about a healthy future as anti-science, well, offensive. While we are all trying to navigate the increasingly complicated world of being healthy, perhaps we can give everyone a little grace as they find their journey? And may we all hold ourselves accountable to use the best science as we advocate for healthier diets and products.

What do you think?

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