It’s about health
Who am I and why am I writing about health issues? Let’s start with scepticism. Even as a teenager I always liked to ask the hard questions that can be summarized as “show me the evidence”. It’s nice to have opinions. But if you want to change a failing policy, or challenge a long held view you need evidence. While I understood that concept intellectually, I’ve spent my adult life really learning it in the school of hard knocks running a national organization, as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and as Dean of Research in an undergraduate university.
As a sceptic I thought that taking vitamin and mineral supplements was silly and based on folk tales. I agreed with 99% – well let’s be cautious and say the vast majority – of western trained doctors. If pushed 15-20 years ago, they would say that yes indeed “vitamins just create expensive urine” and “you can get everything you need from your food – save your money”. Very few doctors are trained in nutrition. But 20 years ago when I was 55 my wife said I needed to take nutritional supplements and that led me in new directions.
My training and education as a social scientist led me to question whether vitamin and mineral supplements were necessary when we have so much access to food. With a background in research I knew that medical journals reporting on recent research would be a good place to start. Remember that my goal was to prove my wife wrong, and thus avoid the hassle and cost of taking nutritional supplements. I didn’t really expect to find much credible research on vitamin and mineral supplementation. If there was no good, credible evidence then my wife’s wrong, I’m right, end of discussion, pass me my rum and coke please. Oh and some salty peanuts, some chips and dip – and let’s have pizza for supper and sticky rice for dessert. Much to my ever-lasting dismay, I was wrong. I was so wrong. When you’re wrong, admit it; change direction and move on. I found there was overwhelming evidence about the need for nutritional supplements; their efficacy – a big word meaning they work – in preventing many conditions and degenerative diseases; their efficacy in helping to wrestle with certain diseases and conditions; and the need to take the right amount and ratio of different vitamin and mineral supplements.
And so my own review of medical literature over the last 20 years led me in many directions beyond vitamins, and I will share this research every two weeks with you. One fascinating aspect of health is exercise. And there is a free article available for a short time: “Prescribing exercise interventions for patients with chronic conditions” – Canadian Medical Association Journal March 14, 2016 and for a short time it can be viewed free through www.cbc.ca/whitecoat . It outlines exercises for 7 chronic conditions: non-specific low back pain; Osteoarthritis; fall prevention in seniors; COPD; Type 2 Diabetes (significant for the Filipino community); Chronic Fatigue; and Coronary Heart Disease.
© Roger Elmes firstname.lastname@example.org
CMAJ March 14, 2016 cmaj.150684 available at http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2016/03/14/cmaj.150684