Diets Through History: The Good, Bad, and Scary

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Risks of a Gluten-Free Diet
In many cases, the diet is characterized by highly restrictive or unusual food choices. Belief in astrology has been in long-term decline in the developed world and it is opposed by most established organized religions 52 , but it is still a popular feature of many new religious movements 53 , 54 and astrological charts can still be found in almost every daily newspaper in the form of horoscopes They are all charismatic human beings. She is passionate about playing with words and living a healthy, conscious, fun-filled life — and helping others do the same. This correct fact was demonstrated from cases of brain damage where people lost certain skills or had certain aspects of their personality changed. When mainstream diets start to sicken people, it is unsurprising that many of us should seek other ways of eating to keep ourselves safe from harm.

Slimming down through the ages

14 Fad Diets You Shouldn't Try

Searching the Internet, you may find any number of fruit and veggie detox diets. While they vary in some ways, they all have a similar theme -- eating nothing but fruits and vegetables for a set period of time. The time frame of these detox diets usually ranges from one day to a week. Some of these diets also include a detox drink or tea to help with the purification process.

The theory behind the detox diet is that your body is unable to rid itself properly of the toxic substances you ingest every day. These toxins hang around in your body and cause ailments such as fatigue, headaches and nausea. On a detox diet, you give up foods that make your body toxic and instead eat or drink foods that help your body purge itself of toxic substances.

Proponents of the diet claim that a detox diet improves health, lowers your risk of disease, gives you more energy and helps you focus.

There is no scientific proof that a detox diet rids your body of toxic substances. Due to demand, some of these courses are only 1 day long. Put it another day: If you went to your doctor with a complaint and he revealed that he had had only one day's formal study, would you trust him?

Given the sketchy evidence for complementary medicine in general, you should be doubly distrustful of non-mainstream medical practices, even those who claim to be respectable. In addition, Susie Bell points out, many beauty therapists are self-employed so have no backing nor methods for checking up on the products and methods they use. Given the quantity of well-funded pseudo-science present in the cosmetics industry, inexperience and naivety well tend to bolster confusion about what works and what is worthwhile.

This subtle psychological effect occurs whether or not the underlying treatment actually works and it is strong enough to continually distort medical studies into the effectiveness of health products and can make products seems effective when they are not - it can even do the same for surgical practices. Such unexpected effects have been studied in greater and greater detail by medical researchers, and it has emerged that placebo effects come in various forms The placebo effect is particularly significant in areas such as pain relief and stress, and is therefore best at overcoming aches and pains, headaches, stress-related conditions including recovery from stomach ulcers 10 and skin rashes.

The placebo effect is the reason why these remedies appear to work for so many people, when in reality they don't have any medical effect 12 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 , 20 and its effects can often support erroneous ideas as to how disease works, and how healing works.

How does it work? Many experiments have confirmed the ability of people to mentally control pain. Finally, 6 It works best when delivered by a confident doctor who also believes the placebo will work The above paragraphs are the summary to my page on the placebo effect.

For the full page, which has a section on how the placebo effect accidentally supports sham procedures and fake medicine, click here: The regression fallacy occurs when people extract too much meaning from chance events under specific circumstances. Disease and fortune come and go: But when things are bad, some will "try" all manner of superstitious, meaningless and misguided practices - including all kinds of alternative therapies.

Social psychologist David Myers agrees: Because we rarely employ controls and statistical analysis in our personal lives, it seems that any attempted solution, from the zany to the insane, has actually worked. This is the cause of untold numbers of superstitions, magical practices, religious beliefs and pseudoscience, and can sometimes lead large numbers of people astray, especially when stories and anecdotes are published by the press. This is why many cults, religions and pseudo-therapeutic fads prey on the weak, depressed, down-and-outs and those who have recently experienced catastrophe.

Such people are more likely to try new religions The solution is to be more cognizant of Human thinking errors. Cause and effect must be analyzed statistically, carefully, and by social scientists who know how to discount confounding factors. Homeopathic practitioners spend a lot of time with patients, talking, which in itself can have positive effects, especially on illnesses that are influenced by psychological factors.

They may emphasise nutrition and exercise. Many such treatments, especially the hands-on ones, are soothing. It is unsurprising if patients feel better. As homeopath Anthony Campbell puts it: A homeopathic consultation affords the patient an opportunity to talk at length about her or his problems to an attentive and sympathetic listener in a structured environment, and this in itself is therapeutic.

In other words, homeopathy is a form of psychotherapy. Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed! Several studies have confirmed that a pessimistic style of explaining bad events saying, "It's my responsibility, it's going to last, and it's going to undermine everything" makes illness more likely. We see in the above examples that stress is the emotional factor relevant in most of psychoimmunology. It has already been found that those with bad stress responses are more likely over the long term to suffer from ill health.

Those subjects who showed emotional stability and controlled responses to stress as adolescents had far better health at age 50 than did those subjects who had poor stress reactions when young. Even if such practices did nothing at all about the underlying organic causes of illness, they nevertheless help people to manage their symptoms, and they give people a sense of control over their illness - a sense of control that might be tremendously beneficial even if it turns out to be illusory. Although this sounds good, it must be remembered that it is not the treatment itself that works.

People are really being helped by psychotherapy - the time spent in personal reflection in an understanding environment, with nice and attentive practitioners. In , Bertram Forer conducted a personality test, and then gave all of his students exactly the same personality profile, which he constructed from random horoscopes.

This was occasionally previously known as the Barnum effect after a popularist entertainer. Extensive studies have found that this effect applies well to horoscopes, other astrological readings , messages given from the dead by spiritualists, various cold reading tricks and other profiling endeavours It is often mistaken for being a product of magical or supernatural means. Lack of sociological sense and knowledge of cognitive errors and skeptical thinking methods leads some people to accept wild theories, based on misunderstandings of common experience.

Freethought is healthy and appealing, but lack skeptical thinking also leads people into delusions and fantasies, and opens the doors for deception and consciously fraudulent practices, but most of all, for self-delusion. Their downfalls are often occasioned only slowly, as the evidence and careful checking , plus, having time to think, slowly results in a culture-wide change of opinion.

The most common thing that perpetuates these errors is believing in them based on personal testimonies. For example, many people argue that particular religions must be true because of how many other people believe in them 42 , Linked to this is many who chose to believe something because of the age of the belief Furthering such poor logic is a lack of understanding of statistical likelihood, and ignorance of thinking errors such as selection bias where we notice confirming evidence but ignore disconfirming evidence.

Because we instinctively value the popularity of a belief, our minds play a further trick on us: The basis of belief should be in the weight of evidence and not in a popularity contest.

Practitioners themselves often exhibit the same credulity, allowing personal enthusiasm, pride and ego to completely obscure the need for scientific evidence. He has been faced with sustained criticism from the scientific community for his claims about his sham products, but, rather than accept the evidence or fund proper trials of his stuff, he simply argues that "evidence-based medicine, at its worst, is exactly analogous to religious fundamentalism " 1.

Whilst it is true that fundamentalists are stubborn as can be, it also happens to be true that so is evidence. Amateur thinking, poor argumentation and misleading justifications for pseudo-scientific methods afflict both practitioners and patients.

It is an example of "pseudo-science", where scientific terms are used without genuine understanding of their meaning, but in a way that makes out-there theories look reasonable at first glance. Quantum Physics terminology and paraphernalia is often used as a basis for postulating how there might be 'souls' The eminent physicist Victor Stenger now deceased was a vocal critic of the abuse of quantum physics done by spiritualists of various kinds: Not surprisingly, this idea can be found in New Age periodicals and in many books on the metaphysical shelves of book stores" Aside from the "observer effect".

The Observe Effect and Quantum Entanglement are two the prime areas where non-scientific minds can often allow their imaginations to distort the science. However strange it may be, quantum physics is not a doorway to magic, even if peddlers of pseudoscience litter their works with scientific-sounding terminology.

St John's Wort has generally been found to be mildly effective as an antidepressant 1 , and, this chemical alone has been responsible for many of the positive findings of research into alternative medicines. It is not known as of how it works, although, it is only effective for everyday depression and not the severe and long-term forms of depression, for which proper medical assistance is required.

A statistical analysis of a few thousand Chinese studies saw it most frequently used to treat ischaemic heart disease, stroke, chronic viral hepatitis, peptic ulcers, childhood diarrhoea, hyperlipidaemia, primary hypertension, upper digestive tract bleeding, diabetes mellitus, and pneumonia At least 26 comprehensive scientific studies of acupuncture have shown that it has no significant effect.

But three large studies have found that acupuncture does reduce the incidence of headaches and migraines - although two of those have shown that sticking pins in randomly is as effective as using traditional Chinese methods.

Scientists understand how the neural and hormonal stimulation of needles work in a biochemical way to sometimes produce the results of acupuncture. What is known now is what has been suspected by practitioners for a long time: Instances of punctured lungs, increased pain, internal bleeding and other side-effects occur in up to 1 in 5 cases especially if a practitioner is not a medically trained doctor. It works for pain relief for medically known reasons and also due to the placebo effect 49 , but the traditional mumbo-jumbo associated with traditional acupuncture is best ignored.

How Does it Work? Of particular importance for a person's whole life is their month of birth. Practices based on astrology include the production of horoscopes, prediction of imminent or medium-term events in people's lives. Belief in astrology has been in long-term decline in the developed world and it is opposed by most established organized religions 52 , but it is still a popular feature of many new religious movements 53 , 54 and astrological charts can still be found in almost every daily newspaper in the form of horoscopes One academic writes that " there can be few Western Europeans who do not know their zodiac sign " It is part of the underlying theory of the New Age 56 , 57 , and is very popular in India in particular, where it is institutionalized.

Astrological predictions have been tested scientifically and have been comprehensively found to be mistaken in both theoretical underpinning and practical application 58 , 59 , For example, David Voas looked at over ten million married couples and found absolutely no statistical effects relating to marriages between people of particular zodiac signs And Chinese astrology has a long history, but, they group the stars into completely different constellations and give prominence to the lunar mansions "a sign lunar zodiac" So it is clear that astrology isn't based on any particular sound theory.

Over the last years, the precession of the equinoxes has meant that each equinox and solstice point has moved around 30 degrees; an Aquarius today genuinely isn't the same sign as an Aquarius from history. Also, the dots that make up constellations are mostly stars, but many points are extremely distant galaxies, and the entire ensemble slowly moves and shifts over time, making most traditional methods of astrology useless Lack of knowledge of basic astronomy has made a mockery of astrology.

Also poor is their biology: Especially if you don't ask subjects how long they were in the womb for. The Forer Effect explains why most people readily accept that astrological descriptions are accurate - randomly assigned profiles are rated just as highly 63 , 64 , Astrological predictions of statistical likelihood of car crashes, divorces, etc, based on the month of birth nearly all fall foul of a simple statistical glitch - the Age Incidence Error Despite these problems, many continue to believe in astrology and horoscopes because general knowledge of statistical methods and general knowledge of thinking errors such as the Forer Effect is poor.

Also, it is popular because it is entertaining I am not going to attempt to explain how practitioners might possibly believe that this works, but the idea is that by sitting in an area where the lights are alternated between different colours, can somehow cure pretty much anything. He is apparently completely oblivious to what light is and how it works, for such therapy is absolutely and completely meaningless, except perhaps for indirect psychological effects. There are many other colour cures for many - probably all - different maladies.

Light combinations and patterns are completely made up by practitioners with absolutely no scientific basis, or evidence-base, to determine what colours to use for what ailments. Because of the placebo effect some patients come to think it works at which point it can have serious consequences when patients choose to no longer seek genuine medical aid. For example, Ghadiali advised one diabetic father to stop taking insulin and accept the Colour Therapy instead, and unfortunately, he died 3 weeks later as a result Diet has an impact on health and affects the risk of disease Over the last few decades biochemical and other sciences, from neural to gastric, have made impressive contributions to our knowledge Never before have scientists known so much about food and nutrition.

Unfortunately much of this knowledge is not reported by the popular press and news outlets because it is technical, mundane and statistical in nature. The average consumer mostly hears only the sensational claims of pseudoscientific sham researchers and promoters, which are often paid for and orchestrated by the rich food industry itself.

The two most misleading sources of information are reports based on single-studies and TV adverts. Most people are ill-informed about diet and health as a result of this. Join our panel of speakers, who are researching and testing IF for weight management, longevity and performance. Don't miss this cutting edge update on intermittent fasting. What exactly qualifies as intermittent fasting?

Is IF superior for weight loss and for who? What are key personal insights about IF? Does IF come with any risks? How does IF affect appetite?

Can you do IF and keep muscle? Is intermittent fasting another diet fad or the future? More than the 5: Intermittent dieting for performance — Worth it? Dr Heilbronn completed her PhD studies in , and went on to research positions in the United States and in Sydney, before returning to Adelaide in Her research is at the interface between basic and clinical science, and her research goal is to reduce chronic disease risk and insulin resistance through a greater understanding of nutrition and metabolism, and mechanisms underpinning these relationships particularly in muscle and adipose tissue.

She has published more than 75 peer reviewed papers in scientific journals, and is an associate editor for Obesity Research and Clinical Practice. Learn more about Leonie. Assoc Prof Amanda Salis. Her translational research into hypothalamic control of appetite, eating behavior, energy expenditure, body weight and body composition spans transgenic mice, adults with overweight or obesity, as well as adult athletes. Her randomized controlled trials comparing long-term effects of fast versus slow weight loss — using intermittent versus continuous energy restriction — are funded by a Senior Research Fellowship and Project Grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council NHMRC of Australia.

1. Alternative Therapies Do Not Work (Else They Would Be Mainstream)