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I started this article thinking that I would write a quick little summin’ summin’ about some amazing podcasts I have been listening to that I thought would be of interest to some of you. However, it turned into a little bit more than that, as I quickly realised that one of the reasons I wanted to recommend these podcasts is not just because of the content, but the quality and authenticity of the those providing the information. So instead of a quick post, I’ve channelled my Grandma and gone full on, around the houses, no detail too small or irrelevant, story time extravaganza. You might want a snack to hand.
There are some amazing health and fitness podcasts out there that are hosted by some incredibly knowledgeable and most importantly, qualified people. These are people with the education and experience to deliver complex and life-affecting information to the general public. However they can be hard to find as there is so much noise in the health and fitness industry with many people baying for your attention: there’s social media influencers trying to sell you detox teas, newspapers with headlines screaming ‘Bacon Causes Cancer!’ or ‘Soya Products Cause Infertility!’ and celebrities endorsing some very questionable individuals who promote pseudoscience and make grand claims of ‘Miraculous Cancer Curing Juice Cleanse!’. N.B taking a celebrity’s advice on anything medical or health related is not dissimilar to asking your Lego-obsessed 6 year old for advice on building your new extension. It will leak. And potentially involve a steam cleaner á la Gwyneth Paltrow (if you know you know, if not I’ll leave that for you to Google and thank me for later).
All of this chatter can make it very difficult to distinguish fact from fiction and can make living a healthy, well-balanced life seem extremely complicated and overwhelming. When you scroll through social media it is all too easy to come across a page that appears legit – the person ‘looks the part’, confidently makes grand claims, shows ‘before and after’ photos or there’s a celebrity advertising a product that looks ‘techy and complicated’… well it must work right? Throw in a slightly greying white man in a lab coat and voila! The search for the fountain of youth can be called off because ‘We’re-A-Big-Giant-Scam.com’ has found it and will sell it to you for the low, low price of… your soul.
Okay, but seriously, some of these companies spend millions in order to appear legit. We’re talking; extremely biased ‘research’, marketing campaigns with celeb endorsements, false claims, pseudoscientific language, high tech looking gadgets, all of are which designed to dupe the general public into believing and buying into this person or companies’ agenda.
In recent years the general public have become more sceptical of claims made by the lifestyle slash health and fitness industry, demanding evidence and proof (yay!), which unfortunately has lead to some companies or individuals mis-quoting scientific research papers in order to try and give some kind of validity to their claims (eurgh). They are reliant on us not to dig any deeper – I’m not sure how many of you have read scientific research papers but for me (and even Sam at times!) it is really freaking hard! Accounting for flaws, potential bias, not to mention reading every other study completed in the same field… it’s arduous and brain meltingly time consuming – plus you gotta pay for them! The abstracts are available for free but that is the equivalent of just reading the blurb on the back of the book. And if a full study is free then you must ask yourself ‘is this a genuine study or a fake?’. All in all, not something that many of us have time to do right? ‘Ooh I know, after I’ve cooked dinner, been to the gym, put the kids to bed and walked the dog I’ll jump on PubMed and look up that DIETFITS study I heard Jeremy Vine talking about earlier’. Said no one ever. And that is what these companies rely on – that we won’t have the time or inclination to question them. That we will see something that appears legit and accept it.
‘What counts is not what sounds plausible, not what we would like to believe not one or two witnesses claim, but only what is supported by hard evidence rigorously and sceptically examined. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’- Carl Sagan.
So let’s not get mad or judge those that do buy into this stuff (because now we know just how hard it can be to tell the good from the bad) but rather, let’s get furious at those working so hard to con the general public into their bogus theories and products.
So, how do you separate the good from the bad? In my experience it’s practise and switching over to critical thinking mode. ‘Who is this person or company? Are they profiting in anyway? What education do they have? What do others in their profession say about their research/product/ethics?’ Questions like these will help you see through the false claims that at best serve to part you with a decent chunk of money and at worse can risk your health. Risk your health? Really Steff? Sadly, yes. Timothy Burrow, a herbalist in America has just been jailed for advising the parents of a diabetic boy to use Lavender oil in replace of ‘poisonous’ insulin. The child died. We may think that ‘this would never happen in good ol’ Blighty! We have more sense surely!’ Remind yourself of that the next time you see an article regarding a ‘detox diet’ or ‘juice cleanse to remove poisonous toxins from the body’. It’s a slippery slope.
Well, on that note it is time to swing back to the purpose of this little tirade, PODCASTS! We are all increasingly time-poor but we do have a fascination with learning about current health trends and ways to improve our lifestyle and health. We all want to know how to manage stress effectively and eat a more nourishing diet whilst minimising our risk of chronic illness and increasing our energy. Fabulous! Overwhelming but fabulous! And this why I love Podcasts: they break down complex science into much easier-to-understand chunks, plus they often have a hefty dose of common sense thrown in and if something really grabs you, you can go away to further research it. You can pop them on while you drive to work, or cook dinner, and feel smug over all that multitasking. I highly recommend the following all of which are available for free on Spotify and Apple Music:
‘The Food Medic’ by Dr Hazel Wallace
‘Ben Coomber Radio’ by Ben Coomber (The Awesome Supplement founder and Nutrition Coach)
‘The Doctors Kitchen’ by Dr Rupy Aujla
‘The Bodcast’ by Chloe Madeley
‘The Science of Happiness’ by Dacher Keltner
‘Food for Thought’ Rhiannon Lambert
And if you’re ever interested in a particular subject then please don’t be afraid to ask your coaches here at RAW and we’ll give you an honest answer, or point you in the direction of a reliable source.
Thanks for reading people!