Information overload

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. 
Ecclesiastes 12:12

I love to learn and I love to research. Sometimes, though, all the information available out there can be overwhelming and confusing. So many contradictory reports about everything from cholesterol to GMOs to vaccines to climate change . . . and on and on.

I try very hard to keep an open mind. I know there is a tendency in all of us to believe what we want to believe and disregard the rest. And we can find ample "evidence" to support any viewpoint we want to hold. There are conflicting reports and studies on just about any subject you care to study.

So what to do?

The first thing I do is try to read or listen to a variety of sources. I don't think it's a good idea to get all your news and information from one place. If you are conservative, for example, it's worth while to listen to some more liberal viewpoints, and vice versa. You don't have to agree, but you will be better informed, and get a more well-rounded perspective of what's going on. Every news source is biased; every one.

My "research station." That big red ball? Just got it today. Supposedly you work your core as you sit on it and try to balance. I sure worked my arm pumping it up with a little hand pump this morning! I'm just hoping I don't fall off.

Second thing, don't believe everything you read. I try to gather a lot of information when I'm researching something. It's one thing I re-learned as my children competed in speech and debate tournaments in their high school years. Find multiple sources to support your claims, and make sure they are credible (e.g., a debater would be taken down quickly for quoting Wikipedia).

This can be hard to do. Without sounding too cynical, it's true that everyone has an agenda, and many media sources are trying to make money or make a name for themselves. Check your sources' worldview, and follow the money. And, to make matters more confusing, just because someone has an agenda and is making money, or believes something you don't agree with, doesn't necessarily mean they're automatically wrong, either.

So why am I talking about this right now?

In my quest to eat better and have a healthier lifestyle, I've been researching a lot about food and nutrition (again). Talk about a minefield of conflicting information! Solomon was right. It wearies the body. It's enough to send a girl running to the kitchen for a carton of ice cream and a jar of hot fudge sauce! (Fortunately, I've removed this temptation.)

Here I look for consensus. Everyone seems to agree that eating whole, unprocessed foods, including lots of vegetables, is a good idea. But after that, it's all up for grabs . . . paleo, gluten-free, raw, low-fat, no sugar, vegan, organic or not, supplements, raw dairy and fermented foods . . . it just makes you dizzy.

How do you personally sift through all the conflicting information we have at our fingertips? After all, if even the experts can't agree, how can we hope to know?

15 comments :

  1. I think the important thing is to eat food and not to swallow all those preservatives and flavour enhancers that are in packaged foods. Humans have lived for thousands of years without those. We know a diet without that stuff works. Sure, we have made scientific advances that give us medicines to treat diseases. Yes, we know that some diets are low in certain enzymes and adding those helps people. But adding chemicals for the purpose of selling a product does not improve the health of the consumer, only the fat wallet of the manufacturer. You would not take someone else's medicines, so why swallow someone else's preservatives and weird stuff?
    Eat basically what most people have always eaten. Make allowances for a modern lifestyle. Avoid swallowing substances that are not proven to be good for you personally.

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    1. Thank you, Louise. I guess what I'm looking for here is more what is your method for sorting through information that's more complicated than good common sense? What do you do with conflicting advice?

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  2. It is indeed a puzzle, particularly the views concerning nutrition. I have read a lot of good information on Wellness Mama, although I don't agree with everything I've read. Furthermore, some things I read about nutrition may well be true, but super-hard to follow. I don't know what the answer is to this enigma called eating healthy. ???

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    1. Yes, that's another conundrum! If you find good advice, can you follow it? haha.

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  3. I agree it is difficult to know what to eat. My husband is diabetic which just confuses things more. With warmer weather on its way, I look forward to buying locally grown fruits/vegetables and we gave up all salt years ago. My husband has a big ball like yours and he sits on it to play his wii games during the day.

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  4. Hello Deborah, I think we have so much available information that we can google we become over infused!
    What I try to do is go to the library and get a few books of pros and cons. Then I write myself some notes, then I pray! I still believe our own bodies and hearts can help us make wise decisions. I have learned to read my own body's reactions to certain things. I just know that just because it is on the internet does not make it true. LOL
    Blessings, Roxy

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  5. You are so right! My head aches from all the info too, from more things than the right foods to eat.

    I think of my poor father who loved eggs for breakfast but deprived himself of it for many years later in life because at the time they were supposed to be bad for his cholesterol. Now, no problem.

    I have faith you'll figure this all out though. You're too smart to fall for fads. You are in this for the long haul so you'll be wise.

    Dewena

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  6. Consensus? That's tricky, too. =D

    Yup, a veritable minefield. I think I am more inclined to go with how I feel physically over whether a food or beverage is good for me.

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  7. I ate a huge frosted brownie today, and hash browns. I know you aren't supposed to do that!

    Kidding aside, I like your philsophy, though one needn't go far to get all sorts of liberal news. The media is quite bent that direction. It's much more difficult to find conservative views that aren't manipulated. But getting "all the facts' as challenging as it is, it is important. I respect this post. Hugs.

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  8. Dearest Deborah,
    There is a very quick way for checking out anyone's credibility by simply putting into the Google search box the word: site:eatingwell.com as an example and see what comes up. For this site it was a true web presence of About 169,000 results so that's a trustworthy site! If it ranks really low, no matter the subject just leave and run and don't waste your precious time! There are a lot of people out there, trying to get attention and we have to sift through. I've been using this method for years now.
    Make sure you ALWAYS remove the http://www part and no space after the site:
    Hope this helps you in weeding out some worthless sites. Remember, it is like this: Coins make sound when dropped, but paper bills won’t. Lesson: “When your value increases, keep yourself silent and humble.”
    Sending you hugs and hope spring is soon upon you. We had 70s yesterday in Dublin, GA but where we went in Atlanta it was windy and only 40°F. Tonight it will be 32°F after a rather cool day in Dublin as well. One day high and than low again. Hope no more frost as finally the Japanese magnolias are blooming!
    Mariette

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  9. I have discerned over the years that sometimes I need to avoid the info-overload of t.v. , the internet, facebook, and even my beloved blogging. The stress & tension it brings into my life often causes me much physical pain . Yet, blogging brings me great joy and friendships I would not otherwise have encountered if the internet were not available. So often for my own health I have to ignore my e-mails, my facebook, my blogging, and direct my attention to the tending of my sheep & poultry, and most importantly my husband, my family, my God. I take great joy in simply sitting on the porch with my husband watching the birds at our feeders, in quiet, together.

    The physical work of tending my gardens, my home, and my flocks gives me the ability to sleep well and then remember what is really important. Bless you , take care !

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  10. Eat what your grandparents ate. :) In saying that I mean that that generation or their parents probably ate quite simply. Their recipes would have, for instance, mushrooms but not cream of mushroom canned soup. Butter, not margarine. They might have had popcorn but most of the snacks available to people now would have been foreign to them. I am quite sure they had desserts but they would most likely be fruit pies and fruit cobblers, etc.Craving crunchy foods ? They probably didn't eat potato chips but they had homefries or fried zucchini.
    Well I could be wrong but it's a simple approach :)

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  11. I love to research and I too love to learn but like you I am at a loss how to sort through all the information available. The answer, in my opinion is common sense it usually prevails.

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  12. Hi Deborah,

    You make some very interesting and valid points. I find myself constantly clicking on food/exercise/health related articles, only to become more confused than before. I truly believe we all have a pretty good idea of what we need to do re: healthy approaches to food and exercise and keeping stress at bay, but we either get lazy or lose our will to follow through many times. I can't say that I am enjoying trying to lift my weight off the floor during beginner's yoga, but I know I have to keep at it, to build my strength, flexibility, and make me understand that I can't be doing that and not be making parallel changes to my diet! We are blessed to have organic fruit and veggies, eggs, and even meat/chicken, etc., in our neck of the woods, and many times our neighbours here in the village will drop off bags of oranges, potatoes, cabbage - (whatever is in season), as well as individually wrapped farm fresh eggs - just because they have too much and don't want to keep it for too long! Staying away from processed foods and balancing that with a little exercise every day is I think the easiest formula, just common sense.

    Poppy

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  13. Assuming that there is a "right" answer in general as to what most people should eat can cause some of the confusion it is ever so easy to feel. How trustworthy are all these studies? So many of the studies are done on folks eating inferior produced and tainted foods...did they get sick from the food or the pesticides? Did they report their intake accurately, did they over eat good things? So many studies are paid for by companies with vested interest in the outcome.
    As you open your question, you mentioned those foods that everyone pretty much agrees on...that seems a good foundation. Starting with whole, identifiable ingredients goes along way; simple, pure as possible, lots of plant foods, wild fish as able, and maybe sometimes, for some, there is an occasion for killing the fatted calf. To produce real food requires real work, so matching the acquiring with the eating helps. If you have the energy to bake a cake from scratch and people to share it with that is different than buying a bag of cookies willy nilly and frequenting the so called bakeries in big box stores.

    I think of the foods mentioned in Scripture...Man shall not live by bread alone ( but he must be eating some of it) let them who are weak eat vegetables, herbs for the healing, loaves and fishes, kill the fatted calf, fish cooked on the beach ----.and this usually what calms me down after my exposure to Dr. X who says don't eat anything but plant food and Dr. Y who says you need more protein and neighbor C. who says yikes gluten and I myself have read too many articles and books. I am reminded that I could go out to my garden and pick some broccolini and I can thank God for having so many choices as to be bewildered in world where so many have so little.

    The glut of information is no different in other realms too...what can we do with all the sorrows we are aware of in the world politic? The sphere of actual influence is what I long to be well enough to lay my hands upon...and that too starts in prayer.

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