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Mainstream medicine is always challenging its long-held assumptions

We’ve come a long way since the days when drilling holes in someone’s head was considered the ideal way to treat epileptic seizures, migraines, or mental disorders. But advances in medical research continue to shatter long-held assumptions and re-evaluate what we once took for granted.

Case in point – remember the days when eggs were considered bad for us?

That came about from research back in the 1970s, which asserted that high-cholesterol foods, especially eggs, raised blood cholesterol levels. These studies involved foods that were rich in both cholesterol and saturated fat (such as butter). Scientists incorrectly concluded that cholesterol was the main culprit. When these studies were revisited years later, researchers discovered that high levels of saturated or trans fat − not dietary cholesterol – is the key contributor to higher levels of cholesterol in the blood.

But many people still think egg yolks equal death thanks to being told so for years. If you don’t believe us, here’s what the Heart and Stroke Foundation has to say on the subject.

The confusion about the evils of fats

Then there was the war declared on fats of all kinds, by well-meaning medical professionals on the front line of battling heart disease.

For years, people were told to cut back on the intake of any kind of fat, with no distinction made between fats that are good for the body and ones that aren’t.

The result – a record surge in rates of obesity and Type II diabetes. Why? Because the real culprits in heart disease and diabetes are over-consumption of simple carbohydrates – sugar, white flour, and all the goodies made with them. These substances cause inflammation to the walls of blood vessels. The cholesterol you eat sticks to the areas of inflammation – if you blood vessels were not inflamed from eating too many of these simple carbohydrates, the cholesterol you eat would pass through without building up.

Understanding the real killers in your pantry

The other culprit, we understand now, is overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids – the type of fat common in processed foods to prolong shelf-life and that are found in high quantities in vegetable oils like soybean, corn, and sunflower.

Our bodies do need omega-6, but now we understand that we have to balance our intake of omega-6 fats with the omega-3 fats found in high quantities in fish oil. (Olive oil, by the way, is great for you – it has the ideal balance of omega-6 and omega-3.)

As in all things, it’s all about moderation and balance. It always has been.

Our understanding of how our bodies, which are highly complex bio-chemical machines, react to what we often thoughtlessly fuel them with is always changing. We know more than we ever have before. But always, there will be more to learn.

Turning 80 years of thinking on its ear

Earlier this month, researchers at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Dallas VA Medical Center published a study that contradicted 80 years of medical thinking about the true cause of acid reflux.

Conventional thinking held that “gastroesophageal reflux disease” or GERD, was the result of stomach acid backing up the esophagus and damaging its lining with what are basically chemical burns. But the new study suggests that damage actually occurs from an inflammatory response prompted by the secretion of proteins called cytokines.

The authors of the study say that this new understanding could lead to medications that treat GERD by targeting the cytokines that are the true cause of the damage from acid reflux, instead of just treating the symptoms of the problem with acid-suppressing medications.

Our understanding of our bodies is far from complete

The point is, there is still so much we don’t understand about how the body works. We see this all the time in our Chiropractic practice, in documented cases where addressing one specific structural problem with the spine has a secondary benefit, such as relieving asthma or a gastro-intestinal problem.

What’s important is to maintain an open mind when new research comes to light and look past a news headline to ensure the science is sound.

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