- organic food
- artificial sweeteners
The problem with a lot of these things isn’t that the research says one thing or another but that the research doesn’t KNOW.
With something like standard vaccines, we know and there’s good research and a long track record (yes, we’ve read the research and we are pro-)… this other stuff, we really don’t. There may be small bad effects that affect certain sub-populations or that are dangerous in large quantities. Research on small animals is mixed, etc. It’s just really hard to say one way or the other whether this stuff is completely safe or not.
What I generally do is avoid what I can but don’t freak out if I can’t avoid it. Unless I’m pregnant or nursing… then I seem to care a bit more. Dratted hormones.
So we don’t use plastic if there’s a better alternative. Our glasses are glass and our bottles are metal. For cleaning we mainly use vinegar and seventh generation stuff, which also has the direct benefit of not hurting my sensitive skin. For sunscreen we pay extra for the better rated sunblock. For food we lean towards whole foods and avoid additives. We buy organic when it isn’t too much more expensive or when the item is listed on a dirty dozen list. We avoid artificial sweeteners mainly because they taste nasty, but we’d avoid them anyway, sticking with things that don’t require sweetening or small amounts of sugar or fruit juice.
Some of these things do seem to have direct benefits even when the science is mixed. HFCS is very controversial, but when I stopped eating foods with it I immediately felt better. Whether that’s the HFCS or all the correlated things they put into processed foods that also happen to have HFCS, I can’t say. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if it’s correlation or causation, you just need an indicator of what to avoid. Cutting out HFCS also helped me cut down on sugar intake because my sweetness craving went down. (Not saying most people need to cut sugar– I have specific insulin problems.)
With these uncertain things, we don’t tend to know WHAT is actually making the difference, but we do know that people who eat healthy fresh unprocessed foods and exercise and stay out of direct sun and etc. etc. etc. have better health outcomes. Is it because they don’t take the marshmallow? Or because they have less stress? Or health insurance? We really can’t say. So if it doesn’t hurt to do a bundle of things correlated with healthy outcomes even if we don’t know what actually causes the healthy outcomes, well, why not. On the other hand, it doesn’t make sense to make too many sacrifices for uncertain science.
Moderation in all things. Plus, we know long-term stress has direct bad outcomes on health. So do what you can and don’t stress about the rest.
What are you paranoid about? Nothing? Have your paranoias changed over time?